Photos and Review by: Allyssa Arens
Date: March 9, 2023
Venue: Diamond Ballroom, Oklahoma City, OK
After more than two years and multiple reschedules, Static-X have finally embarked on their “Rise of the Machines” headlining tour, continuing to keep the legacy of the late Wayne Static alive by performing to sold-out crowds throughout the United States. Last Thursday was no exception as the tour played to a full house at Oklahoma City’s Diamond Ballroom, a venue I’ve been frequenting since I was a mere 13 years old for rock shows. What followed was a long and raucous night of headbanging, moshing, and a great time for those in attendance, though not for the faint of heart with a stacked 5-band bill.
First to take the stage was Society 1. Hailing from Los Angeles, the band formed in the late 1990s and are currently made up of vocalist Matt “Lord” Zane, bassist Jimmy Minj, guitarist Johnny Pilz, and drummer Zhenya Pro. Their set kicked the night off on a very loud and debaucherous note, with the band playing tracks such as “Slacker Jesus”, “Hate”, “All You Want”, and “Everyone Dies (Rock Stars Don’t Count)”. They definitely put the “sex” in “sex, drugs, and rock and roll”, with Zane making jerking off motions repeatedly throughout the performance and at one point commanding the crowd to “never stop fucking, and never stop fucking shit up.”
Next to hit the stage was Dope, the band I was personally most excited to see, and they out-performed their openers by a landslide with their sludgy industrial-inspired hard rock sound. Their current touring lineup consists of founder Edsel Dope on vocals, guitarist Acey Slade, bassist Daniel Fox, and drummer Chrissy Warner. Dope’s high energy set kept the crowd moving the entire time they were on stage, ripping through tracks from throughout their discography. The set opened with 2016’s “Blood Money”, before going into tracks such as “Violence”, “Bitch” and “Debonaire”. Near the end of their set, they broke out a medley that has become a staple of Dope’s live show of their hits “Die MF Die”, “Boom”, Bang”, and “Burn”; though previous iterations finished with their cover of N.W.A’s “Fuck Tha Police”, this track was absent, with the group instead closing their set with a cover of Dead or Alive’s “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)”. My love for Dope stems from the fact that my dad introduced me to their music, as that’s one thing we like to bond over, and I am pleased to report that their live set more than lives up to their studio presence. If you have a chance to see Dope live, I highly recommend it!
Third on the 5-band bill was Mushroomhead, a group that has undergone multiple lineup changes, though for a more casual listener such as myself, this was not noticeable, especially given the band’s penchant for theatrics, with the entire lineup performing in masks such that individual identities are indistinguishable. The crowd once again went wild the entire time, with chants of “Mushroomhead” echoing throughout the venue even before they took the stage. From a visual standpoint, their set was perhaps one of the most visually challenging yet also one of the most exciting that I have had the opportunity to witness since beginning my concert photography journey last year; musically, they kept the crowd engaged with their heavy riffs and aggressive vocals as they played tracks like “A Requiem for Tomorrow”, “Qwerty”, “Our Apologies”, and a cover of Pink Floyd’s “Empty Spaces”, so much so that the chants of their name resumed almost instantly after their set finished. If you are into heavy music with unique visuals, Mushroomhead would be a good band to see.
Fourth on the bill was Fear Factory, who have been a staple in the heavy music scene since the mid-1990s, though they’ve had several lineup shifts and multiple hiatuses; guitarist Dino Cazares is the only remaining founding member. However, with the recent announcement right before this tour started of vocalist Milo Silvestro joining the group, it is clear that Fear Factory have set out to prove that the band is still very much alive and isn’t planning on going anywhere anytime soon. With touring drummer Pete Webber and bassist Tony Campos (who is pulling double-duty on this run in both FF and Static-X) rounding out the four-piece, they did exactly that, kicking things off with “Shock” and “Edgecrusher” from their 1998 album Obsolete before jumping to “Disruptor” from 2021’s Aggression Continuum. The remainder of the set covered tracks from throughout their tenure, closing with “Replica” from 1995’s Demanufacture. Though I have no frame of reference as to what a Fear Factory performance was like before Silvestro joined, they were full of energy, and I got the impression that the band is reinvigorated. Based on this performance, I look forward to seeing what’s next for Fear Factory in the coming months.
Finally, a little after 10 p.m., Static-X took the stage, and all eyes were on them, especially new frontman Xero in his mask with wire “hair” reminiscent of Wayne Static’s iconic hairstyle and glowing red LED eyes. The set began with “Permanence”, “This is Not”, and “Structural Defect” from 2001’s Machine, as this tour was intended to be a 20th anniversary run in honor of that album. Throughout the set, it was clear that original members Tony Campos, Ken Jay, and Koichi Fukuda were happy to be back together honoring Wayne’s legacy, with Xero playing the role of enigmatic frontperson fabulously. The remainder of the set consisted primarily of tracks from Machine as well as 1999’s Wisconsin Death Trip, with a few other tracks from the band’s later years interspersed throughout; The set closed with “I’m With Stupid” and “Push It” from Death Trip.
Though Edsel Dope has denied being the human behind Xero, I have my doubts, considering that at one point during Static’s set, Xero let out a growl that was almost indistinguishable from one that Dope let out at the end of “Die MF Die” earlier in the night. Regardless of who is under the mask, though, what’s important is that the group is having a great time performing again, and the crowds are enthusiastically rocking along. I also appreciate that bringing Xero into the fold has allowed younger audiences such as myself to be able to witness the enigma that is Static-X who may not have had a chance to before while also keeping Wayne’s memory alive for years to come.
The Rise of the Machines tour continues throughout the U.S. through April 15, with several shows already sold out. Dates and remaining tickets can be found on Static-X’s website. If your local stop is not already sold out, I highly recommend grabbing tickets soon, as the entire tour package puts on a hell of a show!