TVD Live Shots: System Of A Down and At The Drive-In at the Valley View Casino Center, 10/17

For the 15,000+ in attendance on Wednesday evening, System Of A Down put on what many called their best live performance in the past ten years. Serj Tankian, Daron Malakian, Shavo Odadjian, and John Dolmayan took no prisoners in San Diego with a 30-song set that left even the most die-hard SOAD fan well-satisfied after an incredible night of true metal mayhem in what many call “America’s Finest City.”

Opening Wednesday’s show were post-hardcore legends, At The Drive-In. Founded in 1994, this quirky quartet from El Paso, TX took those lucky enough to be seated on a wild ride that challenged their minds and obliterated their senses. At the Drive-In’s set was dark, powerful, and the perfect elixir to wake up the near-capacity crowd at Valley View Casino Center.

What I loved most about this set (aside from their incredible music) was the unpredictability of vocalist Cedric Bixler. One minute he was center stage killing vocals on a classic like “Enfilade,” the next he was leaping off Tony Hajjar’s the drum kit like he was Superman himself. My only wish for this set was that it would have been longer—8 songs is just not enough to give a band like At The Drive-In the justice they deserve. Hope to see these guys headlining in 2019.

Now on to the System Of A Down. I’ve been catching these guys live here in Southern California since the late ’90s, and truly believe they are getting better with age (even though they have not released any new material as a band since 2005). Catching SOAD on the 5th show of their six-show “mini-tour,” I was amazed at how tight they sounded (seeing as they had not toured together since July of 2017). Serj’s vocals were on point, Darron’s guitar was fire, and Shavo’s basslines were unfucking believable. Add Dolmayan’s thundering percussion, and you have all the ingredients necessary to send the sold-out general admission floor into complete pandemonium. And on a crystal-clear evening, in front of a now capacity crowd, that is exactly what SOAD did.

Over the next two-hours, System of a Down rewrote history and turned back time with a massive set that left little to be desired for any true fan. Whether you were into early classics like “Suggestions” or System’s newer hits like “Lost in Hollywood,” there was something for everyone. My personal favorites were “Prison Song”, “Mr. Jack” (with a “Satrabad” interlude), and Malakian inciting pandemonium in the pit during “Toxicity.” His intro to the song was killer and got everyone on the floor “spinning around” in massive pits that seemed to combine with one another the longer the song went on. System concluded their show with one of their biggest hits of all-time, “Sugar.” It was the perfect way to end the show, but more importantly began a new chapter in this incredible band’s history. Here’s hoping that 2019 brings the long-awaited new album—with a world tour in support.



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