On March 18th, 2017, The Machine Shop in Flint, Michigan held a great show featuring a stellar lineup of bands. I was kind of bummed to learn I would only have the first two songs to utilize the photo pit, compared to the usual three songs. And word from fellow photographers that the lighting would make for tricky shooting, plus shooting the first two bands from the left side of the pit was non-existent with a couple of risers occupying that spot. But you make the best of the situation given to you. I have been looking forward to photographing and hearing these bands on the bill for quite some time and I sure as hell wasn’t going to let a crowded photo pit ruin my fun. I was stoked for the Blood, Lust, Death tour.
The show got started earlier than most shows do at The Machine Shop, which usually start around 8 pm. Which sucks for those who didn’t arrive early enough, because when 7:30 pm hit, Davey Suicide hit the stage. For those who have never seen or heard Davey Suicide, just imagine Mad Max, Marilyn Manson, and dreadlocks all mixed up in a blender and you’ve got Davey Suicide and his fellow ragtag bandmates Drayven Davidson on drums, Needlz and Niko Gemini on guitars and Derek Obscura on bass delivering a collision of various sounds that is categorized as gutter goth rock. Hailing from Unholywood Killafornia, Davey Suicide had command of the crowd and was a treat for everyone who got there early enough to see him and judging from the passion emanating from Davey and his crew, they won’t be stopping for quite a while.
Carrying the flame on into the night was September Mourning, a living breathing version of a comic book in music form. September is a human-reaper hybrid who encourages people to embrace their passions and to never allow fear to keep them from achieving their goals. The soulful emotion in September’s voice and face is enough to break you as you feel every emotion she sings. Backing her up is Rich Juzwick and Kyle Ort on guitars and John Fresia on drums, who reminded me a bit of an S&M version of The Toxic Avenger with the mask he had on. Comic geeks and music buffs have quite the experience to be had with September Mourning, a beautiful lady superhero in a rock band, sounds like a win-win situation, Rock On!!
A bit of technical difficulty delayed the next band as one of the speakers emitted a constant hum that had staff clamoring to fix it. As we all waited in anticipation, a crowd member yelled out, come on Axl Rose! Referring to the Guns N Roses front man known for being tardy to stage. I had to laugh. It wasn’t a brief time later that a fella, Joe Letz, with black makeup all over his face and wearing a hot pink swimsuit top said that they unfortunately wouldn’t be able to play and apologized for the inconvenience. The crowd didn’t buy it, that’s when Letz handed the fans up front a drum to hold onto as Letz pounded the beats which got Combichrist to the stage to rock in full force. Combichrist is one underrated band just waiting and ready to burst out. Immediately the groovy beats infect your total being as the heavy thumping of the bass and drums and sonic vibes pulse through your body. I guess this would be what being in a rave would feel like. Blood pumping music that makes you dance all night into the wee hours of the morning. Combichrist is rock industrial metal at its finest. I first heard about this band a couple years ago when they were an opener for another band on tour but I never went to that show due to reading consistent bad reviews on the venue that show was held at.
I am grateful Metal Wani gave me the opportunity to see and capture moments of Combichrist. As outlandish as drummer Joe Letz looks, the rest of the band members all stood out in their own way. Nick Rossi on percussion seemed to lash out making his presence felt even from his position in the back. Eric13 on guitar had a sly smile that’d make anyone wonder what’s going through his mind. Brent Ashley belted out some intense vocals into the mic. And then we get to Andy LaPlegua, the center of it all, the heart and soul of Combichrist. With a warm smile, Andy invites everyone into his world. LaPlegua’s talent seems endless as his style is so versatile as his history of musical accomplishments lend to, which was all on display as Combichrist rocked the crowd into submission.
Last band to play is Dope, a heavy metal band who has been grinding it out for 20 years now. Dope’s sound has changed throughout the years. Tonight, all those ebbs and flows throughout the years were on display. The crowd all pumped up from Combichrist was ready for more and Dope delivered just what the fans wanted. Lead singer Edsel Dope praised the fans for coming out, even as we all get older, have more responsibilities, Edsel was glad to see so many people (it was a sold-out show) come out and have fun. Edsel led the crowd through a gauntlet of Dope’s catalogue of music while Nick Dibs on bass, Virus on lead guitar and Daniel Fox on drums kept the music thriving. It was intense at times as moshing would break out, I looked over to see a guy bleeding from his eye only to have security quickly escort him not off the premises but to the bathroom to clean up and in no time that dude was back into the mosh pit having a good ole time. Got to love a venue that has staff on top of people’s safety yet allow folks to continue having fun if no one is getting hurt.
Dope has retained and gained fans throughout the years and Edsel spoke about some of those pivotal times like when their Dead or Alive cover song “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)” was the first song on the American Psycho movie soundtrack. And how their song “Nothing For Me Here” was included on Guitar Hero 3 which featured video of the game as they played the song. It was neat and a bit surreal seeing the actual band playing their song as that familiar guitar hero action of those assorted colors of guitar chords drives forward on video screens in the backdrop. And the cover of Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell” always gets a crowd pumped.
All in all, it was a superb night of rock n roll with Davey Suicide, September Mourning and co-headliners Combichrist and Dope. With so much versatility, theatrics and talent, this is one tour not to miss because if you can’t have fun here, then you don’t know what living is like. Rock On!!
Also check out our Photo Gallery of the set here.