You’d think that after 13 years without releasing new music, System of a Down would start to show their age, maybe even slow down. With only five-six dates on this year’s “tour,” and by only playing sparse one-off shows in recent years, one would think their heyday has past.
But what was witnessed in Sacramento last Sunday night was a band at the top of their form – a band that never “gets” old, but a band that has never lost touch with each other, putting on a show that was just as intense and rowdy as they were in their twenties.
Right as they took the stage, their message was clear: this train’s haulin’ ass and we slow down for no one. So if you can’t keep up, get off now (in which some people actually started leaving the front section just as the moshing set in.) They’re a band that, once they take the stage, they start at 100 mph, and sustain that high note for an hour and a half with non-stop thrash metal.
And with a tightly packed 22 song set that sprawled across their discography, they brought out hit after hit, the songs the crowd had been waiting for years to hear since their last U.S. tour. And as a result, the crowd was as passionate as can be. With mosh pits upon most pits, the audience had a field day of getting their long pent-up energy out.
It’s been over twenty years since this band’s formed, and now that they’re well into their forties, I’m happy they can still find something to get mad about. There’s always the question about political bands like SOAD or Rage Against the Machine – once your cause has been fixed, once your fight has been won, what else is there to get mad about? Do you just spring hop from one grievance to the next?
Yet, the attitude of this band and this crowd on that night was different: they were aggressive not because they were mad, but because they were passionate. Sure, there are a lot of things to be mad about in today’s political climate, but on Sunday night, it felt like all of those issues were set aside. It was a demonstration of passion for the music they love most, for the band they love most.
So who’s to say they’ll keep continuing? Sure, it’s been over a decade since new material, with legalities keeping the band from writing anything new, but they’ve somehow been able to develop and sustain such a cult following through the few records they’ve released that the energy they’ve spawned unto their fans has yet to dwindle.
However, it’s in the humble opinion of this writer that the band has never been about violence, anger, or enacting revenge. It’s always been about opening up your heart, discovering the best version of yourself. And so, if and when they decide to release new music, and/or play new shows, you’ll find me there, deep in the pits, along with my other thousands of companions still trying to find their place in the world.
Photos by Greg Watermann