Location: The Abyss in Virginia Beach, VA
This was a show I absolutely could not wait for. The chance to finally see Mushroomhead live was something not to be missed. This was an off-date from the Locobazooka tour that features Mushroomehad and Dry Cell alongside bands like Filter, Sevendust, Nonpoint, and Audiovent. Also, it’s worth noting that Reveille was supposed to play this show, but apparently dropped off the Locobazooka tour the day of or the day before the show. Whatever the case, it gave a chance to the middle band, Dry Cell. However… sadly, Stank opened. A note: don’t be in a metal band in this area because it seems to automatically make the band be really horrible. This band couldn’t escape it the curse either. Oh well.
So… the thing with Dry Cell filling in is that the whole thing, getting them to play at all, it was all last minute, so they came with no promotion or anything. It’s kind of sad, because if it had been known, FM99 (local radio station) would have pumped Dry Cell’s single, “Body Crumbles” more. Oh well. Maybe next time.
So anyway, I had known about Dry Cell for quite a while, having been on the early street team, but had no illusions about seeing them live. They seemed to be the next Linkin Park from the sampler I got and the single does nothing to stop that image. Throw in a relatively attractive guy singing to get the girls to pay attention and a young guitarist (sixteen, I believe) and you have a formula for success. However, I must say that Dry Cell could make it on their music alone.
They are much heavier than Linkin Park could ever be, that’s for sure. The guitarist knows how to write a damn catchy riff and still work in a solo AND have good stage presence. The bassist is kind of his own entity, but he does his job extremely well and also does a lot of vocal work, as does the singer. They have very similar voices so they harmonize well, which is very good.
So the guitarist comes out with a seven string guitar, then trades that for a double necked twelve string (for use on the single, “Body Crumbles), then goes with a standard six-string and the singer grabs a guitar for the last song (this happens over the course of six songs). The bassist had a five-string bass that was probably worth about $2500. A lot of money went into their setup, for sure. I’m glad to see that they have music to back it up.
Then, after a bit of time to do some very final soundchecks and having the front of the stage covered with a paper sheet, Mushroomhead came out. For those that don’t know, they are a band of eight people. A drummer, a keyboardist who also acts as a light/sound guy, a keyboardist who also triggers effect, two guitarists, a bassist. A singer who ONLY sings (he barely moves, even), and a vocalist who screams his head off like the world would end if he didn’t. Their sound is described as theatrical metal, and I agree with that description wholeheartedly after seeing them live and listening to the CD nonstop for a week.
Each song possesses an epic feel that I haven’t heard much of lately and it comes across in their live show. While singer Jeffrey Nothing does, well, nothing to interact with anyone, vocalist J Mann constantly complimented the crowd and kept everything going full speed, even when it was slow. Opening with “Before I Die” and going on to do songs like “Bwomp,” “Never Let It Go,” and their radio and MTV single “Solitaire /Unraveling,” they proved that the music stands quite well on it’s own. “Xeroxed” was an awesome song to be done live, and “These Filthy Hands” was also an experience live. Closing with the cover of Pink Floyd’s “Empty Spaces” and then launching into “Born Of Desire” (as the two do on the CD as well), it was a supremely awesome ending to the night.
I’m not going to tell you too much about Mushroomhead’s stage show aside from the frenetic energy of J Mann and the instrumentalists because it needs to be seen to be experienced. No amount of reading my words can give you any idea of what to expect. One suggestion/warning: Mushroomhead uses a lot of strobe lighting. Be warned of this. But it’s used in such a way that is really does enhance the show aspect of things.
Truly, I’m impressed more and more by bands these days and their live acts. Let’s hope the trend of bands getting better continues, and maybe the local metal scene will stop sucking one of these days. Dry Cell must be commended for opening for such a tough crowd, but they did a good job of it. Still, as it should be, they can’t compare to the amazing experience that is Mushroomhead.