While Nu Metal is no longer the most popular genre in Metal, it is important to remember that at one point it was almost unavoidable on rock radio. Alien Ant Farm and Soil return to Manchester to deliver a tour package that is rooted in nostalgia and will help give insight into why Nu Metal was as popular as it was as well as introduce people to young to have seen it at the height of its power.
Chicago hard rock outfit, Local H played first and despite only having two members on stage for their set they still delivered a fantastic set that balanced heavy riffs and almost psychedelic use of droning guitar effects. Think of them as a heavier version of Weezer with more of an emphasis on creating a droning atmosphere which is all the more impressive considering the band is only a two piece.
Up next was the first of the co-headliners. Soil opened with the blunt staccato riffing of ‘Breaking me Down’ accentuated with the rap/sing snarl of vocalist Adam Zadel. The band was at their best during the faster and heavier songs like ‘Hate Song’ and ‘Pride’ but it was still surprising to hear a cover of ‘Black Betty’ which is a song that is almost impossible to ruin and Adam Zadel’s vocals helped give the song that extra bit of bite.
Soil ended their set with ‘Halo’, their big blues driven classic that hit hard from its now iconic drum intro to the earth-shattering scream that follows on from it not to mention the phenomenal riff that ties the whole thing together. The song is a rock club staple now for good reason and it was a perfect note to end on for a great set that would be difficult to follow.
Finally, Alien Ant Farm opened with ‘Bad Morning’, a solid opening song with a great chorus. They maintained enough momentum throughout their set as they continued on to play their second biggest hit, ‘Movies’, a strange slow song that still has a fun sing-along chorus that got the audience moving.
One of the main aspects that worked for the band during their set was the unique awkwardness of frontman, Dryden Mitchell. From his strange not-quite-pop-n-lock shaking/dancing to his weird golf stance between songs which was best displayed during the break between ‘What I Feel is Mine’ and ‘These Days’. While the band still had some great songs and a fun and energetic demeanor, it was the weirdness that made the set worth seeing and for this reason the band is worth looking into.
Halfway through the set, the band stopped playing to introduce ‘Attitude’, a song that could be called a ballad which gained all the more emotional resonance after Dryden Mitchell dedicated to the song to the frontman of Linkin Park, Chester Bennington. After the song was over the band continued to play the opening intro to ‘In the End’ by Linkin Park, a fitting tribute to a man that helped the movement that gave Alien Ant Farm a career.
One of the more interesting moments of their set was seeing Dryden Mitchell introduce ‘Simpatico’ by playing the intro on his phone and have the band take over at a certain point, the unconventional start is appropriate considering how strange the song itself is. It’s one of the very few songs in the band’s back catalogue that sounds like one of Alien Ant Farm’s main influences, Primus. Shortly after, the band played ‘Wish’, a fan favourite that is arguably the heaviest song in the band’s catalogue which was welcomed by the audience with an almost unavoidable mosh pit that seemed to get bigger as the song went on.
As expected, Alien Ant Farm ended with their cover of ‘Smooth Criminal’ by Michael Jackson which was a staple of MTV in the early 2000s but unfortunately has been largely forgotten since then. Which is a shame because it has a rare quality of a cover in that incorporates elements of the original song are present but the cover has its own identity, you can tell that the band made an effort to stay as close to the original as possible while still trying to sound like Alien Ant Farm.
While Alien Ant Farm aren’t the best-remembered band to come from the early 2000s Nu Metal movement they are still a consistently enjoyable band well worth looking into in a live setting and are hopefully overdue a resurgence in popularity due to the nostalgia-driven popularity of Nu Metal.