SYSTEM OF A DOWN at the Gibson Amphitheater, April 24
System of a Down performed their third annual Souls concert tonight, benefiting ANCA (the Armenian National Committee), as well as other human rights organizations, while commemorating the 90th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. Unfortunately, this was lost on the drunken slut in the striped shirt who flashed her boobs. (Could have used an Armenian mother to beat her into shame with a slipper.) Politics and profoundly inappropriate behavior aside, System kept the sermonizing short and let pretty much the best of their discography do the talking, from "P.L.U.C.K.," off their self-titled debut to Toxicitys "Needles" to Steel This Albums "Mr. Jack." Cuts from the forthcoming Mezmerize were also previewed, including the current single "B.Y.O.B," a party song that really smart-bombs its targets ("Why dont presidents fight the war?/Why do they always send the poor?") accompanied by the most violent, urgent music the bands ever made.
Serj Tankian shouldnt sing on a rock & roll stage but in a church choir that accepts men with long hair; all that monkish moaning on "Aerials" made even the Gibson feel like a monastery. Still, unlike that of a certain one-named Irishman, Tankians Mother Teresa complex hasnt rendered him totally annoying. By contrast, guitarist Daron Malakian is more the court jester of the bunch, jumping around on his imaginary hop-scotch grid, tossing his hair as if mugging for a LOreal commercial. (Yes, hes worth it.)
The folk song "Sardarabad," a sentimental Souls finale, sounded even more poignant this year in front of a backdrop of Ara Oshagans black-and-white photographs of genocide survivors. Also worth noting, though, was the odd use of Whams "Everything She Wants" as an intro to "Sugar," perhaps the only song ever written about "the kombucha mushroom people." "We didnt start this band to change the world," said guitarist Daron Malakian. "We didnt start this band to change your mind. We started this band to make you ask questions." Well, Daron, when you come up with such wonderfully wacky content on drugs, war, prison, groupies, pogo-ing, your ancestors injustices, their ancestors injustices, George Michael, etc., we dont need to ask why.