Hollywood Undead

support Icon For Hire
author PP date 14/11/14 venue Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DEN

I used to listen to all sorts of crappy music during my teenage years before experiencing the musical equivalent of enlightenment and discovered the very obvious divide between music written by people out of passion and artificial productions designed for no other purpose than to shift dollars from people to the music industry. But even though the Limp Bizkits of my youth were (are) pretty awful from a musical stand point, I've only recently discovered just how bad today's youth have it with bands like Hollywood Undead and Blood On The Dancefloor literally breaking new ground in terms of how outrageously terrible you can be and still attract millions and millions of people worldwide to your music. On a scale of 1 to 10 where Hollywood Undead are an automatic 1 in any reasonable music fan's mind, Limp Bizkit would virtually break the top end of the scale because at least they wrote some pretty catchy tunes despite their IQ mocking lyrical content. Tonight, I'm en route to a sold out Pumpehuset with an open mind to give Hollywood Dead a chance because, after all, they might still put on a mindlessly fun show if you turn off your brains completely and enjoy the ride. After all, it can only get better if your starting point is an assumption of worst live experience in a decade-long reviewing career.

Icon For Hire

Icon For Hire

Icon For Hire are a female fronted electronic rock band that basically sound like someone took Paramore's annoying vocalist Hayley Williams, asked her to do some hip hop sections, and copy/pasted an electronic backing track and some guitar distortion on top of that. It took about two song's worth of Icon For Hire on stage before I decided this band is quite possibly EVEN WORSE than Hollywood Undead, not because of their music but rather because of how artificial and fake everything about this band is in their stage show. Their singer Ariel injects so much crowd control and showmanship into their set that it feels like it's pouring out of her every orifice, and what's worse, her style of talking to the crowd feels like she's talking down on the kids instead of meeting them on their level. It's such a stark contrast from having been at FEST two weeks ago where every single band playing was real and down-to-earth instead of putting on a ridiculous stage persona like Ariel is wearing throughout the set. There's a moment where she is helped into an open straightjacket to demonstrate how 'crazy' she is but it just feels tacky and weird to be honest. And whenever the hip-hop sections arrive, I can't help but think back to just how much better Sonic Boom Six are at doing similar urban sections that don't feel like they were just copy/pasted there for no reason whatsoever. But despite all of my preconceptions about the band and their music, the crowd is waving along, helping sing some woohoo sections, even playing along to a lame competition of who can move the most to a song to win a t-shirt. I'm not sure why - the whole thing feels superficial and cliché, especially with the constant backing track action where even basic drum sections are coming off tape instead of their drummer performing them himself. This band is awful, don't go see them.

2

Hollywood Undead

Hollywood Undead

The lights dim and shouts of "UNDEAD" surround the venue in echoing sing along as the band enters stage wearing their gimmick #1, the Slipknot-inspired masks that range from a luminescent gas masks to demonic expressions and a fencing mask. The band immediately follow the song with "Tendencies" and "Been To Hell", at which point I start wondering whether it is really necessary to sport four vocalists on stage, especially when the vocals are so low in the mix that it's difficult to identify who's who with the exception of the Chester Bennington style clean melodies. At the same time there are distinct bass guitar sounds blasting off the speakers but a bass player is nowhere to be found so this is clearly coming off a backing track. That doesn't make any sense because every few songs Johnny 3 Tears actually picks up the bass and plays a few notes. Why not do it the whole show? Seems pointless to me. Either way, the first few songs are heavily hip hop oriented and, to be honest, Hollywood Undead aren't good rappers just as they aren't good at writing rock melodies, so against quality hip hop this stuff just doesn't stand. For a reference point we can take Cypress Hill's rock-based "Skull & Bones" double disc which was excellent in its rock part that combined hip hop much in the same way as Hollywood Undead are attempting to do here.

Eventually the masks are dropped in favour of bandanas and sunglasses which are worn pretty much throughout the night because, let us all remember, it is far more important to look cool than it is to actually see anything inside. At this point it dawns upon me that Hollywood Undead are actually playing a decent show with all things considered, and feel like a real band on so many other levels than Icon For Hire just before them. Sure, the music is still terrible, but at least they air the better and less offensively bad material from their discography so it's actually tolerable. "California" sees the whole crowd jumping up-and-down whilst one of the vocalists is literally flexing his guns on stage for our amusement, so it looks like the crowd (mostly under 18 year olds) is having a blast, even though the sing alongs are much smaller than I had expected for such a popular band.

Hollywood Undead - looking a lot like THE HELL?

For "Comin' In Hot", they bring a fan on stage and ask him to make a speech to the crowd. The fan, visibly shaken but not taking any of this, is given the mic and he simply asks the crowd "Would you like to see his weenie?", pointing at one of the Hollywood Undead guys on stage. "Well, that fucking backfired", he says when the mic is returned to him, and the crowd erupts in laughter. The fan stays on stage for the whole song engaged in rather impressive hip hop dancing sequence on a platform that prompts the band to shout "Holy shit you might actually lose your virginity tonight after those moves". Interaction like this is present throughout the show, and it's refreshing to be able to say that the band actually have a decent amount of humour.

"Bullet" arrives in a Hawaiian theme with beach-like melodies and ska/reggae vibes, which is a complete surprise to me because it's a very weird contrast to the rap rock of everything else we've been hearing. It's difficult to believe Hollywood Undead are capable of writing a song like this because it's actually pretty good and defies the horrific misogyny and offensive nature of some of their worst crunkcore songs. From here onwards, the venue is swallowed in big sing alongs for "Young", "We Are" and of course the most known song "Everywhere I Go" which arrives after the encore. Here, the crowd is singing along to the lyrics even before the band get back on stage - a neat feat that shows just how much people care for this song.

Hollywood Undead

Throughout the evening the vocals have been rather muted in the mix, which makes sense to me because the lyrics are so transparently bad that if you actually listened to them instead of just the melodies, there should be no way anyone would actually be buying tickets to go to a Hollywood Undead show. Still, as much as I'd like to kill this band via my review, I can't do so objectively because despite the set's shortcomings, it's impressively real and honest with all things being considered. I didn't expect those words to ever be connected with Hollywood Undead. That being said, it's still blatantly obvious that everyone is here for a couple of hit singles based on the lack-of-response to the songs especially in the middle of their set. And that's for a reason - the songs simply aren't very good, and other than doing hip hop moves on stage, not much is happening of interest that would justify a louder response from the crowd. Overall, not a total waste of time, but let's just all agree to listen to something else than this band on record.

Setlist:

  • 1. Undead
  • 2. Tendencies
  • 3. Been to Hell
  • 4. Dead Bite
  • 5. Kill Everyone
  • 6. City
  • 7. California
  • 8. From the Ground
  • 9. Delish
  • 10. Comin' in Hot
  • 11. Up In Smoke
  • 12. Bullet
  • 13. Day of the Dead
  • 14. Another Way Out
  • 15. Young
  • 16. We Are
  • --Encore--
  • 17. Everywhere I Go
  • 18. Hear Me Now

Photos by: Lykke Nielsen

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