Hailing from Los Angeles, California, the Rap Rock hybrid known as Hollywood Undead has built a cult-like following since their debut over a decade ago under the name The Kids. Looking for artistic freedom, without censorship, the band went through many battles prior to releasing their debut album, Swan Songs, in 2008. A debut which caused an immediate reaction, Swan Songs topped charts despite negativity from some critics. Since then, much has happened for the masked musicians including the departure of Singer Deuce in 2010 and a switch to Interscope Records after A&M/Octone Records dissolved in 2014. Steadfast to continue regardless of what obstacles were thrown in their path, Jorel “J-Dog” Decker (vocals/rhythm and bass guitar/ keyboards), Matthew “Da Kurlzz” Busek (vocals/ drums and percussion), George “Johnny 3 Tears” Ragan (vocals/bass guitar), Jordan ”Charlie Scene” Terrell (vocals/lead guitar), Dylan “Funny Man” Alvarez (vocals), and Daniel “Danny” Murillo (vocals/guitar) continue on their musical journey.
Determination helped the band in moving forward as they released perhaps their most telling record to date in March of 2015, Day of the Dead. Fervently releasing singles from Day of the Dead that have garnered much radio play and millions of views with the corresponding music videos on YouTube, it is a balanced album that interjects some fresh sounds, but still retains the recipe that Hollywood Undead followers adore. Now, following extensive touring through most of 2015 and early 2016, Hollywood Undead return from a European trek with Attila for a handful of East Coast US dates. With no national support, the band found themselves at familiar ground on Wednesday, May 18th, when they arrived at The Paramount in Huntington, New York. A venue where they last visited back in 2013 with Escape the Fate, All Hail The Yeti, and 3 Pill Morning, this time around they would have a whole new album of material to offer Long Islanders.
As a table setter, New York City based Blue Movie took the stage first. Together for some time now, Blue Movie has quite a unique style that embraces Heavy Metal, Gothic Rock, and Industrial Rock. A mix of cinematic influence with original song concepts has helped the band build a respected name for themselves as they have opened for a spectrum of artists in recent months including Puddle of Mudd, Faster Pussycat, and Lynch Mob. While the lineup has sustained some changes through the years Blue Movie is comprised of original members Lisa Foerderer (drums) and Tony Paris (guitar), along with Anthony Noto (vocals) and Matthew V. Baram (keyboard, vocals).
Catching many in the audience by surprise, the dark-textured collective offered some seductive tunes. Talking to the audience and playfully joking around, Noto moved about the stage, creatively acting out the words as he sang passionately. Some of the interesting songs included “Nebula,” which began with atmospheric keyboards before a razor sharp riff and then mesmerizing vocals. While most of the audience may have not be particularly familiar with Blue Movie, they certainly were engaged by what they offered with other tracks including “Ignite,” which saw Noto reach for deeper and more aggressive notes as well. An exciting moment for the band to have a chance to play a venue the size of The Paramount, Blue Movie earned themselves an invite back in the future.
After a quick turn over, Hollywood Undead promptly came out at 9:30 PM as a sizeable crowd of the “Undead Army” amassed in excitement. Teasing the anticipation of all, a bizarre take on “California Love” by Dre and TuPac came on as the lights dimmed down and roars erupted. Then blasting out without warning, Funny Man and Danny Murillo took the stage on the risers while J-Dog and Charlie Scene provided the rhythm section for Day of the Dead opening track, “Usual Suspects.” Since virtually all of Hollywood Undead take turns on vocals, it was interesting to watch the trade-off between members throughout the set, with only the touring drummer, Tyler Mahurin, staying behind the kit.
The band’s energy and unity was infectious, all members swarming around the stage like locusts, moving back and forth before rolling into their early single “Undead,” which had the crowd rabid from the first keyboard notes. Here, Percussionist “Da Kurlzz” came out from behind his kit to provide the emotional screams as Johnny 3 Tears ripped open with the first verse. Wasting no time in between the first handful of songs,they blasted through “Tendencies” and the anthemic “Been to Hell” before Charlie Scene first addressed the crowd jokingly saying, “Huntington, NY? I thought we were in Huntington Beach, California!” Known for their unique masks and sense of humor, the band unmasked by the fourth track, the sneering “Kill Everyone,” but not before Scene playfully told the audience they were the “best crowd ever,” and it was “not just the ecstasy talking.” Having bodies moving on the floor and enjoying every minute of the show, Hollywood Undead had the room in the palm of their hand.
Continuing to capture the imagination, Murillo’s vocals were on point for every tune, which is quite the feat considering his infectious choruses are generally in the high range, requiring much stamina and intonation. Tracks like the eerie “Dead Bite” had the crowd moving even more and the poppy “Gravity” had multiple fans singing the chorus as well as bouncing up and down. While older tracks such as 2013’s “Kill Everyone” and 2008’s “City” were sprinkled throughout the show, Day of the Dead dominated much of the set. Fans did not seem to mind as for many it was the first time seeing the cuts in a live setting, including the electronic induced “War Child” with its tongue-n-cheek chorus, which had Funny Man commanding the crowd for a number.
Before playing the party-favorite “Comin’ in Hot,” Charlie Scene asked for someone who could play guitar to join them on the platform. An exciting moment, a lucky fan named “Sam” was selected and given Scene’s guitar to jam a bit while Scene freestyled some obscenity/Dr. Seuss-based rhyme for kicks. Then Sam was shown the chords to “Comin’ in Hot” and allowed to play the track with the band. It is moments like these that show just how connected and thankful Hollywood Undead is for fans’ support, and are not too big to acknowledge how they achieved their status.
Throwing in a few new covers to their set, the band played an interesting take on Dropkick Murphys’ “I’m Shipping Up to Boston,” which had Scene wishing the crowd a “Happy St. Patty’s Day.” Ending the evening on a high note, Hollywood Undead sparked excitement again for “Party By Myself,” and finally “Day of the Dead.” Anticipating an encore, everyone began the usual chants until the band came back on to play the notorious “Everywhere I Go” off their critically acclaimed debut. Graciously, they thanked everyone once more before the true finale, “Hear Me Now,” one of the first tracks fans ever heard with Danny Murillo many years ago.
Bringing Funk, Rock, and Hip Hop flavors to The Paramount, Hollywood Undead showed why they are the ultimate showmen. They knew exactly how to work the crowd and did not let down in their fierce and energetic delivery from beginning to end. While the short string of shows concluded on May 22nd down in Lancaster, PA, Hollywood Undead will begin making two US appearances come July at Rock Fest in Cadott, WI July 14th and Chicago Open Air in Bridgeview, IL July 15th prior to heading to Europe.