BrokeNCYDE, Drop Dead Gorgeous
February 5, 2009
Better Than: Traveling seamlessly along I-35 without any traffic or onlooker congestion, allowing for an early arrival and a front row spot for all four bands.
Well, the scene is still the place for local teens to be seen: A social outing for some and an athletic event for others, last night's show at The Max was not lacking in multi-colored hair or skinny jeans.
Or windmill kicks...
In the Max's large open room (made classier by white Christmas lights on the ceiling), teens were chugging Monster energy drinks and stretching out their calf muscles in preparation for the hardcore dance moves they pulled during each set. The curious dance looks almost tribal in form, and resembles a flailing version of the cultural practice exhibited by the Trinity Trojan football team before its games. But since these suburban teens aren't, well, actually doing an ancestral ritual, and since most of them are pencil-thin, it doesn't look quite as intimidating.
Meanwhile, the show's line-up exhibited the same amount of diversity as the kids that came out to watch it--which is to say, um, that it didn't exhibit much diversity at all. Each band produced some variation of hardcore, fast-paced music filled in by screaming almost completely unintelligible vocals.
The crowd, the stage presence, and the thousand dollar light rig belonged to BrokeNCYDE, the overly--and overtly--crude main support act: "We're gonna get sweaty, naked and crunk," one of the band's members said when taking the stage. Covered in fog and outlined by red, green and blue lights, the band's faces and features were hidden.
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But the members were far from bashful. Musically, think Hollywood Undead meets Kanye West meets your Speak & Spell from back in the day--then throw in the chorus "You make my pee-pee hard, you make my pee-pee hard" and, there you have it, BrokeNCYDE in a nutshell. (Although, you shouldn't use the word nutshell in front of them; they might end up writing a filthy song about it.) Consisting of one auto-tuned vocalist, a screamer and a guy running computer tracks, BrokeNCYDE is all style and little substance. And yet without drums, guitars and with very few melodies, BrokenCyde has somehow garnered a fifteen year-old fanbase.
In front of an older audience, BrokeNCYDE would be a funny novelty act that, if flask was in hand, you might shake your booty to. Coming from an older perspective, though, in front of the Max's all-ages crowd, they kind of looked like assholes. The band's song "Too Drunk To Drive"--which, out of all of its songs, had the best beat and structure, and, for once, didn't appear to have been written while drunk--was prefaced with a question that related to whether or not audience members ever had over-used alcohol.
The less than 21-year-old crowd roared. They followed that up with a song about getting a sugar mama, but preferring to fuck her friend.
Meanwhile, for many, headlining act Drop Dead, Gorgeous (pictured above) gave the least memorable performance of the night. Although its music was more hard-hitting and its songs were more structurally developed than the other bands of the evening, there was no visual element set in place to engage the audience. That is, unless you count the singer's resemblance to The Used's Burt McCracken as a visual element.
It's unfortunate that talent becomes second-place to showmanship and flashiness when a bill consists of several bands whose music sounds so similar. But if today's teens aren't constantly amused, they become bored and start hitting each other.
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Lastly, Eyes Set To Kill from Phoenix deserves a mention. Its audience engaging tactic? Two hot female band members that could rock without question (one on bass and one on guitar and singing back-up vocals). Young bands are becoming more of an equal opportunity situation, with acts like Texas' Eisley, Christian band Ilia and mega-force Paramore holding down the fort for the ladies. Even though Eyes Set To Kill played a powerful set, the soft, low back-up vocals didn't mesh well with their loud, growling screams.
Personal Bias: Don't get me wrong, I enjoy music with the occasional shout, scream, holler or growl, but I usually don't take much from music I can't relate to, understand or absorb lyrically. So, in general, I'm not a huge fan of bands whose lead vocals consist almost exclusively of screaming.
Random Note: Drop Dead, Gorgeous has had an ever-changing set of members since its formation in 2004. Former keyboardist Aaron Rothe now plays in Sonny Moore's new band. Sonny Moore is the former frontman of rock band From First To Last. Oh, the interconnected musical web we weave!
By The Way: The Max is a great, underutilized venue. Its location isn't ideal, and it's hard to spot from I-35, but the stage is huge, the sound is always great and the staff is amazingly nice.