Powerman 5000 were briefly popular close to twenty years ago. They’re probably only remembered for “When Worlds Collide,” and quickly fell out of favor to new flavors, which is a shame because each of the now four times I’ve seen them live have been exciting and perhaps even inspirational. Rather than headlining their usual stop at the venerable El Corazón, they opened for their contemporary Orgy at the dodgy Studio Seven. Was that downgrade enough to ruin the fun?
When I first saw this band, they focused on style over substance, and now they’ve dropped the expensive guitars and flashy costumes to focus on improving their music. Not by much, since their music is now in the uncanny valley where their songs aren’t quite “Dragula,” but they’re better now.
Swag: Maybe next time
Rating: ★★★☆☆ [3/5]
Punk rock is almost more about evoking strong emotions than musical quality. That doesn’t excuse pandering to social media conspiracy theories and being obnoxious. This band would have been thrown off the stage if they’d opened for any traditional punk band, straight edge or anarchistic, back when ethos really mattered.
Swag: Didn’t even consider
Rating: ★★☆☆☆ [2/5]
Knee High Fox
Gave them two stars the first time I saw them since they didn’t have much umph, next a polite three stars since there was improvement, and a solid three stars now that they’ve practiced upon this third performance. They’ve found that umph. Their songs are now catchy and almost memorable.
Swag: Probably next time
Rating: ★★★☆☆ [3/5]
Death Valley High
Monotonous and indistinct. While ambient, drone, and post-rock musicians use monotony to build toward grand crescendos, when done improperly as this band did, there is no climax or release. Their music just merely floundered. Indistinction plays a role here, too, because none of their songs stood out as uniquely memorable.
Swag: Wouldn’t accept free
Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆ [0/5]
Still just as fun! When I first saw them live, I thought about how their music video for “When Worlds Collide” accurately captured their live performance abilities, and that’s still true. Well-rehearsed, vibrant, and each song can stand on its own. Some of the song introductions were too drawn out and not being the headliner meant they couldn’t perform as many songs as normal. One highlight was their extended instrumental interlude, allowing for audience requests including an impromptu performance of “Neckbone,” concluding with a self-deprecating comment about forgetting the rest of the song’s lyrics. I respect that sort of humility.
Swag: Two concert shirts
Rating: ★★★★☆ [4/5]
I was too tired by this point, and Studio Seven continued its proud tradition of poor sound mixing, so I left after the three obligatory songs. I’d probably see them again, if they were on the same bill as another band I’d want to see, and at a different venue.
Swag: Not this time
Definitely consider seeing Powerman 5000 on their next tour. They’re only shy of a five star rating perhaps because of the same unknown reason why they even lost their popularity initially.