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2005-10-07 07:05:18 (link)
System of a Down - Concert Review

During the height of the “nu-metal” movement, the casual listener could be forgiven for dismissing LA’s System of A Down as just another hard rock act. Years later, after the popularity of groups like Slipknot and Korn has faded into nonexistence, there is no denying the significance of System as one of the most important bands around today. They proved it Wednesday night at the Key Arena in Seattle, WA.

Left in a subdued stupor by the latin infused progrock of openers The Mars Volta/Hella, the audience was in need of a serious wake up and they were not disappointed. Silhouetted behind a massive curtain, guitarist Daron Malakian began the concert on a somber note by plucking “soldier side,” the first track from their latest album “Mezmerize.” As the shroud abruptly dropped and they launched into the blistering “B.Y.O.B,” System revealed themselves and their eclectic mix of styles. It was only fitting that they looked as unique as they sound.

404'd! (The System is...)

Malakian appeared in a red smoking jacket that would make Hugh Hefner proud; Vocalist Serj Tankian looked the part of Frank Zappa’s evil twin, and bassist Shavo Odadjian maintained their punk pedigree by donning black pinback jeans and old school converses. John Dolmayan, meanwhile, was hidden behind a massive array of drums, and he used them all as the band proceeded to crash through their set. The selection of songs highlighted some new music from their forthcoming LP, Hypnotize, but mostly the band pulled quite heavily from both their first two albums.

It is impressive that a group this popular didn’t employ any touring musicians to compliment their sound on the road. Instead, they opted for a stripped down, minimalist approach that was used to varying effect. While the choruses of “Chop Suey” lacked the appropriate symphonic weight, their soaring vocal harmonies more than made up for the thinner instrumentals. And though lead vocalist Tankian certainly had his time in the sun, this was clearly Malakian’s show. In contrast with their previous albums, he wrote the majority of songs that appear on Mezmerize. The diminutive Armenian basked in this newfound importance, often introducing songs on solo guitar with rants that included cheeky covers of Neil Young and the Dire Straits, not to mention the obligatory indictments of corporate media and George W. Bush.

Most interesting was the new and growing versatility of the band. While Shavo and John were more than content to stick to their instruments, Daron and Serj toyed with a variety of moogs, Theremins and synths, complete with vocorder, during the course of the show. Their noodling reworked classics such as “War?” in a truly bizarre new wave fashion and displayed some surprising and exciting new sounds for the band. After they closed with “Sugar,” the song responsible for their initial success, one thing was very clear- The most exciting band in rock is only going to get better. And there is no telling what they will do next.

Seattle, WA 10/05/05

Set list:
1. Soldier side
2. B.Y.O.B.
3. Revenga
4. Know
5. Hypnotize (new song)
6. Tapeworm
7. Deer Dance
8. Suggestions
9. Psycho
10. Chop Suey
11. (unidentified new song)
12. Sad Statue
13. Violent Pornography
14. Mr. Jack
15. Cigaro
16. This Cocaine Makes me Feel Like I’m on this Song
17. Bounce
18. Atwa
19. Forest
20. Lost in Hollywood
21. Question!
22. War
23. Prison Song
24. Aerials
25. Toxicity
26. Science
27. Suite-Pee
28. Sugar

by Jon Fischer


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