Live Review: Static-X @ O2 Academy, Birmingham
The year is 1999, the nu-metal genre has reared its head and is running havoc across the traditional heavy metal landscape. Record labels are signing up bands in droves that fit popular genres boundaries in the hopes of cashing in on the populism. It is a crowded market place, over saturated at times. In amongst the throng of bands an album is released that stands out, whilst fitting the nu-metal guidelines it is different, it is fresh, ultimately it is unique. That album is Wisconsin Death Trip, the debut album from upstart groundbreakers Static-X.
Since that time the band saw their ups and downs, much as any band of any genre does. As nu-metal’s flame dwindled Static-X went whir separate ways. Ultimately the end of the band was the sad passing of its inimitable front man, Wayne Static.
Just as fans had gotten over their loss, had moved on and come to terms with it all, bassist Tony Campos announced plans to reunite the band. ‘Project Regeneration’ saw the bands original line up record again with multiple vocalists for a new record. A tour had to follow, but how would they do it? The answer we see tonight in Birmingham a band fronted by ‘Xer0’, a vocalist in a Wayne Static mask.
Opening the evenings proceedings were Dope, last seen in the these isles opening for a reformed Coal Chamber a few years ago. The also rans of the nu-metal genre who never really made it big, especially in the U.K. An intense half hour set but for many unfamiliar with their work it seemed to pass them by.
Wednesday 13 are familiar to all, and surprisingly low on the bill given the mans stature. The modern reincarnation of Alice Cooper for the jilted generation could well sell out this venue on his own merit. In a set full of costume changes, headgear changes and theatrics the audience are treated to a whirlwind of horror metal songs from his latest album, Necrophaze and throughout his entire career. It’s was a show stealer of a performance leaving us wonder what they would have done if only they’d been headliners.
Soil have not so much fallen from grace, more so they have lost momentum with line up changes over the years. The set focuses on the McCombs era recordings with a tribute to Wayne Static at the midpoint. A tight nit performance, gutsy and energising and above all crowd pleasing. Rounded out with McCombs singing the whole of fan favourite ‘Halo’ from the middle of the crowd. Just when we thought it was all over they are back on stage to close out with a singalong of Ram Jam cover “Black Betty”.
Thus we head to the finale. The electronic backdrop flickers into life as a long intro raises the electric atmosphere in the room, minute by minute. As the intro ends the three original members of Static-X arrive on stage to rapturous applause. Waiting in the wings is a figure clad in black. The figure wears a mask, with a hair cut resembling that of Wayne Static - this is Xer0! This is both a tribute to Wayne and a celebration of 20 years of Wisconsin Death Trip.
The set is top and tailed with songs from their debut album, but in between is a mix of their back catalogue. Zero shows from the off that he is the perfect fit to cover for Wayne, his stage presence, his vocals, his performance all a fitting tribute. At times watching in awe it’s is easy to drift and think that really is Wayne on stage.
As they finish with ‘Push It’ the fans are left both emotionally and physically spent, for those of us who saw Static-X on their original tours, this was a wonderful trip down memory lane. For the younger fans amongst us it was an awesome introduction to a band nearing legendary status.