May 23, 2018 Combichrist & Wednesday 13 Shatter The Glasshouse Pomona, CA 5-18-18
While classic Heavy Metal and Industrial bands will always be special and influential in sound, sometimes, a modern world calls for modern measures to stay ahead of the curve. For bands such as Combichrist and Wednesday 13, they are originally their own in every sense of the word, taking bits and pieces of influence from various styles and sounds. Now veterans, Combichrist established 15 years and Wednesday 13 over 20 years, they remain at the top of their game, especially when it comes the live performances.
Speaking of which, the two vastly different acts unite on their Everybody Still Hates You US Tour featuring direct support from Nightclub, Prison, and Death Valley High. A run that will continue now through June 30th, on Friday, May 18th, the chaos ensued at The Glasshouse in Pomona, California. Opening night, this would be the show that would set the bar for the next month. So, how did it go?
Well, unfortunately due to vehicle issues, Death Valley High never made it to the show, but not to worry, they are back on schedule for the other performances. As far as the other supporting acts, they included Requiem, a local act out of Santa Cruz, before the aforementioned Prison and Nightclub. Requiem, a band which combines dark undertones with melody and Metal guitars, while being the opener, took to the stage first and made the most of their time. Featuring Vocalist Steven Juliano, former frontman of I Am Ghost, along with Jacklyn Paulette, they unite to form a great mix of emotional, catchy vocals. Preparing for a follow-up to their 2014 album, The Unexplainable Truth, they are yet another band a part of the Cleopatra Records family worth checking out.
Next would be Prison, a band a part of the entire tour with Combichrist. Out of Florida, Prison were more on the harsh end in comparison to Requiem. Reminiscent of Nu-Metal of yesteryear, they featured crunchy stop-go rhythms, gruff growls, and an intensity that could not be contended. Supporting their 2017 album, N.G.R.I., those into something raw and unadulterated, this Alternative Metal outfit may pique your interest.
The last of the supporting acts, Night Club seemed to get the best response with their one woman plus one male DJ sinister Electro Pop. Hailing from Los Angeles, California, Night Club – Emily Kavanaugh and Mark Brooks – engaged the growing audience with a delightful mix of addictive synthesizers and seductive vocals. Living up to their project’s name, anyone who wants to dance and lose themselves in some high quality Synthpop, do not miss out on Night Club. With their 2016 album Requiem for Romance out, be on the lookout for their new album, Scary World, due out August 24th.
Now, later in the evening, the night creatures arrived at The Glasshouse, thus the plot thickened for Horror Punk Metal heroes Wednesday 13. Led by Wednesday 13, born as Joseph Michael Poole, he is a musician who has been on the scene since the mid ’90s in various bands such as Maniac Spider Trash, Frankenstein Drag Queens From Planet 13, and of course The Murderdolls. Along with his band consisting of Roman Surman (guitar), Jack Tankersley (guitar), Troy Doebbler (bass), and Kyle Castronovo (drums), he was ready to light up the stage.
On the road in support of their 2017 album, Condolences, the Wednesday 13 quintet sported dirty Gothic makeup while fearless leader, Wednesday 13 himself, took the reigns with constant costume changes. All part of the show, his stage wardrobe included a couple different devil masks in black and white plastic with large horns, Gothic sport coats, a butcher style apron, along with a skull shirt and top hat. Although, the most bizarre and wildly entertaining mask of all was a plastic mime mask of his expressionless face worn on the back of his head as he danced around.
Watching the surreal qualities of the backwards mask in the very well-done lighting to the dark and dirty Goth Metal gave a wild and creepy vibe as Wednesday 13 puppeted himself around with his back to the audience and headbanging two-faced. This vision in mind, one of the most memorable songs was “M.F.T.W.” with its fun cynical lyrics and invitingly dark tempo along with “Gimmie Gimmie Bloodshed” in all its witty lyrical tales. Playing other tracks including “What the Night Brings” and “Blood Suckers,” later on, the energetic frontman brought out his black umbrella, opening it to reveal a large middle finger imprinted on it, further enhancing the attitude of the evening.
Even though sometimes costume changes can come across as an added gimmick, that is not the case when it comes to Wednesday 13, because it fits in perfect timing with the music while being done in a creative and artistic way, enhancing the theatrical feel. Musically, the band possesses all the dirty Horror Metal guitar riffs in tune with charismatic Gothic vocals that spark up. Additionally, their witty song and album titles also reek of creativity, and at The Glasshouse with its corner curved large stage, Wednesday 13 offered one of their best performances to date.
Keeping the mood loose, as someone’s idea of a joke, in between sets, Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” along with ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” boomed over the PA. Odd for this motley crowd, a little after 10 pm, the room jumped right into the harsh Industrial flavored Electro madness that is Combichrist. While the project remains the passion of Lead Vocalist Andy LaPlegua, it would not be complete without his current live team featuring wild man Joe Letz on drums, Eric 13 on guitars, Brent Ashley on bass, along with a second added Drummer Nick Rossi, who has played past shows.
A band that really defines adrenaline, while LaPlegua is extremely energetic, as he runs across the stage while singing, giving him a run for his money, Letz’s drumming is pure insanity. Always sitting stage right facing stage left with his drum kit, Letz usually is in some kind of wild makeup and crossdresser outfit with fake breasts while flipping his sticks high into the air. That said, for whatever reason, Letz was not quite the maniac of destruction seen in past shows, but he also had a very uncomfortable looking gag or lock jaw type mechanism on his face, perhaps keeping him in check. Nonetheless, his intensity still bled through via his abilities on the kit.
Keeping the energy levels fairly high, midway through, a cat fight broke out in the audience, leaving one girl swinging while the other girl was escorted off the floor. Who needs Heavy Metal mosh pits when this kind of excitement is constantly brewing! After the scuffle, there was no denying “Fuck That Shit” won as the great live song it is while another obvious highlight came with “Sent To Destroy.”
Frantic and powerful, towards the end, Combichrist blazed into “What The Fuck Is Wrong With You?” assisting in wrapping up a setlist that had a great theme. Additionally, the percussion solidified the spectacle of it all, without any additional added props. Two drummers playing simultaneously on stage is not something new, Slipknot does it among many others, but no one does it quite the same way Combichrist does, plus who wants to be in the firing line of Letz when he gets feisty?
With a plentiful set filled with lots of hits, there was little room for disappointment. With their last album, This Is Where Death Begins, now 2 years old, perhaps the hype for this tour may not be where it should be, rest assured, the furious combination of Combichrist with Wednesday 13 is enough to smack any fan back into gear and never miss a live show from either band again!