Review By Cassandra Hale
The Northcote Theatre has been a musical hot spot of late but It was my first journey to the venue so I was keen to scope it out. The initial trauma of trying to find a car park was quickly forgotten as I stepped into this beautiful heritage listed venue, steeped with history I knew it would hit the mark perfectly. After seeing Static-X in 2019 and knowing how crazy the crowd was I chose to watch from the balcony tonight and what a vantage point it was. With an unimpeded view of everything I was impressed with my decision and settled in for a killer night of metal madness.
Melbourne’s own Witchgrinder got the night off and running and let me tell you these guys rock hard. Every time I see them they show more and more growth as a band and are super tight. The theatre was already packed with the fans turning up early so they had a mass of punters cheering them on for the whole set. Treating us to a thirty-minute thrill ride full of all the best of their catalogue which included Bloodlust, Rigor Mortis and their new single Dead by Dawn which was lapped up by the eager hoards. I certainly recommend getting along to one of their shows you will be glad you did.
Tonight’s show was SOiL’s first in three years and what a treat it was. Playing their hit albums Scars in its entirety for the rapidly filling theatre. Recently talking with bass player Tim King I could feel his excitement about this tour and winding back the twenty or so years and reliving this album back on the stage. They worked through the tracks verbatim with the exception of Halo which I knew would be the last of the night. Opening with Breaking Me Down they were off and running stirring the crowd with Need To Feel and Wide Open. Hands clapping in unison as they powered through the set, Understanding Me, My Own Unreal and Inside played out while singer Ryan McCombs worked the stage with his energy filled performance. Two Skins, The One and Black 7 were smashed out, time flying by so fast and before I knew it the killer intro of Halo was ringing out. The packed crowd happy to take over the vocals and let rip enjoying the last song of the night. Ryan jumping in to the pit holding out the microphone for a tad extra amplification. What an absolute delight to have SOiL here in Australia, they crushed their set and certainly set the bar high for Static-X.
The hoards were pushing forward and you could not get another person in Northcote Theatre with a shoehorn, and let me tell you it was hot, damn hot. The place was amped, and the white noise was deafening as we waited for the climax of the night Statix-X. For the uneducated, the original band are back in place with XerO at the helm on vocals. The most fitting tribute to Wayne is a celebration of his insanely good music, so here we are tearing it up celebrating the belated 20th anniversary of Machine. Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline rang out, the crowd more than happy to deliver the bom, bom bom’s on queue, taking the energy up another notch, and in a strange twist the Time Warp lead into the start of the show. The night was peppered with hits from this Machine and plenty of other gems to keep the hoards satisfied. Permanence, This Is Not and Structural Defect was the opening trifecta, and I thought XerO was impressive last tour, but holy shit has he had some serious upgrades!! He stood in Wayne’s shoes and filled them to the brim, in fact he overflowed them. He was perfection, his voice, his movements his whole persona wreaked Wayne Static, it was encapsulated in every pore and I was well impressed. His new look comes courtesy of none other than Eddie Yang, and he absolutely nailed the concept of ZerO and what Staic-X hoped to portrait. He captured the theme of Machine in spades as ZerO came complete with glowing red eyes and a mohawk made from cables, the industrial feel was alive in him, and it was a sight to behold.
Tony Campos had the bass covered adding his growls to the tunes for good measure, he worked the stage like the seasoned professional he is, and was clearly having a lot of fun. Love Dump and Wisconsin Death Trip and Bled For Days blasted out as Koichi Fukuda ripped it up on guitar, this pocket rocket bounced from one side of the stage to the other with undying energy. The stage set up was one of epic proportions, although I think the show should have come with its own seizure warning! The screen and lighting itself was a sensory journey that burnt my retinas on more than one occasion. Pulsing with lyrics, flashing lights and images it took the show to the next level for the whole night. It was well suited to the music and made for a holistic feel of industrial metal. Kudos to the lighting team, job well done!
It was just over an hour of power like no other, Static -X pushing the songs hard and fast, Terminator Oscillator, Destroy All and Get To The Gone to name a mere few from the setlist. The fans were surfing across the top and the mosh was in full flight, everyone happy to be back involved in all the craziness of an unrestricted live gig. I did a quick trip downstairs to gauge the vibe just as ZerO said “everybody fucking jump” and you could feel the floor move underneath you as the bouncing ensued, it was electric to say the least. Ken Jay was a demon on the drums, what a treat to see them all together playing as Cannibal and the Nine In Nails cover of Terrible Lie which they released this year blasted out. XerO paid respects to Wayne with Cold and the fans united with arms swaying side to side taking in the love for Mr Static, it was quite emotional to be part of, his images gracing the big screen in a mark of love and respect. Then things ramped up with I’m With Stupid, fans running on pure adrenaline by this time of night as huge balloons were released into the theatre. What a spectacle it was from my vantage point in the balcony, these massive gas bags being punched with reckless abandon.
Tony stepped forward to show his appreciation to the Australian crowd as he introduced the band and then it was the one we had all been waiting for Push It!! To say the Northcote Theatre exploded would be an understatement, it was every man for himself as the floor became a blur of bouncing and moshing and all things that we love about a metal gig. As they left the stage for the final time, my heart felt full, a most deserving tribute to the great Wayne Static and if he was watching I am sure he would have felt it too.
Thank you Static-X, you came, your saw and you kicked out mother fucking arses!