Exactly one week after the release of Hollywood Undead’s new album, Notes From the Underground, what they were calling The Underground Tour, made a stop at Chicago’s Bottom Lounge on January 15. If you have never seen Hollywood Undead before, you’re in for a fun ride. Not only is this music a combination of hip hop and rock, each band member has his own trademark mask, which happened to be brand new for this tour. On top of that, at some point or another during the night, each band member had his turn on vocals and other band members also traded off playing various instruments. Hollywood Undead kept their show going non-stop and there was always something to pay attention to on stage.
From time to time, when I‘m at a show, I am amazed at how dedicated fans are of certain bands. Hollywood Undead has those fans. The Chicago crowd was singing every song all night and not just the choruses, but every verse as well. I couldn’t help but notice the expression on the faces of those up front as they sang the songs back to the band. For this SOLD OUT all ages crowd, this was definitely their band. Prior to the show starting, I noticed various fans also wore their own homemade masks or bandanas with hoodies, hats and sunglasses, which of course was their way of representing the various band members.
There was no opening band, so the night got started right away with Undead, one of the biggest hits from their first album, Swan Songs. With the blue and red lights engulfing the stage and crowd, one thing stood out right way. Certain band member’s masks lit up and I have to admit, this was cool as hell!
Johnny 3 Tears, in my opinion, had the coolest mask of them all. Blue in color, there was an intricate reptilian design that appeared to be etched into the mask. His trademark #3 lit up in white light on the right side of his mask while an orange filigree design lit up on the left side. J-Dog’s mask showed the most light as his eyes glowed orange and the gas mask like attachments were full of pure white light. Da Kurlzz had a mask with a horror theme of a twisted face that was half white and half red with a white light stripe down the middle. While Danny’s mask did not light up, the gold chiseled features of the face, gave him a god like statuesque appearance unlike Funny Man who wearing a skin tight face mask that reminded me of a Mexican wrestler. Last but not least, even though Charlie Scene does not wear a mask, he was wearing his namesake bandana, sunglasses, baseball hat and hoodie. The only person on stage without a mask was touring drummer Daren Pfeifer.
With their masks still on, they continued with Tendencies and Been to Hell from their second album, American Tragedy. The crowd ate up all the energy the band was giving out. Before playing Dead Bite, a song from their new album, all band members removed their masks. Now they were just regular, and some heavily tattooed, guys on stage, giving their fans a show they would be talking about for days to come. The excitement level in the room was off the charts. Between band members and fans, I can’t imagine anyone left disappointed.
Hollywood Undead’s songs are more than just pre-programmed music. You had Daren playing a standard drum kit all night, and beating the hell out them I might add. Then there was Da Kurlzz playing his electric drum pads and plenty of cymbals pretty much the whole night while his hair was flying and head banging to the beat. With songs that were a little heavier rock vs hip hop, you also had the addition of Charlie Scene and Danny trading off on electric guitar and even J-Dog playing both guitar and bass. J-Dog and Danny also took turns with the keyboard/programming duties. All night, song after song, you basically had six MCs trading off lyrics and rhymes and the flow was pretty flawless. Even though the night started off pretty heavy, it eventually led into songs that had more of a hip hop vibe like Bottle and a Gun, California and Comin In Hot.
Eventually they slowed it down a bit with My Town but it was the song Bullet that brought an acoustic guitar to the stage. With Charlie Scene on acoustic and Danny sitting on a bar stool with an electric guitar, the crowd was singing almost as loud as the band. Towards the end of the song, Charlie Scene called out, “Let’s see if you know this part.” Without missing a single cue, the crowd immediately starting singing,
“I wish that I could fly
Way up in the sky
Like a bird so high
Oh, I might just try
I wish that I could fly
Way up in the sky
Like a bird so high
Oh, I might just try
Oh, I might just try”
Charlie Scene even held out the mic to fans in the front row to give each of them a turn to sing. Once the song was over, with his fist pumping in the air he yelled out, “That was fucking sick! That fucking rocked!” Clearly he was impressed with the crowd participation.
The night continued with a pretty even mix of songs from their first two albums including Paradise Lost that Johnny 3 Tears dedicated to the Troops overseas. Another Way Out, the second new song of the night, was a combination of rock, rap and dance. This enticed fans towards the back of the venue to engage in a mosh free for all. A couple of the guys mentioned how much they loved to play in Chicago and even recognized some fans from other shows they had played. There were lots of hand shakes and fist bumps all night as well. Mother Murder, from the deluxe version of American Tragedy, was also part of the set. Always nice when a bonus song is played live. The night eventually came to a close with Young and Hear Me Now. Both with huge anthem style choruses that once again, had the crowd signing loud and clear.
The band left the stage for a few minutes and the venue went dark. It wasn’t long before you could hear Charlie Scene off stage speak the line “Everywhere I go…” and the fans immediately sang the rest of the verse. As he repeated it again, you could hear him laugh, but again, the fans finished the verse. The music started, bright white lights came up and the band came back out on stage to the fans singing the song. Eventually Charlie Scene had everyone waving their arms back and forth as the song continued. No matter your thoughts on the lyrics, the music is what really gets into your system. Their almost hour and a half set ended with one last song from the new album, We Are. Once again, there was full crowd participation with signing and fists pumping in the air.
The band said their thanks and left the stage. I couldn’t help but overhear nothing but positive comments about the show. I know it’s a combination of a lot of things, but more times than not, there’s something about these small venue shows that really make it something special.