Powerman 5000 at Mojoes of Joliet on 11/11/14
By Dan Scheiman
With this concert probably being the 40th metal show I’ve seen at Mojoes, I can say that this venue not only seems to thoroughly enjoy the metal scene, but presents high energy music very well. Now, I realize that there are a lot of veteran Powerman 5000 fans out there that could chime in on any particular show with their own critique, but for it being my first experience with these guys live, I can honestly say this was mind bending.
Opening with Super Villain, the crowd basically changed from a bunch of calm and collected fans, into a pack of wild beasts. The transition was immediate and the energy level doubled throughout the entire room. By the second song, a fight broke out between a few people on the edge of the mosh pit. It seemed as though even the people that came for the more intense and industrial aspects of the show weren’t able to contain themselves, and I can see why. The vibration of the venue was amazing. The pulse of the music coincided perfectly with the array of strobe lights and lasers that saturated the crowd and stage. For the longest time, I considered Meshuggah to be the loudest concert I had ever been to, until this show. Powerman pumped out enough volume, energy, and distortion to feed an entire stadium of people, and the venue they were playing was 1/100th of the size. This was a true industrial metal show on every level.
The vocalist and front man, Michael Cummings (Spider One), had the attire of a young Trent Reznor, the hair of Sid Viscious, and an eerie resemblance to David Bowie. Not only was his stage presence electric and aggressive as it needs to be for such music, but genuine and humble all at the same time. After a few tracks it seemed like he could tell the crowd needed a break, so he began telling a story about how the band huddles up before every show, puts their hands together and raises their arms up to get some energy for the performance. Well it turns out the band was appalled by his stench, and he took pride in this. He began trying to start a club of anyone else in the crowd that may have had the same issue. The fans loved it. It was clear that Michael was very comfortable mingling with the crowd, and after so many years of doing these shows, he was still enjoying himself thoroughly.
Ending the show with Bombshell, shortly followed by Worlds Collide, the crowd was legitimately torn to shreds and exhausted. It didn’t seem like they played for very long, but judging by the look on the peoples faces around me, if they had played only a few more songs it would have been nearly impossible to recover. At the end of it all it seemed as though both the crowd and the band had depleted themselves entirely, which is a solid way to wrap up a night.
The most interesting aspect of the show, for me, was just how raw, powerful, and filthy the sound quality was. I’ve listened to plenty of PM5K’s studio work and it is quite literally an entirely different experience live. There were moments where it sounded like the two guitarists were competing to see who could make more noise, while the other members kept the rhythm right on point. On top of the riveting industrial grind, I was sincerely impressed with the amount of emotion and psychological aggression this band could pour into a crowd. If you think this bands albums are high energy, I dare you to see them live.