with DevilDriver, 2 Cents
Hard Rock Live, Orlando, FL • May 9, 2011
Danzig’s Deth Red Sabaoth Tour should not have been staged at the Hard Rock Live for a couple of reasons:
1. Even with DevilDriver adding calories to the menu, the 3,000-capacity venue was nowhere near full.
2. The Orlando Hard Rock Live is militant about their no moshing/no crowd-surfing policy — a frustration for both the metal bands onstage and the metal fans standing in the stagnant crowd.
This tour would have felt much more volatile at Firestone, or even the House of Blues — whose mosh/surf policy is surprisingly lenient, despite being on Disney ground. Instead, all of that metal mayhem got a bit swallowed up in the open space of an otherwise sublime venue.
At least there were no frustrated moshers bursting to move for 2 Cents’ set. The California group, with the name that sounds more like a rapper than a metal band, made disposable nu-metal whose only saving grace was the occasionally interesting rhythms. To make matters worse, their singer Adam O’Rourke kept stopping mid-song to berate the audience.
“Stop… Are you fucking texting?!” he asked a girl in the front row, to which she casually replied, “Yeah. I am.”
I don’t usually condone such disrespectful behavior, however, in this instance the random texter seemed to be speaking for all of us, as if to say, No one likes your music, and no amount of bitching or Pantera covers (they closed the set with “Strength Beyond Strength”) is gonna win you any fans.
Judging by both the percentage of DevilDriver t-shirts on fans, and the security guard huddle that preceded the band’s set, you’d have thought that they were the headliners for the evening.
“This is the band it’s gonna get crazy for,” I heard a member of Hard Rock’s management warn the evening’s bouncers.
Propelled by heart-stopping thrash metal drumming, DevilDriver’s metal is melodic enough to allow differentiation from one song to the next — keeping the classic metal fans appeased, but heavy and fast enough to satiate the metalcore fans’ thirst. “Clouds Over California,” played halfway through their set, is a perfect example of this melodic-meets-manic fusion. Their supporting slot on the tour finds them exhausting 30 minutes with unrelenting power that few modern metal acts can muster.
Fronted by former Coal Chamber vocalist Dez Fafara, DevilDriver is a hard band to peacefully watch per Hard Rock’s standards, and even Fafara couldn’t resist commenting on the immobile figures in front of him.
“Aren’t you guys allowed to move?!” he inquired into the sea of nodding heads after playing “Not All Who Wander Are Lost” off of their self-titled 2003 debut. Later, after seeing a few dudes get booted for God-knows what offense, he amended, “Just do what they [security] tell you… we don’t want anyone getting kicked out.”
Brutal yet benevolent, politely destroying the neck muscles of us all, yet concerned about following rules, a metal band will keep us all safe and sound.
One of the most distinctive things about Glenn Danzig — other than the muscles he was famous for in his younger years — has always been his voice. His approach to metal (and to punk rock before that — he founded The Misfits, remember) has laid his low, bluesy voice at the forefront of the dark lyrics, allowing it to ebb and flow from quietly pretty to neck-popping screams — often within the same song (“How the Gods Kill”).
Today, at age 55, his voice is beginning to wane. He can still hit those notes that feel like a punch in the chest, but he seems to be struggling to get enough air to sing through all of the verses. He frequently cuts off words or bits of lines to keep up the pace while he runs along the edge of the stage, reaching out to fans whose tattooed arms illustrate the timeline of his 34 year musical career.
Though flawed, the night’s performance still managed to titillate the throngs of fans — especially those who had never seen Danzig play before. When the famous skull logo rose as a backdrop to a stage littered with the skulls in their various evolutions, and the creator of this dark world emerged to plunge right in to “SkinCarver” followed by “Twist of Cain,” any marks of age were blindsided by the raw power of the music.
With only a few other retreats into the land of old (“Long Way Back From Hell,” “How the Gods Kill,” and the band’s sole big money hit “Mother”), most of the set was home to tracks off of Deth Red Sabaoth, the band’s ninth album. Such heavy play on the new is to be expected, but I couldn’t help but reminisce about when I last saw Danzig play, in 2006 at this same venue. In a totally unexpected move, he brought out Misfits’ guitarist Doyle Von Frankenstein (in full make-up) to play a 30-minute Misfits set. That concert spoiled me for all Danzig shows to follow, I suppose, because this current performance fell way short of the bar previously set.