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August 16, 1999; 9:30 Club; Washington, D.C.

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

Dope opened the show and wasted little time in establishing themselves as new purveyors of the heavier, punk side of electronic influenced metal.  Dope, which now call New York City home after originating in Florida, believe strongly in freedom and their lyrics reflect that philosophy.  Dope have raised the roof on the NYC club circuit and seem hell-bent on capturing the attention of anyone within earshot.  Highlights of the Dope set included the nihilistic "Spine For You" and the rumbling "Sick." The guitars were heavy, the bass was solid and funky, the samples subtle and effective, and the drums and vocals were pushed through a potpourri of watery effects.  I must give credit where credit is due: Dope came out with confidence and presented themselves in a no-bullshit manner.   With Dope you get a refreshingly honest reflection of the band's true spirit - you may not like it, but you certainly won't think these guys are faking it.  Dope is Edsel Dope, Simon Dope, Tripp Eisen, Acey Slade, and Preston Nash.

Los Angeles has always proven to be fertile ground for metal bands, but lately L.A. has been a hotbed for diverse talent.   Static-X is the latest L.A. band to make a nationwide impact - the band's ubiquitous irreverence is making waves across the country.  With Static-X it is the performance that matters; in the great tradition of Queen, Static-X used a backing tape and samples to enhance their live show from their sample-heavy debut to accurately deliver the songs on stage.  Wayne Static appears to be a reluctant frontman, but the essence and simplicity of Static-X doesn't demand a glib frontman.  Ken Jay's integral percussion keeps the music sharp, Tony Campos lends a hand not only with the bass, but also with backing vocals, and Koichi Fukuda fills out the harmonic space with his guitar.   I enjoyed Static-X's live performance much more than their debut recording - something about the vibe and electricity in the air no doubt.

Fear Factory took command of the stage with "Shock" before blasting their way through "New Breed." From the get-to there was no doubt that Fear Factory would hold their audience in a heavy groove infected spell.  Fear Factory essentially played the same material that it had played at this venue in April 1999 (click here for our review), but in a different order to keep things fresh.  Songs included "Demanufacture," "Self Bias Resistor," "Scumgrief," "Martyr," "Zero Signal," "Pisschrist," "Scapegoat," and nearly the entire "Obsolete" disc.  The death metal sounds of the first disc are a bit looser in the live setting while the cold harshness of the sophomore disc is given a more human feel in concert.   Of course, songs from "Obsolete" are dramatic in their own way and are built for performance.

Fear Factory are more relaxed and poised now than I've ever seen them.  The band has become resourceful enough to continue to give the dynamic performances that fans are expecting to see, yet carefree enough to interact with their audience.  Burton, Dino, and Christian all interacted with the crowd to everyone's delight.  Although Raymond (drums) and Steve (keyboards) did not interact with the audience, it was readily apparent that they were taking in the full ambience of the devoted crowd.

Fear Factory have never shied away from bringing their tour mates on stage for fun; tonight was no exception.  Dope vocalist Edsel and Static-X bassist Tony Campos joined Fear Factory on stage for the huge and aggressive "Edgecrusher." Koichi Fukuda also joined the band on-stage for a cover of Gary Numan's "Cars" - although, Fear Factory's version of "Cars" is similar to the original recording, the classic crunch of Fear Factory's sound and the sharp tone of Fukuda's six-string gave the tune an added edge.

Fear Factory carefully avoided the usual concert melodramatics by ripping through their set without interruption.  Besides, who needs an encore when the symbiosis between performer and audience is as meaningful as a Fear Factory show?  The show ended with fan favorite "Replica"; this blistering rendition capped off an excellent night of entertainment.

Once again, Fear Factory did not disappoint in their live performance.  For a band that relies heavily on technical precision which is much suited for studio recording, Fear Factory have mastered the art of crowd interaction, pacing, and dynamics which all add up to an enthralling performance.

Fear Factory are headed to Europe; however, don't miss the band when they return for more U.S. dates before heading back to the studio.

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Copyright 1999 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 23 Aug 2016 22:57:15 -0400.