Richard’s On Richards
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Vancouver, BC Canada
***Live Review & All Photos By Lord of The Wasteland
Since the band is often considered a relic of the nu-metal era, it may surprise many that Chicago’s Static-X just released their fifth album, CANNIBAL, and what is even more surprising is that it is arguably their best yet. The band hit a high point with their 1999 debut, WISCONSIN DEATH TRIP, but each release afterward has sold progressively fewer copies. Static-X’s sophomore release, 2001’s MACHINE, was a solid album but 2003’s SHADOW ZONE and 2005’s START A WAR were noticeably tepid struggles to get out from under the nu-metal blanket and it seemed the band was headed for obscurity. Under the long-time guidance of frontman/guitarist/programmer Wayne Static—he of the mile-high coif and braided Amish-style beard—Static-X’s re-emergence as a modern metal contender could be the shocker of 2007.
Landing a prime spot on the Ozzfest 2007 tour, Static-X is going for broke with CANNIBAL and as a warm-up for the big summer festival, the band announced a Vancouver show two days ahead of the Ozzfest kick-off in Seattle. With this being my third time seeing Static-X live, it was a big disappointment to witness the meagre—albeit energetic—crowd, slim even for a Tuesday night. The fact the show date was re-scheduled just a week earlier to the same night as Deftones didn’t help, either. Plying their self-proclaimed “evil disco,” Static and the rest of the band—Tony Campos (bass), Koichi Fukuda (guitar) and Nick Oshiro (drums)—tore through seventeen songs in a lengthy 75-minute set.
Exploding on stage with the stuttering start/stop harshness of the ultra-heavy “Cannibal,” it was immediately clear that Static-X has maintained its status as a unique live presence. Utilizing programmed samples, bass effects and distortion along with Static’s Tasmanian Devil vocals, the tiny stage at Richard’s On Richards left the band little room to move around but the tight atmosphere on the floor and the circular crows’ nest overhang made it seem like an intimate, almost cozy setting. Campos’ stocky, hulking presence and death metal growls juxtapose Fukuda’s diminutive stature and almost shy stage presence. Along with Campos, ex-Seether skinsman, Nick Oshiro, provided a lock-step groove throughout the set allowing Static’s choppy vocal cadence to flourish.
The industrial march of CANNIBAL’s “Behemoth” offset the slow, ominous creep of “Cold” while the band’s familiar hits—“Push It,” “I’m With Stupid,” “Bled For Days,” “This Is Not”—bookended the lesser-known material from SHADOW ZONE and START A WAR. “Destroy All” and “Dirthouse” got minimal fanfare from the crowd and it was clear many fans’ knowledge of the band ceased after MACHINE. Wisely, the setlist was heavy with material from WISCONSIN DEATH TRIP and MACHINE to cater to this fact. The Skinny Puppy/Ministry hybrid with downtuned, chugging guitars on “Love Dump,” “Get To The Gone,” “Black and White,” and the band’s timeless ode to enemas, “Shit In A Bag,” felt like a trip back to the turn of the millennium but still sparkle when performed live.
The ugly and unfortunate controversy surrounding former guitarist Tripp Eisen in 2005 seemed to have no effect on the band’s public image but having original axeman Koichi Fukuda back in the band after a six-year absence has clearly breathed some new life back into Static-X. Coming off a European tour cut short the week earlier due to bus problems, it appears Static-X is ready to take on the masses at Ozzfest this summer. It is doubtful they will reach the level of success they once had at the height of the nu-metal fad but it’s nice to see Static-X carrying on with material that sounds fresh and current, yet natural and unforced.
Shit In A Bag
I’m With Stupid
Bled For Days
Black and White
This Is Not
Get To The Gone
***Thanks to Kelli at Live Nation for the press pass.