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Dead Cross With Ho99o9 At The Observatory, Thursday August 10th 2017

Dead Cross

 

Last night, the Observatory in Santa Ana had the first-ever Dead Cross show, the hardcore-metal supergroup made of Faith No More’s Mike Patton, drummer Dave Lombardo (ex-Slayer, Suicidal Tendencies, Misfits), bassist Justin Pearson (The Locust, Retox, Head Wound City) and guitarist Michael Crain (Retox, Festival of Dead Deer), With such a lineup, you would have thought that the show had sold out, but the Observatory gave away free tickets at the last minute, and I got one. On top of this, the rap-punk band Ho99o9 was opening, and after attending their show at the Echoplex a few months ago, I was really decided to relive the same mayhem…. Although it didn’t turn out to be exactly the same experience, it wasn’t their fault.

Stay angry people, we have to stay angry during these troubled times, I am aware that tons of people have many more reasons to be angry than I do, I am white, I am lucky enough to have a job, and I live in a nice neighborhood in the richest country in the world, the country of abundance and wealth, the United States of Horror. And that’s why we have to stay angry, more than ever: yesterday’s show was an escalade in anger, an exercise in rage and fury, although Ho99o9 will always steal the show for me.

The energy of a live Ho99o9 show is about Ian Longwell’s incredible explosive drumming which propels the sonic power to a formidable level, but it is especially about the formidable duo: theOGM, wearing a forest of tentacle dreads on his head and a Marilyn Manson short dress, and Eaddy, all muscle and frenzy power, jumping on stage and in the crowd like a demon. With no guitar or bass in sight (‘In music, there was never any rule books as to how you can express your shit’ told us theOGM), the two men moan and hurl their rap lyrics over industrial distortion and savant collages of music samples, noises, chants, and screams, only interrupted by speedball punk accelerations, that bring Bad Brains to mind (like during ‘Street Power’), a band they often cover by the way.

The last time I saw them, they headlined the Echoplex, I was close to the stage and in the middle of a war zone, with bodies incessantly flying over my head and an incredible energy coming from the crowd. This time it was a bit different, maybe because of the extreme nazi-attitude of the Observatory staff (no stage diving seems to be allowed over there!) and maybe because it was a different crowd, it was probably a little bit of both and, despite a large moshpit,  the energy was coming entirely from the stage where the two men were in constant assault mode, theOGM repeatedly kneeling down in a wounded lament, while Eaddy was aggressively jumping into the chaos, head-banging, full-body shaking, animated by a frenzy dance all the way till the end of the show.

It’s more than ever important to stay angry, even when ‘a fuck the police’ awkwardly lands among a mostly white Orange County crowd, followed by a few words from theOGM ‘there are some good ones’ just after the song. Despite this, the message is shouted very clearly and loudly, oscillating between frustration and anger, one leading to the other and vice versa…. ‘You pray to God/I pray for hell (brings the hell)/Cause niggas like me go to hell (go to hell). Their album ‘United States of Horror’ is a long series of terrifying vignettes merging rap, punk, and cannabis slow-mo ravings, erecting a giant black middle-finger to the US, it’s brutal, uncompromising, and very effective.

But I could say the same thing about Dead Cross, the super band, which has released its record on Ipecac Recordings a few days ago, although the presentation was far more classical and straightedge hardcore. This was their first show ever, they said they didn’t even have time for rehearsing, and it was a bit odd to watch Mike Patton turning the pages of his lyrics installed on a stand in front of him… With his Hawaiian shirt, skateboard shorts, and beach sneakers, he looked more like a guy relaxing on Venice beach than someone hurling hardcore anger, but that was nevertheless the vision we had last night.

Patton has a powerhouse voice though, a demonic scream, which was going from a strident Brian-Johnson-type deep throat to some breath-cutting long wails or a growl embodying the fighting spirit suiting the genre. He was passionate, using several special-effect mics, and the frontman you could expect despite his Hawaiian shirt. Meanwhile, Lombardo was destroying his gigantic drum set as expected, and the dynamic duo Justin Pearson and Michael Crain were providing the noisy distorted guitar and bass. There was plenty of search and destruction in these songs with trashy lyrics – ‘I took a pee and it came out red/I took a dump and it came out dead’ (‘Shillelagh’), ‘Hate your city/CITY/Create your own place, man’ (‘The Future has been canceled’), ‘Destroy and rebuild/Destroy or be killed’ (‘Idiopathic’) and I could go on. They were visceral and tuneless, entirely built around aggressiveness and chaos as if these middle-aged guys were trying to reclaim the fury and madness of their youth. ‘Not too bad for old guys’ conceded Patton at one point, satisfied with his last scream. I have to be honest, I did appreciate the anger and ferocity they put into the performance – I had tried to listen to the album at home, and I thought it was much more convincing live than at home – but the heavy speedy music was very hard to follow, it was a fusion of genres, maybe sounding more like an experimental avant-garde trash hardcore than anything I am familiar with.

The weirdest thing happened during the encore, they came back to play the first riffs of Slayer’s ‘South of Heaven’, fist in the air, but when Patton got close to the mic, he simply said ‘good night’ and that was it! What a tease for all these disappointed fans who could not leave the place, not finding the farce very funny, maybe at the image of the jokes of comedian Neil Hamburger, who had opened the night with some tasteless humor in a true Tony Clifton tradition. Anyone who trashes Gene Simmons is okay in my book, although how dare he make fun of poor Chester Bennington and Eric Clapton’s dead baby? I am just joking this was a night of exasperation and violence, something we always need, especially now. Stay angry, always.

setlist

Seizure and Desist
Idiopathic
Obedience School
Shillelagh
Aggrodolce
Bela Lugosi’s Dead
Divine Filth
Grave Slave
Future has been Cancelled
My Perfect Prisoner
Gag Reflex
Church of the Motherfuckers

Ho99o9

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