Friday September 27 (hed) p.e. made their 19th and final stop on the Back 2 School tour making the Alrosa Villa the show closer. It was only fitting saving the best for last as the Villa’s given Hed PE solid support over the years. The Huntington Beach bad boys brought their infectious G-Punk to the stage in front of a packed rowdy house turning the floor into a sea of people that just wanted some good Hed. The evening was MC’d by traveling Project Independent Host and Horns Up Rocks founder and CEO Jo Schuftan.
Giving direct tour support was Modesto’s Better Left Unsaid. Coming along for the party was Project Independents 2013 featured artist Phoenix’s Element A440. Giving regional/local support was Wheeling’s Curse The Wicked leaving Columbus to show its back to school spirit with Overtheory and Auntiem.
Columbus was stop #22 on the Project Independent 50 city tour starting and finishing in Phoenix. PI is the only national touring company of its kind supporting local, unsigned, underground, independent music. Each stop and band is given global support via webcast for the world to see on www.projectindependent.net. Over 368,500 people watched the Alrosa Villa stage that night.
Class began at 7 with the West Virginian mountain men Curse the Wicked bringing some pure American Metal with the pummeling nails of the Deathwind from the high rocky peaks and some Megadeth from Area 51. There’s Hypocrisy In Flames with singer Nick Moore’s ‘sweating like a fat kid in gym class’ howling growl, spoken word surprisingly casually dressed delivery. It takes confidence to go office casual surrounded by dudes dressed for a metal show, at a metal show, even if it’s your own band. These Bones Shall Rise Again pounded fists in the air with its guitar driving sounds of impending panic of unnatural resurrection. Finishing with the bar room brass knuckles of The Vultures Wait, riding free on the open road with a Jesus built hotrod.
Next, the first of the hometown favorites continue their yellow brick road to success, Auntiem. Singer Jake Cary comes out with shades resembling a young Brian Warner and Slade Craven minus the makeup with some rapid spoken words. Starting with Until We Burn’s Meshuggah guitar gunfire and Cary’s soft sung high peaked verses. The stage lights beam icy blue illumination for A Winters Sleep’s classical opening notes and slower ballad buildup into the cold breathed chill of morning’s somber, finishing with Cary’s ice sickle sharp screams. They continue with the intro of Broken Man and Cary doing his best Aaron Lewis exchanging voice back and forth with the yelling/screaming approach, playing a more melodic, happier rock version of sweet Alice in Chains.
A = 440 Hz is the standard concert pitch and the tuning note for orchestras particularly the violins second string, violas first string and an octave above the cello’s first string. Though ‘loud’ and intense is the pitch Element a440 tunes for all their shows playing their own special demented orchestra of sound and visual misanthropy. The war-painted foursome from the barren deserts of Arizona could be mistaken for something out of The Hills Have Eyes or something real coming out of a haunted house that doesn’t belong there. Element combines a jigsaw mixture of musical, visual variety using the best bits of shock rock, industrial, metal and Goth to make their own special deliverance of dark, sadistic, fairytales and bedtime story nightmares. Sporting a microphone that would incur Blackie Lawless’s envy built out of an industrial serial killer’s how to video of grinding surgical steel and Fear Factory mechanisms into a dual use mic-holder and Alien killing device.
Singer Halo, arrives on stage black X’d and ribbed from societies norms resembling a mutated crossbreed of Cronos, Peter Steele and Michael Berryman looking like he just stole some fine evening wear from Twiggy Ramirez’s closet. Opening with the dirty N.D.Q. a440 takes the ingredients of what made early Marilyn Manson and the kids spooky while paying healthy respect to black eyed Godfather Alice. Something Else, the first song accompanied by its screen speaker video is a fire breathing/dancing Rammstein inspired blaze of S&M glory, carnivore, carnal circus heat. It’s mixed in sin so come on in. Debauchery lanced with industrial grinders sparking hedonistic symbolism awaits you. While lyrical inspiration from the irresistible beauty and charm of a vicious, tempting, destructive person/addiction tempt your ears.
Some singers ask for crowd participation, some demand it, Halo ‘forces’ people to remember them. Spraying the crowd with baths of sweat and unholy water, he fist bumps everyone, getting creepy close and personal going forehead to forehead, pupil to pupil with the front row close enough to see the dark entrance to his soul. The Freak (the song, not the band members) comes out creepy crawling with some down tuned classical piano soothing into some muddy walk of the dead guitar riffs into Halo’s creepy, wide eyed falsetto childlike pitch whispering in yelled voice about childhood trauma and broken dreams cradled in the rocking chair facing the corner.
Pornstar’s opening offer of stamina brings us into the world of sexual inhibition, delusion, video voyeurism and paper thin grinning promises serving as either an invite or a warning of the surface pleasures of the flesh pedaling decadent empire. Burn it Down’s chastising finger points at the religious hypocrisy of angelic miracle man Pharisee preachers spreading scabbed wings when it’s not Sunday. Godless questions the existence of the almighty through both an atheist’s POV and looking through the eyes of a believer. At some point Halo grabbed the front stage webcam greeting the world with his sweat stained face and Cheshire grin.
It’s time for a sweet, raw slice from the Kookie Kutter of warped life. To stand out amongst the plastic look-alike mannequins and dolls you have to join the pack. If you want to be a star, start the addictions, form the habits, embrace the surgical/spiritual knife, emotional pain and self-demoralization it takes for your 15 minutes….. and dwindling reality/YouTube fame. Years of therapy await, Say Ya, Yeah! Godidiotocracy fearlessly mixes religion and politics with a slower deliberate beat questioning the need for either.
The full blown version of Element’s show includes on stage crucifixions, Gene Simmons’esque pyro and enough gore and blood to rival Gwar. They’re a Carcass coroner’s report come back to life on stage out of a Kenneth Anger movie. It’s not quite Gorgoroth’s black mass but its extreme uber vaudeville meets Texas Chainsaw splatter-gore. They also have a featured issue of Metal Worshipper chronicling their horrific storied demise. Their philosophy is all music should be unified regardless of genre, image, lyrics or appearance. Element A440 is also Katt, the warrior queen on bass, resembling a smaller, lighter Mark Boone Junior the guitar playing/slaying Graven and black marked Chelsea grinned, tears of black drummer Animal.
Five of Columbus’s favorite sons Overtheory return to the scene of their last Alrosa gig, the legendary Battle for Rock on the Range Finale. The Columbus kings of mental energy play favorites Fatal Flaw with the same infectious melody and hard rock sound that sent them to the BFROTR final round. Expose the broken hearts, bad memories and tears for the rocking time healer Break. Finishing with Decide’s keyboard intro lyrically challenging the consequences/actions of choices one makes. They’re a band that raises fists and bang heads without a seriously heavy sound, growling, yelling or screaming. They’re laying a blueprint and working theory for how it’s done with every show.
Some things are better left unsaid. However Modesto California’s Better Left Unsaid make sure they’re remembered. The hard working dedicated, DIY’ers have been pummeling recording studios and the road since 2003 releasing three records, road dogged seven US tours averaging 150 dates a year since 2008 and shared stages with Devildriver, 3 Inches of Blood, Killswitch Engage, Daath and Hatebreed. They’ve taken sounds from Testament, Machine Head and Pantera mixed in some Soilwork and Threat Signal to make their own decibel delivery. The music is best left for each person to experience. New song Mr. Dark starts with Arkaea, Phil Anselmo (we’re taking over this town) vocals as To The Last Man begins hammering down Meshuggah riffs adding guitar melody with Adam Rafferty’s yelling/harmonious singing. They played like it mattered proving that real men listen to metal, finishing the last date on the Back to School tour with Hed PE.
Five of Alrosa’s favorite California sons spend the last night of their Back to School tour with fellow planet earth Columbus inhabitants turning the floor into a whirling sea of moving bodies and heads. HED PE bring the Huntington Beach bad boys to the state capitol for 15+ songs of G-punk sound fusing strong elements of rock, metal, rap, punk and reggae into a unique crowd pleasing, bodies flying, art of noise. Besides sometimes all we need is Hed. As Joey Belladonna would say it’s a Madhouse as the slow thrashy foot stomper began. They’re kicking it Live with Sophia’s reggae love, punk speed. They’re just Killing Time raising the crowd with some groovy rapped lyrics and funky hard rhythm. They go hardcore on the White House breaking out the throw down dance pit going old-school to ’94. Uh, we need some hed, yeah we need some hed… and it’s Game Over till we get it. This Fire burns deep inside as we go for a ride in a smoke filled hip-hop metal haze making a quick Bar stop macking on some Korn fed beer nuts, they just want some friendly company. Jaxon plays turntable beats and reggae riffs on guitar, taking a Swan Dive into some heavy groove metal and face smacking the asphalt. In the spirit of Run DMC it’s time to Raise some non-offensive Hell, call out the posers, fakes and hipsters acting like a bitch and throw down hardcore in the pit and if it’s too loud to handle, tough sh-, get the f- out.
They pay toked up respect to the dreadlocked legend of reggae with a Hed twist on a Marley classic. They follow with an old-school pit of pure Peer Pressure finding the true Renegades cranking out a heavy Rage Against The Machine that’s Payable On Death rapping about street survival taking Mike Muir’s original institutional walk to a new level.
Before leaving Jared shares some parting wisdom ensuring everyone that strippers and crystal meth, don’t mix. There is no shadow government hovering in the corner or he’d be in custody or in prison scrubs. The end comes issuing in the new world order of the N.O.C. thanking all the fans for being there over the years. Jahred sincerely thanks Columbus for coming tonight, allowing him to put soy milk on the table for his kids and Legos in the toy box and encourages everyone to go out and live their dreams because, thanks to us, they are.
Halo & Katt pic courtesy of Duane Drummond.