Live Review: Judgement Day, The Phenomenauts, Tornado Rider

WHERE: Great American Music Hall – San Francisco, CA

WHEN: August 4

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HIGHLIGHT: Spandex, String Metal and Innovative Weirdness

The marquee outside the Great American Music Hall seemed to read in descending order: “TONIGHT: Judgement Day/The Phenomenauts/Tornado Rider.” Instead, Judgement Day, a band that has risen in stature in both the local and national scenes in recent years, opened the show to early-bird fans. Each band had their own contingent of fans there that night, and Judgement Day’s posse got there bright and early, and was rewarded with a typically awe-inspiring set. Judgement Day is a “string-metal” band that probably sounds exactly like what you’re imagining. Though they started out as a band that was mostly appreciated by other musicians for their academic approach to songwriting, real people have finally caught on in the last few years – instead of singing along at choruses, fans drummed their thighs along to favorite violin and cello riffs.

The Phenomenauts took the middle slot, providing a suitable transition from Judgement Day’s more cerebral presentation to the disjointed madness of Tornado Rider. The Phenomenauts went through the usual motions, leading the crowd in coordinated chants and deploying fog machines for effect. That’s not to say it wasn’t fun – there’s a reason the band has amassed a loyal army of fans, many of whom were there that night. Though it’s virtually always the same show, a Phenomenauts gig is a guaranteed good time.

Though the filter of a YouTube stream may not give you the full effect, make no mistake: Tornado Rider is simply chaotic live. As a live band, they make about as much sense as their songs, which are titled things like “Goat God,” “I’m a Falcon” and “OMG, It’s a Dinosaur.” In just the first 20 minutes of their set, the audience was treated to a man dressed as a tree, lead singer Rushad Eggleston rocking the hell out of his cello in his traditional uniform of spandex pants, elf hat and headset mic, and one of the Phenomenauts making a cameo appearance as the title character in the aforementioned “OMG, It’s a Dinosaur.” Though their fans are all very different, all three bands are quite equal in innate weirdness.

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