Dope, Flaw, Motograter
The Reunion Tour
September 22nd, 2016
Dope’s Reunion tour was more than just a few bands getting back together after a few years apart. It was the return of the bands who’s music had helped introduce so many of us to the genre that would shape our lives and create the soundtrack for a generation. It was also a reunion for the touring bands. The first time I’d seen Dope and Flaw, the two had opened for Cold’s in Des Moines, Iowa for the 13 Ways to Bleed on Stage tour in 2001. That was the beginning of the height of the age of the authentic metal music genre, and it was because of that particular show that I became a fan of bands like Dope and Flaw. These are three bands that I’ve had the chance to grow with. As the band matured, so did their fans, and that gave some fans the chance to introduce their children to the music that shaped their youth.
After the opening local bands forced the show to start late, the crowd was amped for Motograter to take the stage. It’d been almost 15 years since I’d seen Motograter live. So long, in fact, that I honestly don’t recall the last time I’d seen them, but Ivan “Ghost” Moody, currently fronting Five Finger Death Punch, was their vocalist. Seeing these savage men, all covered with full body paint, execute their set was brutal. Having Sokol Underground packed full of rivet heads helped to excite the band’s performance as much as the band was bolstering the crowd’s response.
There’s a certain symbiotic relationship between metal bands and their fans that isn’t as apparent as in other genres. It’s not unusual for vocalists to demand moshing and bouncing from the crowd during their performances, but current vocalist James Anthony Legion didn’t have to spur the fans at all. It didn’t matter that most of the fans packed into Sokol Underground had never heard of Motograter, or didn’t know the words to their songs. What mattered was that several hundred fans were united by their passion for and love of the genre.
After a quick turn stage turnaround, Flaw were ready. The band, formed by guitarist Jason Daunt in Louisville, Kentucky twenty years ago, would be joining The Reunion tour in support of their latest release, Divided We Fall. The band has remained relatively active despite having not released a full length album since 2009’s Home Grown Studio Sessions. This hasn’t stopped their fans from remaining true to the band. Flaw have always had the ability to create music that resonates in their fans and transcends any length of time between either their album releases or the band’s touring cycles. It’s been also 13 years since I’ve seen Flaw, and I’m still as big of a fan now as I was all those years ago. Vocalist Chris Volz is still a powerhouse on stage, and uses his vocal range to emote to his fullest potential. His stage presence now is just as powerful now as it was during the band’s initial days. That’s the true test of a musician’s passion for their craft.
The band’s energy level and ability to connect with the crowd in 2016 was just as strong as when I saw them perform on the 2nd stage at Ozzfest 2002. Flaw have learned from their decades of touring and used that knowledge and experience to create an exceptional live show, no matter the size of crowd they’re playing in front of.
As the clock creaped closer to midnight, Dope would bring their sound back to Omaha. The heavy metal band from Villa Park, Illinois, formed in 1997 in Chicago. Since then, the band has released five full-length studio albums. Their most recent studio album, No Regrets, was released on March 10, 2009. After 5 years of laying low on the radar, Dope are back. The band hadn’t played Omaha since 2003, at that time at the now demolished Ranch Bowl. A lot has changed in the past 13 years. Band members have come and gone. Edsel has started a family. But one thing remains the same: the band’s brutal take on the metal genre.
Through their 17 song, hour and a half long set, DOPE hammered through fan favorites and their heaviest tracks. The band perfectly tracks from their first 4 full length releases, 3 from each album, and 2 tracks from their 2005 release, American Apathy, and covers of Billy Idol’s Rebel Yell, and Dead or Alive’s You Spin Me Round.
Edsel took the time to praise the Omaha fans, and their overtly weirdness, something that he has always loved about our city. Edsel shared a few stories with the crowd, apologizing for how long the band had been away and recalling the last time Dope played Omaha it was at the Ranch Bowl, which he correctly guessed was torn down and replaced by a Wal-mart.
Edsel’s story about a fan who gave him a clean cow spine in honor of their song Spine For You was also hilarious. Ironically enough, the fan who gave Edsel the spine was amongst the fans at the show tonight.
The Dope reunion tour features the classic line up of Edsel Dope, Acey Slade, Virus, & Racci Shay. The U.S. portion of the tour goes until October 30th with the final show at the legendary Whiskey A Go Go in West Hollywood, California.
With this tour, Dope have achieved what most would believe to be the impossible. It’s been almost 7 years since the band has released a full length album of new material, yet the band still maintains it’s fan base. But tonight’s crowd was just a bunch of old school fans who’ve been with the band since 1999. The crowd was a great mixture of all ages, including fans who weren’t even born when Dope’s debut album was released.
My only complaint about this show was the lack of material off of Dope’s Blood Money Part 1 release. But that’s ok. Hearing the band’s “classic” tracks made for a brilliant setlist, and gave a lot of us the opportunity to reconnect with the band.