When the poster for this gig came out, I couldn’t believe it. Not because they’d replaced Static-X‘ late king of evil disco with a masked substitute. Nah, that could go either way. It was the line-up that made my eyes almost pop out of their sockets. I mean, come on! Dope? Soil? Wednesday 13? I felt like I was a fifteen-year-old kid again. Remember what that was like back in ’05? When you couldn’t care less if your PC were turning into a disease-ridden slug just because you were cruising Limewire and consorts in search of increasingly heavy music? Well I’d forgotten. So I let the nostalgia work its merry way through me and grabbed a ticket for a night I was sure I would remember. Whether those memories would turn out to be good ones still remained to be seen.
The New Yorkers from Dope set up to warm us up with their catchy new wave of heavy metal grooviness. Now, this band never really enjoyed the same popularity in Europe as it did over in the States. Singer and sole remaining original member Brian Ebejer, otherwise known as Edsel Dope, pointed out the band had never even made it to Belgium until today. I initially thought it a shame Dope never got to playing here before. As a kid I would have nagged my parents’ ears off so they’d take me to see them, I’m sure. Angry and misunderstood as we are at that age, songs like ‘Die Mother Fucker Die‘ or ‘Everything Sucks‘ were of course bound to become our anthems.
But when you listen more closely to what is being sung, you become aware that this stuff’s nog longer that relevant. And somehow I got the feeling that I wasn’t the only one. I can’t help but wonder if Edsel feels the same way. At one point, he called Dope‘s cover of Dead Or Alive‘s ‘You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)‘ the “stupidest fucking song ever”. Despite having gotten over it, I had a fairly good time checking them out. This was more like a performance I could cross off my to-see list. They only played four songs due to scheduling and technical issues. So, like my youthful adoration for their music, Dope‘s set was over pretty quickly.
Tonight’s band that tickled my fancy the least, Soil was the band I’d hardly ever listened to. I got wind of a few songs when I was younger but by then I’d already started listening to heavier material without wanting to look back. A teenager’s error I would later luckily correct. Yet Soil always seemed to slip by me. Tonight they treated us to some heavy metal you would have heard when looking for music that would have fittingly held a spot on the ‘Queen Of The Damned‘ soundtrack. If you don’t get that reference, you’re either older or a lot younger than I am, or you’ve missed out on the whole vampire fad in the mid-2000s. Although I don’t know how that’s possible.
Anyway, Soil‘s musicians played a good set, but singer Ryan McCombs didn’t do a very good job at all. Did he seem way too drunk or was it just me? It really took me out of the experience. Strange for a band that is known to headline from time to time. Oh, one last thing though: props to the ‘Black Betty‘ cover!
Breaking Me Down
Give It Up
Black Betty (Lead Belly cover)
Wednesday 13 (*****)
I was surprisingly and most happily blown away by Wednesday 13‘s performance tonight, another first timer for me. Wednesday himself is a gigantic cinephile, and it clearly shows. The man pairs the old school shock rock movement popularized by Kiss, Alice Cooper or King Diamond with his passion for horror and cult movies. Although less prone to using props, he did change into more than one freaky costume over the course of the show. These ranged from a scarecrow to a butcher with a meat hook, all the way to resembling a demon worshipper. His fellow band members were also donning some form of mask or fluorescent body paint. Appearance-wise it was all very entertaining.
Now pair those looks with some killer heavy metal to boot and you’ve got a perfect show. It had been a while since I’d listened to anything Wednesday 13 put out over the last decade. But damn, they know how to stay up to date. Their sound was groovy, fast, and sometimes unexpectedly heavy. I was surprised they didn’t play anything older than 2013. Well, apart from ‘I Love To Say Fuck‘ by Frankenstein Draq Queens From Planet 13, another one of Wednesday‘s previous projects. Before you say anything, I am well aware Murderdolls – another of Wednesday‘s old bands – played that song too, but they did it a little later. This show was over way too soon. Its perfection left me wanting more. Such a shame time flies when you’re having fun.
Astro Psycho – Galactic Blood-Drive
Get Your Grave On
Prey For Me
What The Night Brings
Keep Watching The Skies
I Love To Say Fuck (Frankenstein Draq Queens From Planet 13 cover)
Damn, do I miss Wayne Static. And I miss him even more now that I’ve seen this show. Not at all in a bad way. Substitute singer Xer0 is magnificent in taking over from Wayne. This gig was not only perfectly enjoyable, it was a perfect memorial show in itself. All its different elements were beautiful and respectful to the legendary frontman we sadly lost in 2014.
First and foremost, this tour marks the 20th anniversary of Static-X‘ first album ‘Wisconsin Death Trip‘, which came out in 1999. Then you’ve got original members Tony Campos (bass) and Koichi Fukuda (guitar, keys, programming), and even Ken Jay (drums) returning for the occasion. The character Xer0, still rumored to be portrayed by Dope‘s singer Edsel, is a very worthy substitute on vocals, nearly flawlessly mimicking Wayne‘s raspy, ranged and curt vocal style. The mask he wore was quite interesting with ‘X’-es carved on its forehead and eye sockets, a nice addition to preserve the mystical aspect of it all. The backdrop regularly showed photos, clips and other memories of Wayne, a very moving endeavor which made the show feel like the world’s coolest (and heaviest) wake. It’s a if all Static-X fans had one final opportunity to pay their respects to a fallen hero.
Lastly, we were treated to an amazing set list. ‘Wisconsin Death Trip‘ was, of course, played in its entirety. But they switched it up with a few other legendary tracks like ‘Cold‘ (speaking of ‘Queen Of The Damned‘), ‘This Is Not‘ or ‘Behemoth‘. I often enjoy myself at metal shows, but this one will easily take a spot among my all-time favorites. A truly memorable performance indeed.
Bled For Days
Wisconsin Death Trip
Sweat of the Bud
The Trance Is the Motion
Get to the Gone
Black and White
This is Not
Start a War
I’m With Stupid