Photos and Words: Andrew Fiero
When Ville Valo (VV) and Black Veil Brides (BVB) announced their tour together, it was hard to figure out who was more excited: the two generations of Metal fans sure to grab tickets fast or the bands themselves. Black Veil Brides frontman Andy Biersack was quick to say “Ville is an icon.” while Valo humorously considered the opportunity to be “tinnitus-inducingly romantic”. The two then added Dark Divine to the mix for the simply titled “The BVB & VV 2023 Tour”, appropriately sponsored by Hot Topic. Together, the three acts began touring on September 10th in Louisville, KY and it was quick to see how simpatico the trio were while also being dissimilar enough to never feel repetitive. Fifteen days and several stops later, the tour arrived in Huntington, NY having already gotten into a groove over the previous two weeks.
While fans warmed up from the change of seasons outside, Dark Divine was ready to heat things on stage. The group formed in 2021 and first caught fire the next year when their first single, “Halloweentown” off the likewise named album became a TikTok sensation as an entry in the Motionless in White Open Verse Contest. Hailing from Orlando, Florida, vocalist Anthony Martinez, guitarists Jason Thomas and Robby Lynch, drummer Triston Blaize, and bassist Jarret Robinson came onto the stage. Their painted faces and overall look could easily have convinced fans that Halloween had arrived a month and a half early.
The group had fun on stage, opening with the newer track “Drown” before showing tracks off their debut album with “Run Away” and “Circles”. Between tracks, Martinez pumped up the Long Island crowd, gearing them up for the headlining acts while also ensuring they were heavily into the opening band. The band worked the crowd into a frenzy by the time they closed out with “Halloweentown” proving this band is more treat than trick. If the last two years are anything to go by, the ceiling is high for Dark Divine. Their onstage presence is undisputable and the songs are impossible not to bang your head along with.
A quick turnaround of the stage signaled Ville Valo’s turn to grace the stage. A large heartagram with an extra “v”, the singer’s trademark symbol, let fans know the Finnish vocalist was next on the lineup. The symbol once synonymous with his band HIM has continued to define Valo’s music, the perfect synergy between love and metal. The show marked his first time with or without HIM to grace the venue’s stage, though he had played a short train ride away in Manhattan’s Irving Plaza back in March. This gave fans a very rare chance to see VV twice in a year on two separate tours. That tour came fresh off the release of Valo’s solo album, Neon Noir, which was also on full display for the Long Island crowd from the start with “Echolocate Your Love”. Song by song, Valo bounced back and forth between new tracks and classic HIM cuts. Throughout the performance, VV enjoyed having fans sing along, aiming his microphone at the crowd multiple times and grinning as they responded loudly with the lyrics to his music.
For longtime fans, VV dug into HIM’s repertoire with cuts of “The Funeral of Hearts”, “Buried Alive by Love” and “Rip Out the Wings of a Butterfly” to name a few. Meanwhile, Neon Noir was well represented with “The Foreverlost”, “Loveletting” and “Run Away From The Sun” among others. Throughout the set, the heartagram on stage lit several neon colors, painting the stage in neon. VV closed out the set with “Saturine Saturnalia”. Curiously, when VV finished his final lyric, he graciously thanked fans and left the stage, leaving the rest of the band to enjoy the spotlight. Guitarists Mikko Virta and Sampo Sundström, bassist Juho Vehmanen, and drummer Risto Rikala finished the final portion of the song without the lead singer in a way that felt like it was leading to an encore that sadly never came. Still, Valo’s time on stage was easy to get lost in.
Another short change of the stage brought out several platforms as well as a raised drum set for the headliners. Black Veil Brides had last graced the Paramount stage the previous year as part of the Trinity Of Terror Tour alongside Motionless In White and Ice Nine Kills back in August for a sold-out show. This show was looking nearly as packed with the BVB Army excited to see the headliners perform. The Hollywood, California Metal outfit was ready for the lights, cameras, and action as they hit the stage with “Crimson Skies”. Throughout the night guitarists Jake Pitts and Jinxx took to the platforms under a spotlight, standing back to back to melt fans with scorching guitar solos while Andy Biersack took advantage of every inch of the stage on vocals.
The band treated long-time fans by playing both “Perfect Weapon” and “Knives and Pens” off their 2010 debut album We Stitch These Wounds. A sizable mosh pit opened up as the band made their way through the set, with an occasional crowd surfer making their way to the front of the stage. During “Lost It All”, Jinkxx traded his guitar for a violin, showing off his skills on the classical instrument. During the penultimate “Fallen Angels”, Biersack had fans singing along with the catch chorus as fans pumped their hands into the air. Fittingly, “In The End” closed out the band’s night with a huge ovation. Sadly, no encores tonight, though all three bands had plenty of time to shine on stage.
The BVB & VV Tour is a love letter to two generations of Goth Metal fans. The only oddity of the night was the lack of “Temple Of Love”. The two bands released a cover of Sister of Mercy’s “Temple of Love” together and it felt as if VV joining Black Veil Brides on stage would have been the perfect way to end the night. Still, that’s a small gripe with an otherwise great show. The BVB & VV 2023 continues through October 20th where it’ll wrap up at the Riverside Municipal Auditorium in Riverside, California. Black Veil Brides then take a short break before heading overseas for a European Tour as support for Halestorm’s “Back From The Dead” Tour. For Valo, the future is a little less clear. The vocalist has a small handful of European shows scheduled for next year with the final show, at London’s historic Royal Albert Hall, marking the end of the VV persona. Fans will have to wait and see where the musician takes his fans, and himself, next.
Hot Topic Presents
BLACK VEIL BRIDES & VV
wsg. DARK DIVINE
2023 Tour Dates:
Sept 10 – Louisville, KY @ Paristown Hall
Sept 11 – Birmingham, AL @ Avondale Brewing Company
Sept 12 – St. Petersburg, FL @ Jannus Live
Sept 14 – Myrtle Beach, SC @ House of Blues
Sept 15 – Baltimore, MD @ Rams Head Live!
Sept 16 – Niagara Falls, NY @ The Rapids Theater
Sept 17 – Toronto, ON @ HISTORY
Sept 19 – Montreal, QC @ MTELUS
Sept 20 – Hampton Beach, NH @ Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom
Sept 22 – Wallingford, CT @ Dome at Toyota Oakdale Theater
Sept 23 – Bethlehem, PA @ Wind Creek Event Center
Sept 24 – Montclair, NJ @ The Wellmont Theater
Sept 25 – Huntington, NY @ The Paramount
Sept 27 – Grand Rapids, MI @ GLC Live at 20 Monroe
Sept 28 – Gary, IN @ Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana
Sept 29 – Columbus, OH @ KEMBA Live!
Sept 30 – Indianapolis, IN @ Egyptian Room at Old National Centre
Oct 01 – Chesterfield, MO @ The Factory
Oct 03 – Austin, TX @ ACL Live
Oct 05 – Tulsa, OK @ Tulsa Theater
Oct 06 – Omaha, NE @ Steelhouse Omaha
Oct 07 – Madison, WI @ The Sylvee
Oct 09 – Winnipeg, MB @ Burton Cummings Theatre
Oct 11 – Edmonton, AB @ Edmonton Convention Centre
Oct 12 – Calgary, AB @ Grey Eagle Event Centre
Oct 14 – Vancouver, BC @ Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre
Oct 15 – Spokane, WA @ The Podium
Oct 16 – Seattle, WA @ Paramount Theatre
Oct 18 – Garden City, ID @ Revolution Concert House
Oct 19 – Wheatland, CA @ Hard Rock Live
Oct 20 – Riverside, CA @ Riverside Municipal Auditorium