Serj Tankian | 10.18 | Philadelphia

Words & Images by: Kenny Pusey

Serj Tankian/The Nightwatchman :: 10.18.07 :: Fillmore at the TLA :: Philadelphia, PA

Morello & Tankian :: 10.18.07
As you walked up to the newly named Fillmore at the TLA in Philadelphia, you could feel the excitement brewing outside as the line formed early around the block for what could have easily been confused with a political rally. Two lyrical heavyweights, Serj Tankian, the face of System of a Down, and Rage Against The Machine guitarist Tom Morello, would be pumping a bit more energy into a city full of history showing off a new look for both artists.

Stepping out of Rage as The Nightwatchman, Morello came with a folk style, attitude and message. The opening song, "One Man Revolution," is the best way to describe this new direction. One mic, one pedal, one guitar, a one-man lyrical army against anyone standing in the way of progress. Morello's solo thing wasn't what one would expect but not in a bad way. The short set kept things lively with a special combo of Morello and Tankian on a new slow song, "Lazarus On Down," and the verbal bashing of President Bush on another new number, "King of Hell." The sing-alongs incited by The Nightwatchman on "The Road I Must Travel," Woody Guthrie's "This Land is Your Land" and the RATM monster "Guerilla Radio" had everyone jumping up and down with excitement that flowed over into one of the most amazing shows I have ever seen.

Serj Tankian :: 10.18.07
The intensity in the building went up a notch as backing band FCC (Flying Cunts of Chaos) trotted out featuring Erwin Khachikian (keyboards), Primus guitarist Larry LaLonde, Dan Monti (guitar), Mario Pagliarulo (bass) and Troy Zeigler (drums). Normally the face of SOAD, this is for Serj by Serj. The new album, Elect the Dead, presents a style like no other. From production to output, Tankian takes on the roll of a full band and doesn't disappoint. With wide eyes and a white top hat, the ringmaster brought his mesmerizing melodies and threw them at the hungry TLA crowd. "The Unthinking Majority" opened the festivities followed by the hit single "Empty Walls." One can certainly understand the massive airplay for this powerful journey about our current life during wartime. "Lie Lie Lie," with its zany wit, was a welcome highlight that had fans grinning from ear-to-ear.

Bringing out the acoustic guitar, Tankian played "Saving Us," "Baby" and "Sky Is Over," which led into another high-point when the band dropped into crowd pleaser "Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition." "Charades" and "Honking Antelope" followed, setting off mosh pits and a few crowd surfers like you'd expect at a System show. Tankian said he wanted to play a Dead Kennedys cover as the FCC threw down a raging "Holiday in Cambodia." A few weeks earlier, "Cambodia" was also a special treat when Tankian showed up at the Video Music Awards to roll through the cover with the Foo Fighters. "Beethoven's Cunt" and a beautiful solo version of "Elect the Dead" on piano ended the night on a fitting note for this mastermind.

During the performance, Tankian announced this was only their fifth show but you would never know it. This was great rock music in its purest form. SOAD might be on "hiatus" but you can definitely get your fix with Serj and the FCC. Tankian is taking chances and not holding back. Even if politics aren't your style – they've never been mine - the new album and this tour will make you take a good hard look at yourself, your greed, your loves and your life.

JamBase | Philly
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[Published on: 11/20/07]

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mrkrinkle6884 starstarstarstarstar Tue 11/20/2007 11:28AM
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Good review, would like to hear the album that I saw at my local store. It was between Serj's album or the new live Secret Chiefs 3. I went with SC3

Gribblecake Tue 11/20/2007 01:06PM
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it's a crime that he put Ler on rhythm.

kennyspangler starstarstarstar Tue 11/20/2007 01:26PM
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^^^^^^^^^^^^ Absolutely, hell Ler was almost half of the reason why I went to Serj's first show in chicago. I have been fiending for another Primus concert since the Beat a Dead Horse tour.

rulosa01 Tue 11/20/2007 11:24PM
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Gribblecake Wed 11/21/2007 11:01AM
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Ler is the most underrated guitarist ever. anyone who listens to live primus will agree with me. he writes the perfect guitar part for the material. unfortunately he was not put in the right environment here. from what I've read, he gets about 4 seconds of noise. and I really don't think serj's voice works with dk covers.

gmoo Thu 11/22/2007 01:38PM
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I'm a big SOAD fan, but Ler is way above this project. Southbound Pachyderm or bust.

FunkLizard starstarstarstarstar Fri 11/23/2007 03:54PM
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That show tore me apart. Got to hang w/ Tom for a bit afterward. Gribbs, it is a shame. I howled out for Ler to play some shit at one point and he did some sort of aeolian whaley rhythm.

FunkLizard Fri 11/23/2007 03:59PM
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p.s. Holiday in Cambodia was incredible. The voice worked perfectly.

Wrightous starstarstarstarstar Sat 11/24/2007 08:00AM
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ler is truly underrated. one of the greatest of all time.

puz starstarstarstarstar Sun 11/25/2007 07:09AM
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i was the one that covered this show and i must say, you guys are was VERY different seeing Ler play but not standout like he does with was a GREAT show, but i definitely would of liked to hear a little more ler...

Serj and his voice and melodies=amazing!