Music Features

Dead Cross - Philadelphia, Union Transfer - 09/10/2017

The shock waves from Dave Lombardo’s kick drum could break a rib.  While I stood among Sunday night’s turnout for Dead Cross at the Union Transfer, the hardcore/thrash metal havoc via Lombardo (Slayer, Fantômas), bassist Justin Pearson (The Locust, Retox), guitarist Mike Crain (Retox), and vocalist Mike Patton (Faith No More, Mr. Bungle, Fantômas, Tomahawk), I watched the band tear through the song Obedience School as Lombardo tested the stability of that drum kit with such force and persistence I feared some pieces would tip over.  His rapid, percussive violence sent rupturing mini-quakes throughout my entire chest cavity.  A few songs later, Patton exclaimed, “JESUS, FUCK!” motioning to Lombardo, “Who IS this guy?!?”  The admiration was charming. 

Dead Cross, whose members boast a significant lineage with regard to the evolution of metal and punk music, have an obvious appeal to generations of fans.  Elders, like myself, coalesced with a younger audience, all of us appropriately clad in whichever band shirt worked for the occasion.  Sound check had run over a bit, so the crowd were treated to multiple cuts from Iggy & The Stooges’ Raw Power as sound techs checked cables and mics, prepping for the evening’s turbulence.    

The warm-up was the esoteric instrumental band Secret Chiefs 3, a hooded quintet led by ex-Mr. Bungle guitarist, Trey Spruance.  With a sound borne from Eastern influence, synth-centric film scores, and progressive metal, Secret Chiefs 3 were remarkably entertaining, managing to elude the trappings of pretension and self-indulgence with a wildly energized performance and impressively meticulous arrangements.  Personal highlights for me were witnessing the band’s rendition of John Carpenter’s theme from Halloween, and an excellent moment of “let the drummer have some” toward the end of their set that garnered heavy applause from the crowd. 

The members of Dead Cross entered the stage, the sounds of the emergency broadcast system filling the pitch-black hall just before the band launched into their single, Seizure and Desist, amidst an epileptic’s nightmare of strobe effects and blazing lights.  Patton never stopped moving, his body in motion as his mouth ran in constant exhalation, verses and screams dispensed with the rapidity necessary to follow the music’s pace.  He didn’t seem starved for air at any point and even threw himself into the crowd twice during Divine Filth, an unsteady bed of wandering hands leading him back to the stage as he continued to rattle off lyrics without losing his place. 

“Hi!” Patton blurted about four songs into the set, “How are you?  Philadelphia.  What else can I say?  Filthydelphia!  How about that?”

Moments of crowd interaction were few aside from the occasional “thanks,” though amusing commentary about the merits of the vegan cheesesteak was had between Patton and the crowd after acknowledging that Pearson had, in fact, tried one earlier that day.  “I’m not a vegan warrior, I’m on a plant-based diet. Let’s just get over it, okay?”  Pearson said, “I can suck my own dick, though, so, hey, fuck you!” 

Otherwise, Dead Cross plowed through the material.  With the exception of their treatment of the Bauhaus classic, Bela Lugosi’s Dead, and their untitled “new song,” every song felt like a rush, an onslaught of speed and distortion that made songs like Idiopathic and The Future Has Been Cancelled seem snippet-length.  As gratifying a show as Dead Cross put on, it ended too quickly.

Since there wasn’t much for Dead Cross in terms of material to use for an encore, (they had performed, sequentially plus one untitled song, their entire and sole LP), they teased Slayer’s Criminally Insane and Faith No More’s Epic before settling instead on Dead Kennedys’ Nazi Punks Fuck Off, a perfect way to close out and send us off with our ears buzzing.