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Widely regarded as one of the top 10 hard rock/metal bands in the 2000’s, System of a Down has not released an album since 2005 and only performed intermittently since 2011.  Any opportunity to see SOAD live should always be considered special and indeed this night turned out to exceed expectations.  On their second stop of a short four city west coast Fall tour, SOAD triumphantly returned to Fresno for the first time since 2005 and delivered a memorable performance to a loud enthusiastic capacity crowd at Save-Mart Center.  The big takeaway throughout the 27-song set was that SOAD’s material stands the test of time.  The four Armenian-Americans from L.A. have created such as unique and deep catalog of songs, infusing metal, funk, alternative, psychedelic and even folk, that the tracks sound as fresh as they did in their heyday.   

Armed with passion and an arsenal of amazing songs, there was no need for SOAD to utilize a fancy stage show.  The stage was simply amps, drum riser, and a few platforms to allow lead singer Serj Tankian and animated bassist Shavo Odadjian to utilize on occasion.  A large rotating light platform providing pulsating strobes and standard lighting effects.  The sound quality was noticeably impressive – guitars were dominant, but you could also hear the funky bass, John Dolmayan’s crisp cymbal strikes, and the vocals for both Serj and Daron Malakian (guitar/vocals) were spot on.   

There was another special treat in store for concert goes.  Last year the band, well known for their political activism, was inspired to record their first songs in 16 years in response to the Nagorno-Karabakh war, a conflict creating a humanitarian crisis in their ancestral homeland of Armenia.  Proceeds from the songs “Protect the Land” and “Genocidal Humanoids” supported the Armenia Fund for humanitarian needs of displaced families from the war.  Both these new songs were included in the set.  It was amazing to hear two fresh SOAD tunes live!

Other highlights of the show included 12,000 fans waving their hands together in unison during the dark and foreboding “Lost in Hollywood” - inspired by the song’s prominent albeit sarcastic line to “put your hands in the air like you just don’t care”.  The show closed with a trio of massive hits “Aerials”, “Toxicity” and “Sugar”, as the entire crowd passionately sang along.  System of a Down gave appreciative Fresno music fans a memorable journey back to their triple platinum glory days and, although it’s now 2021, - this band proved that their music stands the test of time. 

Rock on and be well!

Greg Vitalich

Greg Vitalich

Photojournalist - San Diego

Website: Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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