Fear Factory / Will Haven / Cubanate
Nottingham Rock City
November 1 1999
It's a bloody conspiracy I tell you.
There I was, nearly a full five minutes into the walk into town, playing in my pockets as I'm want to do being a bloke and all that when I realise something is missing. Ticket. Where's the bloody ticket. "It ain't here Dave". Ah ha. "So what does that mean Dave?" D'oh. I walk back, pop in the flat and what do you know, there's the ticket have a right old chuckle to itself. "Forget something Dave" it asks as it jumps into the pocket. "You'd forget your head if it wasn't screwed on properly" it continues to chuckle. I blame it on being a Monday and me really wanting a holiday. And there being a conspiracy of course.
So I set back out. Could get the bus, but I have this cunning plan at the moment that if it's not raining I'll walk into and back from town, thus negating the effects the beer has on my body. Unfortunately the expanding waistline suggests to me that it ain't working as a theory should. I reckon it's in conspiracy with the bloody ticket myself.
And so after all that it means that when I get there I've missed everything Cubanate have played since they started until when I arrived. Didn't have high hopes for them. I've seen them live before, and they were shite. Boring with a frontman reckoning the obnoxious "let's take the piss out of the metal crowd" approach would work a treat for his band that aren't exactly setting the world alight. But tonight I was wrong. It was much better. Though the guitarist with the "metal as fuck" shirt tied round his waist should've kept it on his top. Some of us just can't get away with that Diet Coke ad kind of thing. It's industrial sort of stuff. Electronics with the guitar edge that many do at the moment. Any good, well not having heard much by them before, it's hard to tell, but although the songs stretched on a bit, much like some reviews - a bit too far, it sounded good. The drums were very electronic, but the bloke hitting them was a star, perfect timing whether he was creating the sounds or not and shaky head motions to be proud of. A pleasant surprise.
It's then the conspiracy theory kicks in again. "Did you get Dan's message?" Message? No, I was busy forgetting my ticket that I bought today. "Oh, he had a spare guest list place." Bugger. Oi, conspiracy, outside now.
Will Haven emerge to something of a welcome. Saw them a number of times when they toured here before, and there was something, I don't know, it was like this close to connecting with what they do, but somehow it eluded me. Tonight was closer still. Not quite there, I'll get to it. The new material helps in that it's got that little bit of variety, the little bit of shade as it's often pretentiously written, and they're going for it in a more vigorous and energetic fashion than I've seen them do before. More in synch with each other. It does make it highly impressive. It's also kind of weird seeing a band that reckons the new album is a bit shite putting so much energy into it. It's like, it could be experience gained in the live setting, but you also tend to think it comes down to the material itself. A contradiction. Ripping through 25 or 30 minutes of material from the self-titled, El Diablo and WHVN they receive a reception which tends to give the impression they're rather liked in these here parts. Though some people express reservations of the sound quality, that it was too tinny. Thing is this me and that not quite connected yet thing means I keep thinking Earthtone 9. Two bands often compared to each other, whether rightly or wrongly. Tonight was the reception E9 should've got when they played here. Maybe Will Haven played with the right band, attracting a crowd younger than me rather than the same age or older when E9 played with Megadeth. I maybe accused of bias in a way, just that for me in this sort of brutal music, E9 have the edge. But maybe that bias is me trying to turn the zine in a magazine and thus seeming to cover the same bands all the time. So just to complete the transformation, if any record label now wants to fuel my drug habit and jet me around the world for interviews to ensure constant coverage for their band then I'm sure it could be arranged. Well come on, I've got to get the chance to sell out. Or is there a conspiracy going on.
The sound is corrected for Fear Factory. A huge blast as the stride in to Shock. I'm sure Motley Crue once cancelled a tour because they reckoned the roof would collapse with the weight of their lighting rig. With the one FF have installed tonight, I check a couple of times for dust falling. It's big and it's impressive. I dunno about me and Fear Factory though. Maybe it's that when they write great songs and riffs they really do write great stuff, but some of it ain't quite as great as we're told to believe. I mean Self Bias Resistor, terribly introduced again as "A Rebel Song", - this isn't a U2 gig, - is awesome. The best thing they've done. In fact the first half of Demanufacture is awesome, but it's let down by the second half, and Obsolete never matches Demanu. Resurrection is the best on Obsolete, and it's let down by a terrible introduction as well "I want you to help us raise the dead". Oh please. You're supposed to be intelligent. See, Fear Factory have a dilemma. They're so obviously aiming for bigger than this. The lighting rig, the set-up the spiel. But the balcony is closed off tonight. Maybe it's cos of those big big spots that are being operated from up there. Downstairs it's packed, but you wonder where they're going to make the leap from this sort of venue to the next size up like they would seemingly want to do. I don't think it will happen. I hope it doesn't, cos let's face it, do you want to see them in an arena? Do you want to see anyone in an arena? Ok, they can put on great visuals in arena, but which would you rather? Be able to see Sabbath or Metallica at the NEC, or at the Astoria or Rock City. This is the place this sort of stuff is made for.
HK, Pisschrist, Edgecrusher, all those are pushed out. And they're incredibly tight and precise. I've seen them a number of times, and I don't think I've heard a beat dropped. Incredible. The cover of Cars is played. I actually quite like the original song. See, the same time I was in college with a mate trying to get me into the Dead Kennedys, someone else was aiming for the electronic side. Me being metal went the punkier way, but Cars was a catchy song. Still is. Doesn't excuse them releasing it as a single though. And right on cue, same as last year we get the KaraokeFactory as they nip through snippets of Diamond Head, Slayer, Pantera and Sepultura. Cheap nasty, done last year. At least change the songs. They depart with no encore, something I like.
Like I said, well tight. Unreal in a way. I just don't know anything so precise. Every time. It's like me, I make mistakes in the car, timing just out, not so smooth. I can drive but I'm just not that precise all the time. It's scary. Mind you, there are numerous rumours tonight of backing tapes and samples. That Mr Herrera's legs aren't really doing the kick drum motions. And you watch him, and for those subtle changes in speed from fast to woooahfuck his upper body doesn't flinch. Most other drummers I've seen just perhaps drop their head, you know how when you run that little faster, you make an unconscious adjustment for your body to cope. It's kind of suspicious. Of course people will point to the occassional bit of stick the microphone in a kids face for him to sing and say how that proves it's not mimed. But technology is more advanced than that. It could cope. Really does it matter? 1500 or more people went away happy, and the band are dripping with the effort they've expended, so does it matter? I dunno. It's just one of those things that makes you think. The sound was perfect all the way through. How often do you see a gig where there is not one sign from the stage to the mixing desk to change something, to tweak something. Especially from a band playing music where precision and production is important. It doesn't happen. It's something I'd love to do a feature on. Use technology sure, but at least be totally upfront about it all. Any sound engineers willing to tell the stories and name the names. I've heard of a number of bands that potentially do this sort of thing. It would to me be really good just to touch on the subject. I mean, why not?
Or is there some sort of conspiracy theory going on?