STATIC X / DEVILDRIVER / DOPE / WEDNESDAY 13 / RAVEN BLACK
Date: 25th July, 2019
Venue: The Forge
Ticket: $25 / €22
The heat wave that had been baking the Chicago area for the last three days, was getting weaker right on time for a stacked billing. STATIC X are currently celebrating the 20th anniversary of “Wisconsin Death Trip” record and at the same time, paying respect to Wayne Static, who passed away on November, 2014. The show was set to start at 7pm or at least, this is what the facebook event page was saying, so I made sure to be there and see the entire billing from the start.
The show was sold-out and that’s exactly what I saw the moment as I entered The Forge; a venue filled to the brim [sic] with metalheads/industrial heads from all ages, both young and old. And because of that, the atmosphere inside the venue was just right, albeit a bit hot. Instead for RAVEN BLACK, the stage was being prepped for WEDNESDAY 13. Apparently, RAVEN BLACK had done their set before the time the FB event was saying. I should have known better to not trust 100% the info on the event page and call the venue instead. Anyways, the PAs were blasting off the intro for WEDNESDAY 13 and judging by how people were reacting they were ready for a good dose of Horror movie inspired Metal. The memories from the band’s recent show at House Of Blues in Chicago were quite fresh and therefore, I was excited to see what Mr. Wednesday 13 and his band had prepared for this reprise.
Theatrics are an important part on WEDNESDAY 13 shows and this was no different; the most talented frontman showed hooded with a hook in place of his left hand and assumed his position at the center of the stage where the lights had been strategically positioned. Once again, the blacklight body paint was adding the finishing touches on the show adding more dynamics in the performance. The groovy “Hail Ming” set the tone of the set and it was nice to see people reacting lively to this. Having the drum riser at the back for STATIC X and DEVILDRIVER did not leave lots of space for the constantly-moving frontman who had adjusted his performance accordingly. Wednesday 13 pays attention to the detail as he is matching the music with the visuals and in this instance, some handheld led lights made him look even more like an evil character from then70/80s Horror Movie. Awesome, right? Oh yeah, he showed up dressed like the devil for “Serpent Society” and I think, the reaction he received was the loudest for this set (the devil and Metal always mix great together). Ok, it is unfair not to mention “What The Night Brings” because its groove was just right to keep people dancing and moshing. Apparently, there was not a lot of time allocated for WEDNESDAY 13 because the songs were coming back-to-back and this, required everything to be organized especially with all the visuals and the different gimmicks the frontman was using. In shows like these, you will be reminded how important the visuals are and how they can boost the attention. I mean, it was fun to watch Wednesday 13 throwing something that looked like worms (fake of course) during “Pray For Me” and how he remained onstage in his two-personalities outfit having his back turned to the audience after the end of “Keep Watching The Skies”. Damn, that set felt short…
WEDNESDAY 13 setlist:
01. “Hail Ming”
02. “Get Your Grave On”
04. “Serpent Society”
05. “What the Night Brings”
06. “Prey for Me”
07. “Keep Watching The Skies”
(click to enlarge)
The stage crew was fast and efficient and got the stage ready for DOPE in a jiffy. That was an impressive feat because when you have a loaded billing you need to be able to keep everything in line, and this is exactly what they did. This would me my first time seeing DOPE onstage and just by looking around, I understood that I was most probably the only one. Yeah, the excitement had already entered the red zone the moment the band’s logo showed up on the really cool led screen. Still, I was not prepared for the energy explosion ton and off stage; “Blood Money” kicked off the set and put the word groove in capital letters. The energy bounced off the already hard-working audience and combined with the sold-out set-up made The Forge feel like a sauna. Still, it was such a cool situation especially when the crowd-surfing started. Yeah, it made taking photos even more challenging than the red leds had already made it for the digital cameras. I will correct myself and admit that the bodies flying all the way to the front made me feel less pissed off to the lights situation so, extra kudos to the audience. “6 6 Sick” speeded things up a bit and there was a quite loud sing-along.
Things were getting more physical with every song DOPE were throwing on the crowd and it became obvious, that the band has a solid and dedicated audience. “Sometimes the world sucks so it is great thing to have you guys”, Edsel Dope admitted and then let the Industrial-esque “Dedonaire” to put jumping up and down on the menu. Edsel said this show was the first one being sold-out and made a special mention to STATIC X. “Die, Boom, Bang, Burn, Fuck” was the proper follow-up to his saying and it was such a cool thing seeing everyone making their hands look like guns to follow the songs-lyrics. “Thank you all, for coming to the show; please, do not do something stupid after the show and end up in jail” DOPE’s frontman advised before adding: “We are going to do this stupidest song”. The timetable was quite tight and DOPE made sure to not cross the given time with the DEAD OR ALIVE cover on ““You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)”. I have to admit that the cover sounded great and gave the people one more chance to dance along (a.k.a. moshing around). DOPE took the momentum from the WEDNESDAY 13 set and added onto it. And we had DEVILDRIVER next…
01. “Blood Money”
03. “Bring It On”
05. “Die, Boom, Bang, Burn”
06. “You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)”
(click to enlarge)
With the second drum kit out of the way, the stage was open for DEVILDRIVER who now, had three led screens at their disposal; one at the back and two on the two sides of the stage. The audience’s mood and excitement were at the right level and everyone went (once again) crazy the moment the lights went out and the DEVILDRIVER logo appeared on the main screen. Damn, that looked badass. The short taped-intro revealed the set opener that was “Ruthless” and right there, the moshing started where it had left us with DOPE’s performance. Dez entered the stage last and with his trademark restlessness started growling the vocals. This time around, the band had painted faces and I have to admit, it looked great especially when combined with the colors coming from the screens showing scenes from 70s Horror movies. “Grinfucked” followed without taking a breather and it did not take much for the photo-pit to get “crowded” because the crowd-surfing was meant to be a huge part of this set. Along with Dez, bassist Diego Ibarra was roaming the stage taunting the fans to get more involved in this energy exchange. Oh yeah, Dez’s growls were the icing on this groovy cake during the mid-tempo “Cry For Me Sky (Eulogy Of The Scorned)” that has a unique way to make you feel invincible able to face anything and anyone. Isn’t amazing how music can make you feel?
“This is fuckin’ insane” said Dez and I believe, he stated the obvious but that not the time or the place for speeches… “Hold Back The Day” (I love the riff here) and my favorite, “I Could Care Less” kept us going with some sing-along action during the latter. “Open the god-damned floor” were the words the audience needed to assume the wall-of-death position and let it loose after the characteristic drum-roll and growl of “Not All Who Wander Are Lost”. Oh yeah, you can singing along and mosh at the same time… that’s right, metalheads are multi-taskers. Sometimes, cover songs are fun to listen to but not the best addition on live shows because the band’s original compositions are what matters. However, there those rare cases where a cover has become better than the original in the way that we like to call ‘the band has made the song one of their own’. “Sail” belongs in this category and for this reason, it has become a constant on DEVILDRIVER shows. The screens were showing the song’s lyric video adding another level to this awesome recording. Some may say, that Dez is just growling at the mic but if you pay close attention to his performance you should be to see the emotion that adds into his singing especially during this one. Waving hands side to side was another cool feat in this killer song.
Seeing the cowboys on the screens made me think that it was time for a Country cover but to my disappointment the setlist did not include any songs from “Outlaws 'Til the End, Vol. 1”l. “Before The Hangman's Noose” was the closet we would get to Country but moshing-wise it was the right choice. “Thank you for the sold out. A badass shout out to the first bands”, said Dez and then, asked the trademark question: “how many have you seen DEVILDRIVER live?” and I think I saw almost everyone raising his hands. Oh yeah, the band was among friends that night and we were rewarded with two COAL CHAMBER pieces; “Loco” (how appropriate, huh?) and “Fiend”.
The sounds of clashing thunder meant just one thing; “Clouds Over California” that reminded us how hot the last three days had been because The Forge had just turned into a steaming pot. “This is the last song so get in the fuckin’ pool” said Dez, because as you may know DEVILDRIVER rarely do encores. “End Of The Live” was the last song that night but I am sure, there will be a lot of fans who will be vising House Of Blues in Chicago for another DEVILDRIVER dose. Can you blame them?
03. “Cry For Me Sky (Eulogy Of The Scorned)”
04. “Hold Back The Day”
05. “I Could Care Less”
06. “Not All Who Wander Are Lost”
07. “My Night Sky”
09. “Before The Hangman’s Noose”
12. “Clouds Over California”
13. “End Of The Line”
(click to enlarge)
There were no signs of wear and tear from the audience and how could that be, as the headliners were ready to enter the stage. STATIC X were ready to kick off the set as a tribute to Wayne Static. There were two regular sized monitors for Xer0 who had been called to play the singer’s role and in fact, was wearing a mask that looked like Wayne. I guess, this was a way to keep the focus on honoring the memory of the departed band founder. So, the two monitors were for showing the lyrics although later, I’d found out that were also there to help keep the setlist flowing but I will explain this in a bit. “Bled For Days”, “Wisconsin Death Trip” and “Fix” came back-to-back and it became clear to me that the moshing and the crowd-surfing would not stop anytime soon. “Get your hands in the air, everybody jump”, said bassist Tony Campos, who looked equally excited with the sweaty faces in the front rows with “Sweat Of The Bud” sounding the charge. Aside from the lyrics, the two monitors were also showing when Xer0 should address the crowd. It is ok, to have something like “talk to the audience” and another to show what exactly say… On the other hand, no one knows how much pressure Xer0 felt in this awkward role fronting STATIC X. “How are you doing? Welcome to memorial tribute to Wayne Static. You wanna hear some more shit?” asked Xer0 and hit us with “Love Dump” and “I Am”.
The bodies kept flying all the way to the front and I think, there were more female metalheads than male ones crowd-surfing wearing huge smiles on their faces afterwards, as they were walking out of the photo-pit. By the way, kudos to the venue’s security guys who kept everyone safe without messing with their fun-having time. Tony and Koichi asked fans to clap along during the groovy “Otsegolation” reminding how cool Industrial can be in concert. You see, the loud volumes, the lights and the hard-hitting grooves are bound to make you move and join the fun around you no matter your music affiliation. And there was fun around me although, I (still) do not understand why some people feel the obligation to live-stream a concert; don’t they miss all the fun when standing still trying to get footage? Whatever makes your clock tick I guess, but is definitely something new to me. When the song ended, the picture of Wayne Static was shown at the back screen with Tony point at that direction to underline once more the paying-tribute aspect of this tour.
After doing some shots, the band got back in action with “The Trance Is The Motion”, “Get To The Gone” and “Black And White”. Instead of slowing down the deeper we went on the set, the audience seemed to be doing more and more with almost everyone jumping up and down during “This Is Not”. There was a short break for a guitar change with Tony grabbing the opportunity to suggest the obvious: “Get the mosh-pit going” and this is what happened with “Destroy All” (the title was perfect for the occasion). After “Cold”, the band left the stage with the picture of Wayne shown at the back once more with the “forever with us” written below. For sure there was a bit more, with “I’m With Stupid” and still, the energy was in the red. “Joliet fucking sold out tonight! Thank you, this is the first selling out show. Thank you guys”, said Tony before introducing the lineup and adding “This would not have happened if there wasn’t your support. See you again on December 02nd” and concluded with a rhetorical question: “One more?” and loud “yeah” was the answer he wanted to hear. “Push It” dropped the curtain of the set with a bang (well, not literally…). After the usual, photo-op with the happy fans as a background Tony, Koichi and Ken took a bow and said their goodnights closing an amazing billing that deserved 100% getting sold out.
This was an amazing billing and was fun to watch from start to finish and it makes sense that this party will do a second run with Chicago on their schedule. Are you willing to bet that the December show will also be sold out? Make sure to get your tix because it will surely be.
STATIC X sestlist:
01. “Bled For Days”
02. “Wisconsin Death Trip”
04. “Sweat Of The Bud”
05. “Love Dump”
06. “I Am”
08. “The Trance Is The Motion”
09. “Get To The Gone”
10. “Black And White”
11. “This Is Not”
12. “Destroy All”
13. “Start A War”
16. “I’m With Stupid”
17. “Push It”
(click to enlarge)