Static-X – Devildriver – Dope – Wednesday 13 – Raven Black: Live at Starland Ballroom

Static-X was one of the best bands to come out of the mid-late 1990s. Sure, they sprung to life during the Nu-Metal craze where every band that wasn’t a traditional heavy metal or death metal was labeled “Nu”. However, Static-X had the DNA of great Industrial Metal bands, pure and simple. When Wayne Static died in 2014, it seemed like the band as an active entity would pass out of existence, although we’d always have the songs. Great songs stand the test of time, and that’s not just lip service, it’s an undeniable truth. So when the notion of the remaining living founding members of the band coming together to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Wisconsin Death Trip (Warner Bros), it seemed like the right time. The creation of a new album of tracks featuring Wayne supported by the fans is just a bonus. This entire tour and album, both the idea of it and the execution of it witnessed on this night is a celebration and done with love and good intentions. Leave your cynicism at the door and prepare to throw down!

I haven’t been out to Starland Ballroom in nearly a decade. The venue is first class inside and out as is the majority of the staff there. I wound up being at the venue all day and into the night due to some interviews with the bands (coming soon to Ghost Cult’s podcast and YouTube) and chilling out in general with the bands our music industry fam. I felt more love in this place than my high school reunion, but in truth, I was unpopular! On the downside, the sound was pitiful for the first few bands. So bad, in fact, that the opening bands did all they could to maintain their composure in the face of stifling conditions. They were screaming at the sound guy for two full sets.

In spite of the less than stellar sound, these opening bands killed. At the start of their set, the crowd seemed to not know Raven Black too well, despite the bands’ recent spate of dates opening for Cradle of Filth. In the end, they earned some new die-hards from this day forward. They were excellent and for a second time seeing them personally, this now a band fully on my radar for the future. Wednesday 13, with a new album out soon, and a typically hot shit live show, had a worse fate than the openers. Even though he played his heart out as did his band, the sound was awful the entire time. They hit the stage late trying to get the sound right and cut their set short as well. Still, they acted professionally and promised to make it up to the fans soon. By the time Dope quickly took the stage the sound was all fixed, leading me to believe it was the house sound guy’s issues. Dope was strong out of the gate as usual. They know what they are musically, and they bring the heavy, short and catchy shit with no delay. The crowd was hyped for them too, with a lot of fans singing at the top of their lungs. They closed with a quick cover and left quickly.

Devildriver had people pumped. Many fans representing DD, ready to throw down. Dez Fafara prowled the stage with a 100-yard stare in his eyes. Always mighty on the mic, he gets the crowd amped as much as any modern metal frontman could. Running through some of their hits and deep cuts, the band slayed hard. I was slightly bummed to not hear any of the Outlaws Til The End Vol. 1 (Napalm Records) material, but I guess I missed that tour. Of course, the set included Coal Chamber cuts ‘Loco’ and ‘Fiend’ and the crowd lapped them up. I definitely wanted more. Definitely the best pits of the night too and a glimpse into one of the best American metal bands right now.

Most nights a band like Devildriver gets off the stage and that’s it, everyone is spent with no more energy. Tonight the fans had something left to give and it was great. Several really cool video screens dotted the stage and the band came on to the intro of ‘December’, getting everyone even more hyped. Then came the bruising riffs and thunderous beats of ‘Bled For Days’! The place went nuts instantly!

As good as some of those albums were, Static-X were really great live and tonight’s show captured that essence beautifully! Masked singer “Zero” in place of Wayne hammered home how great he was with an amazing, clever way to pay tribute to the man we lost. Terrific singing, screaming and guitar work. The rest of the band had great chemistry too. It was my first time seeing the band since the glory days of the early 2000s they ruled. Tony Campos always dominates his side of the stage, but it’s been a minute since folks have seen Koichi Fukuda and Ken Jay crush live. And crush they did! Fans returned the energy dished out to them, singing, moshing, dancing the rest of the night away.

Focusing on Wisconsin Deathtrip for the majority of the set, there were some other nuggets like ‘Cold’ and ‘Start A War’! Likely my favorite song of the night was the mid-tempo creepy vibe of ‘The Trance is The Motion’. The band was humble, appreciative, and classy making many statements thanking the fans and praising Wayne’s memory. The crowd almost didn’t leave after it was over and staff had to usher out the stragglers.

Meeting some of the band again after the set, you knew their hearts are in the right place for this tour and the next few years of tours planned. It’s a party and if you loved this band you’re invited.

Static-X setlist:

December (tape)

Bled for Days

Wisconsin Death Trip

Fix

Sweat of the Bud

Love Dump

I Am

Otsegolation

The Trance Is the Motion

Get to the Gone

Black and White

This Is Not

Destroy All

Start a War

Behemoth

Cold

I’m With Stupid

Push It

Stem (tape)

WORDS BY KEITH CHACHKES

PHOTOS BY ISABEL UZCATEGUI*

*photos from 6/18/2019 in Tempe, AZ