I can honestly say that the “Create Your Own Conspiracy” Contest we hosted with Nevermore earlier this year — in which we invited anyone with a microphone and the means to record it to write their own lyrics to the instrumental version of the as-yet-unreleased “The Obsidian Conspiracy” — was one of the most fun, if not the most fun contest we’ve held in the nearly four years we’ve been running this site. Watching all the entries come in was a blast — some of them good, some of them not so good — but what really made it special was that the winner, Ben Robson, really deserved it. His prize: the opportunity to perform his version of the song on-stage with Nevermore when they next came through his hometown of Pittsburgh.

That opportunity finally came a couple of weeks ago, and Ben’s friends Kyle Heider, Steph Malesic and a whole posse of friends were there with him to film the proceedings! Kyle put together a mini-documentary featuring some of Ben’s contest-winning submission, a pre-show meet-and-greet with Warrel Dane, and what you’ve all been waiting for — multi-camera footage of Ben’s legendary performance — and he’s released it exclusively to MetalSucks to share with you all today. Ben’s performance is epic in all its Penguins-jerseyed glory; it makes me smile even more than his wildly entertaining contest entry did, and that’s saying a lot. Put simply, Ben fucking killed it!

Ben came out again for the band’s encore of “Enemies of Reality” and performed it as a duet with Warrel Dane; that footage, as well as a video with just the “Obsidian Conspiracy” performance, is posted after the jump. Ben also wrote up a blog about the entire experience, and we’ve posted that after the jump too. Thanks to Nevermore, Century Media and Ben and everyone else who entered the contest!

A summary of the day’s events:

I’m a music education major at Duquesne University, which is conveniently only about ten blocks from Diesel, the venue at which the show was taking place. Today I suddenly got “sick” in time to miss my latest class and walk down to the venue for soundcheck at 3. As I’m meandering the streets of Pittsburgh’s South Side, a cultural hotspot primarily known for onmipresent bars and omnipresent illegally parked vehicles, I catch a glimpse of a bus in the vicinity of Diesel. I wonder to myself if it’s one of the bands’ tour buses. Suddenly, out of the bus comes a guy who looks a lot like Warrel Dane. Upon further inspection, it’s WARREL FUCKING DANE. He asks me how I’m doing, he tells me he just woke up and has to take a shit, he goes into the venue and doesn’t come back for like 20 minutes. We’ve all been there.

Warrel, the tour manager, and a lady who works at the venue explain all the details to me. I hang out with Jeff Loomis for a while. He’s a pretty quiet guy, which is weird considering he’s well over six feet tall and is built like a heavy metal Frankenstein. We talk about playing guitar, being a student, what it would be like to go to Berklee (the consensus was that it would be fucking expensive), and other fun Nevermore-related stuff. I’m really not sure how I manage to keep my composure through all this considering Nevermore are one of my all-time favorite bands and I should have been speechless and starstruck. It’s weird to see your “heroes” in the flesh – they’re people just like you, apparently. Only way more awesome.

It’s soundcheck. The band plays Narcosynthesis and Inside Four Walls, then brings me onstage to sing my version of The Obsidian Conspiracy. It was a rush – I’d been onstage for a lot of reasons before, but never with a band that could play like Nevermore do. I can’t stress enough how technical their music is and how well they pull it all off live. Van Williams is a machine. My friends show up for the meet-and greet and we piss around for a while before we get to go in and meet the band. Good times.

The show goes on, my time comes to sing, and Warrel pulls me onstage and introduces me. It takes me a few minutes to get into the swing of things but once the song starts, I’m off in my own world. I really don’t remember much of being onstage. Watching the video of myself, I do a lot of stuff that I probably wouldn’t have if I’d thought about it more. I’m belting my lungs out because I can’t hear myself over the instruments, so loud that I give myself a cramp. I then realize that I have a microphone, and everyone else can hear me anyway. I actually hurt myself so bad that I could barely sing the second chorus (listen, you’ll know what I mean). I think I recover pretty well though… when i’m finished, people are applauding. I don’t know what to say. Warrel says that I “fucking kick fucking ass.” Coming from someone who fucking kicks as much fucking ass as Warrel Dane, that means a lot to me. I don’t really think I fucking kick very much fucking ass, but for the sake of the moment, I just accept the compliment. Again, I don’t really know what to say. I just thank the band and go back into the audience to see the rest of the show. Nevermore continue to fucking kick even more fucking ass.

The last song of the set is Enemies of Reality. I’m in the crowd enjoying myself with my friends, and Warrel motions for me to come onstage again. I didn’t know this was going to happen. I rock-climb over my friend Jon’s head (I would later apologize profusely, but secretly I consider it vicarious, karmic punishment for the fact that his girlfriend accidentally kneed me in the thigh in a mosh pit earlier). I get to sing into the same microphone as Warrel. We trade off vocals. We do harmonies in the chorus. I probably sounded like goat turds because at this point I was completely lost in the moment and not paying attention to how I sounded or anything. An utter rush!

I thank the band and everyone for giving me the opportunity. I hang around with Jim Sheppard for a while after the show. He gives me free vinyl picture discs which apparently the band is way overstocked on. He also gives me a free hat. I don’t know where the hat came from, but it’s still awesome. My friends and I talk to Jim for like half an hour about what it was like in the old days of Sanctuary and such, some of our favorite bands, and Monday Night Football. Jim’s probably the coolest guy in the world. A few of us get to check out the tour bus, then I hang out with Warrel, Jim and Dagna (the bass tech/merch table girl) at a Greek restaurant. I get one last picture and finally leave for home at like 1 AM.

The whole day was an incredible experience. I got to meet some of my favorite musicians, saw a great metal show for free with good friends, and got to perform onstage TWICE with an awesome band! Thank you, Metalsucks, Century Media, and Nevermore for such an amazing opportunity, and for my “fifteen minutes of fame”. Also, thanks go out to my friends in real life and on the internet, and everyone else who watched my contest entry video. Your compliments and support mean a lot to me!

Stay Br00tal,

Ben Robson

“Enemies of Reality”:

“The Obsidian Conspiracy” (performance footage only):

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