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OTEP, Droid @ 12 Galaxies, 8/7/08

August 8, 2008

I walk into the cavernous 12 Galaxies a little saddened, since it was announced that day that it would close at the end of the month. It’s a grimy dive-y place, but they put on in-the-know shows that are always unpredictable and fun.

The complimentary bucket of earplugs by the ticket taker was indicative of the sound vibrating the place. Droid was crammed on the stage- 4 big beefy guys pounding out their metal music. The lead singer spent a lot of time on the floor, walking around screaming in people’s faces, even moshing a little while singing. Never seen that before.

Moshing at 12 Galaxies can present a different set of dangers than other, larger venues. I once was almost knocked onto the soundboard. Equipment cases were scattered all around the perimeter, causing people to trip but also serving as bumpers. Since OTEP brings out the crazy metal chicks, they were having their way in the mosh pit…which unfortunately sometimes mean swinging around arms at an insane speed in a multidirectional bitch slap- which tends to keep the guys at bay to watch the spectacle.

I thought Droid did what they do pretty well- good tight sound, a pinch of charisma…but they don’t have any real standout songs that I remembered later. But that’s the way it is with metal sometimes- it just has to not suck to be fun live.

After a lengthy break, the stage is set for OTEP. The baby doll head on the mic, the pig’s head on the drum kit, and some unidentifiable props resting on the speakers adorned the stage.

OTEP is an interesting act. Otep Shamaya is from SoCal, and came onto the scene at the height of nu-metal in 2000. She’s one of the few heavy metal female vocalists that can pull off the growl-you know what I’m talking about- and not sound ridiculous. She’s also done some spoken word on Def Poetry Jam. She’s very openly lesbian, and also very openly political.

Despite the very apparent presence of crazed fans, she came out to a somewhat lukewarm reception…and she called the audience out on it. This would be a constant problem all evening, and it really bugged her. She even made a granola reference about us. Later on, in a quieter song, some guys started yelling things about making babies with her and what not, and she got really pissed. “Shut the fuck up. You are supposed to be quiet during these parts, and now you decide to be loud? Then when it’s loud you just stand there!”. She kept shrugging her shoulders- this wasn’t the audience she wanted for her last show of the tour. It’s interesting because the pit was roaring most of the time, but it was fairly quiet…an odd disconnect.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t the only thing that was pissing her off. The vocals were occasionally disconnected when moshers would run into equipment cases, and those hit cords plugged into the soundboard. At one point I thought she was going to storm off stage- she stomped her foot and said something like “Stop fucking up”.

OTEP dons a lot of headpieces. Fishnet, top hat, V for Vendetta masks, President masks, a veil….there was a lot of action going on there. I appreciate the effort, but sometimes it was a little too much, to the point of becoming contrived.

Issues aside, she has an amazing set of pipes. Some songs are catchier than others, but thematically they are all pretty powerful. The guitarist has bleached blond dreads and facial hair, which totally freaks me out to the point that I couldn’t look at him. The bassist had his job cut out for him- not only are the songs really bass heavy, but he was in the crazy zone where people were moshing sitting on other people’s shoulders. Weird. One of the highlights for me was their cover of Nirvana’s ‘Breed’, which is the first time I’ve ever heard a Nirvana song covered live.

OTEP delivered on all that I’d heard- despite difficulties, they put on an entertaining show. Go see her, if she ever decides to come back to SF.

OTEP performance: 7.75/10
Droid performance: 7/10
venue (12 Galaxies): 6.5/10
crowd/scene: 7/10
value ($20/ticket): 6.5/10
memorable: 7.5/10

Flickr pics from taija lynn:






youtube vids:


  1. Her show in Reno was much better than what sounds like happened in SF. Even my wife, the non-metal fan (though I’ve been working on it) was clearly impressed by Otep’s music, message, and presence. It also didn’t hurt that our good friends A House Cursed from Carson City opened the show either. They’ll be playing somewhere in the Bay Area sometime around 9/11. I highly recommend checking them out. BTW, her guitarist (listed on Wikipedia as Aaron Nordstrom) creeped me out too – I think he’s actually an albino.

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