REVIEW: OTEP at Trees on Friday night

Posted on 05 Jul 2011 at 4:10pm

It took five openers, four-and-a half-hours and one water break to get to OTEP Friday night at Trees, but it was worth the wait. OTEP didn’t go onstage until close to midnight, making me wonder if the whole show was a joke, the punch line being the band not actually going on. Every opening band gave them a shout-out, causing uproarious commotion from the crowd, so surely OTEP would be on soon.

Finally, it was so.

Her performance was energetic and intense, and smoke machines and strobe lights added hard rock panache. As the headliner, Otep Shamaya and gang didn’t disappoint with an extravagant showing and the audience ate it up. The mosh pit grew so massive there was hardly a spot to stand at the stage without getting knocked into someone every 10 seconds.

Openers One-Eyed Doll and Sister Sin also had female leads. However, the lead from One-Eyed Doll’s vocals got lost in her frantic screaming and guitar playing. She claimed to have problems with her audio and that it wasn’t her voice, even though she “sounds like a smurf.”

During the songs where I could comprehend her singing, sometimes I wished I couldn’t. Her non-growling vocals were both amateurish in tonal quality and nearly incomprehensible due to her “audio problems.” Her performance value came from her hat-switching act between songs and the way she flirted with the audience. At best, she was cute.

The first opener (who was not listed on the website and I didn’t get their name) was quite phenomenal. I loved their hair-whipping energy (not the Willow Smith kind), I wasn’t a fan of being repeatedly spat on by the bass player, who swigged from his water bottle and showered the audience. Other fans screamed and cheered while I ducked.

Sister Sin was exotic and enchanting. The Swedish metal band brought a stylistic stage show with their music — namely, the different ways the lead singer managed to play with the microphone cord. She swung it like a lasso, unplugged the cord, quickly fixed it and shook her head in chagrin. They claimed audio problems also, but this was more of a gimmick to get the audience to scream — and it worked. With stunningly beautiful lead singer’s pale skin, black leather, mid-drift revealing outfit, ebony hair and dark tattoos, it’s no wonder Sister Sin is on tour with OTEP.

I’ve listened to Destrophy for a while on Sirius XM Octane. They turned out to be my favorite part of the openers. If you’re into super beefy guitar players with buzz cuts, then check out lead singer and guitarist Ari Mihalopoulos, whom I have affectionately nicknamed “The Juggernaut.” His muscular body and terrifying growls both intimidated and intrigued me. I wouldn’t want to meet him in a dark alley, but I would love to see him again.

As Blackguard finished the line of openers, the mosh pit had swollen to maximum capacity. It’s hard to hold a camera steady when people are being repeatedly shoved into you. Luckily, the lesbian couple in front of me didn’t mind me crashing into them a few dozen times before I gave up and watched the rest of the show from the bar.

Blackguard egged on the audience into a competitive streak by talking up the size of Houston’s pits. Dallasites tried to live up to the challenge. I tend to like my metal less frantic, but their energy was contagious and I found myself nodding along. I can’t say they were my favorite technical band, but they got the crowd riled up for OTEP, so I suppose they should have that much credit.

OTEP’s sound was distinctively different from the openers. While they were a cacophony of crashing symbols and animalistic growling, Shamaya retained a quality that showcased a perfect blend of choreographed head banging with her guitar players. She went soft with her vocals while the guitar toned down for some gentler picking, yet the thumping bass appropriately accompanied her guttural screaming.

The show kept me entertained and luckily uninjured. Trees has some great security guys. They were surprisingly nice to me. I think it was because of my fancy press badge (they even remembered my name), and the bartender let me loiter around for the last hour without making me buy more than one bottle of water. Sweet.

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