Sunday, July 18th 2010
Shows: One Day As A Lion
One Day As A Lion played their first-ever show Saturday afternoon in the tiny side room of a sandwich shop called Aladdin Jr.’s in Pomona, CA, debuting a full album’s worth of new material for a wildly enthusiastic crowd of roughly 200 sweat-drenched patrons.
Fans had waited three hours in triple-digit temperatures to witness the debut performance by Rage Against The Machine frontman Zack De La Rocha and former Mars Volta drummer Jon Theodore, accompanied by keyboardist Joey Karam of Locust. Afterwards, you’d have been hard-pressed to find anyone who didn’t think the bodily-fluid baptism was well worth it.
Several gallons of sweat and an hourlong set by a mediocre opening band later, ODAAL took to the tiniest of stages with the nervous energy one might expect around a debut musical experiment among industry heroes. Anxiety gave way to pummeling groove gravity in a heartbeat once opener Ocean View kicked off with a cymbal frenzy. When De La Rocha picked up the mic with a mischievous grin, the crowd roared with anticipatory excitement. When his trademark spitfire lyrical venom began to flow through our ear drums, it truly hit home that we were literally inches from the face of the man who picked up the torch from the Bob Dylans and Chuck Ds of music history and took protest music to new evolutionary heights.
Drummer Jon Theodore was a giddy metronomic madman, peeling off polyrhythms and trapdoor backbeats that made us thankful for the pillbox stage setup, simply so we wouldn’t have to decide where to devote our attention. As the trio rolled through several promising new numbers with surgical point-precision, it became abundantly clear that there’s plenty more to One Day As A Lion than what we’ve seen released thus far. A surprise album drop on the near horizon? I’d bet on it.
The lyrics of Last Letter, delivered amidst a beat blizzard and buzz-siren keys, took on a more powerful potency in live delivery: Your God is dying much younger than Rome / He’s killed so many he can’t go home / Your God’s heart is a tumor, now rotten / Born of a blood that’s never forgotten! Following a crushing-pit singalong of Wild International, Zack and company dove into Lion Dance, an extended new jam that began as a downtempo percussive movement and grew into a screaming assault before stripping down to an uncharacteristic hip-thrust groove. While still possessing the standard keys/drums/vocals components, the track has a vastly different feel from any of the EP tracks released so far.
Placing If You Fear Dying so close to Wild International in the set was a questionable decision, given that the core riff is nearly identical, but the fact that the vocal is nothing alike allowed for easy redemption.After leaning in hard on the reggae flex of Time is coming / Rising like the dawn of a red sun / If you fear dying… Zack lowered the mic during the line “then you’re already dead!” so we could all scream along.
The Rage frontman was in high spirits, smiling excitedly and keeping stage banter to a minimum as he paced the stage – until just before the final song, One Day As A Lion. He spoke up to address Arizona’s SB1070 immigration laws, promoting the SoundStrike website and outlining the urgency to take immediate action and make our voices heard between now and July 29, when the law is due to go into effect. Irritation sprang from the two obese assholes in the third row who wouldn’t shut the fuck up long enough for us to actually hear the things Zack was saying, obliterating his call to action with obnoxious bro-isms and continued shouts of La Raza!!!
The militant beat assault of One Day As A Lion ended the set on a bombastic high, everyone in the room screaming “We live as a lion!” in fitting unison. As we emerged back into the sunshine after the 75 minute sonic blast, it didn’t go unnoticed by band and fans alike that the hundred degree temperature outside felt like a brisk spring morning compared to the cauldron we’d just had our musical asses kicked in.
One Day As A Lion are set to play their second show this afternoon – come sweat with us.
In related news, Rage Against The Machine will play their first hometown show next Friday to draw attention to the Arizona immigration bill. Learn more about it here.