You know it’s going to be memorable when a show kicks off to the tune of Tiny Tim’s “Tiptoe Through the Tulips”. Immediately it conjures images of the Lipstick Face demon from Insidious scrambling around the dark corners of BB King’s in New York City. The effect seems pretty warranted considering the band in question.
Sunflower Dead promises to bring the weird. And they certainly do.
Caked in lurid death-makeup, bared scalp riddled with veins, vocalist Michael emerges from the shadows playing the accordion like an old school Sideshow performer. With a toothy smile and a manic look in his eye, he oozes a delightfully creepy charisma as his band mates peel from the darkness to join him on stage.
Incorporating the right amount of humor, personality and otherworldly ambience, Sunflower Dead delivers a compelling performance easy to rock out to. Founder and guitarist Jamie Teissere and bassist Leighton Kearns share an incredible chemistry. Playing off each other’s energy, they command attention through their flawless tag-teaming, pulling the audience into a deranged and almost voyeuristic inside joke.
The Southern California outfit, comprised of members who have formerly toured with DROID, Two Hit Creeper, Buckethead and In This Moment, engages fans with more than just shock-rock outfits and sinister makeup. Plowing through an ensemble of hard rock songs that integrate all of the best elements of metal with a flavoring of industrial, Michael demonstrates an impressive vocal range that often oscillates from guttural growl to a borderline operatic timbre with songs like “The Point of Decision” and “Wasted” (watch the official video on YouTube). And while The Police have always succeeded at making “Every Step You Take” a tremendously stalkerific song, Sunflower Dead’s cover elevates the classic to an eerie level.
Unafraid to bust the audience (was someone truly listening to the ball game?) and natural at speaking their minds and cultivating the “Evil Seeds” in the audience, Sunflower Dead is definitely an entertaining act worth seeing.
(HED)p.e. is one of those success stories we all love to hear about.
After almost 20 years in the industry, and a lot of up and downs, vocalist Jahred humbly thanks fans for their support.
“I look up at the sky and see the stars and I think that’s how many chances I get to make it right,” he says. “All it takes is a few people to believe in you.”
It was clear from the first explosive note that the California band has its fare share of fans on the East Coast. Although “fans” is the wrong word because (HED)p.e.’s relationship with its audience is that of longtime friends. Jahred’s robust personality easily shines with an endless array of witty quips and personal anecdotes between songs. It’s almost difficult to pin a specific genre to (HED)p.e.. In fact, several songs into the 45-minute performance, I leaned over to a friend and asked how she would describe the band’s diverse musical style. She was torn. Up on stage, Jahred embarked on another anecdote that, to my surprise, addressed this very same mystery.
(HED)p.e.’s genre is non-definable by normal standards because their influences spread so wide, and somehow they make it work. Flowing seamlessly from metal to hip-hop to reggae, (HED)p.e. sweeps up the conformities of genre and spits them back out into one magical performance that will have your head banging, your body swaying and the center of the room moshing avidly to the beat of the bass drum with songs like “Renegade” and “Raise Hell”.
This performance was a rare treat to a New York crowd. The rasta-metal (is that a genre?) band doesn’t come out this way often, but they should. Judging from the crowd that filled BB King’s Thursday night, there is a decisive thirst for a different flavor of artist that can so seamlessly integrate polarized genres into one thrilling performance.
Powerman5000 suffered a terrible fate when the industrial-metal movement fizzled out in the late 1990’s. Despite earning a platinum record for their 1999 LP Tonight the Stars Revolt! featuring the megahit “When Worlds Collide,” Powerman5000’s blazing success was lulled to an unfortunate state of stagnation as they went on to release a body of work that simply did not gather the same attention as its predecessor.
So when I saw that Powerman5000 was not only coming out with a new album (the first in 5 years), but launching a tour to promote it, I knew I had to go see them.
I was not disappointed.
Founder and vocalist Spider One is the only remaining member of the original lineup and he appeared revitalized by what could be the LA-based band’s return to the world stage. Flanked by a brand new line up consisting of X51 (Gustavo Aued) on bass, Zer0 (Richard Jazmin) on lead guitar and sci55ors (Nick Quijano) on rhythm guitar, Spider One addresses its eager NYC crowd.
“We’ve been on tour for three weeks, moving from West to East,” he says. “And everybody out here all wants to hear the old shit!” He says over a resounding cheer from the crowd. “But the problem is that I don’t remember any of those fucking lyrics!”
He had no such problems with rock powerhouse tracks like “How To Be Human,” “Invade, Destroy, Repeat” and “We Want It All”, off their latest album Builders of the Future. Toward the end of their set, (HED)p.e. drummer, Trauma, joined Spider One on vocals for a fantastic performance of “Return to the City of the Dead.”
Powerman5000 did not close out the night like every other band. Refused to, in fact.
“We’re gonna do away with that rock & roll bullshit and just ask you – do you wanna hear a few more songs?!” Spider One growled into the microphone. The rebellion was met with palpable excitement that amplified with the 90’s hits “Tonight the Stars Revolt!” and “When Worlds Collide.” It was the perfect high note to end the evening on.
Powerman5000 has just announced a double-headliner tour with Static-X to further promote their latest album.