September 24, 2006

Concert Review: Powerman 5000 w/ Pillowface, Trapnote, In Restraints

Seeing Powerman 5000 live is always a good thing. They put on consistently high energy shows, and are just a lot of fun. This show was no different, but before we could get to them, there were three opening acts, each with a distinctly different sound.

I arrived at The Chance Theater just past 8:30 to discover that the first act was already performing. The same thing happened last time I saw PM5K, the door open time coincides with the start of the first band. I always hate it when they do that. Anyway, I got inside after missing about half of the opening set.

The first band was In Restraints, I had seen them once before, but it was well over one and a half years ago and my memories are a bit fuzzy. What I got to hear of them sounded good. They were heavy, loud, and tight, a good combination for a heavy act. The one complaint I have has more to do with the mix than the performance. The drums could have used some serious beefing up, they sounded weak and did not have much presence to them. The sound of them the rhythms was good, but they were just overpowered by everything else. The band does not make use of melody, they went right for the throat and did not let go, kind of like a pitbull on a small child. I would be interested in checking them out another time, hopefully getting to see their entire set.

Next up was Trapnote. I have seen them a few times in the past, and they just keep getting better. Their music is, and here I go with my questionable grasp of the plethora of sub-genres, post-hardcore screamo metalcore. Wow, that was a mouthful, and probably completely inaccurate, but that is my impression. What can I say other than I am really starting to like these guys. I remember the first time I saw them a couple years back, they really weren't all that good, not terrible, but nowhere near what they have become. Between this performance and their set from last month, they are going places. They play with a variety of styles and time signatures, and just have an increasing grasp of melody and how to play with it. They have an impressive twin guitar attack with some heavy riffs from one side and interesting atmospheric leads from the other, combine that with a solid rhythm section, featuring some excellent drumming, and you have a good combination for success. On top of their playing skills, they have great stage presence, led by their vocalist who is in a constant state of motion. This is a band to keep an eye on. Song highlights include the opener "Cry for Autonomy," the closer "Fist First Romance," as well as "Premature Miseducation" and "The End."

The third and final opening act is a straight up rock act that has been around the local scene for a number of years, Pillowface. I have seen them a few times in the past, and while it is not my favorite sound, they always put on a solid performance. Tonight it seems like their set was cut short, I think they only played for around twenty minutes. Still, even with a shortened set, they got the crowd going and put on an admirable performace. The music doesn't break any new ground, but sometimes that doesn't matter if the band is solid and they do it with style, of which Pillowface is both. I wouldn't go out of my way to see them, but I will welcome them with other bands I am interested in.

Now it was time for our main event, Powerman 5000 took the stage at 11:00, and the crowd was in an instant frenzy. They opened with the same song that they did the last time I saw them, "Supernova Goes Pop." That is just a great song to kick off a show with, its catchy, full of energy, and the fans love it, me included. The one thing that has bugged me about their past shows is that the setlist never seems to have much variety, each time has been pretty much the same selection of tracks. This time we did get a little better mix, thanks to the release of Destroy What You Enjoy, with four new cuts making it into the list. Another criticism I have had of shows past is the lack of anything prior to the Tonight the Stars Revolt album, again, I was pleased to have them dust off "Neckbone" from Mega! Kung-Fu Radio.

The performance was nothing short of excellent. Spider has a seemingly limitless source of energy, as he jumps up and down bouncing around the stage, sneering and pumping his fist. He is just a great frontman, his voice was on point, and he is just great to watch onstage. The rest of the band was no slouch either, tearing it up like a well oiled machine. Powerman 5000 has gone through a few transitions over the years, and the past few have seen them settle into a great rock act, with a touch of punk and a sprinkle of metal. They may not put out a lot of albums, but they always seem to be on the road, perfecting their stage show.

It is nice to see that that Spider hasn't let his past rapping skills fade away, incorporating a brief bit into each show, even if it is the same rap, the guy just has a cool voice. During "Neckbone" Spider spoke of how he has had the fortune of playing with some of the greats, naming Marilyn Manson, Metallica, Primus, and Pantera, and how much the road has meant to him. It was nicehearing the stories he has to tell, even if they are just soundbites for between cuts.

Powerman 5000 is definitely a band to see live, even if you don't know who they are, if you like rock and roll you owe it to yourself to see them. They can always be counted on for a solid show, full of energy that is flat out a lot of fun.

Setlist to the best of my memory. Order may be off:
1. Supernova Goes Pop
2. Tonight the Stars Revolt
3. Destroy What You Enjoy
4. Action
5. An Eye is Upon You
6. Nobody's Real
7. Return to the City of the Dead
8. Free
9. Walking Disaster
10. Spider raps
11. Wild World
12. Neckbone
13. Bombshell

1. Theme to a Fake Revolution
2. Hey, That's Right
3. When World's Collide


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