Hammerstein Ballroom, New York City • November 26, 1999
Filter’s Richard Patrick may have entered the Industrial rock scene via the touring company of Pretty Hate Machine -era Nine Inch Nails, but with the release of Filter’s sophomore disc, Title Of Record , Patrick moves away from the enormous shadow of his mentor. And despite the 1997 departure of cohort, Brian Liesegang, he’s strengthened Filter into a rockin’ machine that draws from its history while launching the band into what looks like a bright future.
Dressed in a black leather suit, against banks of brilliantly flashing colored lights, Patrick provided a devastating point of focus (in combination with a blinding explosion of flames that shot 15 feet into the air) as the all killer/no filler set kicked off with Title of Record ‘s lead track, the scorching, beat-heavy, “Sand.” “Is this New York City?” Patrick rhetorically asked the crowd. “Then let’s make some fuckin’ noise!” Whether he referred to the audience or to his band, it hardly mattered. Filter bulldozed through a well-chosen selection of cuts from both the new release and 1995’s Short Bus . Addressing the crowd as he might a lover (“You’re so fuckin’ beautiful!”), Patrick seemed eager to please and excited to be performing in such a large venue. What’s most startling, however, is how he’s transformed himself from a studio knob-twiddler into a charismatic frontman. Patrick snaked around the stage in a Jesus Christ pose-meets-Walk-Like-an-Egyptian David Bowie dance while smiling and flirting with the crowd, like he was industrial music’s answer to Tom Jones. “This is the show I’d always dreamed I’d play,” he effused, by way of introducing “Cancer,” a new song featuring the Reznor-esque mantra “I’m the scum of the earth,” offset by the ambiguous chorus, “What seems important won’t last forever.”
“Trip Like I Do,” Filter’s best pre- Title of Record song, lacked only a smidgen of it’s hallucinatory grind with the loss of the deliciously dreadful sound bite, “oh…my god” between verses. The breakthrough hit “Hey Man, Nice Shot,” ended the one hour set on a high energy, audience participatory note, before the band returned for a single- song encore of the current radio hit, the buoyant, cathartically joyful “Take a Picture.” A contagious amalgam of Jane’s Addiction’s “Three Days” mated with U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” a lot of people are buying this song. Looking around at the rapt faces packed like rush hour subway travelers into the Hammerstein Ballroom, both male and female fans could be seen singing along with the jubilant refrain “Hey Dad, what do you think about your son now?” It was one of those live performance moments where it all comes together. With a solid musical identity that blends the full-bore onslaught of metal riffs with astounding power pop sensibilities, Filter seem poised to achieve the kind of crossover appeal that translates into big bucks. Soon enough, they’ll be more popular than Nine Inch Nails by about 10 long shots. If they aren’t already.