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DISTURBED Live In Chicago With Photos!

By Shelly Harris, Chicago Contributor
Friday, August 28, 2015 @ 7:12 AM

Band Makes Dramatic Return At Chicago House Of Blues

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Photos By Jess Rosiak

It seemed there was no overestimating the rare, mega-event vibe we'd encounter at this Friday night show at one of Chicago's best small venues (and my personal favorite), the 1,200 person capacity House of Blues, located in the heart of the city next to the iconic Marina City Towers.

First, it marked the return to the concert stage for DISTURBED, after a four year hiatus (preceded by four albums in a row that went #1 on the Billboard charts).

The band, who certainly could have played a vastly larger arena for this landmark event, no matter where in the world they chose to do it, had sentimentally and wisely chosen their hometown of Chicago for this reemergence on the worldwide stage. (Side Note: To date, despite the city's reputation as one of the best and most enthusiastic metal markets in the USA, DISTURBED has still been the only metal band from Chicago to achieve an elite level of national or international recognition).

On top of that, crammed to capacity with local die-hard fans and friends, this show also marked the release of the band's newest, and much awaited album, Immortalized, so the atmosphere was mega warp-charged with electricity from the moment we stepped in the door.

Whether it was the HOB employees, or the most ardent long-time DISTURBED fans in attendance (the same fans who had watched in awe as the band rose up from the run-of-the-mill bar metal scene of the late 90s - to international acclaim with the debut album, The Sickness), the atmosphere was that of congenial, highly combustible anticipation.

Almost to the point of unbelievability - with the pit and sidelines crammed - the crowd seemed happy and benevolent towards those squeezing in and around them, which has certainly not been the case at all HOB shows where most of the venue is general admission. It seemed that bad attitudes, if any, were left at the door by all, in deference to the imensity of the show to unfold.

The same giddy crowd amiability also extended to the reception given to the virtually unannounced openers, NONPOINT (who have shared show billing and a producer with DISTURBED in the past), who the audience warmly welcomed despite the fact that not everyone knew who they were. From my vantage point near the stage right bar, many were asking each other, "Who is that?!!" - since they thought DISTURBED would be out on stage first, with a rumoured 24-song set! Some were saying, "KORN?" - until some of those around got the word out that it was, indeed, NONPOINT. (As an inside joke, vocalist Elias Soriano could actually be heard - under the huge roar - as actually announcing the band as KORN.)

Even if there were some in the audience that did not know them, there could be no doubting that NONPOINT were an experienced, powerful, and professional band, right from the first chord, and highly compatible with DISTURBED. The band played a wildly varying set of seven songs, including a Jay Z number, "Hands Off", a Phil Collins tune, "In the Air Tonight" and "Breaking Skin", "Bullet With A Name" and more, always punctuated with a hyper-jumping bean bravado and enthusiasm, while inviting the whole place to jump in. (Most did)

The time between the sets was not long, but during that time photogapher Jess Rosiak confided that the photo brigade had all been noting how difficult the shoot was, due to mostly dark lights with little back-lighting, and that the photo pit itself (there are rarely ever photo-pits at all at HOB) was jam-packed and a virtual mob scene.

Of course, it was all a part of the frenzied return of DISTURBED, and the near hysteria did not abate until the band launched out, in a glorious majesty that would put a chill down the spine of even the non-believers.

Now with all this build up, surely there must be a let down? No, no, not at all, and no hyperbole would be too much to describe the scene that unfolded after "Sweet Home Chicago" played on the PA system, signaling the band's very imminent return.

Frontman Dave Draiman bounded out in a long cloak for the opening number and quickly established that he still retains the dark, dramatic and commanding gravitas which can render an audience spellbound. In the midst of delivering opening number, "Ten Thousand Fists" in his distinctive syncopated, staccato roar, it was soon clear that Draiman and company had lost none of the magic that had elevated them to the metal stratosphere in the first place.

Although Draiman exclaimed to the audience, "After being away so long, you kind of wonder: 'Are they going to be there when we come back?" - when he immediately yelled out, ARE YOU WITH ME?!! - there is no doubt that it was a rhetorical question, frenzied as the crowd already was at that point.

My stream-of-consiousness thoughts at the time - between the chanting and the jumping (which literally caused the HOB floors to creak and heave):

  • This is Chicago metal, at its modern urban essence - midwest blue-collar style. The commanding presence of a band that can own a much larger stage is utterly explosive and combustible when condensed to a small venue.
  • DISTURBED are the masters of chant songs, backed by the trance-like, industrial beats that are reminicent of the rhythmic machine drones of the Morlocks in H.G. Wells', The Time Machine. (DISTURBED seems to hypnotize its audience like Eloi as well.)
  • Draiman, who embodies the essence of Cult of Personality, notes, between the set's 24 songs, "This music is supposed to help you transcend the hardships in your life... , " making clear he knows just how to juxtapose that charisma with understatement.
  • A diverse fan base was present, featuring girls and women twirling and swirling their hair to many of the tunes, showing that despite the uber macho presense and sound of DISTURBED, they have equally enchanted a massive female following.
  • You could barely hear the band sing - including Draiman - due to the massive audience singalong, but, when you could, it was clear that Draiman's voice was powerful as ever, and no signs of past voice issues at all.
At the end of the evening, which indeed included all 24 songs (a cross between selections from past albums like "Down With The Sickness" and "The Vengeful One" from the new one), the audience was left consummately elated while DISTURBED undoubtedly took away the ultimate reaffirmation of their prowess and staying power. Immortalized: clearly an apt title for DISTURBED's new album indeed.

Check out some more photos from the show!
Photos By Jess Rosiak

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