1 Powerhouse Disturbed charges up audience on Wed 13 May 2009, 20:24
He was having a "crisis of conscience," he told the crowd, after noticing all the young faces in the audience looking up at him. He didn't want them getting the wrong idea from all the F-bombs he was dropping.
"It's okay when I'm saying it because I'm saying it in anger," he said. Swearing was an act of "cleansing," he explained, and not to be abused.
There's a fine line between metal's cathartic qualities and its ability to induce feral rage. It forges a bond in the audience, but it can also set off an unpredictable spark of existential despondency.
Of the bands performing on the "Music as a Weapon IV" Tour, which includes an outdoor "lifestyle festival" of pre-party entertainment and on-site tattooing, headliner Disturbed and opener Lacuna Coil seem to best understand and control that power of metal.
The crowd was mixed in age, but skewed younger in the massive mosh pit (ahh, the smells of teen boy body odor and skunky weed). They went wild for every band in the opening line-up, from Chimaira to Lacuna Coil to Killswitch Engage. By the time Disturbed hit the stage, shoes were getting tossed high above the crowd.
Sometimes, the incongruency of song lyrics and onstage banter was pretty amusing.
Between "Destroy and Dominate" and "Pure Hatred," Chimaira challenged the crowd to "make some noise for all the mothers in the house" in honor of Mother's Day.
Killswitch Engage lead guitarist Adam Dutkewicz asked after "all the 18-year-old girls" in the audience, then proudly declared them all "f---ing delicious." Before he hobbled off stage (one of his legs was in a cast), he told the audience earnestly, "Take care of yourselves, and God bless." Presumably God's blessing was also bestowed on all those delicious 18-year-old girls.
Lacuna Coil, a veteran act from Italy, rivaled Disturbed for musicality and fierce stage presence. Lead singer Cristina Scabbia let her voice soar over the crunching guitars. The group performed a bit older material like "Fragile" off 2006's "Karmacode", as well as songs off their new album, "Shallow Life," including "Spellbound." A minor-key middle-eastern flavor crept into a few songs and gave them a unique and eerie tone.
Disturbed has a tortured soul, full of emo handwringing and all-out screeching pain, and they know how to work a crowd into a pulp. Draiman's powerhouse vocals (though a bit out-of-tune at times), coupled with Dan Donegan's vigorous guitar work, creates the ultimate atmosphere for "cleansing," as Draiman put it. It's easy, then, to understand why the Chicago band has lasted as long as some of those young faces in the crowd have been alive.
Draiman entered the stage in a straitjacket. After he was released and tore through a few opening songs, including "Liberate," he launched into a sermon in the style of Church of Satan founder Anton LaVey: "On this night, you're going to strip yourselves of all your fears. On this night, you will leave the building feeling indestructible."
Draiman, despite his macho posturing onstage, comes across as vulnerable underneath it all. Motorhead's Lemmy Kilmister could wither this dude with one of his mole hairs. Then again, vulnerability has its appeal, too, and Draiman works it to his advantage.
"Music as a Weapon IV" continues until early July, when Disturbed and its ring of supporting bands finish up the tour in Turku, Finland. Judging from the worshipful reception they got in Madison on Sunday night, they've still got plenty of juice left to last through the rest of the tour.