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Image for System of a Down, the Dillinger Escape Plan @ Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne (29/02/2012)

System of a Down, theDillinger Escape Plan @ RodLaver Arena, Melbourne(29/02/2012)

The Dillinger Escape Plan, or “the support act” as was announced by Big Brother over the PA upon arrival, are one of the most consistently phenomenal live bands currently touring the world. Each and every time I’ve seen them play they’ve pushed the limits of what a band is capable of doing live. It was a slightly different story though in what was perhaps the biggest venue they’ll ever play in this country.

The band matched the chaos of their sound with equally chaotic moves (scaling amps, fold backs, road cases, gesticulating wildly, etc.). Front man, Greg Puciato, was a little less animated than usual. He cleared this up however, prior to their second last song of the night, Sunshine the Wearwolf, “I was told I can’t run on people. If I come out there the shows over,” he said, pointing to the crowd in front of him. Still, it didn’t stop him running to the barrier and screaming, “Destroyer!” and “Without my existence, you are nothing!” into the faces of fans. Unfortunately most of the crowd responded to the band with indifference. “You have a good tolerance,” said Puciato, to a quarter-full venue, realising just as much. With Panasonic Youth and 43% Burnt they departed, quickly, and a silver curtain dropped from the roof with the title “System of a Down” projected on the front of it.

The venue was far from full. Black curtains in the upper tiers concealed the unsold seats. When the lights cut out System of a Down appeared as silhouettes behind the silver curtain. Flashes of light accompanied each beat to the opener, Prison Song. It both looked and sounded great and the thousands of people in the venue lost their collective shit. It was the kind of spectacle one expects from an arena performance. But when the curtain fell so too did the immediate excitement of their presence.

The last time System of a Down toured Australia was in 2005. Seven years is a long time and time has not been kind to the band and their material. At first, they generally appeared interested in what they were doing, which made one think that their reformation wasn’t entirely about money. But for most of the night the band, especially the rhythm section, laboured through their parts. Vocalist Serj Tankian strolled casually from mic to keys, working through his unique and histrionic vocal range with varying degrees of interest, while guitarist Daron Malakian was set on challenging the assumption that he is actually part of the band. Instead he proved that he is the exception: an entertaining, talented and charismatic musician.

They were tight and the sound was great but overall they came across as flat and lifeless. My memories of System of a Down are of a much better band with much better songs. Their first two albums have many great moments; Needles, Deer Dance, Suggestions, Chop Suey and Psycho were a reminder of this. But Hypnotize and Mesmerize are such mediocre albums I’d almost forgotten they existed up until they played through Revenga and Radio/Video, which sound even worse now than they did seven years ago.

A single spotlight shined down on Malakian as he began Lonely Day. The image of a snowy mountaintop replaced the bands logo at the back of the stage. The significance of this was beyond me. Because it stayed up for so long, I can only assume that it was the bands cryptic way of telling their crowd that it would be mostly downhill from here, with a few peaks and troughs along the way.

The peaks were Aerials, with Ben Weinman from the Dillinger Escape Plan on guitar, and Suite-Pee, with Joey Jordison from Slipknot on drums. The troughs were Lost In Hollywood and a cover of Dire Straits’ Sultans of Swing, in which Malakian changed the lyrics to the chorus and sung, “We are System. We are System of a Down.” The crowd joined in at full volume. This was the pinnacle of horrible and I awaited some sort of landslide or snowstorm from the image behind them to make it all go away.

The trio of War?, Toxicity and Sugar closed out the set. The mountaintop fell and the backdrop to the stage became the cover of their self-titled debut album, now 14 years old. There is still something engaging about these songs, though parts of them have begun to erode and I can’t imagine that there will be much left of them in another 14 years time.

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berlinchair101

berlinchair101 said on the 2nd Mar, 2012

They were tight and the sound was great but overall they came across as flat and lifeless. My memories of System of a Down are of a much better band with much better songs. Their first two albums have many great moments; Needles, Deer Dance, Suggestions, Chop Suey and Psycho were a reminder of this. But Hypnotize and Mesmerize are such mediocre albums I%u2019d almost forgotten they existed up until they played through Revenga and Radio/Video, which sound even worse now than they did seven years ago.

Summed up exactly how I felt watching them at Sydney Soundwave.

Great review.

Braveheart81

Braveheart81 said on the 2nd Mar, 2012

I look forward to a couple of 3am posts where slip_dog calls this reviewer a poofta because SOAD are the greatest band of all time.

berlinchair101

berlinchair101 said on the 2nd Mar, 2012

How would he know, he wan't even a big enough fan to go to a sideshow.

Braveheart81

Braveheart81 said on the 2nd Mar, 2012

When you're an Aussie Battla (TM) who lives a long way from the city, you can't go to every sideshow.

01seb

01seb said on the 2nd Mar, 2012

I thought it was a fantastic show and the band were full of energy, however you are entitled to your opinion. I was on the barrier though, so there's always a lot more excitement in the front of the pit. I'll agree however, that some of the newer material sounded pretty average next to songs such as Aerials and Suggestions.

Braveheart81

Braveheart81 said on the 2nd Mar, 2012

You're 20. I'm guessing you're not comparing them to what they sounded like in 2005.

You raise a good point that it is hard to be overly objective when you're on the barrier at a heavy/heavyish concert. You could be watching paint dry and there'd probably still be plenty of action.

01seb

01seb said on the 2nd Mar, 2012

I was actually a big fan of them when I was 13, too young to go to BDO that year though.

Exactly. And anyway I'm not going to get into a big argument over whether or not System are past their peak or not. I enjoyed the gig thoroughly and think they were fantastic live and still could make another few great albums. Other people obviously don't think they could and I'm not going to argue that point.

Jestarrr

Jestarrr said on the 2nd Mar, 2012

A good review with some strong stuff, not the best of writing though.
Also, 'detachedly' isn't a word. Even if it was, it'd be "detachedly laboured through their parts.".

Stefan Beck

Stefan Beck said on the 2nd Mar, 2012

01seb is cool and the rest of you are FAGS!!!!!!

hoipolloi906

hoipolloi906 said on the 2nd Mar, 2012

understood jestarr. minor editing issue on my behalf.

hellboy1975

hellboy1975 said on the 2nd Mar, 2012

Not a bad review, I saw them back on their first BDO visit and they weren't that good, so I'm a little skeptical they'll be able to interest me for a full 90 minutes tomorrow.

That said, I'm not sure comparisons to old shows are useful. The show they played last night was either good, or it wasn't. That they were good in 2005 really has little relevance.

shazie

shazie said on the 2nd Mar, 2012

Even though I wished they played stuff off Steal This Album!, being up the front in the mosh for the Sydney soundwave/sidewave shows was really fun and I had a great time both of the nights.

berlinchair101

berlinchair101 said on the 2nd Mar, 2012

Yeah, I would have liked to hear Boom! or Innervision.

01seb

01seb said on the 2nd Mar, 2012

We got Innervision in Brisbane :P

berlinchair101

berlinchair101 said on the 2nd Mar, 2012

You also had to be in Brisbane.

Fair trade, I say :D.

I must have listened to Steal This Album and Toxicity to death when I was 15.

timmyw91

timmyw91 said on the 2nd Mar, 2012

gotta say, not a well-written review overall. while i agree that there were a fair few flat moments in the show, when you're reviewing a show, you almost gotta put your own opinion of the band out of the equation and talk about the show on its own. you can tell that this guy digs soad's old stuff a lot more than their new stuff which is fine but it's not really relevant. and i didn't think the sound was that
great.

01seb

01seb said on the 2nd Mar, 2012

You also had to be in Brisbane.

Fair trade, I say :D.

I must have listened to Steal This Album and Toxicity to death when I was 15.

I must admit, I went down to Melbourne for the first time this week and came to the conclusion that it shits over Brisbane and I'm moving there when I'm finished uni.

MorningAfterboy

MorningAfterboy said on the 2nd Mar, 2012



No, you don't. No, you don't, at all.

sarahanne

sarahanne said on the 2nd Mar, 2012

A good review with some strong stuff, not the best of writing though.
Also, 'detachedly' isn't a word. Even if it was, it'd be "detachedly laboured through their parts.".

http://www.yourdictionary.com/detachedly

adverb

hoipolloi906

hoipolloi906 said on the 2nd Mar, 2012

timmyw91,
while some degree of balance is necessary so is the opinion of the writer. when i read reviews i want to read the writers interpretation of the event, which is what i have attempted to provide. as for your second point, how can the differences between their old and new material not be relevant if it's the very stuff that constitutes their set?

Braveheart81

Braveheart81 said on the 2nd Mar, 2012



Surely this is the point of a review.

Otherwise it is just a news story telling you that there was a concert on with a band playing at a particular venue. I don't need to read a review to find that out.

berlinchair101

berlinchair101 said on the 2nd Mar, 2012

Without your opinion it's just a recount of the night.

This band played, they played this song, people clapped. So on and so on.

A reviewer is meant to provide a critical interpretation of what they experience and draw a conclusion from it.

borgy

borgy said on the 3rd Mar, 2012

shitty review. they are still amazing. i'm currently listening to the live b-sides from 2005's byob single and they still sounded this fucking good on wednesday night. obviously you're simply no longer the fan you once were during your teenage years so they don't affect you the way they once did. my soad flame never went out. i still gave them heavy rotation in their absence. the band hasn't declined you've just changed.

MorningAfterboy

MorningAfterboy said on the 3rd Mar, 2012

So you're giving this guy shit for growing up from his teenage years?

And you can't honestly say there has been no decline when they've gone from this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aQHW1JXn-ZM

To this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n1kNZT3G5yk

RAMONESelaar

RAMONESelaar said on the 3rd Mar, 2012



Pretty much my argument for my all my friends who stayed at the mainstage from Limp Bizkit to SOAD yesterday.

How dare I dare matured taste in the last 5+ years! Who do I think I am, wanting to see more interesting bands who have their shit together for a decent live show?!

BennyBoop

BennyBoop said on the 4th Mar, 2012

the first time i saw system of a down was in 2002 at big day out. coming on stagein a mid afternoon set

benjiman1981

benjiman1981 said on the 5th Mar, 2012

See I thought they sounded horrible live back in 2005 and amazing this time. And from where I was standing Revenga and Radio/Video went mental. Each to their own I guess.

BennyBoop

BennyBoop said on the 5th Mar, 2012

when system played bdo 2002 they came out all dressed in black,serj wearing sunnies & sporting a beard that made him look like osama bin laden.he was bouncing all over the stage like a terroist,his machine gun like vocals blasting the crowd. it was heavy,intense & awesome! at soundwave he looked like he was dressed for a menswear catalouge! also this being the second time at a touring australian festival (after bdo 2005) that system has had to play after slipknot-no easy task there. they seemed to start ok with prison song,but after that they seemed to be going through the motions.

benjiman1981

benjiman1981 said on the 9th Mar, 2012

since when does dress sense have anything to do with the music? Greg Graffin wears a freaking polo every show and bad Religion still kill it.

deanoss

deanoss said on the 9th Mar, 2012

I can't say they really killed it at Soundwave... I can't vouch for their sideshows though.

01seb

01seb said on the 9th Mar, 2012

They were pretty awesome at Brisbane Soundwave but System at Rod Laver was on another level, one of the best performances I've ever seen.

BennyBoop

BennyBoop said on the 9th Mar, 2012

yes you are correct there,the music is the most important aspect,however,it was just strange to see them dressed like that,especially after viewing slipknot before them. i loved systems first two albums,& seeing them in the early 2000's was an amazing experience. this time around though just didn't have the same vibe...oh & bad religions sideshow totally went off !! hopefully not the last time we see them in australia !