Xtreme 2002, RDS, Dublin, 29th June, 2002
each act marked out of five
They labelled it Xtreme 2002. It was supposed to be the alternative to Witnness and Slane and all those other mainstream festivals. It was to feature such exciting things as extreme! sports and extreme! cinema. Hence the word (E)Xtreme in the title you see. Sure there were some of the heaviest bands around scheduled to play, I mean who could pass up the opportunity to see Raging Speedhorn, One Minute Silence, Napalm Death and Motorhead all in the one day? What self-respecting, self-mutilating metal fan could miss out on a line-up like that?
It got itself off to a bad start though when Naplam Death pulled out, weeks before the event took place and, as for extreme sports and cinema, well, more about that later. At least Lemmy showed up, unlike a certain 'Dreamer' I could mention. The best of the new and the best of the old this wasn't, the first decent band didn't make it onto the stage until around three o'clock. Until then, though, we had to put up with openers Breed 77 (2) and lets be (brutally) honest here, at eleven o'clock on a fine Saturday morning, this isn't what you need.
The ten or so kids getting a mosh going at the front of the stage loved them, but, if I wanted to listen to flat, uninspiring metal, I could have easily stayed at home and in bed and listened to the second Coal Chamber album. Breed 77 played with One Minute Silence in the Music Centre last year and they failed to grab my attention back then. They haven't gotten any better.
The Dukes of Nothing (1) and Number One Son (1) were both noisy and intolerable in a very bad way. Fuzzed up, growled and screeched rock has it's place and believe me a huge empty hall in Ballsbridge isn't that place. Danko Jones (3), with their gravely vocals and gravely guitars, was the first band on the bill that most people bothered to glance twice at, most likely because they've some great riffs and some excellent lyrics, which the sound system (thankfully) didn't lose in the mix. Up on that big stage, they looked pretty impressive; imagine what they'd look like in a small venue with a load of whiskey down.
The bouncy, pop-reggae-punk of [spunge] (3) is actually quite interesting in a Green Day meets Bob Marley kind of way. This is a young band with a load of energy who aren't afraid to bounce around like rabbits on springs in front of a half empty venue. Not exactly purveyors of the extreme that today was supposedly all about, but then metal in 2002 is all about variety I suppose. The Kerrang! TV favourite 'Jump on Demand' proved to be the highlight and was possibly the most uplifting and positive song played all day.
Today was not just all about music, however. There was a face painting stall, for kids of all ages, as well as a body piercing and tattoo stall courtesy of Body Shock, Dublin. Why you'd want to get a tattoo done at a gig, though, is something I can never get my head around. Still, each to their own. The Martial Arts Expo was set up in the Serpentine room, just off the main hall. We were promised demonstrations in a multitude of varying styles including Aikido, Karate, Kung Fu and kickboxing. It was all a bit tame, though, and didn't get the blood rushing, or flowing for that matter, until the kickboxing title fight between Alan Doyle and Fran Murphy. I haven't a clue who won, but I can tell you they wore each other into the ground. The fact that various members of Raging Speedhorn were in the audience roaring 'kick the shit out of him' probably helped.
On the down side, however, the pro-skaters and BMXers, the bungee jumping and the skydive simulator, all of which were promised (check the old flyers, not the ones that were given out on the day) failed to make an appearance, and all without explanation or apology from the organisers. They should have forgotten about the not-so-extreme cinema as well. A tiny roll down screen in the corner of the food hall with the sun shining on it and with the sound turned off hardly qualifies as 'extreme' in my book and my book happens to be very well defined. Let's all watch "Evil dead", "Clockwork orange", "Texas chainsaw massacre' and "Spinal tap" with the sound off in a huge noisy hall where we can hardly see the screen. Isn't it great how promoters are allowed to lie to the ticket-buying public?
Anyway, back to the good stuff. Mixing the best of the old (Pantera) with a smattering of the new (Korn, Godsmack) and still coming out sounding fresh is in achievement in itself and is always going to get you noticed. That Soil (4) have managed to pull this off is fascinating and makes them a very unique band to watch. Diminutive frontman Ryan McCombs is a singer in a time of raps and roars, proof enough that Soil are definitely something different. Those in the crowd who were only familiar with the single 'Halo', with which they closed, were surprised at the wealth of strong material the band has, especially so when you consider they've only released the one album. 'Breaking me down', 'The One' and 'Need to feel' were all driving and pneumatic.
The show was finally on the road and Raging Speedhorn (5) made sure it stayed that way. Expecting anything apart from a brutally crushing performance from Corby's finest can only end in disappointment and judging by the looks on people's faces after we were pounded to smithereens with 'Redweed' and 'The Hate song', this lived up to all expectations. Of course, the security didn't seem to be enjoying things too much. Decked out in easy to spot red and yellow tops is a bad thing when the two mountains on stage start urging the crowd to kill the guys in yellow for 'ruining your fun'. I think this is when things finally started to get extreme.
The one-man red-haired freakshow, Crazy White Sean (4), was as twisted as an old country bohreen and it's pretty obvious he's a man who doesn't like his penis. Anyone who can hang mouse-traps, put nails into and tie/light firecrackers around their dick, and still give out their hotel room number to the ladies in the crowd deserves a round of applause. The highlight of his show was when he put a meat hook thorough his shoulder. He then proceeded to lift himself around six feet off the ground by said hook, while squirting the enthralled masses with a super-soaker. All with a grin on his scarred and bloody face. Now that's professionalism. Crazy White Sean we salute you. But from a safe distance of course.
No Means No (1) were most likely added to appeal to the older fans, the Motorhead crowd if you will, pity then that they almost completely sent the whole show spinning back the wrong way. Good job One Minute Silence (5) were on hand to put things back together. The opening bars of '1845' sent the crowd into a steaming frenzy the like of which the RDS had probably never seen before; a frenzy that didn't let up for the entire set. All you had to do was look up at that stage and see the look in Yap's eyes as he encouraged his troops onwards. It was a look of delight, of honesty, of enjoyment and of friendship. No band I've ever had the pleasure of witnessing live have such a link with their fans.
The O.M.S. guys understand the people in the pit and the people in the pit understand the guys on the stage. Both groups create an energy that feeds the other and it culminates in what can only be described as the best show in modern rock music. Best live band in the world? System of a Down (I'm not going to lie to you), but coming in a very close second is One Minute Silence. If the new songs aired today were anything to go by then you can expect the new album to top even "Buy now...".
It may have started off poorly, the bar may not have opened until after two and the cinema may have been little more than a TV in the corner of the hall, but, by god, was the finale well worth waiting for. Lemmy and his merry men walked on stage and, just in case we didn't already know who they were, tore into a staggering 'We are Motorhead'. Fabulous. Ladies and gentlemen, the day could have ended now and we would have all gone home happy. The crowd ranged in age from somewhere around six to about one hundred and six in some cases, but age wasn't a question, not tonight. Everyone was here for one reason, to see and appreciate the living legends Motorhead (5). If any of the opening acts needed tips on how to get onto the level and stay there, the blueprint was set out before them tonight. Almost every era of that extensive Motorhead history got a mention: 'Shoot to kill', 'Orgasmatron', 'Sacrifice' complete with five minute drum solo, 'Ace of spades', a cover of the Pistols 'God save the Queen' and a plethora of material from the more recent albums. Trends may come and go but it's the strong that stay standing.