As I alluded to in a previous gig review, Baltimore, Maryland USA is not only a Foodie city, it’s a Music city as well. Established in 2004, Rams Head Live is another local Baltimore venue situated very close to Baltimore’s famous Inner Harbor. It’s about twice the size of the nearby Baltimore Soundstage, hosting a myriad of different performers representing many different genres of music. On March 31, 2015, it apparently was goth night, at least from the appearance of the crowd. With a line-up consisting of Saint Ridley, American Head Charge, Combichrist, Filter and Coal Chamber, the appearance of the crowd was not a surprise. On a side note, I’m an admitted obsessive people watcher. I scrutinize the audience at every show I attend.
Opening the show was Saint Ridley, billed as a dark metal band out of Detroit, Michigan. The show started at 6:20 p.m. and I was privileged enough to be interviewing Nadja Peulen from Coal Chamber at 6:30 p.m. So, I was only able to hear Saint Ridley as I was traversing Rams Head Live en route to the interview. Consequently, I can’t really give an opinion of their performance. All I can really say is they didn’t sound bad on the trip past the stage.
After the interview concluded, we were treated to a bunch of strange looking people setting up the next band. They were all very somber faced but appeared to know what they were doing, When American Head Charge came on stage, it was a unique experience for all. Not being familiar with either the band or their catalog, it took heading into the second song for me to realize they were playing with no singer. It was later that I realized that I could hear a vocal track being played in the background and was barely audible. Honestly, I have to say this band was damn good even without their singer. Their keyboardist was a budding freak show performer, gently inserting a screwdriver into his nose while pounding on the keys. Halfway through their set, we found out that the band’s singer was present and with the band at the venue when they arrived. However, no one could find him when it was time to play. No wonder they all looked so somber while setting up. Baltimore’s red light district is only two blocks away. Just sayin’….
Next on the bill was Combichrist, labeled an electro-industrial band based in Atlanta, GA. I was familiar with this band in name only. One thing is for sure, I’ll be collecting their music now. I really hope their studio efforts display the intensity of their stage show. They descended on the stage opening with “Hate Disorder Love Destroy”, a metal anthem-style song that got a great crowd reaction. It was abundantly clear quite quickly that these guys love what they do and are good at it. The heavy driving percussive guitar riffs were amazing, I really can’t say enough about this band. I thought they were great. (Plus the singer was hot) Although, the drummer, despite a talented performance, kept tipping one of his drums over and making it topple off the stage. He seemed to be trying to fuck with his friend taking video with a GoPro on a stick down in the pit. It was mildly amusing the first three times. After that it was just obnoxious and dangerous.
Soon we were treated, or maybe mistreated, to the more mainstream sound of Filter. I’ve heard Filter before and did not dislike them, so I went into this show with an open mind. It didn’t stay open for long. Richard Patrick’s microphone seemed to be hard wired directly to the speakers, so the audience was subjected to every off key, every voice crack, etc. Also, unfortunately for us, Patrick also likes to talk a lot during his shows. I think it’s great that he has gone to the Middle East and played for the troops several times. As fans, we don’t need to hear a detailed description of it in the middle of a show. We also really didn’t need to hear an equally detailed description of his falling out with Trent Reznor and all the he said/he said bullshit. Overall, Filter left me underwhelmed and, quite frankly, headache-y.
After a very lengthy intermission, Coal Chamber arrives and immediately takes the room by storm with their widely known single, “Loco”. The energy level was sky high with Dez Fafara at the mic doing absolute justice to every song. Miguel Rascon shreds on the guitar like nobody’s business, and Mike Cox’s drums were thunderous and on point. But, of course, Nadja Peulen steals the show with her solid bass lines and commanding stage presence, not to mention the flaming red hair and uniquely sexy wardrobe. Coal Chamber may be preparing to release their first recording in 13 years, but they come together on stage flawlessly, having every bit of the chemistry needed to rekindle the spark that never fully went out. The fan reaction was great for every song which was cool considering it was a decidedly older crowd. Coal Chamber is successfully playing to both their new fans and their loyal fans with ease. Long Live Coal Chamber.
So, I have this thing at the end of my gig reviews where I give my pick out of three types of shows. ‘Glad I came’, ‘Meh’, and ‘Wish I had stayed home’. Overall, this was a ‘Glad I came’ with only Filter providing the ‘Wish I had stayed home’ moment. That is all.
Dawn “Mama Love” Brown
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