Some performers command the stage in a way that completely changes one’s opinion of them. For me, Hollywood Undead is one of those groups. I never cared much for the Los Angeles-based rap/rock group until last Saturday night, when I saw them play at In the Venue.
Don’t get me wrong. Rap plus rock equals awesome. It was their lyrics that put me off, probably because the first song of theirs I heard, “Everywhere I Go,” is too rough-edged.
So what changed my mind? Well, first of all, I listened to them play for an hour and a half. Come to find out, not all their songs are R-rated (though I still wouldn’t suggest them for children under 13).
Second, and most important, these guys are amazing performers. From the second they opened with “Undead,” a song from their debut album “Swan Songs,” to the moment they closed their encore with “We Are” from their latest album “Notes From the Underground,” the men of Hollywood Undead owned the stage. Only the drummer stayed in one area. The other five members moved around, interacting with each other: high fives, a guitar battle, a breaking up of the guitar battle and more. Sharing a stage meant more than standing next to each other, occasionally sharing a mic or a bout of head-banging.
Hollywood Undead engaged the audience, too, beyond the usual “Salt Lake City, are you having a good time tonight?” or “Salt Lake City make some noise.” They posed for pictures, they occasionally slapped the hands of screaming teenagers in the front row and they brought a kid named Dominic onstage to introduce the song “Comin’ in Hot.”
Fans’ cheers erupted before and after each song. Fists pumped, heads banged and crowd surfers floated their way to the exasperated security guards who would set them back on the ground. When the band left the stage after “Hear Me Now,” the crowd chanted, “Undead!” until the band returned.
Three bands performed before Hollywood Undead. Hail the Yeti, a Los Angeles-based metal band, led the night with screamed lyrics. The band hadn’t even finished one song before a mosh pit broke out on the floor and guys in their early teens banged against each other in a dance-off/street fight hybrid. Head banging was the move of choice for the men of All Hail the Yeti, and their long hair whipped around their heads as if in a windstorm.
Second onstage was 3PillMorning, who had a successful first go with Utahns. When they played “I Want That for You,” their song on the radio now, the audience sang along.
Escape the Fate performed just before Hollywood Undead claimed the audience. Escape the Fate opened with “You’re Insane,” thecurrent single off their new album “Ungrateful.” They also played the title track for that album, an autobiographical song about bullying and the vicious cycle it causes. Hollywood Undead aside, Escape the Fate elicited the loudest yells from the crowd and played longest, rocking out for almost an hour.
All four bands provided solid performances, but it was, without a doubt, Hollywood Undead that made the night extraordinary.