In This Moment
with P.O.D / New Years Day / Ded
Hard Rock Live (Orlando, FL) • 1.28.18
by Christopher Long
It was downright gloomy – windy and rainy, with a chill nipping through the overcast skies – arguably the perfect outdoor conditions for an indoor metal soirée.
Interestingly enough, despite recent reports of an alleged waging “war on women,” two of tonight’s four marquee acts would be fronted by – women. Truth be told, the only noticeable “battle” ensuing at Orlando’s Hard Rock Live involved fans fighting for cover from the elements as they stood outside the venue, waiting (semi) patiently for the doors to open at 5:30pm.
Of the throngs of early birds, half were also women – primarily young women – a rather unique demographic for such a hard core affair. Many of the female enthusiasts also sported similar form-fitting fashions, makeup styles and eye-catching coifs as their beloved heroines who they’d come to worship tonight. In fact, a snapshot of the faithful flock would have mirrored a scene right out of the 1982 film, Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains. Even the legion of immaculate-looking, airbrushed transgender folks were seemingly inspired by the evening’s two renown frontwomen. Let the games begin!
The Arizona-bred brood, Ded, hit the stage hard, promptly at 6:30. “Let me see that shit!” commanded frontman Joe Cotela – encouraging mosh pit action from the get-go. Possessing undeniable nü-metal cred combined with old school metal authenticity, the four-piece combo was a quick and easy sell – unpacking a fistful of fan favorites from their 2017 debut slab, mis-an-thrope – including “Hate Me.” “This is about how shitty you all are,” declared Cotela with a bit of a chuckle, as he led his crew into their signature set-closer, “FMFY.”
Driven by founding frontwoman, fashionista and all-around modern rock poster girl, Ash Costello, So-Cal’s New Years Day received an immediate, overwhelming welcome. Challenging the Orlando audience to, “show me what you’ve got,” Costello and crew opened the show with the mighty, industrial-tinged, “Left Inside.” Described best (by me) as residing stylistically somewhere between Morticia and Motley while chillin’ at a Rob Zombie movie premier, the band skipped barely a beat as Costello marched her brigade directly into another staple, the über YouTube smash, “Kill or Be Killed.” Suggesting strongly that no one “piss off the metal gods,” the sizzling-looking, two-tone coiffed Costello further encouraged fans to brandish the “metal horns” for a lively, re-imagined rendition of Pantera’s 1992 classic, “Fucking Hostile.”
Packing an impeccable 25-year legacy, the Grammy-winning, platinum-selling power troupe, P.O.D. proved to be the beloved “elder statesman” of the night. Known widely as God’s chosen disciples, the streetwise, hip hop-inspired, metal band energized the crowd instantly with its latest track, “Soundboy Killa.” All dressed in black street-style apparel, the members of the San Diego-based group appeared intimidating – mean enough to shank a bitch in short order. But, looks can be deceiving. In reality, frontman Sonny Sandoval’s message was all about peace, love and unity, as his hardcore crew knocked out an array of such chart-busting hits as “Alive” and “Youth of the Nation.” “I’m not much of a fan of religious stuff,” Sandoval commented, upon spotting a Jesus look-alike in the mosh pit. “But I am a HUGE fan of YOU,” he concluded with heartfelt conviction, pointing at the pseudo savior.
By 9:20, the sweet sound of Journey’s anthemic “Don’t Stop Believing” blasted from the massive P.A. system. However, the happy sing-long vibe would be fast fleeting, as the classic 1981 feel-good came to a crashing conclusion and the estimated 1,500+ congregation surrendered to the decidedly darker tone set to ensue.
Amid clouds of smoke, claps of thunder and deafening cheers from the crowd, ominous-looking reaper-like characters and freakish-looking, masked band members lurched onto the stage. And as the silhouette image of co-founding frontwoman, Maria Brink beamed through the white curtain spanning center stage, the faithful were whipped into a full-on frenzy. It was clear as crystal EXACTLY who and what they came for.
One part industrial sheen, matched with one part Vaudeville showmanship, the In This Moment production proved as impressive as ever. Despite battling an admitted (and noticeable) bout with the flu, Brink and fellow co-founding guitarist, Chris Howorth, along with their crazed colleagues, endeavored to deliver maximum bang for the buck – a non-stop spectacle bursting with goth-inspired sounds and flame-fueled visuals.
Draped in white, flowing garb, the blond bombshell frontwoman recited the lyrics to her band’s enormously popular opening number – “Blood, blood, blood, pump mud through my veins. Shut your dirty, dirty mouth, I’m not that insane.”
Brimming with noteworthy moments, the 70-minute onslaught featured several selections from the band’s latest effort, 2017’s Ritual. One of the most engaging highlights was Brink’s solo vocal / piano performance on “Lay Your Gun Down,” as well as the amazing remake of the 1981 Phil Collins standard, “In the Air Tonight.”
In a more personal and emotionally-charged highlight, Brink revealed how horribly she’d been treated while growing up, and the shameful, hurtful names she had been called as a young girl – “stupid,” “fat,” “trashy” and “worthless.” The seemingly transparent confession segued seamlessly into the show-closing number, “Whore” – a song that Brink says is about “rising above other people’s perceptions of who and what we should be.”
And as a barrage of festive, multi-colored party balloons showered the audience from the venue rafters above, most likely would have agreed – they had gotten more bang for their buck! ◼