Coal Chamber, Filter, Combichrist, American Head Charge // Saturday, March 28th, 2015 // The Palladium, Worcester, MA
The nu metal revival is now in full swing, with many defunct bands of the 90s and early 2000s emerging from the woodwork to reclaim their thrones. Coal Chamber, a constant favorite of mine in my younger days, broke up before I had the chance to see them live. Ten years would go by before the band announced their return in 2013. During that time vocalist Dez Fafara started Devildriver, a lackluster metal band that always felt more like a gimmick Dez was using to prove he wasn’t just “that guy from Coal Chamber”. The rest of the members of Coal Chamber all went on to form and join other bands, nothing noteworthy though. I missed Coal Chamber’s run with Sevendust last year so when I saw the announcement for a tour in support of their new album Rivals (!!!), I had to buy tickets.
I wondered about the crowd and the band’s performance. Did mall goths still exist? A few summers ago I saw Marilyn Manson but was surprised to see the crowd was not overrun by goths and wannabe vampires but instead drunk, forty-something rednecks. Likewise, I was curious if this was just another example of a band way past their prime trying to relive the past. Was I going to be disappointed, expecting a level of energy and enthusiasm that simply wouldn’t be there? This past December I saw Slipknot and though the band performed flawlessly on a musical level, and their stage design and lights were entertaining, there was a tamer sense to the band, obviously due to age and maturity. Sure, there was still chaos but it was a controlled chaos; missing was the sense of masked madmen destroying the stage with reckless abandon.
When I arrived I was surprised to find that yes, mall goths do still exist. I felt like I had stepped into a time machine, straight back to high school. I saw Tripp pants, and chain necklaces, hair with every color of the rainbow. I saw people sporting shirts from bands like Dope, Korn and even a concert T-shirt from the 1995 Nine Inch Nails/David Bowie tour. Most surprising though was a girl who not only had vampire teeth, but also fawn horns spiraling out of her hair and furry ears. Where did these people live? How come you never saw this type of shit out in public? Anyway, onto the music.
Saint Ridley: First up on the mainstage was a band called Saint Ridley, who I guess were opening the tour for a couple dates but were unbilled on the flier. This band fucking sucked, and I wasn’t the only one that thought so. If you’ve been to The Palladium then you know that the main stage is a pretty big room with a max capacity of roughly 2,000. When Saint Ridley was on there was less than 100 kids watching them and after each song the room was silent. When was the last time you went to a concert and could hear a fucking pin drop after a band performed? Usually a crowd is nice and will give pity claps even when a band doesn’t deserve it but not this time. At one point the singer was trying to get the crowd to chant something and when no one responded he kept saying things like “come on you fucking pussies”. Soundwise, imagine Mudvayne on later albums like The New Game, yeah, the shitty Mudvayne.
American Head Charge: I wasn’t as familiar with this band as the friends I had come with. Initially I’d heard the band after their stint on Ozzfest 2001, but I never picked up their album and from there they just disappeared. They played a mixture of songs from The War Of Art and The Feeding as well as couple new songs from their forthcoming album Tango Umbrella. They put on an energetic performance that really got the place in the mood and I enjoyed watching them even though I was unfamiliar with most of their material. The few songs I did know, like “A Violent Reaction” and “Reach And Touch” were absent from their set. Am I going to rush out and pick up their new album? No. But were they a fun opening band? Yes.
Combichrist: I’d never heard of this band before, though I guess they have been around since 2003? Anyway, I hated every second of their set. Every song sounded like it belonged to another band. One song would sound like a Marilyn Manson ripoff (in fact one song sounded way too similar to “The Beautiful People”), then the next I swore I was listening to Rammstein. The drummer was annoying, constantly flipping his sticks and showing off and the bass player looked like he belonged in a black metal band. Wasn’t there a better band that could have filled this slot? You already snagged American Head Charge, couldn’t you have just picked another band from the second stage of Ozzfest 2001?
Filter: Filter was a surprising choice to be opening for Coal Chamber, but I was excited to see them nonetheless. I’d been a Filter fan for a while, and though most know them from their radio hits like “Take A Picture”, I prefer their heavier tracks. Filter stuck to a heavier set list, keeping in mind they were playing to Coal Chamber’s crowds. I was especially excited to hear them play “Trip Like I Do”, probably my favorite song of theirs from the Spawn soundtrack. Some might see Filter as a bit of a “downer” as far as heaviness and energy are concerned, but I thoroughly enjoyed their set.
Coal Chamber: You would never guess that Dez is 48 years old or that Coal Chamber haven’t been active for close to 13 years. They owned the joint like it was 1999 and nu metal never died. “Loco” opened up the night and the energy never slowed for one second. Dez didn’t spend more than 30 seconds talking between songs, which was nice because it gets tiring when bands decide to tell long and drawn out stories between songs. We came here to hear songs we hadn’t heard played live in a decade and that’s exactly what the band delivered. All the hits were there including “I”, “Sway”, “Fiend” and “Rowboat”. During “Sway”, which was the last song in their set (Dez made a point about how they don’t do encores because those are for rockstars and egomaniacs) they brought a kid up on stage who couldn’t have been more than six. What an experience for a young metal fan. My only gripe is not hearing certain songs like “Bradley” (which is perhaps a bit too “slow” for their setlist?), “Feed My Dreams” (most of the material came from their self titled album and Dark Days), and “Shock The Monkey” (I think it would have been cool for Richard Patrick from Filter to come out and sing Ozzy’s parts). Coal Chamber tore the fucking roof off the place and I’m very much looking forward to their new album.