Review / photos: Otep leads a female-fronted metal revival at the State Theatre in St. Petersburg
Saturday was a gloomy day with scattered showers. This must have been nature’s way of foreshadowing the Otep show that evening at The State Theatre.
The lineup was lengthy, including Dark Summer, One Eyed Doll, Sister Sin, Destrophy, Blackguard, and finally Otep, above. And while musically speaking, the show was full of content, the crowd’s response included scattered showers of applause, jeers, and “next please” for a few of these acts.
An interesting note to this show was the involvement of powerful female talent, which showed that women can metal out just as much as men. And while I do not have the room in this review to go through every act that played, I must mention some of the bands that really stood out, and could have headlined their own show.
First: One Eyed Doll from Austin, Texas See this band! I really enjoyed the theatrical style of this two person act. Makeup-clad drummer Jason “Junior” Sewell and guitarist/vocalist Kimberly Freeman shocked the crowd with their powerful metal-meets-Annie sound. It was power and unexpected rage from the small duo with the petite female vocalist. As their Facebook page states, it’s Gwar meets Strawberry Shortcake.
I underestimated the power that these two would throw at St. Pete. Freeman even entered the stacked audience with her corded guitar and not only started a mosh pit, but gave her guitar to a spectator so she could throw some fist with the crowd. People literally stood there watching with their mouths open, as did I. Freeman also grabbed a male audience member and took to slapping him in the face heavily while the crowd cheered for an encore. She then threw herself on Junior’s drum set, smashing it to the stage. Later that evening I found the drum set in pieces behind the State Theatre Dumpster. I could write an entire article and review of this band ... wait ... I think I just did!
The second power female of the night came in the form of Sister Sin from Sweden. The female vocalist, Liv Jagrell, led this group with a Judas Preist buzzsaw. Jagrell, wearing a black corset, powered through her vocals and kept heads bobbing and fists pumping. If you enjoy late-’80s metal, you will enjoy this band.
While no superwoman was in the next band, Destrophy is worth discussing. While they were not as heavy as most of the earlier acts, they were musically tight and the sound was right on. Vocalist Ari Mihalopoulos has a very wide tone range and they had the stage presence of a Los Angeles act. This rock/metal mix gives the impression that they’re an up and coming talent.
My next talented female is from the metal band Blackguard. Kim Gosselin is one of the best female metal drummers I’ve seen. Blackguard, from Montreal, tore up the stage with their heavy, pounding, old-roots metal. They were the fastest band of the night, with Gosselin showing double bass isn’t just a guy thing. They get the biggest mosh pit award, and even got a handful of stage divers.
And finally, on to our closing act, Otep. The tired crowd still gave Otep a St. Petersburg welcome, but what struck me as odd was that Otep Shamaya, vocalist and obvious founding member of the band, didn’t seem to happy to see her fans. Her first order of business onstage was to to argue with the lighting guy, directing him to turn up the lights, then turn down the lights. She eventually got to business opening with Eat The Children.
Another interesting observation: Her entire supporting band was Destrophy, using them as her tour band. I was pretty impressed with how tight the fill-in guys were, and I’m not sure if anyone in the crowd cared. It seemed everyone was in attendance to see Shamaya throw out her pop-geared rhymes to the ever-so-enthusiastic fans.
This latest Otep tour comes with the release of their new CD, Atavist (Victory Records April 2011), and Shamaya made a point of asking who was buying it and who was stealing it.
Her show was decent overall, including a cover of Nirvana’s Breed (see video here). But I felt there was some energy lacking in her performance. She mingled with the crowd. She made jokes and went through her set with a par performance, and at one point told the audience she could go back to her tour bus and read a book. The performance just wasn’t what I had hoped for. This was my first time seeing Otep, and maybe I just missed the boat on her personality, but I felt as if she was asking the audience to scream at the top of their lungs after each song ... and they just weren’t.
After 10 songs, playing Blood Pigs last, Shamaya exited stage left without much acknowledgement to the crowd. Her audience stood waiting for an encore but there was none. I heard a young female fan give an overwhelming “You have got to be kidding me ... ” but yes, that was it. The lights came on, and it was obvious at that point there was no encore. I heard some people say Shamaya’s voice was not feeling up to the tones of the planned encore, Rise Rebel Resist.
Overall, the night was long and packed with good music. The evening’s talented women were well worth the ticket cost alone. Oprah would be proud of her ladies. I hope there were some inspired young female artists in attendance. For Otep’s sake, get some sleep and rest up for the next gig.
-- Review / photos by Andrew Carlton, tbt*