CONCERT REVIEW: Mudvayne – Coal Chamber – GWAR – Nonpoint – Butcher Babies Live at Freedom Mortgage Pavilion


 

For a little over a week now, a mini festival of sorts has been touring the east coast and on Saturday night it descended on the Freedom Mortgage Pavilion in Camden, New Jersey. Five bands touring together are assaulting amphitheaters with a roughly five-hour show, much to the delight of the Metal community. Butcher Babies, Nonpoint, GWAR, Coal Chamber, and Mudvayne have combined forces and take everyone away from the mundane for a night. The result is five hours of music that starts at a high level of intensity and just builds from there.

 

The Freedom Mortgage Pavilion is a Live Nation Property and sits in Camden, New Jersey on the banks of the Delaware River. Looking across the river, there is a magnificent view of the Philadelphia skyline on the other side. Seating for about 7000 plus another 18,488 as general admission lawn seating.

The previous night’s show of Godsmack was canceled midway due to severe thunderstorms and lightning nearby and the weather for Saturday looked to be about the same. Oppressively hot and humid was the order of the day but a breeze coming up the river kept everything manageable.

Everyone filed in hoping that there wouldn’t be a repeat and the show started promptly at 5:30 with Butcher Babies.

 

Huge fans of Wendy O Williams and the Plasmatics and taking their name from a Plasmatics song, Butcher Babies is appropriately fronted by two women, Heidi Shepherd, and Carla Harvey. They took the stage evoking Harley Quinn and Talia al Ghul and played an energetic set to the somewhat sparse crowd that was still filling in. Taking the effort to look anywhere other than at those two would produce views of a drummer Chase Brickenden flipping and twirling his sticks as he kept the beat going. Those who were there from the beginning were treated to an all-too-short set of some great metal and expert showmanship. The crowd was pumped up and ready for more.

Never miss the opener. They often become headliners and you can say I was there when….

 

Every band is saddled with labels made up by critics and reviewers who struggle to describe the nuances of their sound. Nonpoint has been described as Nu-Metal, Alternative Metal, Hard Rock, and Rap-Rock. There might be some basis for that last one as their performance consisted of a staccato delivery of lyrics reminiscent of some early rappers. Bouncing in unison and spinning on stage, left their dreads flying in every direction and made for an energetic performance. The third song of the set, ‘A Million Watts’, accurately describes the stage show put on by Nonpoint. Lead vocalist, Elias Soriano spoke to the growing crowd between songs and was clearly enjoying himself.

Another set came to an end and the skies started to darken with a coming storm. The stage crew scrambled to cover the stage and equipment with plastic and fans in white flocked to the pit. This could only mean that GWAR was about to take the stage.

The death of lead singer David Brockie (Oderus Urungus) has left the band with no remaining founding members and they are more like a franchise now. In truth, it doesn’t matter who is in the costume because the over-the-top performance is the point. Grotesque costumes and blood spatter take center stage and the music is almost there just to punctuate the act.

As GWAR played, photographers scrambled out of the spray zone and fans scrambled in. The wind whipped and the rain came down sideways. Lawn seats had not been sold so everyone was under cover but staying dry required finding a sweet spot between the band and the rain. Insulting the crowd and even killing a local fan who won a contest on stage GWAR used every moment of their set to play up their theatrical performance. Even the techs were dressed as a chimp, a cavewoman, and some kind of cross between a bondage slave and Jaba the Hutt’s rancor keeper as they ferried props, instruments, and band members on and off the stage. By the time GWAR was done, the rain had stopped, the sun had come out, and a rainbow appeared, almost providing a palate cleanser for the next act.

 

With the evening in full swing Coal Chamber took to the stage in front of a now red-tinted crowd. The band has been inactive for a few years and recently got together to play at the Sick New World festival in Las Vegas earlier this year and became a part of this tour after. This band hasn’t missed a beat and those in attendance were clearly glad to be a part of the show. Frontman and singer Dez Fafara lead the charge opening with ‘Loco’ and didn’t slow down from there. ‘Big Truck’ was a fan favorite and by the time the set ended with ‘Sway’ everyone was on their feet screaming along. All the while, bassist Nadja Peulen proved that there is a clear place for women in metal; dancing and swaying with the beat she and drummer Mike Cox set the tempo and ruled the night.

After a few minutes, the stage was set with a huge curtain covering the front with a color-changing logo prominently in the center. A few notes in and the curtain dropped away to reveal the band with drummer Matthew McDonough perched high above the stage on a pyramid riser and red banners with the same logo hung behind him. Ryan Martinie playing a complicated 5-string bass and Greg Tribbett playing guitar flanked the stage while singer Chad Gray launched into ‘Not Falling’. Wearing what can only be described as nightmarish post-apocalyptic clown makeup, Mudvayne had immediately captured the crowd and never let go.

 

If ever there was a man destined to front a metal band, Chad Gray is it. He spent a large portion of the show against the barrier and almost in the crowd, at one point falling back and being supported by the audience. Constant interaction and stories of how the metal community was more of a family and respect for each other is the norm, kept everyone rapt with attention. During ‘World So Cold’ everyone was encouraged to take out their phones and light up the theater. The result was a hauntingly beautiful scene as noted by Gray himself. The energy level picked up and a steady stream of crowd surfers emerged. Cheers to the security staff who made sure everyone who made it to the front was put back on their feet safely and then helped back into the crowd. The show continued with Mudvayne’s signature time changes and complicated rhythms, culminating in Gray diving into the audience and grinning ear to ear as he sang ‘Happy?’.

Nobody walked away disappointed and over five hours of music was well worth the price of admission. The tour continues on from here to the midwest and west coast ending in a show on 08/25 in West Valley City, Utah. If you find an appearance near you don’t think, go. If not, travel to one you like. You will not be disappointed.

 

Mudvayne set list:

Not Falling

Under My Skin

Internal Primates Forever

World So Cold

A New Game

Severed

Death Blooms

Fish Out of Water

Dull Boy

Nothing to Gein

Dig

Happy?

 

 

WRITTEN BY MATTHEW KOCHEK

PHOTOS BY KIM HANSEN @PHARMADIVER