'Weapon Tour' a real power trip
By Steve Morse, Globe Staff, 11/14/2001
LOWELL - This was the biggest paid show in the history of Boston radio station WFNX-FM (101.7), which celebrated its ''new rock alternative'' format Monday by presenting the aggressive Music as a Weapon Tour in all its noisy, Osama bin Laden-bashing glory. It was a tough night for bin Laden, who was given the middle-finger salute by the band Adema and jeered with vengeful words from the no-less-compromising Stereomud: ''The last thing that will run through Osama's body will be pain.''
More than 6,800 fans attended this state-of-the-art, aggro-metal slugfest. Backstage, tour organizers demanded that 'FNX DJs down tequila shots before they introduced the acts, while more than a few members of the crowd looked to be on their own highs. The testosterone also flowed liberally, as the bands staked their claim for the returning primacy of loud 'n' rude rock 'n' roll. As Stereomud singer Erik Rogers told the fans, ''For the last two months, the Music as a Weapon tour has been fighting the cause against `pop music.' So we say to the Backstreet Boys, 'N Sync, and Britney Spears: `Leave and back off!'''
The five-hour show had some flaccid moments - opening act Systematic was a yawner - but the show built steadily to an unforgettable, bone-crunching set by Disturbed, which not only fired up the mosh pit, but imparted some powerful messages about racism and anti-Semitism. Singer David Draiman added a theatrical element to the once-sparse Disturbed program by appearing in a concentration-camp uniform and stepping into a mock gas chamber, as video clips lit up the Tsongas Arena with images of Hitler and the Holocaust, as well as of civil rights marches and lynchings (two mannequins with nooses around their necks hung from a back curtain). The words ''arrested for being different'' and ''punished for being different'' were also flashed across the screen.
Disturbed was not to be denied as the clear headliner and fan favorite, after scoring such radio hits as ''The Sickness,'' ''Stupefy,'' and ''Voices,'' while also being on the last two Ozzfests. And Draiman, as forceful a character as any in modern rock-metal, captivated the crowd with his leather-lunged screams and no-nonsense delivery. When he spied a beach ball in the audience, he even stopped the show and said, ''A beach ball has absolutely no purpose at a Disturbed show. None.''
Runner-up for crowd support was Drowning Pool, the Dallas band with the mosh-pit anthem ''Bodies'' (''Let the bodies hit the floor,'' singer Dave Williams raved in the chorus) and the Black Sabbath roots. The other openers didn't fare as well. Systematic was flat; Stereomud was, yes, muddy; and Adema, though hyperactive, didn't offer much except its hit, ''Pain.'' The bands that are definitely going places are Disturbed and Drowning Pool, as this historic 'FNX show confirmed.