Sunday, August 28, 2005

SOAD ROCKS!

System of A Down did not disappoint. They were just awesome - a phenomenal combination of melodic thrash, punk metal, spirituality, politics and silliness. They played almost the entire "Toxicity" and "Mezmerize" discs. There wasn't a single song I had hoped to hear that they didn't take care of. Since they have so many short songs, never wasted time with even a single solo, and didn't ever take a break or encore, it felt like they played at least 50 songs. Especially when compared to opener The Mars Volta whose never ending jams made me think of Black Sabbath crossed with The Grateful Dead with Minnie Mouse singing. In their hour long set, I think they played two songs. I could appreciate the musicianship but it just became background music to me.

SOAD on the other hand, grabbed the audience by the throat right from the start and never let go. The show featured an open, sparse stage with some cool LED light displays capable of tons of patterns and colors. They did a couple verses of Neil Young's "Rock and Roll Will Never Die" before playing a new tune "Kill Rock and Roll". The new album, "Hypnotize" comes out in November and they undersold it calling it just like "Mezmerize" but with different songs. The sound was great - nice and loud but still clear and all the harmonies were right on - except maybe on "Question!", the current single. During its softer parts voices sounded a bit out of tune, but it was probably the 10,000 tone deaf fans who often drowned out the band during their rare softer moments. Later they played a bit of Dire Straits' "Sultans Of Swing" which was very cool, especially with the lyric change: "we are the system of a down." Just a great high energy, crowd singing, psychotic show. System is one of the very best bands to scream along to, I was just exhausted by then end (still am). And the people I met at the show left early! LOSERS!

SOAD Set list:
SOLDIER SIDE
BYOB
REVENGA
KNOW
NEEDLES
DEER DANCE
SUGGESTIONS
PSYCHO
CHOP SUEY
KILL ROCK N ROLL
SAD STATUE
VIOLENT PORNOGRAPHY
MR. JACK
CIGARO
THIS COCAINE MAKES ME FEEL LIKE I'M ON THIS SONG
BOUNCE
ATWA
FOREST
LOST IN HOLLYWOOD
QUESTION!
WAR?
PRISON SONG
AERIALS
TOXICITY
SCIENCE
SUITE PEE
SUGAR

1 Comments:

Blogger AF Grant said...

MUSIC REVIEW
Mars Volta steps out, System steps up
By James Parker, Globe Correspondent | August 29, 2005

System of a Down
With the Mars Volta
At: Worcester DCU Center, Saturday

WORCESTER -- Cedric Bixler Zavala, frontman for the Mars Volta, is a spectacular dancer.

Saturday night at the DCU Center, as his seven-piece band poured out highly mutated progressive rock -- a sound that marries the titanic riffing of Led Zeppelin to the polyrhythmic pulse of Fela Kuti's Afrobeat orchestras -- Zavala tore up the stage. He stamped and twisted, backsliding on his Cuban heels, kicking away the base of the mike stand to make a sudden drop, the bulb of his afro quivering indignantly above the slim, black-clad body, and all of this without missing a note of his wailing, swirling vocal lines. A saxophone screamed then chuckled; the music rose around him like flames.

Physically astonishing, the Mars Volta is still somehow remote. There are grand exorcisms in the music, but its demons are not announced. The lyrics read like Dylan Thomas fed through a sci-fi blender, full of ruptured anatomies, altered states, and other symptoms of an overheated mental life. A sub-section of the track ''Cassandra Gemini," off the band's latest album ''Frances the Mute," is called ''Plant a Nail in the Navel Stream." One wonders what goes on inside the tour bus. Poetry slams? Birthing rituals?

It's a brave band that takes the Mars Volta out on the road, but the members of System of a Down know what they're doing. These four Californian post-metal heads, all of Armenian descent, have connected with their audience in a manner that only highlights the opening act deficits. The crowd, churning excitedly under a gauzy, germy haze, was wired into every flicker and time-change, every falsetto squeal, and metallicized grunt. ''Violent Pornography," a cultural diatribe from this year's hugely successful album ''Mesmerize," turned into the most ferocious sing-along heard outside an English soccer stadium.

Singer Serj Tankian, nodding along in untucked shirt and comfortable trousers, has less-than-dazzling stage moves. But his gestures -- the extended palm, the inclined head -- are those of an orator, not a rock star.

In a gnawing, satirical voice often compared to the Dead Kennedy's Jello Biafra (another highly politicized frontman), Tankian jabbers out his sermons while his bandmates twitch and roar behind him. There's mockery in System of a Down's presentation -- the posturings of guitarist Daron Malakian are particularly arch -- but the kids are in on it; each elaborate grimace and burlesqued cry of ''jump up and down!" only heightened the fervor. ''You and me / Will all go down in history / With a sad Statue of Liberty . . ." Young men with shaved heads and big beards, as if their heads were on upside-down, thrashed exultantly. Like it or not, this is the current face of protest music.


© Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

Monday, August 29, 2005 6:40:00 PM  

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