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Type O Negative at First Avenue (Minneapolis, MN)

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Type O Negative is the type of band that people—often, young adults who were furiously trying to find an identity—listened to when they wanted a taste for a gothic lifestyle without necessarily giving it the old college try. The band is fairly accessible, its landmark 1993 release Bloody Kisses went platinum and its 1996 follow-up October Rust went gold, and since then, one has really never had to struggle to find anything new about the band or its music. Contrast that to the likes of even the most popular of underground gothic acts such as Christian Death or the somewhat obscure Sopor Aeternus, and it’s easy to see what has allowed Type O to reach the level of popularity that it has. The band plays a somewhat generic, toned down sound. A sound that is honestly easy for any hard-rock fan to enjoy. That being said, Type O Negative is one of my favorite bands and its ability to deliver heart stopping music with tongue firmly planted in cheek never ceases to amaze.

Rousing the crowd before a performance can have both positive and negative effects—either the audience is going to roll with the punches or get rowdy and pissed off. With that said, after three full loops of “The Chicken Dance” theme, even I was beginning to become a bit suspicious and impatient. After all, Celtic Frost had just wrapped up its set, one as deeply covered with satanic imagery as the band members in corpse paint were.

As fans grew increasingly impatient, the stage crew continued to test the “applause,” “you suck,” “booooooo” and “laughter” signs on the stage. It was like a twisted version of The Merv Griffin Show (much to the displeasure of one roadie who happened to take the brunt of the joke as every time he walked on stage the “boooooo” sign mysteriously lit up). At last, the lights dimmed… and… finally,… the parodic anthem “Kazakhstan” from the recent Borat film began to play, accompanying the floor lights which came back on.

Believe it or not, the band actually took the stage at some point during the night and played an excellent show. Its previous tour brought the act to town accompanying Cradle of Filth at the now defunct Quest and it came at a time when singer Peter Steele’s back was in terrible shape. Apparently no longer an issue, Steele and the rest of the band played a far more complete set this time around and the high energy of the crowd was a direct reflection of that—though some still weren’t over that whole “Chicken Dance” incident.

The band’s recent release, Dead Again, debuted on the Billboard Top 200 at #27, further proof of the band’s ongoing accessibility. Criticizing your idols is never an easy task, but if nothing worse can be said than “they’re too popular,” “too accessible” or “easy to enjoy” it might be time to stop looking for flaws and start enjoying the music again. Thankfully, on this night I was able to do just that.

[This article first appeared on How Was The Show.]