Robert Rich has terrible taste.
Dave Draiman, lead singer of Disturbed, started Device to occupy his time while the former is on hiatus. The group released an album earlier this month and are now touring with Nonpoint and Gemini Syndrome. That tour hit Dallas on Tuesday night.
Opening act Gemini Syndrome comes on stage 26 minutes after the scheduled start time, and I immediately think I’ve stumbled onto a Mudvayne show. The lead singer of the group is wearing bug-eyed goggles and his beard and hair are dyed white. It’s gimmicky, but so is nu-metal, so I let it slide. The band, which is taking an inordinate amount of time to put out a proper album, is tight and competent, and I thoroughly enjoy the set. Whether or not I’ll download a full album remains to be seen, but the group does a decent job considering they’re playing in a genre that pretty much is only successful to folks who actually were around when it was in its hey day. But I’m rooting for them, because they’re obviously working at it. Plus, their single “Pleasure & Pain” is one hell of a tune.
The night reaches its peak with Nonpoint. Formed in 1997, the group is one of the most essential nu-metal bands to approach the genre, and one of the few rock bands to successfully integrate a little Spanish flavor into its work. 1 It’s strange to see a band with such longevity function as an opener, and even stranger to see them play for an audience that contains people who don’t actually know who they are. At least, that’s what I’m assuming is the case, considering multiple people, including a dude in a V-neck two sizes too small, stand as static as statues. They don’t nod their heads, they don’t tap their feet, they just stand there. It’s okay to move at a concert, even if you don’t know the band. Vocalist Elias Soriano handles this perfectly, telling the crowd, “If you’ve never seen us before, hello, we’re Korn.”
In the very front row a group of three 40-something-year-old men are having the time of their lives. They hug each other, they jump up and down, they air guitar to their heart’s content. Clearly their kids are at home with mom and it’s a boyz night. The most energetic of the three pulls his Nonpoint shirt over his perfectly parted salt and pepper hair and throws his devil horns into the sky. At least, he tries to. No part of his body is capable of rigidity 2 and he flails about with careless abandon. Not once do his devil horns contain straight fingers, and I’m certain his hand never deviates from being perpendicular to his wrist, but he’s loving it, man.
A circle pit forms and one of the most entertaining situations in live music plays itself out. As those willing to risk their bodies bounce off one another, folks inadvertently caught in the middle frantically try to make their way out of the mayhem, and people on the fringe plant their feet and serve as bodyguards protecting the rest of the crowd from stray moshers. Several girls in front of me take on a visage of utter fear and spend the rest of the set looking at the pit instead of the band, just in case somebody breaks through the 15 people in front of them and barrel rolls them.
Soriano is a dude I want to hang out with. He has fun, interacts well with crowds, and I’m pretty sure he’d be down to get drunk and play a little Mario Kart. At one point, he expresses his love for both Shiner beer and Texas barbecue. As Texans, we know our barbecue is the best in the country, but it’s still nice to hear some affirmations every once in a while.
The band plays their cover of Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight,” and I’m reminded of how phenomenal it is. Not only is it the best cover of the song ever recorded, it just might rival the original. I stand by that statement, and I’ll tell Collins right to his face. Bring it, Phil.
The band closes with “Bullet With a Name,” and an interesting thing happens. As is commonplace in nu-metal, the song serves as an anthem of individuality and a call to arms, so to speak, a mantra for not taking shit from anyone and (metaphorically) kicking the ass of anybody looking to put you down. But, halfway through the song, Soriano begins a call and response singalong with the crowd, belting, “I’ve got a bullet with a name on it/bullet with a name” and then turning the microphone around for the crowd to repeat it. The second time this happens, in the brief pause after the crowd does its part and before Soriano takes his turn, someone yells “Dzhokhar!” The crowd knows who that is and roars in approval. Obviously, it’s Texas, so an implication that a terrorist should be shot is not uncommon, but in a way, this is healing. People so far removed from the location of a tragedy often feel helpless to assist, watching everything on the news, far removed from the situation. But getting angry and emotional and showcasing those emotions with others in a crowd is cathartic, a way to at the very least transfer, by sheer grit, support to those so far away. Some probably just thought of it as a call to kill the bastard, but I think others understood the other meaning, and I think it was good for them.
The night turns unsettling. A few weeks ago, I said Dave Draiman is the softest singer in heavy metal, but that claim was based solely on prior reading and videos of him on YouTube. His live personality confirms that he is, in fact, fucking weird. He struts on stage draped in a heavy black coat, near-whispering to the crowd, “Are you ready, Dallas?” It’s a bit melodramatic, but then, the first song kicks in. Device is a side project Draiman created with former Filter guitarist Geno Lenardo, and boasts an industrial rock feel, with hints of ’80s synth rock. Draiman has taken these hints too literally. He removes the coat to reveal a black tank that is clearly an attempt to hide his very noticeable paunch, and he begins to strut around the stage. He swivels his hips, he shakes neck back and forth, and he constantly makes a goddamn duck face. In short, the dude thinks he’s Michael Bolton.
He literally does this the entire show, shaking his body at the crowd like he’s a Chippendale dancer, and at one point takes a picture offered to him by an audience member, and he blows her a kiss. Somebody please tell Draiman he is not Fabio. Later, he holds his arms out and I swear he turns to look at the muscle. He is undoubtedly one of the bros that looks at himself in the mirror when he’s working out, that guy taking up entirely too much space in the free weight area because he wants to see how awesome his tris are developing. At one point he tells the crowd, “Come on, clap. Don’t be one of the cool kids, join in.” It’s ironic because Draiman clearly thinks he’s one of those cool kids.
The show is competent, and Draiman does have a great voice, but he is so obnoxiously full of himself. He says things like, “My brothers and sisters, my blood,” and I feel bile beginning to work its way up the back of my throat. It won’t take much to set me off. And then, as if he knows I’m very close, Draiman introduces a cover of Ozzy Osbourne and Lita Ford’s “Close My Eyes Forever” like this: “This song is for the ladies. And guys, this is to help you get the ladies’ pussy.”
At least Nonpoint was cool.