It’s generally frowned upon to upstage the main act.
And, yet, that’s exactly what happened Wednesday night when Los Angeles-based metal band In This Moment opened for Disturbed at Spokane Arena as part of the “Evolution” worldwide tour.
Equal parts shocking and exhilarating, the night hit an early climax right about the time lead singer Maria Brink – channeling every ounce of influence possible from the stage presence and bravado of Alice Cooper – climbed to the top of a podium lovingly emblazoned with “Whore” in giant red letters as a trio of women dressed as characters from “The Handmaid’s Tale” hung their head in a three-piece wooden stock.
Brink sang the entirety of the song “Whore” from the top rung of her platform. With lyrics hell-bent on proving that women – yes, even the ones covered in tattoos – can, and will, amount to anything they put their minds to, she made sure the crowd was in the proper headspace for a metal show.
“I am the dirt you created, I am your sinner and your whore,” she sang. “But let me tell you something baby, you love me, you want me, you need me.”
And before that, she sang hidden under a black sheet as a series of arms and legs slithered out in unison with the music. And before that, wrapped in white, like a bride from hell. Fitting, too, since the quintet dressed the entire stage in a set made to look more Halloween play than music show – giant black church included.
And it all worked spectacularly.
“Are you feeling bloody this evening?” Brink asked the crowd before moving into one of the band’s more popular tracks, “Blood,” released in 2012. The children in the concrete pit didn’t seem to mind when she screamed the chorus: “Blood, blood, blood, pump mud through my veins, I’m a dirty, dirty girl, I want it filthy.”
That’s not to say Disturbed didn’t come prepared to rock with nearly three decades of experience to pull from for the performance.
The metal/hard rock band formed in 1994 and has weathered an evolving and deadly rock landscape guilty of claiming multiple musicians – from Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington to Stone Temple Pilots’ Scott Weiland – to suicide and overdose.
That fact wasn’t lost on them, either, as vocalist David Draiman stopped multiple times throughout the concert to talk about mental health and suicide. On the giant TV wall behind him, the number to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline was displayed often.
With such a long music career, Disturbed, formed in Chicago, has had time to rack up quite the discography, with a handful of hits enjoying mainstream air time.
Most of that success came in the early-to-mid 2000s, however, and that was apparent given the amount of millennials and Generation Xers in the crowd still ready and willing to rock out with the musicians pushing 50.
Disturbed opened with a short videomontage before moving quickly into 2002’s “Prayer.” While In This Moment was there to dazzle, wow and maybe shock the nearly full arena, Disturbed was there to deliver a more traditional, yet still damn good rock show.
And they mostly succeeded. While their discography can sound a bit similar, especially in a nearly 2-hour-long show, the band played with such energy and fervor that it was difficult to believe they are half a century old.
When the music stopped, Draiman would walk around solo, only a microphone accompanying him, while the band behind him prepared for the next set piece. He spoke some about politics and how they “divide,” but mostly about love and unity.
“We love anyone here,” he said. “And everyone.”
The biggest moment of the night for them – pre-encore, which we’ll get to – came right before they left the stage.
For 2008’s “Inside the Fire,” flaming balls of what looked like fire hose uncurled and came cascading down from the ceiling, where they were met onstage by flames bursting out from the ground.
Then it was on to their most recent megahit, a cover version of Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence.”
Draiman – whose distinct vocal style works perfectly well for the break-neck pace of nu metal – made the song his own when he released the recorded version in 2016.
Live, it was no different – slower than the original, Draiman was able to showcase his range in a way many metal songs simply don’t allow.
There was plenty for the other band members to do, too. They all moved up on the stage, guitarist Dan Donegan pressing away at keys on a piano while drummer Mike Wengren pounded on standing drums. All the while, sparks rained from the ceiling against a black backdrop on the TV wall.
And then, suddenly, it was all over. But not really – anyone who’s ever gotten up, and then gotten down, with illness knew there was something missing.
It turns out there were three things missing. After coming back onstage after almost an hour and a half of playing, Draiman said Spokane was “putting out some kind of energy tonight” before launching into three additional songs.
The second of which was 2005’s “Stricken.” All fine and well, until the final tack of the night.
To no one’s surprise, it was their seminal hit “Down With the Sickness,” a hard rock classic with as much staying power as any rock song released this century.
But before playing another note, Draiman first invited two teenage girls and their mother up to the stage. They came decked head-to-toe in Disturbed gear, including face paint.
It turned out one of the girls was a Disturbed stage-sharing pro – she was selected to jam out with them three years ago in Seattle.
“What are the chances,” Draiman said, amazed that he’d selected the same girl twice. “The odds must be like 1 in 3 million.”
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