Saturday, June 21, 2014

Concert Review: WAYNE STATIC, AMERICAN HEAD CHARGE, SMILE EMPTY SOUL, and THIRA in Minneapolis

Wayne Static, American Head Charge, Smile Empty Soul, Thira
Saturday, June 7, 2014
Skyway Theatre, Minneapolis, MN


Click on any of the photos to see more live pictures of the respective band on my Flickr site.

About 20 bands had been playing since early afternoon in the main theater and the smaller Studio B room at the Skyway, and I arrived just as Blue Felix left the stage. The time between sets was very short, so I reluctantly stayed in the theater and missed all of the performances in Studio B. This was my first time seeing local industrial metal band Thira, and the horrendous sound made it a disappointing experience. The band was tearing it up on stage, but unfortunately the muddy sound left Thira’s music an indecipherable mess.



Surprisingly, the crowd was slow to warm up to rock radio favorites Smile Empty Soul. Leading off their 30 minute set with “Black And Blue” from their new album Chemicals, the band mixed up some album cuts with a few of their many singles. After playing “Don’t Ever Leave” and “Faker”, the audience finally came to life midway through the show for “Silhouettes”. “False Alarm” and “Bottom Of A Bottle” were well-received before “Hard Biter” closed the set. Original bassist Ryan Martin is staying off the road due to the expected arrival of he and his wife’s first child this summer, so Phil Lipscomb from Taproot filled in and seemed like a natural fit for the band. Guitarist/vocalist Sean Danielsen was stuck by the mic stand for most of the show, but he managed to step back at times while ripping out some solos. Despite the slow start, Smile Empty Soul managed to put on a great show that was far too short.



I hadn’t seen local favorites American Head Charge since their release show for The War Of Art at First Avenue in 2001, and tonight left me with a far more favorable impression of the band. They came out like they had something to prove to the 2,000+ strong crowd, and one couldn’t help but be impressed. Yes, this was a hometown crowd, but the audience went nuts throughout the entire nine-song, hour-long show from the moment the band took the stage and launched into “A Violent Reaction”. Nearly the entire set was drawn from The War Of Art and last year’s Shoot EP; “Pledge Allegiance” from The Feeding was the only exception. Guitarist Ted Hallows was having what appeared to be major technical problems and the band forged on without him until he finally emerged from behind the backline to play late in the show. A frustratingly long time was taken between songs, often to do silly things like handing the remaining sandwiches from catering out into the crowd. Despite the problems, American Head Charge was the highlight of the night. Former guitarist Benji Helbert even came out to play “Seamless”, while guitarist Karma Cheema took a dive into the crowd and got into a scuffle with security (I previously wrote out this here in some detail, and I now have some video footage of the incident that I’ll be posting). American Head Charge is sounding better than they ever have, and they proved to be a difficult act to follow.


Former Static-X frontman Wayne Static closed the show, and playing after American Head Charge’s home crowd proved to be difficult. Wayne’s band is effectively an all-new version of Static-X in all but name only, and the band’s signature flaming X logo was even used on stage props and banners (and notice the larger, more prominent color Static-X logo on the flyer). This tour was to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the ground-breaking and much-beloved Wisconsin Death Trip album, but the performance of the album seemed flat and uninspired. Having seen the original band play most of these songs many times, going back to tours before the album was even released, tonight’s show just couldn’t match those early tours. The crowd didn’t seem to notice, however, and everyone seemed to be having a good time. A few songs were played after running through Wisconsin Death Trip in its entirety, the best being “Assassins Of Youth” from Wayne’s Pighammer solo album. I hate being so negative because this really wasn’t a bad show, but it’s difficult to shed past memories of how great Static-X used to be and this just didn’t live up to that standard.

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