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Static-X – Rise of The Machine Tour 2023 at The Van Buren

March 7, 2023 @ 6:30 pm - 11:30 pm

American metal crew Static-X emerged at the tail end of the ’90s, pushing an aggressive thrash metal blend with industrial overtones and a techno pulse. Their breakthrough debut, 1998’s cult classic Wisconsin Death Trip, rocketed them to stardom in the heavy music world, their image boosted by frontman Wayne Static‘s distinctive hair and vocal delivery. While maintaining momentum into the 2000s with additional efforts like Machine and Shadow Zone, Static‘s passing in 2014 effectively halted the group in their tracks. However, at the close of the decade, the original lineup made a comeback with the help of previously recorded Static vocals, issuing Project Regeneration in 2020.

Static-X’s roots trace to the Midwest, where vocalist/guitarist Wayne Static grew up in Michigan and drummer Ken Jay in Illinois. They ended up in Chicago separately and met at the record store where Jay worked, introduced to one another by future Smashing Pumpkins vocalist Billy Corgan (who was in the band Deep Blue Dream with Static). Static and Jay decided to head west to California and start up a new band. Shortly after their arrival, Osaka native Koichi Fukada responded to the duo’s ad and became their new guitarist, as well as programmer. Bassist Tony Campos, the only true Californian, was the final piece of the puzzle. Signed to Warner Brothers in February 1998, Static-X debuted with Wisconsin Death Trip a year later. The album was a hit and eventually certified platinum, bolstered by the strength of the singles “Push It” and “Bled for Days.” Despite the success, founding guitarist Fukada briefly left the group in 2000, replaced by Tripp Eisen (ex-Dope) for 2001’s gold-certified Machine, their highest-charting effort to date. Further lineup changes followed, as drummer Jay left after the 2003 album Shadow Zone. Soon after, misdemeanor charges forced Eisen to leave the band in 2004 (he was later convicted and spent a year in prison). Still, Static-X was undeterred. Static tapped Fukada to rejoin on guitar and programming in 2005, while touring drummer Nick Oshiro took over full-time.

In June 2005, a rejuvenated Static-X returned to recording with Start a War, home to the single “I’m the One.” Fifth album Cannibal arrived in 2007, charting inside Billboard’s Top 40. The band toured and released a CD/DVD document, Cannibal Killers Live, then settled into the recording of their sixth studio album, Cult of Static. Released in March 2009, it debuted inside the Top 20, their second highest showing to date. The group went on hiatus not long after finishing a lengthy tour, with Wayne Static announcing a renewed focus on his Pighammer side project, with contributions from his wife, Tera Wray. In 2011, Pighammer appeared as a solo album under his own name. A year later, he re-formed Static-X — minus any of the original members. The lineup, which consisted of his solo backing band, mounted a tour but broke up by 2013, and a year later, Wayne Static was dead of a drug overdose at the age of 48. Just over a year after that, his widow Tera Wray took her own life.

This tragedy seemed to spell the end of Static-X, but a few years later, the remaining bandmembers patched up their differences and decided to see if they could salvage anything from past recordings. Starting from a slew of unreleased demos, the group went into the studio, once again with Ulrich Wild, where they stripped Wayne‘s vocals from the demos and composed entirely new tunes around them. The resultant album, Project Regeneration, was released in two volumes, with Vol. 1 arriving in the summer of 2020. To support the release, the band embarked on tour with a new, masked frontman named Xer0, rumored to be Edsel Dope of Dope. Lead single “Hollow” crashed the U.S. Dance/Electronic chart, peaking in the Top 15. ~ Neil Z. Yeung & Josh Loehr, Rovi

One can’t overstate the size of the Fear Factory boot print on the neck of heavy metal. Unleashing influential albums with devastating anthems for over 30 years, Fear Factory is widely recognized as both crucial and innovative in extreme metal circles. Fear Factory manufactured, demanufactured, and remanufactured a sound that reverberates across several subgenres. They perfected an explosive blend of staccato paint-stripping riffs, industrial-tinged drums, electronic flourishes, and a scream/sing dichotomy, all of which became staples in heavy music, ever since the group first emerged in L.A.

Fear Factory records are cinematic in scope; sonic landscapes, echoing the dystopian post-apocalyptic futures found in classic sci-fi literature and films, from Ray Bradbury to Blade Runner. Aggression Continuum, the tenth studio album, is the culmination of three decades of unforgettable songs, performances, and forward-thinking storytelling concepts, while simultaneously rebooting Fear Factory onto a brilliant and excitingly unpredictable new path.

Aggression Continuum boasts the definitive attack of songs like “Recode,” “Distruptor,” and “Purity.” The riffs, concepts, and passion remain strong, as Fear Factory celebrates its past, present, and future. Whatever may come, Fear Factory will be there, a soundtrack to humankind’s uncertain times ahead.

An uncompromising New York City-based outfit that draws from both heavy metal and industrial music, Dope’s confrontational emissions evoke MinistrySkinny Puppy, and White Zombie. Emerging in 1999 with the hard-hitting Felons and Revolutionaries, the group continued to beat the post-industrial drum on 2005’s American Apathy and 2018’s Blood Money, Part 1, while managing to weave in elements of speed, alternative, rap, and nu-metal.

The quintet was formed in the Chicago area by brothers Edsel Dope (lead vocals, rhythm guitar) and Simon Dope (keyboards). Simon studied chemistry at the University of Florida, then received a scholarship to Polytechnic in Brooklyn. There he was joined by his brother, with the two claiming to have financed their demos by selling drugs. The initial incarnation of the band included lead guitarist Tripp Eisen, bass player Acey Slade, and drummer Preston Nash. They began a selective series of gigs in late 1997. In October 1998, they were signed to Flip Records, which made a production deal with Epic.

Dope’s debut album and best-selling release to date, Felons and Revolutionaries, was released in September 1999. The Dope brothers gutted their lineup after the ensuing tour, switching Slade to guitar and bringing in original bassist Sloane Jentry, guitarist Virus, and drummer Sketchy Shay. In the fall of 2001, they released their second album, Life. Two years later, the band inked a deal with Artemis and issued the nu-metal-leaning Group Therapy. The punitive American Apathy arrived in summer 2005, featuring covers of Depeche Mode‘s “People Are People” and N.W.A‘s “Fuck tha Police.” It topped the Billboard Heatseekers chart upon release. No Regrets was issued four years later, and featured a guest appearance by Zakk Wylde. After an extended hiatus, Dope’s classic lineup returned with a new album and coinciding tour. The band — Edsel DopeAcey SladeVirus, and Racci Shay — released Blood Money, Pt. 1 in late 2016, with a sequel, the aptly-named Blood Money, Pt. 2, arriving in 2019.

Known for their theatrical live show and the black masks that most of their members wear on-stage, Mushroomhead are one of the more unique and adventurous alternative metal outfits that emerged in the 1990s. The band’s forceful yet melodic alternative metal incorporates elements of hip-hop, punk, and goth rock as well as industrial and techno. Since releasing their eponymous debut in 1995, Mushroomhead have sold over two million albums worldwide, with highlights arriving via 2003’s XIII, 2006’s Savior Sorrow, and 2014’s The Righteous & the Butterfly.

The members of Mushroomhead have been performing incognito since 1993, when drummer Skinny founded the band. At first, Mushroomhead were only meant to be a side project. Their members were playing in various local bands at the time, and they wore the blacks masks (which look like a cross between S&M/bondage masks and World War I gas masks) so that people wouldn’t recognize them. The only Mushroomhead member who doesn’t wear a black mask opts for Kiss-like clown makeup instead. After a few years, the group became one of Cleveland’s top local attractions — and the bandmembers kept wearing the masks when they saw how intriguing people found them to be.

Mushroomhead’s self-titled debut album was released independently in 1995, followed by Superbuick in 1996 and M3 in 1999. The Midwesterners signed with Eclipse in 2000, and their next record, XX, came out the following year. In 2001, Mushroomhead’s members included drummer/founder Skinny, lead vocalists J-Mann and Jeffrey Nothing, guitarists Bronson and Gravy, keyboardist Shmotz, bassist Pig Benis, and sample provider Stitch when they signed to Universal Records to re-release XX. Their first proper effort for the label was 2003’s dynamic XIII, but the band soon parted ways with not only Universal but also vocalist J-Mann during a subsequent tour. Undeterred, Mushroomhead pressed on with their D.I.Y. ethos intact and welcomed new frontman Waylon, formerly of 3 Quarters Dead, into the fray.

The concert film Mushroomhead, Vol. 1 followed in mid-2005 before the group returned in September 2006 with the critically acclaimed Savior Sorrow, released through New York-based indie Megaforce Records. Beautiful Stories for Ugly Children, the band’s seventh studio album, arrived in 2010, followed in 2014 by The Righteous & the Butterfly, the latter of which became the group’s first album to crack the Top 20 of the Billboard Top 200. 2020’s A Wonderful Life introduced new members Steve Rauckhorst and Jackie LaPonza (vocals), and Tom Shaffner (guitar), who replaced longtime vocalist Jeffrey Nothing and guitar player Tommy Church. It was Mushroomhead’s eighth studio LP and first outing for Napalm Records