It doesn't take long into a Powerman 5000 concert to know why vocalist Spider One has often said his veteran band has "more in common with Devo than Dio." Well, maybe minus the space hats. But that doesn't mean all three acts don't rock.
Only one of them was in attendance, though, last Thursday night. Powerman 5000 brought forth its own spacey outfits, hairstyles and robotic movements while entertaining a couple hundred dedicated fans inside The Rock Box.
Expanding on his quote when he spoke to Alamo True Metal for AXS.com last November upon the release of latest album New Wave (interview here), Spider One led the way as the band's only remaining original member -- by far. Filling a 65-minute set with songs spanning the group's nearly 30-year career, outlandish bassist Murv Douglas, lead guitarist Ty Oliver, brand new rhythm guitarist Erik Himel and drummer DJ Rattan played with laser-like focus.
Taking the stage with glowing green lights affixed to their instruments, Powerman 5000 came out with "Nobody's Real" and "Invade, Destroy, Repeat" (setlist in photo gallery). "Super Villain" further got the crowd jumping along with the pogo stick-like antics of the band, and "How to Be a Human" rocked the house. New Wave's opening track, "Footsteps and Voices," received more than a sedentary reaction from the crowd, while "Free" (watch ATM Facebook Live footage here) earned its own level of audience participation. Crowd favorites "Supernova Goes Pop" and "When Worlds Collide" left those on hand on a high as well (ATM footage below).
Even when things bogged down outside of the band's control, Spider One and Co. took care of it. "Horror Show" nearly turned into the band's worst nightmare with about a 10-minute malfunction of Douglas' bass, forcing the group to keep the beat mid-song while Spider kept up the banter with the crowd. When the song got rolling again, Powerman 5000 injected "Sabotage" from the Beastie Boys and "Bulls on Parade" from Rage Against The Machine into the tune, as Spider told ATM in the interview five months earlier.
With New Wave being such a solid album, it was disappointing that "Footsteps and Voices" was the sole new track played, particularly given that "Cult Leader" and second scheduled encore "Sid Vicious in a Dress" were on the printed setlist. Even if Spider didn't come out wearing one, the latter track would have been entertaining in its own right. "David Fucking Bowie" could have found its way into the program too.
Playing its third gig out of six in as many nights in the Lone Star state -- after having played five Texas cities minus San Antonio last November -- Powerman 5000 did not lack for energy or enthusiasm. Perhaps their stamina is another space-like quality that has more in common with Devo.
Or maybe Powerman 5000 simply floats along weightless and timeless through the musical universe when theirs, and our, worlds collide.