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After at least a year’s worth of buzz and anticipation, Dead Cross made its live debut to a packed house at the Observatory on Thursday night, giving fans a taste of the inner frustration and anger that fueled the music- a potent mix of caustic hardcore punk and thrash with small doses of experimental melodies that stand out among the dissonance and distortion. The band features legendary former Slayer/Philm drummer Dave Lombardo along with guitarists Justin Pearson and Michael Crain. Also among its ranks, Dead Cross contains the iconic singer Mike Patton (Faith No More, Mr. Bungle, Fantomas, Tomahawk, Dillinger Escape Plan), who gives the band its one-of-a-kind voice.
Since Lombardo’s time with Slayer came to an end in 2016, he has kept busy. Currently, aside from his work with Dead Cross, he is the drummer for Suicidal Tendencies and the reunited version of the Misfits. But, these two touring acts do not take away from the intensity, ferocity, brutality of the music Dead Cross creates.
Fans of Patton and Lombardo were on board with the sped up heaviness of Dead Cross, even before any music was released or any shows were booked, but by the reaction of fans in Santa Ana during the Dead Cross performance, the wait was worth it. Considering the status of Patton and Lombardo, both veterans of the rock/metal world, having played in front of millions of fans world wide, this was a very fun fan experience to witness a band with such high caliber musicians in an intimate setting such as The Observatory.
Patton was a Tasmanian Devil on stage, sporadic and full of rage, speed, and musical passion as usual. His energy paired well with and the rage and aggression could be heard and felt from the powerhouse, larger than life drumming style that Lombardo is known for. You could not just hear the drums but feel the drum beats in your chest and knees, Lombardo made the walls and floor of the Observatory vibrate with his insane drumming skills.
Fans were pumped and pitting for most of the performance, as Patton flailed and yelled the lyrics running around the stage, as the music and its underlying notes and echoes filled the venue walls. What makes Dead Cross unique is the approach. It is sporadic and unpredictable, in your face and at short times abstract, with Patton using different vocal styles and a unique set of microphones, one made out of a walkie talkie.
About Half way through the set, Patton exclaimed, “Not bad for a couple of old guys eh? Well maybe me and him (pointing to Lombardo), but these two guys are spring chickens," he said, referring to Pearson and Crain. The songs are fast as Hell, and though slightly laced with hints of noise, the mission of the music is to pummel you in the face with heaviness and precision using a blatant mix of revived hardcore and thrash elements. Judging from the reaction of fans in Santa Ana, Dead Cross has a lively future on the touring scene ahead of itself.
Opening the show were two acts. Semi-musically inclined comedian Neil Hamburger was up first and initially sang with an acoustic guitar in a very odd sounding voice that was part of the act. Living up to his odd name, Hamburger was odd, bizarre and seemed uncomfortable the whole time, clearing his throat excessively(and on purpose), asking lame knock knock jokes and holding two drinks at once. His voice was excessively raspy and annoying, surely part of his act.
His jokes were weird, and half of his set was dedicated to ranting about what a piece of shit Gene Simmons from Kiss was. Though it was clear he was balding, he had long strands of wet greasy hair that seemed to be stuck to his scalp in a disturbing manner. At times, several drunk hecklers kept laughing and egging Hamburger on, but things didn’t get too out of control. In an attempt to get some last minute laughter out of the crowd, Hamburger made several tasteless jokes about late Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington, Eric Clapton, and the band 311. The one joke that did get some legitimate laughs was an insult towards the music of Fred Durst and Limp Bizkit, before exiting the stage.
After Hamburger, hip hop duo H09909 (pronounced ‘Horror) took the stage with a totally non-traditional musical approach. With the exceptional and extremely energetic live drummer Ian Longwell, vocalists the OGM and Eaddy take the normal way hip hop is made and throw it out the window. Using very heavy beats, samples, and noises, the underlying music is beats based but also heavily doused in the sounds of punk, hardcore, metal, death rock, and industrial to accompany an aggressive form of rap music. This is innovative and new, and fans loved the genetic expression the music conveyed. Imagine a musical sound that has traces of Ministry, Bad Brains, Rammstein, DMX, and Busta Rhymes.