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SOULFLY Gets US Tour Off To Blistering Start

By Aniruddh "Andrew" Bansal

My rating points:

Related: Marc Rizzo interview | Straight Line Stitch interview

November 26th 2010, House Of Blues, Hollywood CA: Soulfly released their seventh studio album Omen earlier this year, and this was the first show in the US since the release. As a result, the expectations were high and there was a lot to look forward to for the fans, and with the support line-up featuring Straight Line Stitch, Incite and Desperate Union, I was curious to find out how this would go together as a package.

Canadian modern rockers Desperate Union got things going at around 8.30 and played a 6-song, 30-minute long set. Their brand of music was reminiscent of Alice In Chains to a large extent, specially with the layered vocals. So musically they were pretty good but it wasn't until the last song "Armistice" that they started showing some energy on stage, jumping and running all over it. They were actually lucky to play in front of a sizeable crowd because LA crowds usually don't show up in such numbers this early in the night. It was an interesting start to the show as their music was nothing like that of the bands to follow, and I thought that was a good thing. Crowds look to bounce off a band's onstage energy, specially when they are unfamiliar with the songs. So even though Desperate Union put on a good show they can do better on this tour by displaying a little more stage presence and energy.

Next up shortly after was Max Cavalera's stepson Richie's band Incite, and they were bristling with youthful exuberance from the get go. Richie managed to get the crowd's attention and many of them started responding to the band. This was exactly the wake up call this crowd needed in order to get ready for Soulfly's onslaught later on. The mosh pit got going for the first time tonight and it got more intense every time Richie urged the crowd to join in the fun. By now, a lot more people had stepped into the general admission pit area as compared to before when they were hanging out at the merch stands, looking over from the balcony and drinking at the bars. Incite's music is exciting, and has a clear evidence of the Max Cavalera influence. With more than a 100 per cent effort put in to their show, they really showed how much of a hard working band they are, none more so than Richie Cavalera himself who also handles duties for Soulfly, selling their merch every night on tour. If you're going to see a show on this tour, make sure to get there early enough to catch Incite, and if you like them, which I'm sure you will, go to Soulfly's merch booth to say hello to Richie and thank him for his efforts.

Next to hit the stage with their blend of hardcore and metal were female fronted Straight Line Stitch, a band I was impressed by when I saw them open for 36 Crazyfists a couple of months back. I thought they were even better this time, as their music seemed to be more suited to the Soulfly fan base. The band was tight with their performance and energetic with their stage presence, specially frontwoman Alexis Brown and bassist Jason White. Musically, they aren't reinventing the wheel by any means, but it's music you can enjoy, which is what matters most in the end. Alexis was particularly impressive in showing equal prowess on harsh as well as clean vocals. The crowd in general was responsive to Alexis and co, and a few catcalls withstanding, I would say they approved of Straight Line Stitch, and even those catcalls might well have been merely from people who were getting restless in wanting to see Soulfly perform. From the 36 Crazyfists tour to this one, the band is making all the right moves and next I'd like to see them on more of a 'hardcore' line-up, possibly with bands like Lamb Of God.

By now the clock read 10:30, the support acts were done and everything was running perfectly on schedule, which only meant that we were going to get a full Soulfly set. With a Brazilian flag covering the drum kit and the "Omen" artwork next to it, the stage was set. After a longish wait of 45 minutes and among chants of "Soulfly! Soulfly!" the band hit the stage with "Blood Fire War Hate". As soon as Max Cavalera appeared on stage, we got to see crowd surfing for the first time tonight. The slow and heavy intro segment of Blood Fire War Hate succeeded in getting the crowd's collective adrenaline pumping and provided a great build up for things to come.

They went further back into the catalog with title songs off of the "Prophecy" and "Primitive" albums. Besides Max, Marc Rizzo was terrific on guitar right from the first note and his jump kicks added a whole lot to the band's already hard-hitting stage show. The next two songs were "Seek 'N Strike" and "I and I". The set was proving to be a great mix of tunes already, with each of the first five songs being from different albums. They stayed on the Dark Ages album to play "Babylon", after which they brought out a new song named "Kingdom", and judging from the crowd response, everyone seemed to dig it. The fans in the mosh pit and everywhere else were in high spirits and sounded unified in their support. They were about to be rewarded with a Sepultura cover, a moment many must have been waiting for, specially those who'd never seen any of Max Cavalera's past and present bands in concert.

"Refuse Resist" is what I'm talking about, a song that has always been an essential feature in Soulfly shows. The fans here tonight showed their gratitude by giving it their all for Max and co. Another new song "Bloodbath & Beyond" followed the Sepultura tune. Unlike most other shows where people tend to just stand and observe the new songs, the response here was as good for the Omen songs as it was for the older ones. Next came "L.O.T.M" and Porrada", followed by one of the most enjoyable segments of the night, the tribal drums, which is something only a Soulfly show can boast of. The Sepultura faithful were about to go bonkers again, as "Troops Of Doom" was next.

The Dark Ages album was revisited for one final time tonight with "Frontlines" and "Carved Inside", and with it number of people leaving the bar and rushing in to join the heart of the action kept rising. As if that wasn't enough, a face-smashing rendition of "Arise/DEC" only resulted in causing mayhem inside the House Of Blues. It was now time for some guest performances featuring none other than Max's son Igor Cavalera (not to be confused with Max's brother and Cavalera Conspiracy member Igor) on drums and Excel frontman Dan Clements on vocals performing the Excel cover "Your Life, My Life". Dan brought a lot of his energy and punk attitude into the set, albeit just for one song. The crowd was at its loudest tonight for the following song "Roots". The main set ended with yet another guest appearance, an electrifying cameo by Greg Puciato from The Dillinger Escape Plan on "Rise Of The Fallen".

The band came out for an encore with the customary "Jumpdafuckup" and the last song for the night, "Eye For An Eye". After the song ended and Max left the stage, the rest of the band continued by playing a little piece from Black Sabbath's "Children Of The Grave", almost as an encore to the encore. With that they thanked the fans for turning up in huge numbers and waved goodbye.

As mentioned earlier, Max Cavalera and Marc Rizzo were as good as ever, and they together really are the life of the band, with great support from Joe Nunez on drums who got the crowd pumped for the encore with a drum tease. Bassist Johny Chow made his first appearance in LA as a member of Soulfly. Besides being an excellent bassist, he's also been Max's long time friend and Cavalera Conspiracy band mate and its great to now see them play together in this band as well.

There is never a dull moment at a Soulfly show. This being the first show of this particular tour, the band looked and sounded fresh, and with a really solid song selection backed by some great guest performances, a highly energetic crowd and a perfect setting at the House Of Blues, this turned out to be just the start they would have hoped for. If you've bought tickets to any of the upcoming shows on this tour, you're in for a treat. If you are still thinking about buying tickets, this should convince you to do just that.

A crushing performance greatly vindicated by the Los Angeles Soulfly tribe.

The complete set list:

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