On March 3, Dingbatz hosted a sensational celebration to the ’90s with three spectacular tribute bands playing covers of the three giant bands that represented the musical highpoint of that decade.
Starting early, but well-prepared, lead vocalist Byron led NIN cover band, SIN, in a 10-song set, starting with “Somewhat Damaged” which Trent Reznor co-wrote with Lennie Lohner, off their third album, the double-disc opus, The Fragile. “March of the Pigs” from Downward Spiral followed, then a welcome turn to “Sin” off the debut album, Pretty Hate Machine.
NIN music videos played silently on the backdrop screen as SIN ran through masterful renditions of select representatives of the most loved tracks on all the major disc releases. “Burn,” the single from the movie, Natural Born Killers, enters the discography in the 2004 Deluxe 10th Anniversary re-release of The Downward Spiral, but it doesn’t appear in the original (1994) album. When SIN performed a really accurate rendition of “Closer,” it caused those in the audience to recall not only its groundbreaking video, influenced by the eerie animations of the Brothers Quay, but also went a long way toward opening mass media to the daytime use of the “f-word.”
Other faithful covers included “Wish,” from both Broken and Fixed, “Only” from With Teeth (2005) and two more from the first album, Terrible Lie, and ending with the all-time most influential industrial-to-mainstream-crossover piece, “Head Like a Hole.” NIN fans were satisfied with the meticulously accurate and utterly sincere re-creation of their idol band.
The Battle of Los Angeles
Founded in 2007, The Battle of Los Angeles takes its name from Rage Against the Machine’s third album. Opening with a mild, but rapid riff of single guitar notes, the opening song, “Bombtrack,” released its sudden explosion on stage and lead singer Christian Alcantara leaped half his height in imitation of Rage’s Zach de la Rocha as he rhythmically screamed political leftist complaints against patriotism and capitalism. Next, “People of the Sun” gave voice to the rage of indigenous tribes. Alcantara has effectively captured the original timbre of the Zack de la Rocha voice, just as he has mastered his athletic stage promenade.
The Battle of Los Angeles (one of two RATM cover bands with that name) pulled no punches lyrically or artistically in delivering Rage’s defiant, pointed critique of American society with “Sleep Now in the Fire”; “Know Your Enemy”; “Bullet in the Head,” which Alcantara specifically dedicated to Jeff Sessions; the anti-war “Bulls on Parade”; “Testify”; “Freedom”; and their most memorable single, “Killing in the Name Of,” the popular anti-authority screed, which some call Rage’s “signature song.” At the conclusion of their set, we spectators were for a moment considering to head out in order to burn the system down, but we stayed to hear the next band.
Having already mastered the complex and experimental instrumental style and arrangements of Tool’s oeuvre, Schism took it to another level when in 2005, the man behind Schism, Keith Williams, recruited singer Angelo Rivera, whose vocal virtuosity is a match for that of Tool’s Maynard James Keenan, as nuanced and as finely tuned. Rivera’s transcendent singing is supported by Schism’s mastermind and guitar virtuoso, Keith; by the guitar-style techniques of Sean Patrick Murray on bass which closely mimic those of Tool’s bassist, Justin Chancellor; and by the infallibly accurate reproduction of Tool drummer/percussionist Danny Carey’s unusual time signatures and shifting rhythms.
Starting with “Aenema” off the similarly named Aenima album, Rivera imbued this viciously cynical damnation of L.A. culture with keen articulation. In fact, he did so with each of the exquisitely rendered pieces that Schism performed that night which included “46 & 2,” “Prison Sex,” “Parabola,” “Stinkfist,” “Schism,” “Hooker with a Penis,” “Vicarious,” “Jambi” and finally ended with the spectacular—and spectacularly performed—“Lateralus,” one of Tool’s great treatises on philosophy and spirituality.
Not only is Schism the premier Tool cover band, but it is very near the top of all cover bands in any genre. Now at it 16 years, Keith Williams’ national touring band Schism is unique in that it is endorsed on the Tool website. They will be performing “April Tool Day” at artist Alex Grey’s Chapel of Sacred Mirrors in Wappingers Falls, NY and at the Gramercy Theatre in NYC on May 5.