Review: Team Cybergeist goes live at Bourbon Street
1. This was to be the industrial metal semi-supergroup's second-ever concert, following a show Friday night in Fort Lauderdale, and crazy things can happen when a band is so new to the stage.
2. I was going to be in New Port Richey anyway.
Beacuse let's face it, if you don't live in North Pinellas or West Pasco, getting to New Port Richey is a hike and a half. This is a shame, because Bourbon Street is truly an excellent balls-out hard rock club, spacious and comfortable and spacious and rocking and full of things that rock.
Oh, and did I mention that this is a rock club?
Seriously, you cannot look in any direction at Bourbon Street without being reminded that you are there to have your ass rocked. Everyone's in black. The stage is surrounded with chain-link railing. Every wall is slathered with rock posters* and beer signage. The overhead plays Billy Idol, Judas Priest and Pearl Jam -- raw rock, no hipsterism, just a lot of effing old-school metal. I cannot be certain, but I think someone puked in one of the urinals.
How hardcore is Bourbon Street? On the sidewalk outside the club, I counted two dead butterflies and one dead frog.
That is hardcore.
Not only is Bourbon Street a hardcore rock club, it is located in the hardest-core strip mall in Tampa Bay. Among its neighbors: A hip-hop barbershop, an urban clothier, a tattoo parlor, what looks like it used to be a biker supply store, and an all-night lounge that serves an energy drink called Cocaine.
This made it a perfect place for Team Cybergeist to make its local debut.
Team Cybergeist is a studio project headed by Angel Bartolotta, who grew up in Tampa and lives in North Port, and now drums for metal festival favorites Dope. I met him at a heavy metal wedding a few weeks ago, though we had exchanged e-mails before that. And I was curious to see how his brainchild -- an industrial metal album made from contributions from some 60 musicians all over the world -- would translate live.
Bartolotta recruited a handful of musicians for the live show: James Breed of Crossbreed and Jess Diablo on vocals; History of Violence's Mode and Spyder Z. Prime of PsyKill on guitar, and PsyKill's Sally Debauchery on bass.
Team Cybergeist wasn't the only band on the bill to feature a female bassist. The first would be Fort Lauderdale's Human Factors Lab, whose well-executed brand of hyper-aggro metal (so many swears!) was tempered with enough gothic synths and sound effects that the end effect was enjoyably groovable. Their bassist performed while wearing a nail-studded face mask, like so:
Then it was time for Team Cybergeist. Bartolotta took the stage first, just sitting behind the kit, then launching into a thundrous, galloping intro to the band's set.
Throughout the set (10 songs or so), Breed and Diablo took turns on the mic. The creatively pigtailed/dreadlocked** Breed was the more eff-you metal type, performing the band's louder, more straight-ahead rock tracks. He's a pretty polished frontman, so he did most of the talking from the stage, introducing the band and everything.
But Diablo, a sexy, spunky little spitfire of a singer, brought just as much energy to the set, if not more. Her songs -- which on Team Cybergeist's record were originally sung by artists like Kittie's Morgan Lander -- had more of a goth-industrial feel, especially on songs like Crash and Burn and Radiation Romance. At one point she hopped up on some tall speakers to sing, and at another, she did the robot. Cute.
I'm happy (sad?) to report that this newish band endured no mid-set meltdowns and/or screwups, not that this came as a surprise. They're all professionals. The set's best moment, for sure, came at the end, when they closed with a cover of Nine Inch Nails' Head Like a Hole. Even I knew the words to that one. Awesome.
There was one more band after Team Cybergeist, an '80s-goth-style Tampa duo called Culture of Greed. Apparently founder Jim Walker has been around the scene for a long time now, but I'd never heard of him or them, and I have to say, I was kind of stunned at how great they were. Very Cure, very Echo and the Bunnymen, very Cocteau Twins. A couple of songs sounded like they could have been actual goth hits from 1987.
Bourbon Street cut them off after about six songs (WTF?), but I stayed to hear them all.
Trust me, that's high praise. After all, I was in New Port Richey. I still had a 45-minute drive home.
Next up in The 50-50 Club: Plain White T's, June 24, Jannus Landing, St. Petersburg.
-- Jay Cridlin, tbt*
* However, one corner of Bourbon Street is decorated with autographed 8x10's and ticket stubs from artists who have played there, including -- I kid you not -- Juice Newton.