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Patriotism in a skewed sense
by Derek Smith on 2001-09-29

September 11th, 2001 was a day of tragedy here in the United States, a time when the nation needs to be strong together. Fitting that the hottest tour of the fall season was set to open on around the 13th, the Pledge of Allegiance tour. The bands and managers decided to postpone the first couple of shows due to the tragic events, but as the rest of the country got back to business, so did the performers.

I caught the show in Portland, OR on September 25th at the Rose Garden Arena. The show was slated to start at 6 pm, so we arrived at about 5. We had assigned seating, so no worries about getting good seats, but I'm paranoid about being punctual, we all have our faults, eh?

After finding the seats, we were very grateful to the Ticketmaster clerk that helped me out when I purchased the tix. We were in the first section of arena seats, 5th row up, right behind the basketball hoop if it was set up at the time. Yup, we were directly across from the stage.

For pre-concert entertainment, they had music playing and occasionally played videos of bands on the tour, so we had more to watch than the other people trying futilely to find their seats.

First band up was No One, from Chicago, IL. This is a band that strives for making it big due to their music rather than their images, thus the non-descript name. They performed about 6 songs, all of them very tightly, including their first single "Chemical." Being that the crowd was still milling into the arena after the band left the stage, they weren't really into No One, but I thought the band was a definite one to look for in the future.

During the intermission, I left my seat to purchase a beverage. Gotta love dishing out 4 bucks for a pop that I could pay $.89 at a 7-11. Then I ventured over to the merchandise booth and picked up the tour's long sleeved t-shirt.

Next band up was Mudvayne, a newer band that has been picking up steam faster than most do without fullout MTV and radio backing. I saw them at Ozzfest this summer and they were one of the top bands there. This time around, they were even better. I'm really looking forward to picking up these guy's CD "L.D. 50."

After Mudvayne finished up, we were treated to another intermission, this one almost for 20 minutes. We knew the next band up was Rammstein and they are known for their crazy stage shows, so we weren't too upset. Good thing too, because they delivered. For a band that sings all in German, they sure had the audience eating out of their hands. On their first song, the lead singer lit himself on fire, then later on in their set, he was using a flame thrower. This band put on one of the best pyrotechnic shows I've ever seen, as well as a helluva performance.

Next up was one of the headlining bands, System of a Down. I have liked System ever since I first heard them, so I was really looking forward to seeing them. They started their set off with a clip from the movie "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" and went into "Prison Song," a song condemning the act of imprisoning minor drug offenders rather than putting them into treatment centers. Their performance of their song "Deer Dance" was enhanced by a video of people doing the twist sped up about 3 times so it fit the beat of the song.

The band is usually extremely political, and I've heard that sometimes their between-songs banter is almost like a political sermon. Their excuse for straying from this that night: "I'm not going to talk politics tonight, cuz I really don't want my ass kicked." Bet Sam Halsall would have backed him up. Instead, they said their songs that night were all about drugs and fucking, which got the audience to cheer.

Another long intermission before the last band, but like the Rammstein wait, this one was well worth it as well. At Ozzfest this summer, Slipknot was the show-stealer. And since this was their headlining tour, I was hoping they were gonna kick it up a notch. They did, then another notch, then another. For my best friend, an avid non-fan of Slipknot (Ya read that right), to say they put on the best show of the night, that has to mean something.

First off, it's hard not to have a crazy stage show with nine members in the band. Members of the 'Knot were climbing the 10 foot risers behind the drums and jumping back down to the stage like it was no big deal. Pyrotechnics like it was a Chinese New Year.

In between two of their songs, the man behind the wheels of steel, their DJ scratched for about 3 minutes with the crowd behind him. Then later on, another tween-song break, the drummer started a solo. I wasn't expecting much, just expecting to listen to a nice lil drum solo. Then the riser that the drumset was on started turning around. The riser then started living up to it's name, with the drummer never missing a beat. Everybody was paying attention then. After the riser lifted about 10 feet, it started tilting forward. Jaws started dropping in the whole arena. Then the set was in a full vertical position with the drummer facing the ground. Cheers were coming from the quietest of people. Then the set started turning again. When the drummer was facing straight up, lights came on in the riser to form a large pentagram. The rest of the band came on and went into "Heretic Anthem."

Slipknot came back for an encore and played three more songs, leaving the crowd bruised and battered. Then it was off to the Max train back to Gresham and listening to the many people that spent most of the night in the beer garden.

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Quotes from the boys: Moondog Manson says "Leatherface is by far the sickest man I have ever met in the ring, the moment he hits you in the head with that steal chair you here a creepy laugh come from under that hood.".
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