The future was upon us – with ears ready to listen and eyes wide open – as it was time for the cyborgs to take over San Diego! Static-X, Fear Factory, Dope, Twisted, and Cultus Black had come to rock our pants off on the third to last day of the Rise of the Machine Tour.
It was an unusually early start time for the San Diego House of Blues, with the sun still up as nu-metal fans made their way into the venue for the sold-out show.
Looking ready for a fight, Cultus Black was up first as they wore black masks over their heads with holes cut out for the eyes. This cult describes themselves as “an aggressive hard-hitting music project.
Their music is unapologetic and intense.” That’s just what we got when they said, “Put your middle fingers in the air San Diego,” during the opening of “Witch Hunt.” The backup vocalist jumped into the audience during their edgier cover of Nirvana’s “Negative Creep” before ending the set with “You Make Me Sick,” which established the energy for the rest of the night.
Next up was the gothic-clown, hip-hop group from Detroit known as Twiztid with Dope’s bassist Daniel Fox filling in on drums. Kicking things off with “Phlegm in the Windpipe,” Twiztid then went right into “Envy.” Then they took a quick 4/20 slowdown for the stoners in the crowd to light ‘em up with “Smoke Break.”
Fans were jumping to “We Don’t Lie” and lead rapper Jamie Madrox had been laying down some sick rhythms when he asked the mob to start a circle pit for “Rose Petal.” By the end of their set, Twiztid had turned even the non-believers like me into jaggalos, and they ended with “Parasite.”
Escorting Static-X on the Rise of the Machine Tour across America are close friends Dope. This alternative nu metal band from New York has been touring alongside Static-X for over two decades and is fronted by singer/guitarist Edsel Dope, with Acey Slade on rhythm guitar, Chris Warner on percussions, and Daniel Fox on bass.
Dope hit the stage running! Opening by getting the fans in a frenzy with the song “Blood Money,” they continued with “Violence” and “Bring It On” as Acey Slade dazzled us with his high jump kicks off the risers. Then the gang played the crowd-pleasing track, which remains Dope’s most popular song, “Die MF Die.”
Front-man Edsel Dope took a moment to address the crowd. He thanked them for 25 years of support and joked about how easy it used to be in the high school days: “All you had to worry about was who had the weed and who had a car to get to the show.” He said he knows it is harder to go out now that most fans have kids and jobs, so they appreciate everything their fans do to continue to support them.
After saying enough of the serious stuff, Dope joked, “We are going to play you the stupidest song you have ever heard in your entire goddamn life!” and went into an amazing version of Dead or Alive’s “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)” before finishing the set with “Choke.”
Sounding like sci-fi robots, Fear Factory was gearing up to hammer us with super-fast mechanical picking and calculated tight drumming. Known for blending industrial hard rock with death metal grooves, these god eaters commenced the evening with the heavy-riffing song “Shock.” Fear Factory then blasted into “Edgecrusher” and showgoers were greeted by a surprise cameo from Twiztid’s Jamie Madrox who sang alongside lead singer Milo Silvestro.
Pete Weber from Havok has been filling in for Mike Heller on drums this tour and was crushing it all night with his double bass techniques, and Milo Silvestro has been doing an amazing job as the new vocalist.
Following “Powershifter,” there was some serious crowd surfing during “What Will Become,” and the spectators sang out, “I’ve got no more goddamn regrets” during “Demanufacture.”
Towards the end, Fear Factory told everyone to take it back to 1995 when they had a song on the “Mortal Kombat” movie soundtrack called “Zero Signal.” Then lead guitarist and original member, Dino Cazares, talked to the audience: “This is our last song, but before we go I want to say thank you to Static-X for taking us on this tour. In 1999 we brought them on tour, and 20 some odd years later, they returned the favor.” Ending their 45-minute set with “Replica,” Silvestro screamed, “We are Fear Factory and we are fucking back,” before exiting the stage.
It was finally time for the climax of the night as adoring followers got to honor the life of our fallen comrade, Wayne Static, and celebrate nearly 30 years of evil disco metal. The lights went dark and an encrypted message lit up the stage and video screens in the background. A giant, mechanical character from an old Static-X music video appeared onstage with a spotlight pointing into the distance in search of something. As bassist Tony Campos, lead guitarist Koichi Fukuda, and drummer Ken Jay took the stage, the fans went wild.
Out of nowhere, XerO Superman Persona walked the stairs to the top of his pedestal during the opening of “Permanence.” The fans were shocked and awed by Mr. XerO’s looks as he held his signature Dean Flying V guitar, sporting a new mask, with his body covered from head to toe in animatronic coverings, capped off with his soul-piercing, glowing red eyes.
The deities of nu-metal shredded through a bunch of songs from their sophomore record, “Machines.” Before “Bleed for Days,” XerO commanded, “Let’s go motherfuckers; get your hands in the air San Diego. I want everybody jumping!” Chaos and pandemonium broke out with a sea of bodies bouncing everywhere. During “Sweat of the Bud,” Tony Campos wowed fans with his bass solo, and in “Terminator Oscillator,” the audience clapped along during the interlude.
Static-X had been playing at a feverish pace all night, but before “Just In Case,” the band slowed it down and had the crowd get their lighters and phones out to light up the venue. The small breather didn’t last long as the band went into “Destroy” and “Get to the Gone.”
After “Cannibal,” which included an incredible guitar solo from the Osaka Assassin himself, Koichi Fukuda, the band ended with a cover of Nine Inch Nails’ “Terrible Lie.” The night was all over… or so we thought.
The gnarly outsiders came back for a three-song encore and paid tribute to Wayne Static during “Cold.” As the video screen displayed images of their former front-man in the background, fake snow fell onto the crowd below. In the midst of the instrumental breakdown, the loyal crowd chanted Wayne’s name over and over again, and Zer0 kneeled down, looking up into the heavens at his lost friend. I grew up listening to Static-X and met Wayne on several occasions. I’m not going lie; I was quite emotional when the band gifted us with this beautiful eulogy.
Lifting the energy in the room back up with “I’m With Stupid,” giant balloons dropped from the ceiling for all to play with. Before playing “Push It,” Tony Campos said, “I know we’re a little late for the actual anniversary of the ‘Machine’ record. But we figured if we had to put it off another year, we were going to take the time to give you a bigger and better show because you guys deserve it. Wayne’s memory deserves it! So raise your drinks and raise your hands, whatever you got, put ‘em up in the air. Here’s to all the good times we had with the king of evil disco, Wayne Static. Cheers motherfuckers!”
From start to finish, this show was definitely one for the ages. After a killer hour and 30 minute setlist, Static-X had put on a phenomenal, high-octane show, and kept the legacy of Wayne Static alive in the most poetic way, thanks to the blessing from his family.