Words: Alan Daly / Pics: Olga Kuzmenko (Olga Kuzmenko Photography)
I confess that I’m a closet fan of some gothic/horror bands. I draw the line well before HIM, but I enjoy guilty pleasures of listening to Wednesday 13 and (his) Murderdolls while driving, and of course, I’ve been listening to Marilyn Manson since the early nineties. In recent years, I’ve been exposed to the likes of Black Veil Brides and Deathstars at festivals and as support acts, but neither made me want to explore their works. When I heard Motionless in White were going to be playing in the Academy for the fifth time in as many years, I figured they must surely be worth a try. Their back catalog piqued my interest, and in particular, their latest release Graveyard Shift which really reminded me of Manson’s Golden Age of Grotesque.
On tonight’s surprisingly snowy January evening, the all-ages show in the Academy has unsurprisingly attracted a mostly teenage and youthful fresh-faced audience; at least downstairs where the beer taps are under wraps. There are a few older faces upstairs and around the periphery, but we suspect that some are parents making sure their own teens steer clear of those already smelling of alcohol. We catch the end of support act Ice Nine Kills, by which time they seem to have done a good job of whipping up enthusiasm amongst the crowd. Circle pits and walls of death are dutifully orchestrated and plenty of youngsters are spotted singing along to the lyrics. Vocalist Spencer Charnas delivers an impressive mix of clean and screamed vocals and introduces the crowd-pleasing ‘Enjoy Your Slay’, a track he tells us which was inspired by Steven King’s ‘The Shining’. His bandmates provide an equally impressive backing, and the Boston quartet is sure to have boosted their fanbase on this, their first performance in Ireland.
As we wait for the changeover to complete, I can’t help but ponder the fact that Megadeth’s Peace Sells… album blaring over the PA is older than the vast majority of the attendees tonight. It makes me realize that I’m in the company of a new generation of heavy music fans who have come to see possibly their first big show, featuring a band who were schoolkids themselves when I first started going to shows. But enough about me feeling old…
Motionless In White kick off proceedings with ‘Rats’, the opening track from Graveyard Shift, to a chorus of screams and hollers from the front rows. The Pennsylvanian five-piece is accompanied onstage by two PVC-clad dancing girls, once again reminding me of Manson’s Golden Age of Grotesque era during which he would bring dancing burlesque girls onstage during his shows. Indeed, for those who missed out on the live heyday of the God of Fuck, tonight’s show promises to be a worthy consolation with its own merit and individuality. I realize I’ve labored the unavoidable comparison, but MIW is certainly not ripping anyone off.
The setlist is well-chosen with two tracks each from their first three albums and no less than eight from their newest release, arranged in a remarkably smooth flowing sequence. Frontman Chris Motionless takes a few opportunities to address the audience, and at one point questions whether there are ANY other venues in Dublin because “this is, like, their 7000th time playing in the Academy”. He goes on to thank the fans, including some familiar faces, for their overwhelming demand for an Irish show when the Graveyard Shift tour was originally announced without a Dublin date. He confesses that they had always intended to return despite the omission on the initial press release, but were humbled by the outcry nonetheless.
The one-two of ‘Dead as Fuck’ and ‘Not My Type’ goes down particularly well with the fans, as do their video hits ‘Necessary Evil’ and ‘Reincarnate’. Typically, the loudest sing-along of the night is during their cover of System of a Down’s ‘Chop Suey!’. Throughout the show, the two girls make several more appearances, each time wearing different attire and bearing various props including super-soakers used to douse the sweaty audience, and trick-or-treat buckets filled with candy to reward them. With foot-stomping beats, catchy guitar hooks and the theatrics going with them, it’s impossible not to get caught up in the performance. Old school metal fans may deride this genre, but its appeal to younger fans and readers of Kerrang! can’t be denied, and Motionless In White will probably be joining Wednesday 13 on my driving playlist.