Municipal Waste/God Forbid/DevilDriver/Children Of Bodom & Lamb Of God:
The Palladium – Hollywood, CA 04/03/09
Words/Photos by Reverend Justito
Unable to snap any photos/videos of God Forbid due to poor location and an abundance of security, I enjoyed three songs from the New Jersey band. A perennial opening act, I have seen these guys as an support a whose who of metal bands more times than I can remember. While I don’t own a single record, I will say that they never disappoint at getting the crowd excited for what’s to come. Days after losing guitarist Doc Coyle, it seemed to me that the band didn’t miss a beat. Replacement guitarist Kris Norris (formerly of Darkest Hour) fit right into the fold knocking out riffs as a sea of devil horns rose in approval. Before the three little ice cubes could melt away into my drink the band had already said goodnight. Plotting my attack, I walked towards the main floor entrance and confirmed what I had fully anticipated to see. The two guards simply could not handle the stream of people leaving the floor with the stream of wristband-less youth using the large opening to bully their way past.
I am a huge As I Lay Dying fan. With them on the bill, the No Fear Energy drink tour as they are calling it was not to be missed. However, as many are aware As I Lay Dying was forced to drop off the first five dates in order for front man Tim Lambesis and his wife to wrap the 18th month process of adopting a child from a third world nation whose name escapes me. With Suicidal Tendencies filling in on the other four dates (they were not allowed to fill in for the Hollywood show as they had played the very same venue the week before/Click here for full review) we were lucky enough to get Santa Barbara’s most mediocre metal band as a replacement. It would be very easy for me to rip the generic DevilDriver apart, but I will just leave it at this. While craptastic on many levels, DevilDriver is far superior than the last band Dez Fafara fronted – the late 1990’s Nu Metal joke known as Cold Chamber. Despite watching the last three songs of their set with an open mind (I mingled with friends during most of the 30+ minute set) I simply have nothing kind to say. Next!
As soon as Devildriver left the stage I obtained another plastic cup full of Vodka with even less energy drink for color. My pal and I were in position to make our move onto the floor. Mi amigo went first and got through with nothing more than a tap on the shoulder that he blatantly ignored. I was right behind him, but a tiny Latina midget with huge cans cut right in front of my path. As I tripped over the pint size senorita I feared I would lose my shot despite not spilling a drop of my drink. I focused in and when the moment was right, I found a hole and went right through it as if I was Frank Gore beating up a defense on a brisk Sunday afternoon. It was almost too easy. With a drink in one hand, and my cell phone in the other, I was simply too important to stop and talk with tweedle dumb and tweedle dumber. As I mumbled something about the earlier mentioned midget and her large rack, I walked right past with nothing more than an “excuse me sir”. Those two suckers were overwhelmed with the daunting task of keeping the masses from the floor which was fine by me. After all, it is God’s will that I bring the people the real story behind the shows, and with the one two punch of Children Of Bodom and Lamb Of God still to come, there was no way I was not making it down to bootleg straight from the pit.
Children of Bodom
Long before the heroes hailing from Espoo Finland took the stage, the capacity crowd was chanting their name. BODOM, BODOM, BODOM rang through the hall. As soon as the lights went down the chants only grew in volume as the five men who make up Bodom took to the stage. Having imbibed a bevy of substances, I was ready to have my face melted by the melodic death metal masterminds. While their set was not terrible, I found myself expecting more. Perhaps with it being the second show of the tour, the band was a tad jet lagged, but overall it felt as they looked bored and were simply going through the motions. The crowd however did not seem to care as they went bonkers for Bodom. Songs like “Living Dead Beat” and “Hate Me!” caused huge circle pits to erupt upon the venues floor.
With very dark stage lights that resulted in terrible photos, I found myself trying to keep up with keyboardist Janne Wirman and his multiple containers of alcohol Watching him double fist drinks made my liver hurt. During “Blooddrunk” alone he must have downed at least two cocktails. Knowing I was not leaving the floor anytime soon I graciously let him win. Perhaps this was a bad idea, as he later admitted to sucking real bad. Sure he blamed it on the monitors, but as front man Alexi Laiho encouraged the crowd to chant “Janne Fucked Up” the intoxicated musicians returned back to his post before launching into a violent version of “Downfall“. Overall, even a mediocre set by Children of Bodom is something pretty awesome. I have no doubt that these guys will pick up steam as they travel across North America.
I have seen a lot of crazy things go down at metal shows over the years, but what happened between the Bodom/Lamb Of God set change takes the cake. The Live Nation employed promoter of the show decided to use the stage left balcony to get married. After a beautiful version of “More Than Words” by Extreme (rumor has it Nuno actually played it with Steve Perry) the fans on the floor chanted for Lamb Of God as the minister began the ceremony. The minister quickly grew annoyed as sound check drowned out her words. Finally with a break in the roadies earning their paycheck, the couple said I do. The blushing bride walked to the edge of the balcony and tossed her bouquet down to the largely male crowd below.
Lamb of God
With the wedding now over, it was time to get brutal. The lights went down and a pre-recorded version of the first track from Lamb Of God’s latest record “Wrath” played from the PA. With my camera tightly in hand, the band emerged and the second “The Passing” ended went right into the second track on the new record – “In Your Words”. The place errupted and a large pit broke out right where I was standing. As bodies went flying past me, I think I may have been to inebriated to realize just how careless I was being. Whatever, it was Friday night and I am alive to tell the tale today right? As the set progressed, things just seemed to get faster, louder and crazier. Front man Randy Blythe owned the stage, running around, jumping from drum risers and informing the crowd that they were a bunch of syphilitic pussies for not cheering louder when he demanded we give ourselves a round of applause.
The set consisted of a lot of new material. Dueling guitar players Willie Adler and Mark Morton tore it up on songs like “Contractor” and “Broken Hands”. The crowd was very much into the new material, but the biggest pits came during now classics from the bands brutal back catalog. “Walk With Me In Hell” sent fists flying as metal kids policed the pits taking out the big armed hardcore kids. Even with that joke GWB out of office, “Now You’ve Got Something To Die For” is still an intense reminded that a pointless war is still taking place overseas. With it being a Hollywood show, the band gave shout outs to both Danzig and Casey Chaos. I am pretty sure the only song from their 2003 masterpiece was “Ruin”. Played perfectly, I didn’t think the floor could get any more crazy. However, as the band wrapped their roughly 70 minute set with “Laid To Rest” two massive whirlpools of human flesh moving in opposite directions broke out. It was nothing short of madness, yet somehow I survived the entire thing with the greatest of ease.
The band came back out after a quick break. Making fun of any meth head who got into a pickup truck and drove from the middle of no where to see the show, the Virginia 5 piece launched into what I guess would be their most commercial hit to date – “Redneck”. From the record Sacrament this song probably had the smallest pit of the night, as many got ready for what they had waited for all night. As “Redneck” wrapped, the band didn’t even have to tell the crowd what time it was. While they did warn anyone and everyone to get off the dance floor who didn’t know what was next, the smiles across the faces proved that these sick fucks were ready for an excuse to get violent on each other. As the band launched into their final number – “Black Label” (the only song played from their debut record New American Gospel) the crowd used the gargantuan dance floor to create the most massive wall of death I have ever seen. Charging at each other Braveheart style, bones were broken, faces busted open and pure anarchy ruled the sold out venue. As the mob became one, a circle pit that covered the entire floor formed from the carnage. It may be hands down the largest and fastest circle pit I have ever seen. As I watched through my camera lens (from the very back of the floor) I smiled watching the crazy fucks swirling for one last time. As the band left the stage, I once again confirmed what I have known for years. Lamb Of God is the most brutal, skull fucking American heavy metal band to emerge over the past 20 years. With six weeks of dates left on their current North American tour, the No Fear Energy Drink tour is one any heavy music fan should not miss.