May 18, 2016 Otep Destroy Webster Hall, NYC 5-9-16 w/ September Mourning, Through Fire, & Doll Skin
Although clearly needing no introduction in the Metal and Hard Rock world, Los Angeles, California’s own Vocalist, Activist, and Poet Otep Shamaya is back at it again. Hitting the road with her band to promote their seventh studio album, Generation Doom, it is being called one of their best to date. Impressive considering Shamaya was actually considering 2013’s Hydra would be her final album, but thankfully new inspiration followed the talented musician as she signed a new deal with Austrian label Napalm Records. Re-energized, Shamaya has assembled her bandmates Ari “Aristotle” Mihalopoulos (ex-Destrophy) on guitar, Justin Kier on drums, and newcomer Andrew Barnes as touring bassist to spread the good word from city to city.
Coming along for the ride in direct support of Otep has been Lacey Sturm (on select dates), September Mourning, Through Fire, and Doll Skin. An exciting mix of acts, the Generation Doom Tour rolled through New York City and made its way to the Studio at Webster Hall on Monday, May 9th, attracting hordes of diehard Otep fans to the venue. As the crowd grew in size as the night progressed, it was easy to see that many were eager to see Otep’s first visit to Webster Hall since October 17, 2013.
After local support from Voodoo Terror Tribe, who will be embarking on a national tour with Ill Niño soon, newcomers Doll Skin from Phoenix, Arizona were set to begin the national touring bands. Creating quite a buzz on the scene, Dollskin came together back in 2013 and have shared the stage with everyone from Hellyeah to spending time on 2016’s Metal Allegiance West Coast Tour, and 2016’s ShipRocked Cruise. All this, and they are only still in high school. Consisting of four young ladies, Sydney Dolezal (vocals), Alex Snowden (guitar), Nicole Rich (bass), and Meghan Herring (drums), Doll Skin even caught the attention of Megadeth’s David Ellefson, who is now managing the band.
Now on their first full national tour, the all-girl Punk Rock band took to the stage and used their youth to their advantage to warm up the crowd. Showing appreciation to both the crowd and Otep for the opportunity, the band played through a number of tunes including “Wring Me Out” and “Let’s Be Honest,” showcasing their chops, as well as Punk Rock roots. Mixing things up, they even rocked out a rendition of Alanis Morissette’s “Uninvited” before leaving the stage to attend to their merchandise booth to greet fans. It is easy to see what is so attractive about this band, they have talent, spunk, and they are only scratching the surface. Their debut full-length album, In Your Face Again, is out now and well-worth picking up before Doll Skin hit the road in June with Hellyeah, Escape the Fate, and Sunflower Dead.
Next up was the Omaha, Nebraskan band calling themselves Through Fire. Those unfamiliar, it has been a long time coming for this collection of musicians. With roots to the band Emphatic, they saw moderate success touring with Saliva, Red, and even a stint on the Carnival of Madness before disbanding and leaving sole original member Justin McCain to pick up the pieces. Now, back with a lineup that features Guitarist Justin McCain, Vocalist Grant Joshua Kendrick, Drummer Patrick Mussack, along with Bassist Jesse Saint (ex-Silent Civilian and Autumn Offering), Through Fire recently inked a deal with Sumerian Records for their upcoming debut.
Learning from past experiences of previous projects, Through Fire is a fitting name for this bunch as they took the stage to immediately dive into a heavy mix of fresh tunes. Playing tracks like “Damage,” the band wasted no time in having bodies moving as McCain pounded out driving licks and harmonies as Kendrick commanded control of the crowd. Playing a series of songs from their forthcoming release including the slower “Breathe,” Through Fire certainly turned heads throughout the night. Interestingly enough, the band also offered a Hard Rock approach to the Pop song “Lights” by Ellie Goulding, one which seemed to resonate well with the crowd. Before leaving the stage, the band smashed through their new single “Stronger,” no doubt in reference to their rebirth as a more formidable band. A solid set, Through Fire is a new beginning and it will be exciting to see what their debut has to offer once it drops in a few months.
As the final supporting act of the evening, September Mourning brought with them unique imagery. Labelled a “Transmedia Dark Culture” project of sorts, September Mourning has quite a compelling and entertaining backstory. It all began before ever being established as a Rock band when the idea came from a Comic Book series featuring the storyline of September Mourning and other characters that were masterminded by Lead Vocalist September and Chris Egert. After some lineup changes, September rebuilt a new band with the same concept and ideas. Releasing their debut EP, Volume 1, in 2015, prior to a Comic entitled A Murder of Reapers in 2014, the cohesive project September Mourning is ready to take off. Led by the talented September, the current incarnation of the band includes Rich Juzwich (ex-Gemini Syndrome) and Kyle Ort on guitars, Jeriah Eager on bass, and Josh Fresia on drums. Now, having recently joined the Sumerian Records roster, the band is anticipating a full-length album release soon with a new Comic to boot after having taken to the road supporting Avatar.
Coming out to an eager crowd, as mentioned, the band’s image is undeniably eye-catching. To some new to September Mourning, they will ultimately draw comparisons to In This Moment due to having an attractive lead female vocalist dressed in all white and makeup with a band of all males dressed in all black and painted in black as well. However, that would be rather superficial and the comparisons are fairly unwarranted. With that in mind, September Mourning offers a fresh idea that has yet to be founded in other modern Hard Rock acts, particularly with their backing story and concept.
Taking the stage to an ominous backing track of church bells and coming out in dark cloaks, the band ripped into “Children of Fate” to the cat calls and whistles from fans as September took her place at the front of the band. The music speaks for itself in originality and composure as September’s beautiful vocals reach higher octaves than most of her female contemporaries in other Rock bands. Playing through tunes like “Before the Fall,” “Angels to Dust,” and “Eye of the Storm,” the band took quick reprieves between numbers to creepy recordings before launching into more music. In addition, the groovy tom lines courtesy of Fresia during the aforementioned “Angels to Dust” allowed September to command complete crowd control. As the other acts on the bill, September Mourning were gracious to the crowd and spent time greeting fans throughout the rest of the night. Simply a refreshing approach, September Mourning certainly will continue to turn heads in the future, especially after their debut album drops sometime this year.
As the time neared for the headliners of the Generation Doom Tour to take the stage, the crowd began to get more frisky and fuller as an open spot on the floor was tougher to come by. As the house lights dimmed and the band’s intro track played its way through the house speakers, the crowd’s roar came to life in anticipation of Otep’s return to New York City. Complemented by Mihalopoulos, who is a juggernaut to behold on stage, donning a creepy mask while built like a Spartan from the Comic/film 300, Kier and Barnes fill out the rhythm section nicely. Overall perhaps one of Otep’s most powerful lineups, the band performed tightly while the star of the show, Shamaya, rattled the room with her infectious energy and insightful stage presence.
Coming to life with an old school track, “Battle Ready” set the crowd into a frenzy with Shamaya’s constant bobbing and jumping becoming an infectious wave throughout the floor. Conscious of her dedicated followers, Shamaya managed to maintain a nice mixture of tracks from her back catalogue without focusing too much on one release, which is difficult to do for someone this late in her career and this many albums in. With that in mind, they played through a couple of new tracks off their recent release including “In Cold Blood” and “Zero,” while interspersing classics to keep the balance. Some of those included the menacing and creepy “Crooked Spoons,” which showcased the more pensive and tormented side of Otep, while tracks like “Equal Rights, Equal Lefts” introduced rapping vocals and a gang chant, which the crowd loved.
Keeping the adrenaline pumping, the performance moved on at a fury pace, and the crowd loved it. Quite the ring leader, Shamaya brought out her famous pig mask during the hit single “Blood Pigs,” a cut that has been a fan-favorite for over a decade. Going into other songs such as “Apex Predator” and “My Confession,” Shamaya thanked everyone for their support, including her band, her security guard, and her brother at the merchandise table before launching into the pummeling, political track “Confrontation.” Having the whole floor moving to the infectious groove, the crowd groaned as the band left the stage before demanding an encore performance. Sure enough, Otep returned for more, launching into the new single “Generation Doom” and closing with the unique take on Lorde’s “Royals,” which demonstrated Shamaya’s versatility as a vocalist.
As promised, Shamaya and the rest of the band were present following their set to take time to greet fans, which shows her continued gratitude to those who believe in her art. Otep has been in this game for over fifteen years now and is still managing to keep the music potent, laced with a vital message. The Generation Doom Tour is now in its home stretch as it concludes on May 28th out in West Hollywood at Whiskey A Go Go, so get out there and see it before it is over.