Metal fans vote to bring bands to GM Centre

Sixx A.M. members James Michael (left) and DJ Ashba on stage at the GM Centre. Photograph by Tommy Morais

The power of voting might just bring your favourite band to town. Five Finger Death Punch and Papa Roach launched an online campaign before their North American tour that gave their fans the opportunity to decide which 14 Canadian cities they would visit. Oshawa was one of those cities.

When you put four heavy-metal bands under the same roof, things tend to get a little rowdy. Amidst a sea of black T-shirts, the coast-to-coast Canadian tour made a stop at Oshawa’s General Motors Centre Sept. 23. Heads were banging, some “danced” in mosh pits and many beers were spilled in the name of rock. All because Oshawa’s metal community voted to bring the tour to their city.

Five Finger Death Punch and Papa Roach brought along some support in the form of Sixx A.M. and From Ashes to New. Each individual band has its own dedicated fan base, bringing together headbangers young and old from corners of the province.

“I’m mainly here to see Five Finger Death Punch, I’m a diehard fan, but I do enjoy Papa Roach and Sixx A.M.”, says Dallas Burke, 23, of Lindsay.

Behind all the tattoos, stage clothes and makeup the artists proudly display on stage, their work can have healing effects upon their fans.

Jenny Jenkins has been following Sixx A.M. and Motley Crue bassist Nikki Sixx’s career for over 33 years, she is 53 now.

“Addiction led to my husband’s suicide. I read [ Nikki Sixx’s book] The Heroin Diaries every year on the anniversary because it is so close to me,” reveals the Peterborough native. “I’m here primarily here for Sixx A.M., I love all their albums and I adore their music.”

Hailing from Las Vegas, Nevada, Five Finger Death Punch are a cult sensation and a statistical anomaly in that they are headliners with no hits.

What’s remarkable is that unlike fellow cohorts Papa Roach and Sixx A.M.–­who experienced success on the radio with Last Resort and Life is Beautiful respectively–FFDP doesn’t rely on mainstream radio for support. Instead, they rely on word-of-mouth from their fans and the occasional metal magazine cover.

FFDP received the loudest reaction of the night, but one gets the sense there is more camaraderie than competition among the bands.

“How cool is this?” shouts Papa Roach’s Jacoby Shaddix, before launching into a thundering rendition of the band’s hit To Be Loved. “We get to open for Five Finger and play with Sixx A.M.!”

Hits were played, and concert-goers got the most of out their tickets’ worth. It wasn’t just loud and heavy, however, as the occasional acoustic ballad slipped their way into the evening set lists.

Its FFDP frontman, Ivan Moody, who gets the last word.

“When we started out [as a band] in Los Angeles, people went Five Finger Death what?” says Moody to the cheering crowd.

He pauses. More cheers.

“We owe it all to you, so thank you!”