Before I headed out for the gig, I checked the Facebook event page for set times, etc. I was surprised to see only 126 people had registered as attending, considering Mike Patton (Faith No More, Fantomas, Tomahawk) and Dave Lombardo (ex-Slayer, Suicidial Tendencies) were bringing their new hardcore band Dead Cross to town. Granted, it was Monday night. But, not only are these two among the best at what they do, their new album kicks major ass. Upon arriving at Gas Monkey, I realized the world doesn’t necessarily revolve around Facebook. The parking lot and venue were more packed than any other show I had seen there. Hell, there were even people up in that balcony area. Seriously, I’ve seen a dozen or more gigs at Gas Monkey Bar n’ Grill and never has a single soul emerged from the balcony.
I had never heard of Secret Chiefs 3, so I did a little research. I saw them described as an instrumental avant-garde band and I audibly groaned. I’m open minded, but often bands that fall within this category are either totally boring or just full-on musical masturbation. Turns out, Secret Chiefs 3 don’t fit within either of my biased categories. Describing them might not convince you. They’re noisy, jazzy, funky, punk-rocking mayhem. But, they’re so much better than that description. These dudes are seriously talented musicians. In fact, other than the bassist and drummer, each member of the band played more than one instrument. Songs are unpredictable, turning on a dime as soon as you think you have them figured out. The highlight was definitely their ridiculously awesome cover of the Halloween theme song. This band doesn’t need a singer to keep an audience entertained and I was thrilled that the crowd on hand last night gave them an enthusiastic reception.
Dead Cross took the stage shortly after 10:00 and proceeded to run through their entire album like it was the last show on earth. Simply put, they raged through their set. The non-stop mosh pit was a perfect reflection of the energy the band brought to the stage. Mike Patton sang and screamed and hit every note from high to low as if his life depended on it. Amazingly, he made it look easy. Patton lives up to his reputation as a great frontman. There wasn’t a whole lot of banter between songs, perhaps because he knows the songs are what matters and he put everything he had behind them. Lombardo? Well, what can you say about this guy that hasn’t already been said? The floor beneath me was vibrating as his double-bass drove the songs forward. Sadly, there wasn’t a great vantage point from the floor to actually see his face, but his fluid and flawless drumming was the best thing I can imagine a Monday night ever offering. Those other guys in the band are no slouches. Guitarist Mike Crain and bassist Justin Pearson are the glue that holds the band together. Sure, it’s easy to be distracted by Patton and Lombardo, but these guys are top shelf players.
The band played their debut album, mostly in sequence, save for a couple of new songs that sounded as inspired as the recorded material. Highlights included the venomous “Idiopathic,” the completely bonkers “Grave Slave,” and my new favorite song “Divine Filth.” Their cover of Bauhaus’ “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” and the powerful “Shillelagh” prove that this band should be considered more than just a side-project or super-group. These songs are ferocious, inspired, and better than any other “hardcore” you’ll find from anyone or anywhere.
We can’t recommend this tour highly enough. You don’t have to be a Faith No More, Slayer, or hardcore punk fan to enjoy it. The energy and musicianship is enough to have you walking away a fan. And be sure to get there early to see Secret Chiefs 3, they’re worth it.
– J. Kevin Lynch
Dead Cross Tour Dates
Aug. 15 – Houston, TX Warehouse Live
Aug. 16 – Austin, TX Emo’s
Aug. 18 – Tucson, AZ The Rialto Theatre
Aug. 19 – San Diego, CA The Observatory North Park
Aug. 21 – Los Angeles, CA El Rey Theatre
Aug. 23 – Berkeley, CA The UC Theatre
Aug. 25 – Vancouver, BC Vogue Theatre
Aug. 26 – Seattle, WA The Showbox
Aug. 27 – Portland Wonder Ballroom
Aug. 29 – Sacramento, CA Ace of Spades
Sep. 08 – Baltimore, MD Baltimore Soundstage
Sep. 10 – Philadelphia, PA Union Transfer
Sep. 11 – Boston, MA Royale
Sep. 12 – New York, NY Gramercy Theatre
Sep. 13 – Brooklyn, NY Warsaw
Sep. 15 – Detroit, MI St. Andrew’s Hall
Sep. 16 – Chicago, IL Riot Fest
Sep. 17 – Milwaukee, WI Turner Hall Ballroom
Sep. 19 – Minneapolis, MN First Avenue
Sep. 20 – Lawrence, KS Liberty Hall
Sep. 23 – Denver, CO Ogden Theatre