Tonight Rock City hosts not only one mega band, but a whole line up of experienced headliner worthy bands, making the extremely early door time of 5pm both strange and necessary.
First up are Dope, the four piece share festivities with our headliners as their debut Felons and Revolutionaries was also released 20 years ago. Instead of focusing on that album, the New York quartet showcase almost every album within their tiny 6 song set. Opening with Blood Money, they speed through the set with such ferociousness, it’s easy to forget it’s not even 6pm yet. Without an unknown opening act, the whole crowd have no choice but to expend their energy from the get go, to songs such as Bring It On and Die, Boom, Bang, Burn. They end their set on a cover of You Spin Me Round (Like a Record) by Dead or Alive.
Next up is gothy horror show Wednesday 13, who sure knows how to make an entrance. Wearing what can only be described as an extra head, the band kick into Necrophaze. The haunting sounds of Zodiac and Hail Ming follow. During the 40 minute set, Wednesday 13 treats us to a show – as each song finishes he leaves and returns in ever more disturbing and interesting get ups. A balaclava is replaced by a cape and sickle, which is replaced by a creepy mask. UV paint, top hats and an umbrella with a massive middle finger all take turns in adding to the theatre of the performance. During Keep Watching The Skies, 13 stomps his way up and down the barrier, those in the front rows getting an up close and personal show. Wednesday 13 finishes with I Love to Say Fuck – a song from previous project Frankenstein Drag Queens From Planet 13.
Main support comes from Chicago nu-metallers Soil. Opening with Breaking Me Down, they kick into an 8 song set. Vocalist Ryan McCombs is a force to be reckoned with, while guitarist Adam Zadel and bassist Tim King stomp around the stage. The room has filled up – probably with those who have just finished work – so the atmosphere builds, earning Soil the biggest cheer of the night. The sound going on for so long after Redefine the band look genuinely surprised and humbled. Unreal gains the biggest singalong so far, before McCombs announces that ‘we’re gonna do this right’ and makes his way into the center of the crowd for the massive Halo.
After the longest intro in existence, main event Static X take to the stage. Bled for Days kicks off the 20th anniversary celebration of debut Wisconsin Death Trip. Crowd surfers pummel the security with bodies from the opening riff. The original members – bassist Tony Campos, guitarist Koichi Fukuda and drummer Ken Jay – are joined by the mysterious Xer0, who is the perfect fill in for the late Wayne static. Not only are we all here to celebrate 20 years of Static X, we are also here to celebrate the memory of Wayne. The band make their way through a large selection of Wisconsin Death Trip, before sliding in a few other fan favourites in the shape of Get To The Gone and This Is Not.
Static X choose the setlist wisely, rather than playing their debut in full from start to finish, the set is littered with choice cuts off their other albums. During The Trance Is the Motion, the screen used as a backdrop shows tribute to Wayne Static, which gets the whole crowd chanting his name. The massive Black and White has the whole room singing along, while Destroy All has everyone off their feet.
Xer0 has everyone aim their hands into the sky, and sway side to side. The next song is dedicated to Wayne, he explains, as the room erupts in response to the first chords of Cold. It all gets a bit emotional during Cold, the screens once again showing imagery and videos of Wayne. If there’s a dry eye in the room we’d be surprised. The cunningly crafted setlist immediately jumps into I’m With Stupid, bringing with it a sense of humor to break the tension. The band end on Push It.
Words and Photos by Carrie-Anne Pollard