“If I were able to get a tattoo when I was twelve, I would have absolutely gotten a heartagram!” That was a common conversation circulating through a sold-out Varsity Theater on Tuesday night as we all impatiently waited to relive our youth with VV (also known as Ville Valo; also known as the lead singer of HIM). Honestly, I agreed with that statement and there are still days I think about getting that heartagram tattooed on me but more on what a heartagram is and who VV is later.
Opening the dark and moody night was Kælan Mikla. The chant-like opening of her set wasn’t the only moment throughout their quick thirty-minute set that had the crowd absolutely captivated. Musically, Kælan’s sound is a perfect balance of ambient beauty with industrial energy. From small dances that lead singer Laufey Soffia did throughout the set to the way that the other members swayed to the powerful beat, there was something so organic and free about the opening set but also something dark and moody– which would end up being the theme of the night. Personally, the music just wasn’t for me but the vocals were. There was one moment where Laufey stood a couple of feet behind the microphone and let her voice travel to it. It was a small and subtle move on her part but the vocal effect it gave and the way the voice easily reached that microphone said everything that needed to be said about this woman. She has pipes and a voice of a songbird.
Before I get into the headlining set of the night, let’s go back to this heartagram thing. What is a heartagram you may ask? It’s just a logo that mixes a heart with a pentagram. Simple enough but it was an image that an entire generation latched onto. Let me take you back to the day when we were all wannabe pro-skateboarders and were all pulling pranks on our parents. That’s right, I’m taking you back to the days when Viva La Bam was on constant repeat on our DVD players. Those were the glory days, am I right? Okay, maybe the only people who feel that way were those who were in attendance on Tuesday night but that doesn’t change the fact that that show brought a lot of bands into the spotlight. From Bloodhound Gang to Turbonegro to CKY, Viva La Bam really did shine a light on a lot of interesting and obscure bands including HIM.
I remember my more gothic-inspired years when I was obsessed with HIM. Although those days are long gone and I find myself leaning towards more upbeat and positive tracks, I still have my days where I revisit the iconic HIM album ‘Razorblade Romance’ from 2000. Even though HIM has been around and releasing music since 1997, Tuesday night was my first time catching any form of this band. I only say that because, technically, we weren’t watching HIM on Tuesday night, we were watching the iconic vocalist Ville Valo. That being said, we did get some HIM songs in the setlist which was exactly what I had wanted. We also get to hear some of Ville’s new material being released under the solo name “VV” and although years have passed, nothing about VV has changed.
Although I may not have stayed connected with Ville, a lot of the audience had, and seeing people my age with their kids in tow to this show was just the cherry on top of a beautiful night. Ville Valo (and HIM if we’re being honest) never quite reached the mark that I thought he would. Sure, being Bam’s friend and the recognizable heartagram logo brought him some star power but, looking back, it was just a flash in the pan which is a bummer. The music that Ville has been putting out for decades is distinct. It’s dark, moody, and full of passion and finally seeing that translate into a live show after decades of listening to it was truly a treat.