Avatar - Detroit 2023Swedish metal band Avatar brought their unique brand of groove metal to the Royal Oak Music Theatre as part of their Dance Devil Dance tour, leaving the audience in awe with their intense music and captivating stage presence. Fronted by the enigmatic singer Johannes Eckerstrom, the band delivered a show that resembled a twisted psycho circus.

From the moment Avatar stepped on stage to their latest, Dance Devil Dance, it was clear that this was going to be a wild and unforgettable experience. The band emerged dramatically from doorways at the back of the stage, heightening the anticipation and creating a feel like this was an invasion of some sort and they were here to take you into their world.


Many of the fans at this show wore the trademark eye makeup of singer Eckerstrom, much like you would see fans at a KISS or Alice Cooper show. This added an extra level of connection between the audience and the performers, as everyone became a part of the twisted carnival atmosphere.

Johannes Eckerstrom’s maniacal facial expressions and theatrical posturing added a layer of madness to their already powerful music. With his hauntingly charismatic stage presence, Eckerstrom commanded the attention of everyone in the venue, captivating them with every move. Guitarists Jonas “Kungen” Jarlsby and Tim Ohrstrom and bassist Henrik Sandelin performed as a tight unit behind ringmaster Eckerstrom and took their spotlights at various spots during the show. The band’s setlist was a carefully curated collection of their most powerful and energetic songs as well as a few from their latest offering Dance Devil Dance. They performed with an intensity that never wavered, captivating the audience from start to finish.

For the song Tower, Eckstrom appeared stage left playing a piano for the opening, the only mellow moment of the night. Most of the show was a fun rollercoaster ride of head banging tunes, humorous banter and theatrics. At one point a large gift box was carried out and placed on the drum riser. When the lid was removed a bunch of helium balloons on ribbons popped out which at first seemed to be secured to the bottom of the box but then were revealed to be held by Eckerstrom as he climbed out of the box. At another point the singer appeared standing on a box at the soundboard twisting a balloon animal and then playing trombone.

Craig Kent of Wellston Michigan has been to 31 shows and has made lasting friendships with other fans since first seeing the band around ten years ago. He’s loves the band so much he bought their original U.S. built soundboard from their first American tours.

There were some young fans in the audience as well. At one point Eckerstrom acknowledged this saying the band loves that parents bring their kids to the show and, “The family that slays together, stays together”

Like any metal band worth the price of admission, there were frequent displays of hunched over hair spins during galloping guitar rhythms. As an older rock fan, it makes me miss having enough hair to do that.

The main set ended with the song, A Statue of the King, featuring the firing of streamers into the crowd and banners of guitarist Jarlsby in crown and robe unfurled above the stage before “King Kungen” himself emerged to shred for his loyal subjects. For the encore they played The Dirt I’m Buried In and then teased the audience about how many encore songs they were going to do before settling on Smells Like a Freakshow and Hail the Apocalypse.

Swedish groove metal band Orbit Culture opened the night along with American metalcore band Veil of Maya.

Avatar / Veil of Maya / Orbit Culture
Royal Oak Music Theatre
Detroit, MI
May 16, 2023

All photos by Dan Boshart


Veil of Maya

Orbit Culture



  • Dance Devil Dance
  • The Eagle Has Landed
  • Valley of Disease
  • Chimp Mosh Pit
  • Scream Until You Wake
  • Bloody Angel
  • For the Swarm
  • Puppet Show
  • When the Snow Lies Red
  • Do You Feel in Control
  • Black Waltz
  • Tower
  • Colossus
  • Let It Burn
  • A Statue Of The King

Orbit Culture

  • Open Eye
  • Strangler
  • North Star
  • The Shadowing
  • Alienated
  • Vultures
  • Saw

Veil of Maya

  • Viscera
  • Whistleblower
  • Double Speak
  • Leeloo
  • Overthrow
  • Lisbeth
  • Red Fur
  • Godhead
  • Synthwave
  • Outsider
  • Outrun
  • Mikasa



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