Words & Images by: Kenny Pusey
Serj Tankian/The Nightwatchman :: 10.18.07 :: Fillmore at the TLA :: Philadelphia, PA
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.
| Morello & Tankian :: 10.18.07|
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.
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.
| Serj Tankian :: 10.18.07|
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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