Reviews

Filter + Orgy @ Venue – April 16th 2016

Filter @ Venue © Andy Scheffler

This show was super early, and when I arrived, it was still pretty empty in the room. This changed pretty quick – I believe the show was sold out. Three of the four bands made it across the border, with Vampires Everywhere unable to make the border crossing. Even Jay Gordon, lead singer of Orgy, commented on how hard it is to cross the border. I imagine some bands have a harder time with this than others, and when a band rolls up to the border crossing covered in spikes and leather, that probably sets off warning bells. How Bandist!

Anyhow, I got there in time for Orgy to start. Like I believe a pretty big chunk of the room, I was there out of interest of my teenage self, who was reasonably into both Filter and Orgy in my teens, but never got to see them play a show. I allowed myself to get kind of nostalgic-excited about this. The stage was absolutely packed with gear, and some of the members of Orgy were busy setting their instruments up. Jay Gordon is the only member of the band still around from the 90s. After a bunch of extended hiatus/side-project diversions, the other members left the band for good, citing some differences with Gordon. He nonetheless retained the rights to the band name and began to release new music with a new cast of supporting members. The lights finally fell, and they sure stayed fallen. While the Orgy we all knew in their big “Blue Monday” surge were pretty glammy, they have toned the look down into a more industrial-appropriate goth-punk look, with shredded clothes, Skinny Puppy tees, studs and black lips. Ergo, they really blended into the dark background. Now look, I am pretty lucky that I get to pick and choose shows to go to rather than being shoehorned into covering stuff I don’t care for, so aside from the odd curiosity gig, you’re likely to only find me out to cover bands that I actually really dig, and as a result, my jadedness rarely comes out and I usually don’t have anything too negative to say about a band that I’m reviewing, but Orgy just didn’t hold up their end of the bargain. I don’t want to harp on it – you never know when you’re seeing a one-off poor performance, but everything was just off. Gordon wandered around like a caged animal among the other band members and all the gear choking the back of the stage. Both guitar players were pretty animated, perching on the stage edge and leaning way out over the crowd. Unfortunately, it was so dark you could barely see them most of the time. Gordon’s black cloak was slowly peeled away in stages to reveal more and more layers of tattered clothing, and he did amble around the stage and fist-pump the air and pose as one does as a frontman, but again, it was so dark, they may as well have just left the lights off entirely and saved some electricity bucks. It was beyond ‘atmosphere’ and just… dark. Folks watched with interest, some sang along. The vocals were so reverby as to be distracting, and the reverb was not removed when Gordon spoke between songs either so I have no idea what he was saying most of the time. They had gone on late, and since the venue had a curfew, their set was (mercifully) short. I was up on a side stairwell when they ended the set with “Blue Monday,” and looked away for a second, only to look back and notice that Gordon had disappeared from the stage. I could still intermittently hear his vocals but suddenly they seemed faint and I think all I was hearing were backing vocals and the audience singing. Finally, I noticed a surge in the crowd below me and realized that Gordon was walking through the audience, still singing into a useless cordless mic and mostly just posing for selfies with audience members in the dark. It was all very strange, a bit disappointing, and I am glad my experience has been corroborated by others who were there as sounding awful and being somewhat unengaging, because I was concerned for a moment that I was getting to old for noisy rock n roll!

Orgy @ Venue © Andy Scheffler

Not so – Filter came on out then, and while for the first few minutes I thought it was rather gimmicky, with singer Richard Patrick wearing goggles and massive combat boots and standing aloft a small podium, it quickly turned into a pretty cool set. It too was fairly darkly lit at times, punctuated with eye-watering amounts of fog and big warm light banks and intense strobes, but in a choreographed way. The stage set-up was a bit unusual, with a set of synths where one would normally put drums, the drums instead sideways on the right of the stage, behind which Ashley Dzerigian’s various bass guitars hung in a rack, which she would go to retrieve herself when needed. She pulled off a sort of blonde, punk Amy Winehouse look tonight, and is a well-esteemed bass player on a number of high-profile projects. Up behind them all was a screen that started out showing a distressed version of Filter’s logo, but spent most of the time showing a closeup of a rapidly-moving eye (an homage to the new album, “Crazy Eyes”). The stage was much more roomy than for Orgy’s set and Patrick made good use of the area. He comes across as a really intense, possibly angry, guy, swearing and rambling a lot in his banter, but he actually has quite a kindness to the things he says. He repeatedly apologized for the political mess in the United States, and hunkered down plenty of times on his knees at the edge of the stage to clasp hands with adoring fans and nab peoples’ cel phones while they were video-ing bits of the set, which he would take on a filming jaunt around the stage before handing back. He encouraged people to film or take pictures of the set, but also went on a brief rant about piracy and asked people to buy music, not download it, to do the right thing. He was fully supportive of a big, open, rather vicious moshpit that started up during a bunch of songs, knocking people to the ground (moshpit etiquette in effect though, people would pause their moshing to help the fallen back to their feet), but rebuked some unruly people for taking headshots at others and asked them all to take care of each other. He also stopped singing to admonish one overly-enthusiastic fan who crashed violently through people at the front of the stage and actually managed to shove the podium back. He clearly appreciates the fans though. “Without you, there is no us.”

Filter @ Venue © Andy Scheffler

It is early days with the new songs – the album was just released earlier this month – and Patrick admitted they don’t really rehearse. “I like spontaneity. I like making mistakes. I like doing whatever the opposite of what Taylor Swift would do. So if Taylor Swift is rehearsing, I don’t… this is the third show – Does it sound good to you?” He also frequently retreated to the back of the stage where a line-up of water, beer and e-cigarettes were waiting for him, using the water and e-cig to spout out water and smoke a few times. Probably the most interesting thing was watching the whole vibe in the room change near the end of the set when the band pulled out arguably their biggest mainstream hit, “Take A Picture.” While the song is said to be a response to a drunken in-flight disrobing, it does contain some some lyrics hey Dad / what do you think about your son now, which Patrick decided was a good reason to lead in to the song by saying that he lost his dad the previous year, and it hurt. He had often wondered what his dad’s opinion of him was, and says that in his dying days, his dad finally told him he was proud of him. The song, as we all know, is as close to a ballad as a Filter song will ever get, and all the big, thrashing dudes, who moments before were shoving each other to the ground in a big, open circle pit, were now calmly standing transfixed in front of the stage, singing along to the tune. It didn’t last for long though – the set ended with the big guns – “Hey Man Nice Shot” and “Welcome To The Fold.” Pretty cool, and totally saved the night from the Orgy set!

Filter

Orgy

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