System of a Down w/ Gogol Bordello 05/13/11

Key Arena – Seattle, WA

Words by jakobross424

I woke up Friday, May 13 and thought: I am seeing System of a Down tonight.

Alternative-metal band SOAD went on hiatus in 2006 and are back for their triumphant return. Although most of their tour was scheduled for Europe, they still had time for the west coast of Canada and the U.S. I arrived at the Key Arena, and I was directed and redirected to different lines that would eventually take me to the front door.

I finally got in and I immediately found the merch booth where I purchased a SOAD shirt (the band’s logo on the top, a large picture of a tank, bottom says “Mine is bigger than yours!”) and a Gogol Bordello shirt. Gogol Bordello is a “gypsy punk” band composed of around 7-8 people, all of them from various countries (Ukraine, Russia, Ecuador, USA, China, etc.) Lead singer Eugene Hutz is the coolest man alive. Just sayin’.

At around 8:00 Gogol Bordello came on after an introduction by a Seattle radio host. Gogol raced through a 40-minute set and immediately won the crowd over with their ingenious combination of klezmer music and punk, as well as their energy that couldn’t even be matched by SOAD. Gogol played favorites from previous albums such as “Start Wearing Purple” but most of their songs came from their most recent album Trans-Continental Hustle. “Immigraniada (We Comin’ Rougher)”  and “Break the Spell” were two highlights of the new material.

When Gogol left the set, I was thirsty and in pain from all the jumping and singing I did. I was 2 rows from the front when I saw Gogol, and a lot farther back when I saw SOAD, unfortunately, because I lost my spot due to my need for water. A large screen covered the stage when Gogol left, and it was SOAD’s logo. The crowd waited for about 30 minutes, then we heard the opening riff to “Prison Song.” When the intro ended and the full band came in to start the first verse, the screen fell (on purpose) and the band was revealed.

On the left, the always unpredictable Daron Malakian, the guitarist. In the middle, bearded lead singer Serj Tankian. Behind him, calm-yet-articulate drummer John Dolmoyan. On the right, the braided bearded bass player Shavo Odijian. Together, they make Armenian-American political band System of a Down.

SOAD played a KILLER set, playing songs from all four of their major releases. Highlights included “War?”, “Toxicity”, “Cigar”, “Lonely Day” and many many more. The crowd sang along and moshed and jumped and had the best time. SOAD sounded great, although Serj’s mic made him sound like he had a high pitched voice. Oh, well. The boys ended their set with crowd-favorite “Sugar”, and left the stage after a 29-song set with no encore. All-in-all a phenomenal night. My ears rang like crazy, but it was worth it.

My name is Jakob and I listen to a lot of music. I also attend lots of concerts. That is all.
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