The Birthday Massacre @ Mexicali Live

TEANECK, NJ—Mexicali Live is an excellent venue for an event featuring an audio-visual performance group like The Birthday Massacre. Besides an exceptional sound system, it features a wide-open standing room with dinner table seating along one side wall and in a loft-like second level at the far end of the room. All of these provide a reasonably good view of the elevated stage, which is situated against the front wall facing backward into the auditorium.

The Birthday Massacre was the headliner on this, the 10th stop on their nationwide tour. Earlier stops were opening for Dir En Grey, but on this night the openers were old-school grrl punk rockers Verbal Equinox and metalcore quartet P T Grimm, featuring a politically agitated, potty-mouth male vocalist supported by a pair of theatrically slutty, faux cheerleaders.

As for The Birthday Massacre, they pleased the sold-out crowd of diehard fans and newcomers with their over-the-top, thunderous yet melodious metal sound accentuated by creepy costumes and make-up. The visual style of this black-clad, black-tressed band was Tim Burton-esque and gory. Fake blood oozed from the chin of one performer and out of the ears of another. There was the customary element of innocence-defiled in the lyrics and the actions of the cutesy female lead vocalist.

The hour-plus set drew from The Birthday Massacre’s half-dozen albums with emphasis on the 2010 album, Pins And Needles, and the 2011 EP, Imaginary Monsters. “Red Stars” from Walking With Strangers, “Horror Show” from Violet and “In the Dark” from Pins And Needles showcased their synth/goth style. Every song is richly hook-laden and catchy. Power chord bursts of rhythm left just enough time in between for the forcedly sweet, ‘80s-style vocals of female lead Chibi. The overall effect was somewhat like listening to Smashing Pumpkins at their most explosive accompanying Madonna at her most child-like.

After a brief goodnight, they returned with a pair of songs for their encore, “Sleep Walking” and “Midnight,” both from the Pins And Needles. The crowd was ecstatic and cried for more, but they’ll have to wait till next time.