I know that a lot of Juggalos are in disagreement about (hed)PE, with some really liking them, and some definitely not liking them at all. Well, I fall into the former category since I’ve really enjoyed their music and live performances for years. I actually consider them to be one of my top few favorites in the underground as far as putting together albums that I can listen to all the way through. That being said, I was disappointed when I went to their most recent local show in Clarksville, TN on 3/19. I had to work that day, so after leaving work at 7:00pm, I grabbed my friend Marlie and we arrived at the venue shortly after 8:00pm, after a few of the openers had already performed. Our friend Izzy was already there, so we grabbed some drinks and mingled until the next band was ready.
We were all camped out at the bar, and pretty soon, we started to hear this loud, slow accordion music fill the whole club. There was a guy who had come onstage who had an entirely white head with gray veins and blacked out eyes, slowly but very loudly playing his accordion while staring into the crowd. It was so loud and out of the ordinary that it seemed like everyone stopped and watched him until he was done. After putting down the accordion, the rest of the band members came out onstage and I decided to walk up a little closer and get a better look at them. Each one had their own face paint design, and each one looked awesome. Wow…they were definitely unique, and from just the few minutes I’d been watching, I was really digging it.
Who was this band?? How had I never heard of them before?? And why was I falling in love with them so instantly when I was there just to see (hed)PE??
This was SUNFLOWER DEAD!
It’s pretty rare for me to see a band or artist live and immediately be a fan, but that’s just what happened here. They were so unique, and very, very entertaining. Each person in the band had that certain something that made me watch him during the performance. The lead singer and accordion player Michael has this incredibly intense and almost scary air about him, where his blacked out eyes stare right through you when he looks at you! Lead guitarist Jaboo is so fascinating to watch, partly because of his makeup, and partly because he was TEARING IT UP on the guitar. He definitely had an old school hair metal vibe going on, with his long curls hiding his face and the manner in which he was playing. Bassist Jamie has long dreadlocks that he swings around during the more intense parts of the performance, which I love <3 They were just very entertaining, and very fun to watch.
Their music was also exactly what I like as well, with lots of heavy metal and hard rock influence, but with actual lyrics that you can understand (I’ve never been much into the heavy metal that is just constant screaming). Since I wasn’t familiar with any of their music, everything they performed was new to me except for their version of “Every Breath You Take” by the Police. During the set, the lead singer motioned for a few of us to come closer to the stage, then proceeded to bend down and stare at me for what seemed like forever haha It was genuinely intimidating, I must say, but I loved it.
I’m not sure if Sunflower Dead is a band that the average Juggalo would like or not, but I certainly think they deserve a chance. I mean, not everyone likes (hed)PE, but they still have a pretty strong Juggalo following. All I can speak for is myself, in that I LOVED what I saw of them, and will certainly be following them in hopes of our paths crossing again.
After their set, Smile Empty Soul was up next. I’ve seen them a couple of times before and think that they’re awful at performing live, so Izzy, Marlie and I headed outside for a breather. On the way out, we ran into Jaboo and Jamie, and we all gave them our kudos for a performance well done. Afterward, since we had some time to kill before (hed)PE, we ran to the corner gas station for some drinks. I ended up with a Colt 45 because I told my friends I’d never tried one before, and they insisted. Bad idea, especially when I’m not much of a beer drinker hahaha But oh well.
By the time we made it back, we were just in time to get hit on by some guys in the parking lot.
After making our escape, we went back inside, and were just in time to catch (hed)PE come on stage. From the get go, I could tell that something was really off. None of them seemed to have their normal energy, and they seemed to just be going through the motions of performing. The crowd had thinned a little after Smile Empty Soul, so apparently the crowd wasn’t doing much to hype up the band either. Jahred stayed a lot further back on the stage than normal, and didn’t seem very animated.
Maybe halfway through the set, the real issue surfaced when Jahred made a comment about how they shouldn’t have come back to Clarksville so soon (since they were just at this same venue in December). He looked kinda pissed when he said it…but I mean, that’s not our fault. That’s your booking manager’s fault for booking you at the same small town venue twice in three months. Why cop out and give us a below average performance just because you’re pissed off that you’re back so soon? Later he even made a comment about how “shows like this…35 people in a club…don’t make a tour.” Pretty sad that something like that would affect their performance.
But y’know, every group is allowed to have their off nights, so lets hope that this is a one-off and not a consistent thing with their post-Subnoize performances. One thing they did do which I thought was kind of cool was that they took a couple of requests. Someone yelled “RTO!” and Jahred said “I’m not your personal karaoke machine…or am I?” then they played RTO anyway. The same thing happened with Sophia, and later they played CBC after calling out some dude who was humping on his girl in the crowd haha
After the set was done, the band went back to their merch booth and signed some autographs, but pretty quickly made their way out of the venue. It was very obvious that they didn’t want to be there, which is a real disservice to their fans, IMO.
So yeah…I came to this show excited to see (hed)PE, but Sunflower Dead totally stole the show! For anyone who might want to check out something by them, here are a couple of links for their videos:
The Point of Decision: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=edwvktyK9GE
Make Me Drown (with the accordion intro): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l6aW01Hz3ho
Every Breath You Take: http://youtu.be/v8Hq7S1klTk
So what do you think? Am I alone in thinking that Sunflower Dead kicked ass? Are they a group that maybe Juggalos should pay attention to? Would they go over well at the Gathering? Would you have been pissed if hed(PE) performed this way in your city? Comment below to let me know!