Hollywood Undead at the Dome, Wallingford, CT

Last December, in promotion of their new album Notes From the Underground, Hollywood Undead released a video for “We Are.” That video was good enough to make it onto the Video Rewind, showcasing not just the band’s music but their affinity for masks as well. It was also my first taste of Hollywood Undead, and though I feel a little too old to be indulging in the party life and angst of a band like Hollywood Undead, I did like the video and song.

Currently, the band is on tour for the House of Blues 20th Anniversary Tour. I was fortunate enough to see them as they stopped at the Oakdale in Wallingford, Connecticut to perform under the dome there on July 12th. The dome is usually where concert-goers go to purchase food and beverages while seeing an act in the seated theater. For this one night it would showcase the acts, allowing for more intimacy between the performers and the fans. Seats were at a minimum, saved only for a very small private section and the staff, so the fans were standing for well over two hours before Hollywood Undead took the stage.

The atmosphere at that point was starting to get a little stale since most people were there specifically to see Hollywood Undead. T-shirts, hats, gloves, and even a few Hollywood Undead bandanas covering the lower portion of fans’ faces, bandit style, could be seen everywhere in the relatively small crowd.  Once the music hit for the first song, “Undead,” the audience pushed forward for the stage.

The song should be recognizable to any Hollywood Undead fan as it is the first track on their 2008 album, Swan Songs. Out came the band in their masks and the crowd erupted. Two songs from their 2010 American Tragedy followed (“Tendencies” and “Been To Hell”) before the masks came off. This was understandable since it cannot be easy to vocalize through masks. Also, the heat factor of performing does take its toll.

Three songs followed from their latest album, Notes From the Underground. “Dead Bite,” Up In Smoke,” and “Kill Everyone” got the crowd moving, but they didn’t seem to sing along to them as much. At this point the band turned back to their debut album, pulling out back to back songs that received huge pops from the audience. It started with “City,” which had pretty much everyone singing and brought the energy of the beginning of the concert back. That carried over into “California.” At this point I noticed that of the seven members up on stage, six of them were constantly interacting with each other. The drummer was the only one who stayed in the back. The others would rap, sing, play different instruments. They never seemed to tire.

I also noticed how much Danny (Daniel Murillo) sounds an awful lot like Chester Bennington. There’s nothing wrong with that. More surprising was how spot on his vocals were. He sounds exactly like he does on the recordings. He can sing.

After a few more songs from their new album (“From the Ground” and “Delish”) they took a short break to catch their breath. This is the point when they noticed a very young fan sitting on someone’s shoulders. He had his hat and sunglasses on low, with a Hollywood Undead bandana over his face. They called him on stage and the crowd surfed him over. He got on stage where they asked him his name. I think it was Castor, if I heard correctly. One of the members whispered in his ear, then handed him the mic. Castor said, “J-Dog smells like shit.” Everyone laughed as the mic was snatched, and looking at J-Dog, his bandmate swore he didn’t tell him to say that. So they took a second take, whispering in Castor’s ear. This time the kid introduced the next song, “Comin’ in Hot.”

“Bullet”, “Paradise Lost”, “Another Way Out”, and “Young” follow. All kept the crowd hopping but it did start to feel late and as though the band was about done. They pulled out “Hear Me Now,” which got a huge response from the crowd. Everyone was jamming, especially to the chorus. At the end of the song, the band exited stage right as the crowd cheered. The “Encore” chants started then died down. That was followed by a collective, “One more song!” repeated over and over. Allowing for the suspense, after a few minutes the guitar riff for “Everywhere I Go” started as the band reentered the stage.

This brought on another huge pop and the crowd was probably the loudest it had been all night. From start to finish the fans were singing along word for word with the band. The song ended to huge cheers, and as Hollywood Undead thanked all the other bands that performed that night, they broke into one final song, “We Are.”  It was another fan favorite as everyone was still singing along word for word. At this point, I don’t think anyone wanted the concert to end, other than the people working who weren’t there for entertainment. As tired as Hollywood Undead were, they brought it this night from start to finish. The fans showed their love at the end of the song and cheered them off stage. The lights came on, and everyone turned toward the exits.

To come out to such a small crowd and perform as though they were in some huge arena shows a lot about the band. They really are all about their fans, whether there are a hundred or a hundred thousand. With no disrespect for their albums, I do have to say that their live performance blew anything they’ve recorded out of the water. If you like their music you have to get out and see them. You will not be sorry. I’m a little too old for their partying and angst, but I’d go see them again any time.

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