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  • Live Review: Scars On Broadway - Union Station, Los Angeles

    Tue, 29 Jul 2008 11:43:09

    Live Review: Scars On Broadway - Union Station, Los Angeles - Bring your black hat

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    Union Station is one of those rare Los Angeles locales that's got a lot of history. Adjacent to Chinatown, the ornate, spacious and architecturally fascinating train station has served as a shooting spot for notable films, including Speed and Blade Runner. Harrison Ford's classic nihilist detective, Deckard, graced the Union Station lobby with his presence back in the '80s as part of Ridley Scott's sci-fi epic, and those images remain part of cinematic lore. Now that same spot has played host to another equally brooding doomsayer, Daron Malakian, frontman/guitarist of Scars on Broadway. Somewhat like Deckard's memorable appearance in that very place, Scars' set will, no doubt, be vividly recounted on every attendee's blog. Yes, this is Daron and John Dolymayan's post-System of a Down band, but they sound nothing like System. What separates the two bands the most is presence. Whereas System channeled youthful hyperactivity into catharsis, Scars transforms a chemical haze of depression into a complete emotional explosion. This method happened to be equally, if not more, satisfying.

    All eyes were on Scars, literally, because the show was webcast on the band's official site for the world to see. Plus, the show celebrated the release of Scars' self-titled debut, due out the morning after. Fans could gain access to the show by pre-ordering the CD outside, and they arrived in droves. If they needed to take a train after, there was no shortage of those either.

    The lobby itself was lined with old-fashioned cashier counters, mirroring a bank robbery scene from an old Western. As soon as the five musical outlaws in Scars took the stage, the action commenced at full speed. "Exploding/Reloading" kicked the set off, sounding like a freight train about to derail. Malakian sported a black hat and full, bushy beard that'd make his old producer, Rick Rubin, proud. From under the brim of his hat, he scanned the crowd while quickly picking the song's frenetic riff. As soon as he screamed, "I like suicide mixed with Jesus Christ," the fans engaged a full-on mosh pit in the middle of the train station.

    The intensity didn't dissipate there either. Right before the buoyant and bouncy "Enemy," Malakian exclaimed, "We want you to dance with us." He writhed in the middle of the stage, playing the song with a dark energy that emerged from somewhere between his pronounced fascination with '60s pyschadelica and Slayer. The mid-song chant of "We're all on drugs," saw the audience singing and swaying in unison. If it weren't for all the Blackberrys held to the sky during "World Long Gone" and "Universe," the show could've been mistaken for a '60s "Be-in."

    Keeping up with the classic rock tone, "Whoring Streets" had the panache and nihilism of a modern "Hotel California," exploring the desperation inherent in the "Los Angeles Dream." "Funny" and "Cute Machines" both packed a seriously potent dose of metallic grit and melodic sensitivity. Daron's doing the balancing act between loud and soft better than anyone is these days, and the final apocalyptic single "They Say" cemented that. Union Station had a lot of history before the first notes of Scars' phenomenal set, but now it's got even more.

    —Rick Florino

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