May 1, 2010 – As the second opening band took the stage all appeared to be as expected as the members looked like your run of the mill local part-time band. However, once the lights went down and the show began an unexpected thing took place. These guys were great. From song one, they were on point with a tight, seasoned performance that not only reflected a great deal of talent, but equal parts showmanship. The singer conjured a well-honed imitation of Mike Patton imitating the recently passed Peter Steele from Type O Negative fame. It was the type of tongue-in-cheek schtick that many a band attempts but comes of less the intriguing. But this good.

Comprised of only the singer, a guitarist, drummer and keyboardist the band played on and each song summoned material that could have easily found a home on the self-titled Mr. Bungle album or Faith No More’s Angel Dust era works. The style and performance were right there, yet wholly originial in their own right. The band was Garmenbazia and any attempt to find out more about them after the show was completely thwarted by a distinct lack of web presence. The only inkling of relevance I could find is that perhaps the band’s name is a tribute of sorts to Twin Peaks and the infamous garmenbozia scene. The band assured us that an album was forthcoming, which I would highly look forward to, but since that is a commonplace response by any band without CDs at hand to sell at a show I find I am in need to keep my optimism at bay. The band was mostly well-received by the fans in attendance, despite the singer’s routine riducule of those in attendance. For those few that cheered because they were finished though the singer left the stage with his last words, “…you fuckers will be sorry when we are back up here in a bit as the J Mann band.”

We laughed, but after two more opening bands wrapped up, the same guys took the stage again. The only difference was a change of outfits, the previous singer now sporting a bass guitar and they were now accompanied by J Mann (aka Jason Popson). I’ve seen J Mann several times in the past in his penultimate role as the previous co-singer for Mushroomhead. I never got to see him perform with Todd Smith as the Alter Boys, nor with previous bands such as Pitch Black Forecast, (216), 10,000 Cadillacs or Unified Culture. This show then, a collected sampling of all his bands performed live, held high expectations as a way to catch up on all those missed opportunities.

Expectations were met and exceeded as, surrounded by such capable musicians, they came out swinging. Even though the singer from the opening band was now on bass, he provided very solid renditions of both Todd Smith’s parts from the Alter Boys as well as Jeffry Nothing’s parts from Mushroomhead giving each song an air of authenticty one wouldn’t expect without each original bands members being on the stage.

As much as I enjoyed all the songs, what impressed me most was Jason Popson himself. He was genuinly grateful for all the support he has had from fans over the years which came out in many ways as the show played out. From the very heartfelt words he shared with the audience expressing his thanks to all for coming to the performance itself, every bit of it displayed a man that was in his element, releshing in this moment. To look at his face you could see it, every song the mic found its way to fans in the front row to chip in on verses and choruses and he loved every minute of it. Whether they sang it well, as some did, or not some well, as many other did, it simply didn’t matter. The fact the knew the words and were into it he loved it all.

Thanks to the sheer catalog of songs and bands the man has been a part of, this concert was a showcase for all of his skills. From the hip-hop style and rap of 10,000 Cadillacs to the smooth vocal stylings of the Alter Boys & Unified Culture through the rough and grumble metal work  displayed in Mushroomhead and Pitch Black Forecast he hit it all. There is such an instantaneous difference in quality and presense between when an opening band performs and band like Clutch comes in and simply takes over the stage and that kind of difference was heavily present here in J Mann’s performance. He owned the stage, simply owned it. He took it and didn’t let go until he stepped off it. No fanfare, no encore, when he was done he’d left it all up there and there was no need to come back.