US metallers prove their live worth
It may be cold outside but you wouldn't know it inside the Mean Fiddler tonight. The venue is packed with expectant fans, and the anticipation could run a small generator. So naturally, Ill Niņo amp it up even more with a winding, mystical intro that something of a calm before the storm and the cheers get louder and louder until the band come on. Then the place erupts.
Singer Christian Machado demands "are you motherfuckers ready to set this shit off?" as if we needed any more encouragement. And without further ado, they launch into 'This is War' and wage war on our ears. With its samba beat, it's superb even if the vocals are buried under everything else.
Clearly big on crowd interaction, the second song sees Christian really getting the crowd going and the raw, intensity suits it. Better mixing and Rage Against the Machine vibe fuel a crazy mosh pit that surges to and fro. By the third song the band are giving it their all, and the place is going mental and a constant circle pit is going on.
When Christian cries 'let me hear you get noisy', the audience respond in kind, not surprising given song six is heavy as. Heavy but passionate is the order of the day, and their Latino metal isn't to everybody's liking but they definitely put effort in. 'Redisposed' has some awesome drums and they inspire a fierce mosh pit - this is more traditional metal and it shows.
It's not long until they get funky again, though - 'I wanna see sweat drip off the walls, I wanna see sweat drip off the ceiling!' - and we duly oblige. It's hard not to react to the 'What You Deserve', even if it does bear a striking resemblance to Linkin Park at times. In fact, the next two seem to take the Linkin Park/Limp Bizkit route a bit too closely and it's a shame, it doesn't do them any favours at all.
What with the passion and a declaration of 'forget about broken hearts, forget about school, forget about bullshit fucking politics', the Salsa and Samba influenced stuff sounds the best. It's really the beat that makes it, and those characterise the best songs of the rest of the set. Just before the break are some of the best tracks, insistent and brutal these are tunes that try their hardest to destroy your eardrums but the dirty, funky beat is irresistible.
When they wander back on after playing with the crowd but sounding out random riffs, a moment of irony arises. Given the type of fan Ill Niņo attract, Christian urging "stay true to yourself, and don't follow any trends" is probably the most misplaced advice ever. After a song that channels fury into a manic and angry chaos, they completely switch genres with some inexplicable reggae. Then they unleash full scale war on us, with the fastest, heaviest song of the set - Latino metal that's short but sweet. The final song of the set, 'Liar' is heavy but melodic and I find myself fully agreeing with Christian when he says "this goes out to all our freedoms, George Bush can fucking die!". It's a perfect way to end a set.
Sometimes, the music veers too close to Linkin Park and Limp Bizkit territory for comfort but on the whole this was a great set proving yet again that bands are so much better live.