Static-X perform alongside iconic nu metal lineup Fear Factory, Mushroomhead, and Dope at the TLA
[ Photos and Article by A.J. Kinney ]
Recently Static-X set out on their first headlining tour in just under a decade. I saw my first glimpse of Xero, Static-X’s masked vocalist, last summer during Rob Zombie’s ‘Freaks on Parade’ tour, where the evil disco quartet was one of the supporting acts. Less than a year later the band has set out on a massive 42 date spring tour with every show being sold out.
Fear Factory much like Static-X, gained popularity in the mid 90’s as the nu metal scene became more mainstream. Recently the band has also reimagined themselves by adding a new vocalist. Previous singer Burton C. Bell left years ago, and guitarist Dino Cazares has taken his time finding a suitable replacement. Fans wouldn’t know who the new singer was until days before the “Rise of the Machine” tour. After much anticipation it was revealed that Milo Silvestro would be the new front man of Fear Factory. The question on everyone’s mind “Would his voice live up to what fans have come to expect from the band over the past three decades”? The answer was an astounding yes.
Halfway through the tour, it’s apparent Milo has cohesively adapted with the rest of band. Fear Factory’s current lineup features Static-X bassist Tony Campos, and HAVOK drummer Pete Webber, both of whom play full time in other bands. Guitarist Dino Cazares is the only founding member that is still currently in the band. Hearing the Fear Factory play live brought me back to those high school days of rocking out before class with my friends.
Fear Factory’s set heavily favored tracks off their Obsolete and Demanufacture records. Notable hits included “Edgecrusher”, “Replica”, “Zero Tolerance”, and a personal favorite “Shock”. Milo’s unfeigned vocal ability hit those angelic high notes and devilish growls that Burton was distinctively known for on each record. Dino’s guitar playing was also immaculate, and each song was flawlessly executed with precision. The entire outfit sounded tight and true to their original form. Dino triumphantly let the crowd know he was feeling it as well, ending their set with “It’s good to be back, Fear Factory is back!”, and hinted towards new music coming in the not so distant future.
Mushroomhead only appeared on select dates of the ‘Rise of the Machine’ tour, and I was glad to finally catch them this time around. The band has somehow eluded me over the past few years of attending metal concerts in the tri-state area, nonetheless they did not disappoint. As a photographer it was a bit overwhelming to see a masked seven piece metal band banging on water drums. Their performance onstage was visually stunning and merited some amazing photos. Mushroomhead’s high energy performance almost stole the show and I’ll gladly make the effort to see them the next time they’re in town.
Dope is another band that I really enjoyed growing up in the suburbs of central PA. We seldom had any good metal shows that were close to our neighborhood. Bands like Static-X, Fear Factory, and Dope were all pillars in our collections of heavy metal CDs shared between friends. I remember the band gracing the cover of Metal Edge magazine in my local grocery store, and purchasing a copy just after attending church with my family. My moral compass at the time was in obvious disarray, but have since transitioned to the dark side.
Much like Dino Cazares in Fear Factory, Edsel Dope is the lone original member left in the band that has released eight albums over the past two decades. Dope’s setlist featured only two songs from their groundbreaking ‘Felons and Revolutionaries’ album; “Debonaire”, and an industrial cover of Dead or Alive’s “You Spin Me Round”. Surprisingly the band made an effort to play at least one song from each of their seven albums (note that one album has since been released in 2023), a feat that thrilled fans and offered a killer set including “Blood Money”, “I’m Back”, and “Die MF Die”.
Society 1 were the opening act on a five band bill that were performing that night. The ‘Rise of the Machine’ tour has been selling out every night and fans eagerly were waiting years for this show to finally hit the road. The venue was rightfully packed during Society 1’s highly energetic set, and was arguably the most theatrical performance of the night next to Mushroomhead. Vocalist Matt Zane regularly interacted with the crowd, getting up close and personal on more than one occasion. The momentum during Society 1’s performance would set the tone for the rest of the night.
Fun Fact: Society 1 headlined and sold out the TLA in the early 2000’s.
Fans were rewarded with a new and improved version of Xero that coincided nicely for a tour titled ‘Rise of the Machine’. For those who may not know, Static-X lost their founding member Wayne Static over eight years ago. But his memory lives on, not only in the band’s music, but also in every characteristic of the new masked singer. Xero, who remains nameless, has many characteristics of Wayne Static, from his tall spiked hair (in this case metal cables and wires), down to his cadence onstage, and incredibly similar vocal ability. The band has purposely chosen to keep Xero’s identity under wraps, with the show heavily focused on paying homage to Wayne Static. Towards the end of the set, during one of the bands more popular songs ‘Cold’, Xero stood atop a staircase while clouds of foam (imitating snow) fell into the crowd. A testimonial to Wayne Static was displayed on LED screens that completely surrounded the band for the entirety of their set.
Rise of the Machine tour also paid homage to arguably the band’s most popular studio album ‘Machine’. Their 19 song setlist for the evening featured about half of the album including four opening arrangements ‘Permanence’, ‘Structural Defeat’, ‘This is Not’, and ‘Black and White’.
Billed as Rise of the Machine tour, it coincided nicely with Static-X’s current ‘Regeneration’ theme. The band truly has reimagined themselves into new form after losing it’s founding member, a difficult undertaking for any band. Drummer Ken Jay, Bassist Tony Campos, and Lead Guitarist Koichi Fukuda have kept the band’s signature sound alive over the years. They’ve also released two studio albums Project Regeneration 1 & 2 which feature the last vocal arrangements of Wayne Static.
Static-X remain humble, and have found new life after two very successful tours within the past calendar year. The band remains true to their fans, and believe that with such enthusiasm surrounding the current lineup, they will continue for years to come. Static-X are also planning to release new music with Xero handling future vocal responsibilities.
Towards the end of the show Xero triumphantly yelled out, “The next time you see us it’s gonna be at the Electric Factory” to an uproar of cheers across the venue. One can only imagine that the machine will continue to rise for years to come, and I cannot wait to see what the next show has in store for us.