Wednesday, October 8, 2003

Hard-rock triple bill just a growlfest

Concert review

By Chris Varias
Enquirer contributor

Up-and-coming metal bands with pop aspirations can choose from two different avenues for making it onto the radio. Some, like Limp Bizkit, rap their way to airplay. Others sing melodically between the growls and the screams.

The metal triple bill at Bogart's Tuesday night, topped by headliners Mudvayne, featured three bands who go the singing route, each with a personalized sing-to-growl ratio.

It's common for the headliner on such a hard-rock bill to be the band with the most pop sensibilities of the lot. In such cases the headliner will round out the bill with harder-edged acts as a way to show its audience that it supports commercially uncompromised groups.

The opposite was true of this package, rounded out by V Shape Mind and Fingertight. Barring a couple of prettily sung ballads that were obvious grasps for radio play, Mudvayne put forth the night's loudest, angriest music, dominated by growls, with just enough singing to make the group viable in the marketplace, and the opening bands seemed like commercialized sellouts by comparison.

Mudvayne hails from the river city of Peoria, Ill., but it is no accident these guys aren't booked for the Tall Stacks festivities. Their sound has more to do with a steamroller than a steamboat - brutal and crunchy guitar sounds, rapid-fire bass-guitar plucking and a double bass-drum assault, with funky progressions and choppy, metallic riffs that change speed from one second to the next. What Mudvayne lacks in originality it makes up in execution. When the band was in full-on head-banging mode, as was the case in a vigorous rendition of the song "-1," it was impressive stuff.

The band was less compelling in ballad mode, which seemed out of place in the 70-minute set. However, the near-sellout crowd embraced the band's wimpy side, singing along with the vocalist just as the crowd growled along to the grinding material.

The four members of Mudvayne go by temporary nicknames. The singer has been known as both Kud and Chud. We will not attempt to identify the guys by whatever their current names might be, lest we are incorrect and make a Mudvayne fan angry. That could be dangerous. The crowd seemed to take as much sadistic delight from the band's expletive-laced, ear-splitting performance as the foursome did from delivering it.

V Shape Mind's set was full of melodic singing, but there was one memorable growling moment. A member of Mudvayne joined the band on stage to scream a few lines from the song "Monsters." We will identify him as Chad Gray, because that's who's credited on the album version. Whether he also goes by Kud or Chud we have no idea.

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