support Dead Girls Academy + Alien Ant Farm
author RUB date 02/11/19 venue VoxHall, Århus, DEN

14 year-old me would have been so happy; back in middle school I was quite the fan of nu-metal, and although my musical tastes and preferences have long since evolved and developed, I had a hard time passing on this chance to catch — for the first time — one of the go-to acts on my “Wired Up!”-releases back then: P.O.D. Having heard that their concert on this same trek (the “Full Circle” tour) in Copenhagen earlier this year (which also featured Alien Ant Farm as the main support just like tonight) supposedly was quite good, I reach far into my wardrobe and dust off an old t-shirt of mine in order to dress accordingly (the closest thing is apparently an Unearth one, but that’ll do just fine). This sold out concert is a testimony to the legacy these two headliners left on the youth of the ‘90s, and even though it has been years since they released anything worth comparing to their former glory days (and of course also because of how outdated the genre is these days), they have still managed to sell out one of the best venues in Denmark’s second city Århus. This alone has had me hoping I wouldn’t be left disappointed, and that hopefully this chapter of my life would be kept alive and breathing. First up, however, is an unknown act to me, who have been given the honour of warming up the massive crowd that has already filled up the venue pretty nicely.

All photos courtesy of Jason Champney

Dead Girls Academy

For once, it seems as if the crowd actually listened to the organizers and turned up early to watch the support act. No noticeable queue is to be seen when I arrive, and I slip into the venue very fast. Dead Girls Academy have a very modern sound, as well as a flashy look, and the band do their best to entice the massive crowd. Their music is tongue-in-cheek and catchy, with harsh and yelled vocals that turn clean during the big choruses — you know how it goes. But do they get the crowd warmed up? Hardly. I only see a few heads banging and a couple of hands flying, and that’s it. In between the generic songs, they try to sound sincere about how glad they are to be here, but it all comes across as pretty flat, as they don’t seem to be present in the moment at all. The response from the audience is flat too, with the claps only lasting for a few seconds. This is understandable, as the music isn’t that interesting, and when the vocals even sound off in several songs, the overall impression you get is very bland. And if that wasn’t enough, it doesn’t even sound like real nu-metal either, not even by tonight’s standard. Maybe if it had been the late ‘90s or early ‘00s, and perhaps if I had known a song or two on the setlist, this could’ve been something at the very least, but when a cover of the famous Mötley Crüe song “Girls, Girls, Girls” doesn’t even do anything for your set, it has to be very bad. I cannot see myself revisiting this at home, and I wouldn’t even encourage others to do so. The music is at best described as mediocre, cheesy, and easy-listening. In fact, disregard what I said in the beginning: the queue for the wardrobe is very long by the end of the set, so perhaps the majority of the crowd just didn’t want to see this — and to be honest, I get why.


Alien Ant Farm

Already from the get-go, you feel the added depth and heaviness in this music compared to the first band of the evening. The energy is very noticeable as well, especially from bassist Tim Peugh, and the crowd is already more engaged than previously as well, as one can actually talk about a bouncing floor by now; plenty of beers, hands and people flying in the air. It is without a doubt more straight-up nu-metal Alien Ant Farm plays, and that’s good for two reasons: firstly, this is what the evening should be about — a trip down memory lane — and secondly, the music is simply just better than Dead Girls Academy’s, which can also be seen by virtue of how the crowd seems vivid and alive now. People are doing their best, singing and banging their heads, and even though it’s a pretty easy task to beat the former band, this is just a better show in every regard. People definitely feel the Tony Hawk Pro Skater track “Wish”, which sees the element of rap truly commence, just like the bouncing is turned up by both crowd and band. I get that special flashback feeling, reminding me of the time when I just started getting into metal, and this seems to be the case for the rest of the audience as well. The cheers are louder, the energy better, and the sincerity of the band’s performance on stage more believable; they actually seem to enjoy being here and playing to us. On a negative note, however, it really seems like the crowd is just waiting for that one song (the famed cover of Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal”), which finally arrives at the very end of the set, and with good reason. This is definitely worth an entire grade on its own; the floor explodes, and the crowd interaction is taken to a completely new level. It’s so impressive that this band owe their entire success to this one single song that is not even theirs, and they also do my memory of it justice. But the overall feeling I’m left with is a bit mixed. Alien Ant Farm are definitely better than the first band, but it never gets really good, either. Even though the voice of frontman Dryden Mitchell is very virile and on point for the most part, this only turns out to be an alright performance. Still, at the very least, the group manages to warm up the crowd for the headliners, the ones everyone here has been waiting for.


… And with good reason. Holy moly, the crowd is ready for this! The energy is taken to an otherworldly level, courtesy mainly of frontman Sonny Sandoval, who gets the crowd jumping, bouncing, banging their heads and throwing their arms in the air. Dominated by pseudo-rap and rap, this music has the entire venue going crazy already from the first track. “Boom” quickly takes me back to my youth, and already by the time this track has rung out, it is clear to me that P.O.D are the real headliners of the night. This track also sees Sandoval dive into the crowd for the first time. Indeed, the experience is well executed and the response from the crowd remains impressive throughout. Wow, this guy is an entertainer, plain and simple, albeit strictly in a musical sense. There are no puns nor jokes — just straight-up power and prowess. In fact, he reminds me a lot of Zack de la Rocha of Rage Against the Machine in both attitude, authority, crowd-control and energy… which is to say everything that makes a good live vocalist. He simply has the entire crowd in the palm of his hand.

Even some of the band’s newer material ensures mosh pits erupt, so by now any of the prejudice I had prior to the show is put to shame. And even what I would consider to be bad songs, or rather, their lesser known songs, make people go insane, and I simply have to acknowledge this as a reviewer. Whether I like every song the group airs or not, is not an important aspect at all tonight, because when every track is delivered with such gusto, I find it impossible not to get carried away. The likes of “Youth of the Nation” make the entire venue sing along, and although I’ve always found it to be one of the weaker songs from the time I used to listen to P.O.D., I can only stand in awe at the side of the venue and see the people on the floor lift up. As we near the end of the set, everyone is commanded to sit down on the floor, and in best Slipknot style, to jumps back up. This isn’t executed as flawlessly as we’re used to seeing, as two people end up getting up too early, completely ruining the timing of the explosion during that song. Nevertheless, it is an honourable effort, and it underlines yet again how P.O.D and Sandoval in particular know how to get an audience moving. Before the show ends, we even get to witness another mosh pit and several circle pits. Had you told me prior to the show that I could expect this kind of crowd activity at a P.O.D show, I probably would’ve called you mad. The second last song “Alive” once again awakens my youthful mind and fills the skin on my arms with goosebumps. The singalong is inspiring, and when the song eventually transforms into an acoustic rendition, you can truly hear how the entire venue is giving it their fullest. This song is succeeded by “Satellite” (yet another one of the major hits), and just as I thought this would be the end, we then get “On Fire” as the definitive last song on top.

This gig clearly exemplifies the element of surprise. I thought I was going to see a band I used to listen to when I was younger just to get them crossed off the list, you know. But never in a million years did I think it was going to be this good, and never did I think I would reward a live performance by P.O.D with a grade like the one below. I can only say that if you had any affiliation with them when you were young (and actually even if you didn’t), be sure to check them out in the live setting; they put on quite the show! This is a testimony to what nu-metal was and apparently still is, as the massive crowd and the band show tonight. Apparently, the fires of nu-metal are still burning bright and indeed producing memorable experiences like this one.

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