(Armed with free tickets, DGR took a trip down memory lane, attending two Sacramento shows headlined by Powerman 5000 and Static-X, and here’s his write-up about the experiences.)
In all seriousness, I never would’ve thought that I’d ever see Powerman 5000, or Static-X. I loved them back in the beginnings of my music listening days but as I got older my tastes changed. They were constantly touring when I was about thirteen, yet I couldn’t afford to go to any of the shows, much less try to convince my parents to take me out to some fucking club in Oakland or San Jose because some band with goofy hair happened to be there, which would’ve taken more effort than I could fathom.
After I could afford to go to such shows I began to play with the idea of seeing both bands, but never seriously. That was until about three o’clock on Wednesday of last week when the lovely people from Ace Of Spades in Sacramento emailed me a message that basically said, “Hey, you’ve been to a lot of shows here, do you want to go to these two for free?”
My response initially was, “Well that’s bullshit”. I checked the email more closely though, and all they asked for was my name and the number of tickets I wanted, and I figured, well shit, it’s a drive downtown, which is fifteen minutes tops. All I have to do is hit the door, have them tell me that I’m a fucking idiot, and then go home and sleep. Yet 6:30 hit on Wednesday and there I was, standing inside the venue, ready to watch four local bands and then Powerman 5000 take the stage, with two tickets to a Static-X show on Friday as well.
So you know what? Why not talk about some of the bands I saw over those two days, at the very least providing a link to their Facebook page so other people can look into them, whether I liked them or not. As always, I’ll be including the Facebook links in their band names, and if any video from that specific show pops up I’ll be sure to add it.
If you’re looking for the usual heavy stuff you may want to move along, I’ve got more of that in the works but this won’t be it.
This show is the more difficult of the two to review. I will fully admit that at this point in my life I may be the most out-of-touch person in the world when it comes to radio- and more mainstream rock, which is what a few of the bands opening for Powerman 5000 were. I’ve actually seen White Minorities before and talked about them a bit when they opened for Testament. I’ve heard Prylosis bandied about, so I was mildly interested in seeing them, but what I had heard on Facebook wasn’t the most incredibly metal. That’s fine, but I don’t have an ear really attuned to that music.
I figure at the very least I can provide a descriptor of what the bands are trying to do, and if some folks are interested in learning more, they can click forth on the links I provide and check out the bands themselves.
White Minorities remain an odd act, to say the least. Their vocalist has a humongous range of shrieks, growls, clean vocals, and yes, rapping ability, and he seems to be adding more and more of it to each song. Songs that they played the last time I saw them have changed a bit for the heavier. That said, pretty much everything else I’ve said before stands:
They’re a bit schizophrenic in where their songs go, they still have the lady doing sign language (I think? If not, she’s one hell of an interpretive dancer), and the music just hasn’t quite clicked with me yet. Maybe it never will. It’s worth looking into if you were into the nu-metal/rock scene of the early aughts, as a large chunk of what they did with their earlier work is reflective of that. Their later stuff is a little more heavy and a little thrashier, so you might find something enjoyable there.
As a local band, they do have quite a bit of freedom with what they do on each song, but by the same token, the changing sounds sort of makes it seem like you’ve seen five different bands by the time they wrap up their set.
If there is one thing I’ve learned through my years of listening to music, it is that two types of singers are incredibly polarizing: female vocalists and power metal singers. Something about those two seems to really land people on either the love-it or hate-it side of the fence. Fair Struggle are another Sacramento rock band who played the show that night and they have a lady vocalist. She’s pretty good for this style of music and she’s able to really belt stuff out when she wants to. Quite a few times I thought maybe it was just the mix that had her really loud, only to actually check the stage and see her holding the mic far enough away that the volume actually should have been dampened some.
The musical subject matter targets a lot of standard fare, such as relationships and the wreckage of them left behind. Fair Struggle’s music leans more toward simpler arena-rock fare, so if you’re looking for bombastic choruses then you may find something here.
If White Minorities hadn’t started adding death growls to the mix of their set, Prylosis would’ve been the heaviest act of the night. They’re a rock/metal hybrid that goes about 80/20 on the singing/screaming ratio. They seem to have a good sense of humor about themselves and their vocalist is highly mobile. Dude ran by me like four times, which started something of a trend over the course of the two shows I hit up, where people would run off of the stage..and plow into me while doing it.
If you’re familiar with stuff played on the radio, then Prylosis will be right up your alley. Not heavy enough to offend, but with enough hooks to give listeners the ability to sing along.
I didn’t know what to expect here. When the band started setting up they were in all white and had their own lighting. Last time I saw a band do the all-white outfits with their own specific lighting (including the four or five light tubes that would change color) it was Tool. The Original don’t sound like them in any way, instead more like the post-grunge rock that was hitting in the late 90’s prior to the nu-metal explosion, going head on with stuff like Audioslave and Soundgarden.
They played something of a short set, which was a little surprising. Most bands this night played about seven or eight songs, while these guys stuck to what sounded like five of their own tunes and a cover song. This is also the second group where the lead vocalist (who is talented) ran off the stage and decided to use the bar that they have set up for kids under 21 (Rockstar for $3! Whooo!) as a stage, much to the chagrin of the poor girl behind it. At least he didn’t plow into me, so they get bonus points for that. If what I’ve said perked your interest, check out the link above, because holy shit was it hard to find.
I think at this point Powerman 5000’s vocalist has completely transformed into Billy Idol. This specific version of the band has been around since the late 2000’s, so it’s not really the band whose first two discs I enjoyed. Everything after that was a little bit more punk rock, whereas I enjoyed the various electronics and industrial stuff they tried. I don’t know much about this specific version of the group except that apparently one of the guitarists was in Damone, which is alright by me. I still hold that Damone’s “Out Here All Night” is a fucking catchy-as-hell song and one of the best Rock Band DLC’s to date.
I didn’t expect the band to play as many songs as they did, but damn, they kicked out about seventeen tracks that night. I recognized about 3/4ths of them from various media exposures, including radio. It never occurred to me how many of them were written with a basic 1-2-3-4 march during the chorus so the band could jump up and down along with the fans. They played one new track called “How To Be A Human” that was pretty hammy but went over well enough with everyone.
They walked off stage, which made me think they were aiming for an encore, but were back pretty quick. They brought out some masks that had the eyes light up and played the last few songs wearing them, with the exception of Spider, of course, since its his band. They closed with “Worlds Collide”, which caused everyone there to lose their shit, of course. That was entertaining to watch. I was pretty excited to hear “Bombshell”, which was one of younger Dave’s favorites. This was one band checked off the list for sure. It was pretty entertaining and the whole band seemed to be having a good time with it.
What an odd tour package. It reminded me a lot of the Slayer/Manson Mayhem 2009 bill that tried to hybrid their two audiences together. Static-X are doing the same thing here, combining the nostalgia for their sound with the guys from Winds Of Plague. Openers Davey Suicide fit well with the Static-X billing as they’re something of a time capsule themselves, and The Browning pretty much make this tour a 50/50 breakdownfest and nostalgia show. It really was something to witness.
I’ve always been mildly amused by the concept of The Browning, so I was interested in seeing them, as well as knocking Static-X off my 8th-grade-bands-I-loved-but-couldn’t-see-live list, so I was pretty much there with bells on. We also had the fun of having local group Chernobog (who are developing a bit of a fan base out here) opening up, just to make things a little bit heavier. The fact that I was there for free and the potential that the other two bands might not be bad was just a bonus in my mind, but the night turned out to be surprisingly fun.
Chernobog were the local openers for the night. Don’t let the face paint fool you, they bounce between a variety of different genres. They’re pretty heavily groove-metal focused, including the usual testosterone-fueled lyrics that specific version of the genre is prone to. They also get really heavy when they want, which gives the whole show a sense of being whipsawed back and forth.
I came bounding through the door right as they started and got a pretty good spot to the right of the stage. It’s a spot that I love in that venue, but it does have its cons. I don’t know when running off the stage became a thing for frontmen but over these two shows I saw four different bands do it. It’s not much of an issue except for the fact that they all seemed convinced that they needed to plow into me as they did it.
Chernobog also had time for a pretty substantive setlist, which was great because it exposed them to a lot of different people. They’re something different for people who may think that Sacramento is getting a little -core and tech-death heavy. The folks at RockHardLive captured the show on film. I have no idea how much footage they have of each band, but they did capture these guys, including an interview and the very song where I got plowed into as their lead guy was trying to reach the pit. You can check that fucker out here.
Holy hell, if nothing else these guys are a spectacle and a half to watch. They moved around on that stage a lot, so even if you didn’t enjoy the music you can’t deny it was entertaining to watch. They’re dedicated to their look and styling on stage, which is brave as hell because that’s a fucking lot of fabric and leather to wear in the Sacramento heat, even inside. All of them are also terrifyingly tall, given that I’m 5’9. These guys + the extra foot they get from their hair seemed like Ents from Lord Of The Rings.
They’re from Hollywood, CA, which should help explain the look, and they hybrid the sort of straightforward rock + some glam elements that groups like Motley Crue peddled ages back. On top of that, they try to dirty things up a bit with some hefty Guns N Roses influence and a schizophrenic tendency to get heavy as unholy hell out of nowhere (which I found myself enjoying far more than I thought I would). Obviously, not all their music was going to be targeted toward my tastes, and I can’t imagine that the ballad they played second-to-last did wonders with the Winds Of Plague bald dudes in the audience, but I did enjoy a bit of it for what it was.
Their laptopist/keyboardist who also does backing vocals is one of two unsung heroes in that group as well. Guy has got a vicious scream on him, and so does their bassist. Their bassist also is lively as hell and he’s got a shriek going, too. Both of the backing vocals served to augment their frontman’s gritty singing style, which like much of the band is a hybrid of something modern and something from eras gone by. It won’t be offending people who spend time liston the radio. Either way, their frontman nailed it when he asked the crowd, “Bet you guys didn’t know the circus was coming to town, did you?”
For some reason, I’ve taken a shine to The Browning. It might just be a case of me thinking that most electronica + metalcore bands are fucking stupid, so I’m just going to like the stupidest one. Or it might be that they’ve figured out, somewhat, how to work the two things together without making the usual mistake of creating songs sounding like piecemeal and haphazard breakdowns and two steps in one bedroom being played by one kid, and the kid’s sibling blasting the latest Eurotrance fad in the next room.
There was a lot of jumping going on during these guys’ set. If you’ve ever looked for a band who you could lose weight to, just go see The Browning three or four times. The songs are simple enough to figure out from the get-go, but fucking hell, after all the jumping you’ll be ten pounds lighter, easily. Hell, the guys are so in sync that they do the same thing on stage together, from a lot of the headbanging, to the jumping, to many other movements. It was both odd to watch and oddly hypnotic.
They kept asking where all the party people were, which I guess is better than trying to make some fanbase out of their name. Either way, they fit in well on the Winds Of Plague side of the spectrum, just due to a love of slowing things down for the basic chugs and breakdowns. They tried to form a wall of death during the song “Time Will Tell” and only about half the venue went for it. I hopped off the floor and found an excellent seat in the upper bar because I’m not fucking stupid. I bitch about how my back hurts at age 24 sometimes, I’d be fucking dead if I tried to run into a wall of death of any sort. Hell, if I hit a turnstyle at a baseball game I might be down for the count. I walked away from the show just as amused as I was when I got there.
Winds Of Plague played. I must have been abducted by aliens because I seem to have about forty five minutes missing from memory that I can’t seem to find. Think I’ll have to ask Whitley Strieber about this.
Yeah, for purists this wasn’t what someone would call the real Static-X. It’s Wayne’s solo band doing Static-X songs, but it seems like the members of the original group are fine with it or just had no interest in tagging along, and it’s not like I would’ve flipped my shit over Tony Campos’ bass playing, so I figured this was good enough. Plus, I’ve seen the other members as part of other projects throughout the years (in the case of Tony Campos, Prong) so this piece makes a really odd puzzle complete, I imagine.
One of my biggest curiosities was who they were going to use for a bassist, because the one who had been touring with them had literally quit the band three days prior. Well, they rectified that situation by bringing back the opener’s bassist.
That said, the Static-X live show is about as strange as trying to put the band into one specific genre. I’ve had more than my fair share of eye rolls at the concept of ‘evil disco’ but I can’t really think of anything better, so it’s one of the things I’ve always rolled with. They don’t do much in the way of lighting. Our venue in particular just left on the red lights for almost their whole set, which matched up with the color of the bass drum heads on the drummers kit.
Obviously, Wayne Static is pretty magnetic in his own right, but the rest of the band also put in quite a bit of work trying to liven up the stage. They played a long set that was comprised of stuff mostly from their first two discs, with two songs or so pulled from everything post Machine and one solo Wayne Static tune, which go figure, sounds like a heavier Static-X song.
Also, they’ve added a lady who I can only imagine is the Lady Static from the look of things, whose role it is to go up there and play something of an insane go-go dancer/cheerleader for most of the songs. She’ll go from twirling around glow sticks on strings, to twirling a shovel, to dressing up like a rabbit… She did about six different outfit changes, including a few where she ripped her top off to reveal some convenient placed X’s across her breasts. I should’ve seen it coming, but I still found myself going, “Oh, huh, right” when she did it.
The songs themselves sounded a tad heavier than I remember them, which was nice. The song “This Is Not”, for instance, seems to have gotten faster over the years, and man, did those drums get a workout for most of the set. Their drummer spent most of the song “Just In Case” standing up. Wayne Static, as you can imagine, still sounds a fucking ton like Wayne Static, even after the eight or nine shots he dropped during the actual show.
It made for an entertaining night to say the least, and now I can check them off of the ‘bands I couldn’t afford to see when I was younger’ list. They played a tremendous amount of material and had fun with it.