On August 4th, 2018, Otep brought their Fire and Fury tour to Gas Monkey Bar n’ Grill. The touring package also consisted of fellow Napalm Records band Dropout Kings.
After melting in the heat while four local and regional artists bored an ever-growing crowd, Dropout Kings finally took the stage. A powerful mix of rap and metal, the band took me completely by surprise. This was one of the most energetic shows I think I’ve ever seen and was well received by the unsuspecting crowd. A packed stage didn’t keep the sextet from unleashing an exuberant live show. With dual vocalists Adam Ramey and Eddie Wellz bouncing rhymes back and forth with ease, the band instantly put the crowd into motion. Heavy, yet methodical riffs supplied by Chucky Guzman (guitars) and Staig Flynn (guitars) had the crowd unsure of whether to jump up and down or bang their heads. The unrelenting rhythm section of Rob Sebastian (bass) and Trevor Norgen (drums) rounded out the powerful blend of musical styles that was a breath of fresh air. Who would’ve thought that heavy metal and rap would go together so effortlessly. To say that this band loves what they do would be an understatement. The music was almost a bonus for me as the energy and excitement of the members was enough to win me over. I’ll go see Dropout Kings any chance I get, no questions asked. They were definitely the highlight of the night.
Next up, the stage was set for Otep. Before the set started, Justin Kier (drums) took the stage to engage the crowd in a quick solo comedy set and promptly asked the crowd for some Texas weed. It was obvious that the band was out to make a statement from the very beginning. The stage was clad in LGBT flags, placed next to American flags, a noose, and stickers that read “Impeach Trump”. Otep then started the set by passing out roses to random attendees all while bashing the entire state of Alabama for not having a sing-along state song like “Deep in the Heart of Texas.” The show itself quickly turned from a focus on music to a bash on current political leaders and the NRA. Myself being a huge supporter of equal rights, animal rights, and freedom of speech, I was initially intrigued. Music is a great platform for expression, but if you’re a band making a statement of any kind, it should be presented with some substance. Chants of “Fuck Trump” were presented in an almost senseless manner. The band appeared to rely on what some would say is a controversial stage show to distract from their underdeveloped nu-metal sound. Stage props of Trump dolls, pig heads, and baby dolls kept the attention of the crowd while the musicians focused on maintaining a theatrical presence. The unconventional set continued with tracks “Apex Predator” and “Generation Doom.” The band then continued with a cover of fellow political resisters Rage Against the Machine. With the new album Kult45 that was released on July 27th, the band promises to continue their political stance and resistance style. I love passion and standing up for your beliefs, but this execution and attempt at presenting a message in a live setting missed the mark. I do hope people will hear this message, but I hope it’s done outside of an Otep show, in a more thought provoking presentation. Music can be as diverse as the world we live in and it’s a beautiful thing. I wish Otep would re-evaluate their stage show to make a stronger impact. You’d be better off educating yourself on current issues instead of letting Otep be your guide. Otep Shaamaya (vocals), Ari Mihalopoulos (guitars), Andrew Barnes (bass), and Justin Kier mean well, the message is just low hanging fruit. If the music of Otep is your thing, listening to their albums will probably suffice. Stay strong all of my activist friends and family, there’s good and bad in everything.
– Corey Smith
– click to enlarge photos –