Powerman 5000 lift off in Mesa, AZ 1-13-15 w/ (hed) p.e.

Powerman 5000 lift off in Mesa, AZ 1-13-15 w/ (hed) p.e.

After a busy 2014, Southern California’s Powerman 5000 jump-started the new year on the road with direct support from their friends in (hed)p.e. Both bands returned with new albums last year and look to continue pounding the pavement while satisfying fans across North America. Concentrating on the West Coast, the trek began on Friday January 9th in Colorado Springs, Colorado and stopped at Club Red in Mesa, Arizona on Tuesday the 13th. Powerman 5000, on the scene since 1991, have released a list albums, gaining their highest commercial success with 1999’s Tonight the Stars Revolt!. Led by mastermind Spider One, Powerman 5000’s pairing with (hed) p.e. is one Mesans have been itching to see since the first leg of the tour took place on the East Coast several months ago.

After a few local artists gave the crowd a little spark, the stage was set for Alternative Rock group Knee High Fox. Bringing their blood and sex tinged Punk sound to the desert, the Los Angeles, California band consists of vocalist Christine Connolly, Simon Nagel on bass, Oscar Silva on drums, and Neal Tiemann on guitar.  Entertaining from the start, Connolly marched back and forth across the stage while stopping momentarily to pout and tease before smacking the audience with screaming vocals and bad girl lyrics.  Playing songs off 2014 EP Unknown Skeleton, their sound ran from sing-a-long type verses to raging choruses, keeping everyone on the tips of their toes with the constancy of sweet versus that kicked ass. Knee High Fox will be opening the tour for the duration and are worth arriving early to check out.

With the heat turned up, the stage was readied for veterans (hed)p.e. The best way to describe this band’s style would be Rock/Punk infused with Rasta and Soul.  Together for over two decades now, their dedication to staying true to their own musical vision has garnished them a proud and dedicated following.  Never creating the same album twice, 2014’s Evolution marked a new era for (hed)p.e. with a guitar-driven Rock sound and new label with Pavement Records.  As tribal drums permeated the air of Club Red, their impending arrival was moments away. Clearly excited, the crowd of five-hundred plus rushed toward the stage, pumped-up and raising their hands in the air.

As lead vocalist Jahred Gomes, guitarist Jaxon, bassist Mawk, and drummer Trauma slowly made their way to the stage, the excitement mounted as chants of “(hed)p.e.” and “What!” were shouted out.  Jahred, dressed in camouflaged cutoff shorts, red flannel, and baseball cap, strut across the stage imitating a robot before they jumped right into opening track off Evolution, “No Turning Back.” Less than halfway through the song, a mosh pit erupted in the center of the audience, slowly spreading out and effecting most of the room.  Pumping out adrenaline packed tunes such as “Killing Time,” “Blackout,” “Bartender,” and “Raise Hell,” (hed)p.e. ignited a reaction, for even those unfamiliar with the band. Elated, the audience showed their love by singing along and bouncing up and down in pure joy to almost every song, not wanting to see (hed)p.e. end their set.  Taking the time to hang out with fans before and after the set, (hed)p.e. are a humble bunch who still know how to rock a room full of people to the umpteenth extent.

Once the stage was cleared and the lights went dim, anticipation was starting to mount with every passing minute for the invasion of Powerman 5000.  With the current line-up of  drummer DJ Rattan, guitarists Nick Quijano and Richard Jazmin, along with bassist Gustavo Aued, each member took the stage wearing identical futuristic black space suits with their trademarked red alien logo on their chests. Standing at attention as the crowd erupted to their opening song “Super Villain,” Spider One led the charge as the energy level doubled throughout the entire venue. By the time 2014’s Builders of the Future “Invade, Destroy, Repeat” began, a mosh pit was started as a consequence from the pulse and amazing energy of the audience. The beat of the music jibed perfectly with the array of strobe lights and lasers that saturated the crowd and stage as the band blasted out favorites such as “Nobody’s Real.”

Spider One, matching his bandmates in attire and donning his trademark bleached-blonde hair, displayed an energizing and aggressive stage presence, but seemed genuinely humbled throughout the show. After a few songs, Spider One interacted with the crowd, telling them how appreciative he was to be in Mesa, Arizona and gave a shout out to the local radio station. Conveying his absolute pleasure to be on the road with friends in Knee High Fox and (hed)p.e., Powerman 5000 moved along with new and old tracks like “How to Be a Human” and “Bombshell.”  Seeming to be wrapping the night up with “Supernova Goes Pop,” Spider aroused the crowd to yell and stomp their feet for more as he said “We’re just gonna keep our asses out here” giving an incredible performance of “When Worlds Collide.”

As the night was ending, the crowd was legitimately torn to shreds. Feeling as if the performance flew by in mere moments, the look on the peoples faces standing around in amazement proved they were more than satisfied. At the end of it all, it seemed as though both the crowd and band had depleted themselves entirely, which is a solid way to wrap up a night.  All in all, Powerman 5000 put on a true Industrial Metal show on every level, and the fans relished in every moment.

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Rick Triana
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