All Photos & Text by Nathaniel Shannon
REFUSED at the Studio of Webster Hall. 8/5/15
Hot off the trail of a successful run of “reunion” shows earlier this summer, giants FAITH NO MORE and cult favorites REFUSED teamed up for a small tour celebrating both bands’ new releases – Faith No More’s Sol Invictus, their first release since 1997’s Album of the year, and Refused’s new LP Freedom, a record most people never thought would happen in the wake of 1998’s Shape of Punk to come.
Having seen both bands play earlier in the year, and having photographed Refused at both their New York dates as well as their “secret” show at Brooklyn’s Saint Vitus Bar, I wasn’t initially planning on going to the New York date of this tour, but was talked into it. I figured, what the hell – the thought of the two bands playing together was too good to pass up. After a huge clusterfuck by whomever clusterfucked ticketing for the show, everyone who bought a ticket for the show was contacted that all tickets were to be cancelled because the show was being moved from Madison Square Garden to the Theatre at the garden. MSG seemed like a ridiculous place for the show in the first place, considering they aren’t Billy Joel or some Tugs McGraw country bullshit. As Roddy Bottom of FNM commented during their set, “My mother told me when I mentioned we were playing at MSG that Madison Square Garden is for hockey.” This clusterfuck required people to re-buy tickets, as the venue had no proper way to reconfigure the seating arrangements. As a paying fan, this was a huge and expensive slap in the face. For those of us who spent good money for good seats, we had to re-buy seats that were basically garbage. The frustration of this honestly made me not want to go. But if you have never seen Faith No More…it’s worth it.
I got to the venue early so I could stand in line to get in line to get in line to photograph Refused, you know…because why make anything simple? We were searched and taken into the venue to the photo pit. Thankfully, I’m tall and can loom over the “photographers” who felt the need to bring stools to stand on, something I will never understand in terms of being rude to everyone else shooting, and security working in front of a barricade. But hey, it’s New York right? That’s part of the charm – everyone’s an asshole, and sometimes you need a stool to trip people to prove it. Refused finally took the stage and put their all into kicking out some new jams. While still weird to me to watch them play a big stage, their expressions bore how much fun they were having playing together. After opening with their new single “Elektra,” they dove into a couple old hits. I finished shooting and took my terrible seat. I looked around and everyone seemed to have the same look on his or her face of, “I see that the band is playing and it should sound good…but this sounds like crap.” The mics were cutting out, the drums were low in the mix, and everything seemed off, something I hadn’t noticed while shooting. This kind of bummed me out, specifically for the fact that for this big of a tour, and people paying this kind of money, it shouldn’t sound like shit. Also, it’s not a great introduction for any Faith No More fans that weren’t previously familiar with Refused. The band ripped through their short set and people seemed to be having a good time. The vibe was surprisingly friendly and positive, a rarity in New York. The crowd was excited for FNM. I grabbed a drink from the overpriced Delta Airlines sponsored bar, and headed back to the photopit.
After a short changeover to the dress the stage in white flower boxes to match the bands white guitar and bass cabs, drummer Mike Bordin sat down at the kit and began the drum intro to “The Real Thing.” The crowd went wild, a fantastic song to start off the set. The rest of the band, dressed in white yoga gear, followed suit. They ripped through a great set mixing old jams and new jams. Highlights included “Everything’s Ruined,” “Caffeine,” “Midlife Crisis” and their cover of the Commodores hit “Easy.” Mike Patton thanked the crowed for sticking with the band despite the ticketing clusterfuck. The band took a small break and returned for the encore, starting with the first single off the new record, “Motherfucker.” The energy was building back up and the band tore into “RV,” a fan favorite that they haven’t played until this tour since 1993. I witnessed quite a few friends in the pit push their way to the front to sing along. The amount of smiling faces for a crowd in New York was inspiring to see.
At the end of “RV,” I looked at my girlfriend and said, “so where’s the secret Refused show at tonight?”
She responded, “Why would they do another one? They just played one”
I reminded her that they’ve played “secret” shows every time they’d played in New York since they “got back together.” I sent out a few texts, and to my surprise within minutes was tipped off that they were playing at the Studio at Webster Hall at midnight. Faith No More ended the night with a crowd sing along to “Just a man.” As the last note dropped, we ran out the door to catch a cab down to Webster Hall. We were some of the first to arrive.
We met up with some friends inside and grabbed some drinks. A few minutes to midnight, there still wasn’t much turn out, but a little after midnight the band took the stage and the small room was full, but comfortable. After opening with “Servants of Death,” a song off their new record, singer Dennis Lyxzén informed the crowed, “we are going to play some old songs tonight,” then launched into “Everlasting.” The band seemed to have much more fun at this show than the last secret show they did at Saint Vitus, and even than earlier in the night. They laughed and joked with each other on stage. About halfway through the set I kept screaming, “play pump the breaks!” Dennis looked at me and said, “you really think we remember how to play that?” Guitarist Kristofer Steen taps Dennis on the shoulder and begins to play the intro to “Pump the breaks.” Dennis grabs the mic and says. “I guess we’re going to play it.” Besides playing hits from Songs to fan the flames… and The Shape of Punk to come they did covers of Entombed’s “Damn deal done,” Iron Maiden’s “Wrathchild”, and Fugazi’s “Bed for the scraping.” The band and crowd were all smiles as the show came to an end. As much as I hate New York sometimes, it’s nights like these that masochistically make me never want to leave.