May 30, 2010 – If you have any doubt whatsoever that you have arrived at the Alrosa Villa they are instantly washed away once you step in the doorway to the ticket booth and are presented with a smell that can only be compared to an unkempt gym locker room. Any other doubts are erased by either the presence of security staff wearing cat-eye contact lenses or sporting permed mullets that would make Billy-Ray proud.

Soon after arrival the first band on the advertised bill took the stage. Their name was Thy Will Be Done and they were a pleasant surprise for an opener at a metal show. A good blend of heavy riffs, capable guitars and a good old thrash-metal work ethic was met by a receptive audience that opened up right away to the band with a mild showing in the pit and hearty audience applause after each song.

The only unfortunate moment for this reviewer came after the band finished their set and began to prime the audience for the bands that were up next, followed by a thank you to the band that proceeded them… Pitch Black Forecast. For anyone that read my prior review of the J Mann Band, you will know what a disappointment and shock this was since they were not on the bill. A quick trip to the merch booth was met with Jason Popson himself who explained that they “were a last minute add to the show” and indeed went on at 6:30. That is too early even for a Sunday night. At least it explained the guy in the pit with the $300 replica Mushroomhead mask.

The next band was Silent Civilian who also put on a very respectable set. The singer was formerly with SpineShank and if you ever heard them you pretty much know what to expect with this band. That said however the vocals seemed a little more diverse and all around I would give the nod to Silent Civilian over SpineShank. They were a bit more accessible, which can be good or bad depending on your taste, but certainly a top-notch opener for a venue like this one.

Prong was next to take the stage. This was a band I’ve listened to since middle-school but had never seen live. This was a cause for a bit of anxiety since I had no idea what expect from the band or the crowd, since their apex was reached far before Fear Factory even hit the scene. As it turned out, I had nothing to fear. They opened strong with two tracks from their first major label release, “Beg to Differ” and “Lost & Found.” The audience seemed totally hesitant to commit one way or the other on those first two tracks, but as soon as “Prove You Wrong” began people started getting into it.

By the time they were hitting the staples of the collection, tracks like “Rude Awakening,” “Power of the Damager,” “Whose Fist is this Anyways” and of course “Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck,” people in the pit were hitting each other. It was a full-on circle pit with metal-aficionados throwing down and having a good time.

The band played loud and proud. The newer songs were just as good as decades old classics. All the tracks had a timeless feel that in retrospect made the band stand out from their peers in their day and has seemingly kept everything feeling fresh still today. As they stretched out their last song as if closing the house for the evening you would have never known they weren’t headlining from their behavior. Prong was back and enjoying every minute of it.

Rounding out the evening however were the real headliners, Fear Factory. The band came out and had the entire place in their hands from the opening song. While the sound was good for all of the openers it actually seemed a little soft for the main band. While relatively mixed well, the only exception were the main vocals, which seemed noticeably under-mixed. Two things made this a non-factor through: 1) They were fine when the singer was belting out the long, drawn vocals the band is well known for and 2) Whether he was belting them out or just singing the quieter moments of the song the entire audience was filling in backing vocals all along the way. As good as the band was, and they were good, I want to give special recognition to the fans who, by all accounts, collectively gave some of the best crowd vocals I’ve heard at a show in a long time.

The band played a great selection of songs from across their catalog including crowd favorites from DigiMortal, Obsolete and Demanufacture. I don’t think I heard a single track being yelled from that audience that went unfulfilled. The band played tightly, concisely and enthusiastically throughout the entire set. Word to the singer though, there comes a time when any man heading towards middle age has to realize that it simply isn’t a good time to take your shirt off in public anymore. One of those signs that the day is drawing near for you is when the giant tattoo of arching letters that outlined what were probably once some well kept abs is now arching over a far different shape that is hanging over your beltline. I’m just say’n.

The evening was an overwhelming success with not a bad band in the house. Having now seen Prong and Fear Factory in the same venue I could easily say I would see either again if they were a main attraction on their own.

Prong can be found online at: http://www.prongmusic.com/, Fear Factory can be found online at: http://www.fearfactory.com/.