When I first spoke with the boys at Zero Signal, they didn’t really have a lot of plans for playing shows. But in chatting with them last week and with listening to their EP, I knew that when the time came around, they would be ready and willing to bring a full-on attack for their debut show.
The perfect place to showcase that live event? The concert hall at King Avenue 5. Many have told me that King Avenue 5 has some of the best lighting and sound, and I personally could think of no better place to premiere the “death trance” effect.
The opening act for the evening was the groove-metal quartet The Admiralty, who got all heads nodding and all ears primed for the excursion into darkness. The two primary members of the group, J Syntax and Reject, began to set up their gear and were joined by drummer Kevin Decker and guitarist Josh Money, as well as the cyber-siren Toxic Techno. Seeing the five of them together on the stage made me wonder just what kind of performance I was about to witness, as the band was promising to “pull out all the stops” for their debut show.
The set was opened with the first track off of their EP, titled Pull The Trigger. Reject jumped onto his keyboard with a pair of LED scrolling glasses that read Zero Signal, a message that would change a few times throughout the night. There were also LED towers dotting the stage, making for a bright and brilliant spectacle. Reject pulled out his drill and shot sparks across the stage as Syntax screamed, “You pull the trigger on me!!”
Up next, we had Wake Me Up, which featured an impressive array of deep guttural growls from Syntax. Before the song the boys announced that this was actually the first time that Decker had drummed live, and that he got the gig by them sitting him behind the kit and them telling him to “learn to drum.” It definitely didn’t show at any time during the set. It was also on this song that Syntax showcased his mesmerizing cyber-ninja dance moves during the heavier synth drives.
The main feature for the band was the song Inside, as they were shooting a music video for it that evening. All four of the musicians gave a double dose of energy on this number, with Reject shaking his entire keyboard setup, and Syntax jumping onto a light crate at the front of the stage and beckoning the crowd to move with him. I can safely say this was my favorite song of the evening, meshing all of the different sounds together into a harmoniously brutal effort.
Reject grabbed the mic and gave a few shout-outs, as Syntax picked up a guitar for an improbable rendition of ZZ Top’s Gimme All Your Lovin’. As much as I’m surprised to say it, it actually wasn’t a half-bad cover. Syntax crushed a blistering solo and growled over Billy Gibbons’ iconic lines, and I suppose it wasn’t too surprising of a cover, since it was the first song from the Texas rockers to feature a synthesizer.
All the same, Reject’s glasses shone out a message of “FUCK YOU” to the crowd as they launched into Angel, a song in which the synthesizers dominated any noise made by guitar or drum. Syntax pulled Miss Toxic Techno to the front of the stage to join him in his ninja dancing for this number, and they punched forward into the heavier Falling Apart, in which Reject again pulled out his drill and showered the entire crowd in sparks.
LED hooper Alexandra Crawford jumped on stage with the band for the last two songs, led by the biting synths of When I Die and finished out by Come To Us, in which Reject again climbed up on top of his keyboard setup and lifted the device onto his back, almost like a cross. Both songs were absolutely ferocious, as if the band were attempting to raze anything that was left standing after their first six songs. Reject later told me that Crawford had driven up from West Virginia to join the group for the performance.
It ended up being an exceptional set, better than I could have imagined after listening to the record. Syntax told me that while he initially envisioned the project to be a mostly album/video driven project, he was quite pleased with the outcome of the show and would definitely plan on performing more shows. I know I’d love to see it on an even bigger stage.
The set was essentially their EP in order from top to bottom, with the cover mixed in the middle. I would have to say that the entire night (with the following Pantera tribute act Blacktooth Grin, and headlining Rammstein cover group FleishgewehR) has to rank among the top five shows I’ve seen this year, and it was good to feel the pulsing music move through me again.
Credit all images: S Toale / Music in Motion Columbus
- Pull The Trigger
- Wake Me Up
- Gimme All Your Lovin’ (ZZ Top cover)
- Falling Apart
- When I Die
- Come To Us
Zero Signal – Pull The Trigger