Let Your Soul Fly Away
Rammstein with Soulfly
at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City, New York on June 4, 1999

by: Jody Webb
It is a breezy evening in the Manhattan locality and the night is right for a showcase of international metal with Brazilian rockers Soulfly and German pyromaniacs Rammstein. I stroll into the Hammerstein around 8:30pm and the hall is already brimming with almost three thousand people as more arrive by the minute. The crowd seems to be mostly clean-cut "new metal" fans in their teens and early twenties, but a fair number of goths and well dressed European types pepper the audience.

Anticipation charges the air and I heave in a giant breath of the stuff. Soon a tribal chant drones through the PA as the crowd cheers and presses forward, creating a crunch against the barrier between the stage and the people. The house lights fall and stage lights rise, revealing big Marshall stacks over which the Brazilian national flag is draped. Soulfly emerges and another roar from the fans reverberates around the Hammerstein. Singer Max Cavalera counts off the time in Portuguese and the band rips into "Eye For an Eye", transforming the concert hall into a combat zone of moshers and kickboxing maniacs. Soulfly drops bomb after bomb from their recent debut album, scoring a direct hit with the crowd. As a veteran of the metal scene, even I was impressed with the sustained violence the band could inspire. Also in the arsenal were two covers of Sepultura songs as well as a tribal number, during which it surprised me to hear the crowd chanting along in Portuguese! Near the end of the set roadies hefted out drums for each person in the band and Soulfly pounded out a percussion jam that had feet stomping and heads bobbing. The set, as best as I can remember: "Eye For an Eye", "No Hope = No Fear", "Spit" (Sepultura), "Bleed", "Tribe", "Refuse/Resist" (Sepultura), "Quilombo", "Fire", "Umbabarauma" (tribal), percussion jam and "No".

Between bands the audience swells to nearly four thousand and the atmosphere relaxes as people take a breather. A few of the crazier Soulfly fans leave and are replaced by more civil Rammstein fans. Spooky electronic music wafts out of the PA while people mill around. Finally the house lights dim and the roar of the crowd fills the Hammerstein again. A flame bursts to life, igniting a long fuse running up the left side of the stage curtain. The flame reaches the top, setting off a booming explosion, and the curtain plummets. The Rammstein stage stands before us, a collection of industrial pipes and metal, occupying the entire vertical and horizontal space on the stage. One by one the members appear, some seeming to emerge from the stage itself, and when the entire band is standing there, clad in futuristic garb, the keyboard player strikes the opening notes of "Spiel Mit Mir". The Rammstein experience begins with flames, lasers and gimmicks galore. In concert, their simple rhythms and lyrics work well, sending the crowd into regular episodes of pogo jumping and German lyrics mangling. The music is backed, of course, with the most awesome show this side of Rob Zombie, and I took on a close encounter when body surfing over the barrier. I do not have the space to describe the entire spectacle, and doing so would ruin the surprises. Therefore, I will just conclude by commanding you to go out and see Rammstein! The set, as best as I can remember: "Spiel Mit Mir", "Tier", "Sehnsucht", "Bestrafe Mich", "Klavier", "Buck Dich", "Du Hast", "Engel" and an extended version of Rammstein as encore.

(article submitted 12/8/1999)

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