Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Worst Shows Ever #6

As a music lover, I've been to A LOT of shows - huge sold out stadium shows, tiny bar shows with a handful of people, awesome shows that lived up to and exceeded all expectations and shows that were great but for a reason I never could have anticipated.  But this isn't about those shows...this is about the AWFUL shows.  The shows that make you feel like you wasted your time and money...the ones that leave a pit in your stomach and may even make you dislike a band that you used to love.  Sometimes its the band, sometimes other factors but no matter what the cause these shows were terrible.  These are my top 10 horrible shows.*

6. Deadfront - every post-Jim show

Deadfront was a local Des Moines band in the late 90's.  Much like previous entry Secretly Drowning, they will probably be a future "Great Bands You (prolly) Never Heard About."  The late 90s were a time before Slipknot struck fame and in Des Moines there were basically two pools of talent - one being Slipknot, the other being Deadfront.  To me, it seemed a little like Seattle a decade earlier where all these talented people that had played in many, many bands had coalesced into a few super groups like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden.  There was an almost electric feel in the air where you could just sense that something was going to happen.

Deadfront:Nemesis = so good

Deadfront consisted of Jim Root (guitarist for Slipknot and Stone Sour), Aaron Peltz (vocalist for On a Pale Horse & Downthesun), Shawn Economacki (bass for Stone Sour), Danny Spain (drummer for Downthesun), among a couple other guitarists that rotated in and out.  It was a great line-up of guys that had great chemistry and a great sound together.  DF brought a heavy, tight sound that always had the crowd jumping, churning, and banging their heads.  It was always a high energy and very satisfying show.

My brother Kelly,  and I went to every Deadfront show that we could.  We probably saw them nearly 100 times in the Des Moines area over 3 years, and drove to Cedar Rapids to see them play several gigs there (we totally rocked out with DF in the East Side Maid-Rite!).  99% of all Deadfront shows were incredible...but something happened in January 1999.

We drove to Cedar Rapids to see Deadfront play Big Dogs (I think it might have been called 3rd Street Live at this point, but it will always be Big Dogs to me).  The night started off very awkward with Jim Root coming out and talking to Kelly and I before the show.  This happened often, but tonight was different - Jim was upset and crying.  He had just got the call asking him to join Slipknot.  He wasn't sure what to do - since Slipknot was a signed band just finishing up their debut album and heading out on tour it was a huge opportunity for him, but at the same time he was really good friends with all the rest of the Deadfront guys and they had been through a lot together and worked really hard as a band.  Jim did not want them to feel that he was jumping ship and just abandoning them.  Jim is a very nice guy, so the decision was tearing him up inside.  We were honored that Jim asked our advice and we told him that he had to follow his dream - if he wanted to be a professional musician accepting the Slipknot gig was his best shot.  Deadfront was a possibility but Slipknot was a sure thing.  Although it was pretty awkward for Kelly and I to be giving Jim advice like this (what did we know?) it was better than the times when he was questioning his chances of making it as a musician and asking what kind of college classes he should take.  The show sounded horrible.  I don't think that the band had a soundcheck since everyone was upset.  All the guys were distracted and the atmosphere on stage was really tense.  All understandable since everyone had just learned that their band was disintegrating around them.  The whole show was more than a little uncomfortable for everyone involved.  But this was not the worst Deadfront show.

Jim left, and Shawn left soon after to be a tour roadie for Slipknot.  The remaining guys decided to try continuing and replaced Jim with their sound tech, Matt Sepanic.  Matt was a decent guitar player but it is really hard to fill Jim's shoes.  Jim had been playing for something like 15 years at this point and had long agile fingers.  Jim could play amazing music without even trying.  During their first show with the new line-up Kelly and I both cringed as Matt tried to play Jim's solos.  It did not sound good.  Chunky, clumsy, awkward and strained.  We left disappointed because it was not the was like an amateur cover band trying to play Deadfront.  But this was not the worst Deadfront show.

We figured that with a little practice, Matt could get up to speed and the band could be back to an almost normal state and playing tight, totally kick ass shows again.  The band decided to take another route.  Instead of getting Matt to play the guitar parts correctly or finding someone that could, the band decided to add a DJ to the line-up.  The DJ then proceeded to scratch all through the solos and more difficult guitar well as throwing in random stuff throughout the songs.  This helped cover up Matt's inept guitar playing but it also sounded terrible.  It muddled Deadfronts sound and made it seem like a pile of noise instead of well written hard rock songs.  It was impossible to ignore and completely ruined everything that I liked about Deadfront.  This was the worst Deadfront show.  I could not believe that the band that I had enjoyed so much  for the previous three or four years had made such judgement errors and degraded so noticeably.  DJs were in style at the time, so I could kind of see what they were thinking but the execution was so poor that it just seemed to be a jump on the bandwagon type thing.  Let this be a lesson to all bands - adding a DJ to your band is a poor choice 99 times out of a 100.  Deadfront wasn't the first nor last that I had seen ruined is such fashion.

Deadfront played a couple more shows at local rock festivals but I could not bring myself to go.  It was the first time I willing passed on Deadfront.  The guys in Deadfront finally called it quits and went on to different projects.  I miss Deadfront, but I really wish that they hadn't tried forcing it longer than they should have.  Sometimes you need to realize that it is better to end at the right time than keep pushing into mediocrity.  I know it is hard, but retire a legend and preserve your legacy (hint, hint - Axl Rose).

*These are off the top of my head, I am sure that I could go through my stubs and find more.  I don't think I left out any major suck-fests though.


Shannonnicolle said...

I look forward to these posts each week. I can't wait to see what crapfest makes your #1 slot.

Are you planning to follow this series up with a Top 10 list of shows?


Michael said...

I do plan of doing a Top 10 Great Shows...but I probably will need a break from music for a little bit. Just re-thinking about all these shows has burnt me out a little.

Glad you are enjoying my crapfests.