FEAR FACTORY/HINGE A.D./AMERICAN HEAD CHARGE
May 5, 2001 at LT's, Rockford, Illinois
by Dr. Abner Mality
On May 5, 2001, at 3:30 PM, I received some information that my stunned mind just couldn't accept. Fear Factory was going to be playing in Rockford the very next night!... Fear Factory... In Rockford! It just didn't compute. Crazier yet, they were playing the perennial home of The Pimps, Agent Zero and countless cover bands, LT's. Fear Factory at LT's? With three opening bands for an all ages show? Incredible but true! Needless to say, I got my ticket but I couldn't really believe it until I experienced it.
Well, I did. I was there. You couldn't have wedged another person into the club even with a crowbar,which made me wonder if the whole place would be smashed to rubble by wildly moshing youth. Thankfully, that didn't happen, although the pit was as intense as anything I've seen in a Rockford club.
First band up was Minneapolis' American Head Charge,who fit pretty snugly into the aggressive nu-metal scene. A bit of of Static-X here, a dash of Marilyn Manson there, mixed with pinches of Machine Head and Mudvayne. In other words, nothing earth-shakingly different. However,these guys take no prisoners live and they hit the stage loaded for bear. They have FOUR guitars and a keyboardist so there isn't much they can't pull off on stage. The crowd gave them a warm response and greeted them with a hellacious pit. I spent some time at the bar with these guys after the set so you may see more of them in Wormwood. The keyboardist was blown away by Ger Gor's artistic ability so you know they have to be warped.
Where American Head Charge succeeded by enthusiasm and good stage presence, Cleveland OH's Switch fell flat for lack of the same and the crowd knew it. They pretty much played in the same vein musically as AHC but the conviction wasn't there. Plus, they had those feeble "white boy rappin'" vocals. In fact, Switch looked like an emo band that had decided to jump on the nu-metal bandwagon.
I actually had heard the name of Hinge A.D. before but knew nothing about them. I expected pretty much the same thing as AHC but what I got was a Force 10 ass-whipping from a band destined to be huge. When it comes to the super-aggressive mix of nu-metal and death metal that the goatee-and-eyebrow-ring crowd goes nuts for, Hinge A.D. has got it down and then some. Their riffing is fast,ferocious and very catchy. The pit was a whirlwind! Kudos,also,to their singer, who can easily handle every type of vocal necessary for this music. Again, Hinge A.D. is not that original but they have mastered their style so well and they are so devastating live that I have no doubt they will be a major force to be reckoned with.
Dr Abner Mality with Burton Bell
By the time Fear Factory hit the stage, the air was so hot and thick you could cut it and chew it. The perfect atmosphere for mayhem. After a sound effects build-up, the band hit it and Armageddon was on! First track was "What Will Become?" from the new "Digimortal" CD and already everybody was singing along. I got shoved around like a drunk hooker at a biker bash and doused with beer. It was bliss. This was Fear Factory in a club in Rockford and you just can't beat it.
The dudes slammed into plenty of material from their classic "Demanufacture" CD, the greatest FF record by far. Singer Burton C. Bell was every bit as good live as he was on record,switching from soulful croons to hoarse roars on a dime. This was exhibited nowhere better than on his masterful rendition of "Pisschrist". He also connected with the crowd supremely well,spending a lot of time crouched directly over the fans and looking them right in the eye.
Everything they played got a great response but "Descent" and "Edgecrusher" really blew the walls off. They even went all the way back to "Soul of a New Machine" to play "Martyr" and "Scapegoat", which showed their death metal roots haven't been totally forgotten yet. The only real disappointment is that they did not play an encore. Well, maybe not,since the Good Doctor was so exhausted by then that he could no longer feel his legs.
Still, who could have dreamed that a major band like Fear Factory would play an all-ages show at LT's in Rockford? These guys went out of their way to entertain us in this metallic desert and the fans responded with a frenzy of adoration. Best of all, LT's wasn't completely demolished,so we may see more of this type of music. I have to compliment the security staff,as they handled the energetic crowd just right. This was really a watershed concert for the Rockford scene and it could be the start of something tremendous.
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