Megadeth and Fear Factory
Live in NJ on 11/29/13 at The Wellmont Theater
Reviewed by Rob Acocella
Megadeth and Fear Factory are two of my favorite bands, especially to see live, so when I saw they were on a bill together I was really excited. To make it even better, they were playing a few towns over from me in my home state of NJ, so I didn't need to pay a bunch extra in tolls and parking to go into New York City to see them. (Side note: contrary to popular belief, people who live in NJ don't necessarily love, or even like, traveling into NYC.)
I hate to say it, but the show was a little disappointing, which was no fault of either band, I might add. Fear Factory has always had one of the most energetic live shows with some of the craziest crowds I've been witness to. The energy just wasn't there that night. The band was full of pep and sounded great, but you could tell by the way Burton C. Bell was talking to the crowd that even he could sense that they just weren't giving the same energy back. He made multiple references to how the crowd seemed sleepy, and blamed it on the fact that the day before was Thanksgiving and everyone "must have eaten too much shit, too much turkey." He was most likely right, as everyone looked like they were still in tryptophan comas. This was also the first time I'd ever seen Fear Factory as an opening or support act, aside from that one time they were on Gigantour after Transgression came out. I was completely not expecting such a short set, but I can't complain about the song choices, to be honest. They opened with the obvious choice: the title track from their most recent album The Industrialist, and from there it was a 7-song barrage of oldies but goodies made up of "Shock," "Edgecrusher," "Damaged," "What Will Become?," "Demanufacture," "Self Bias Resistor," and, of course, they closed with "Replica." The band deserves 5 stars for their energy, song choices, and their performance, but the crowd dragged down the whole mood. It's a double-edged sword because I normally love Fear Factory shows but complain about the audience because they're too rowdy and obnoxious, and this time I'm complaining because it's like they didn't even care that the band was there.
Headliners Megadeth need no introduction. From the second the video screens turn on and "Prince of Darkness" starts pumping through the speakers, you know you're going to be in for a great show. Being one of the photographers shooting the show, I'm right upfront for the first 3 songs of the set, so I get to hear what the band hears, which is why when they opened with "Hangar 18," I was confused as to why Dave wasn't singing when he was supposed to be. Until I looked up and realized he was! Whoever was running sound for this show really must have phoned it in that night. Couldn't hear vocals in the monitors at all for the first 3 songs, and when I left the photo pit to go to the back of the room to watch the rest of the show, I realized that the vocals were mixed terribly. Not only were they pretty low compared to the music, but the quality of the sound was really bad, and you couldn't make out a word Dave was saying. It wasn't Dave having a bad night either, because even between songs when he'd talk to the crowd, you still could hardly make out any words. As the show went on, the venue, or the soundguy, or whoever was at fault, pretty much ruined the show. The sound was terrible, and by terrible, I mean completely awful. The guitar tones were way too thin most of the time, and David Ellefson's bass was almost completely lost. The worst part was at the beginning of "Peace Sells" when David switched to his new signature Kelly Bird bass, which, as a bass player and lifelong fan of Ellefon's, I was very excited to finally hear live. The sound was so bad it sounded like he was playing a shoebox with rubber bands around it.
Here's the thing: I'm not taking points away from the band for any of this. I know for a fact that they do not sound like this normally. I honestly feel like the venue cared more about volume than clarity of the mix. If I'm all the way at the back of the venue, away from the speakers, my ears should not be numb when I leave as though I was standing in the front row the whole night. I have seen variations on this setlist numerous times now since Ellefson's return to the band and not once have they had a bad night. There are, however, two things that I'm slightly disappointed with: 1) it was Black Friday and they did not play "Good Mourning/Black Friday," which, to me, just seemed like an appropriate song to play, and 2) the only new song I've heard live since Super Collider came out has been "Kingmaker." While I know it's the big single from the album, there are other tracks on there that really should get the live treatment.
Overall, the show wasn't bad as far as Metal shows go. It's just very disappointing that a venue that was recently renovated would have such an awful sound for such a huge band. For a complete setlist for Megadeth, check it out HERE.
For more photos from this show and others, visit DIGImmortal Photo.