Live Review: Hollywood Undead – The Wiltern, Los Angeles
Mon, 02 May 2011 07:19:56
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"I think J-Dog just walked by, but I'm not sure that's what he looks like," exclaimed a Hollywood Undead fan outside of The Wiltern.
It's absolutely fine that the band maintain a certain degree of anonymity. Hollywood Undead want to be heard more than they want to be seen. That was instantly clear from the moment they hit the stage for their best L.A.-area performance ever on Saturday. Hometown shows can often feel like pressure cookers for an artist. The guest list remains swarmed with family and friends and, in Los Angeles, there all kinds of industry types added to that mix. Nevertheless, none of that mattered when Hollywood Undead began the set with their sonic calling card, "Undead".
Immediately, the song emanated a heavier energy than ever before. A jilting bass and guitar assault spearheaded the band's charge. Johnny 3 Tears rugged flow sounded pristinely pummeling, while Charlie Scene dropped one lyrical barb after another like Denis Leary doing an HBO poetry special. J-Dog anchored everything together, switching instruments in between viciously vibrant verses of his own. Over this heavy industrial hip hop backdrop, Danny's vocals rose and fell along with each musical ebb and flow. His versatility mirrored that of the music's, making for one roller coaster of a rock show.
"Sell Your Soul" continued that ride flawlessly as a riff chug morphed into a massive refrain with each member screaming his soul out. The new songs from American Tragedy illuminated Hollywood Undead's prowess. "Been to Hell" saw J-Dog tearing through rhymes like RZA backed by Nine Inch Nails as a grimy Pretty Hate Machine-style refrain seared psyches. The Wiltern sounded as loud as an arena on the American Tragedy opener and with a shifting backdrop and psychedelic lighting, Hollywood Undead built the perfect hard rock show. "Been to Hell" stood out as a mature and magnificent evolutionary step—especially on stage.
"Gangsta Sexy" and "California" allowed Funny Man's laidback flow to dominate, ensuring that asses shook all over the venue. On "City", Da Kurlzz's electronic drum stomp sparked incendiary verses as the band dipped further into the "gangsta goth" sound they created. However, "Paradise Lost" unnerved like never before. Johnny 3 Tears practically burst into flames during the track's eloquently destructive buildup. He shared a raw catharsis with his fans as only Korn's Jonathan Davis or Deftones' Chino Moreno has before him. There's a reason why Hollywood Undead has resonated so much with the youth of America, and it's moments like that.
The climax came during a fierce, fast, and fiery "Hear Me Now" which hit like a metallic sledgehammer. J-Dog magnetically pulled everything together for one last explosion and the crowd went wild again.
With a newfound heavy fury, Hollywood Undead cemented themselves as one of the best live bands in the world right now. Their metallic gangsta goth can make rap fans bounce and rock fans headbang. That's what's really behind the mask and all anyone needs to know.
Were you at the Wiltern show?
For more Hollywood Undead, check out our "Ten Reasons You Need American Tragedy" feature here!
Check out our most recent interview with J-Dog of Hollywood Undead on American Tragedy here!