I’ll confess right up that I’m none-too-familiar with the music of U.S. headliners (hed) p.e., but it would appear I’m the only one here tonight for whom such words can be said. Opening act The Havknotz, from Sydney, are quick and wise enough to verbally acknowledge this fact, and by the end of their brief set only a small contingent of the audience still has the gall to chant the headliner’s name between songs. The Havknotz put on a very persuasive show indeed for such relative newcomers to the rap-rock scene…and while the set is a little padded-out by unnecessarily long bass solos and such, what songs they do have are uniformly strong, and the sheer energy of the show distracts nicely from the fact that 75% of their sound is covered by a backing track (lifted from their impressive debut EP, which you can expect a review of in these very cyber-pages in the near future).
Hed Pe do indeed turn out to be an unknown quantity – I failed to recognise even one song they played tonight – but I’ll be damned if I didn’t lap up the whole set, irrespective. More eclectic than the (ultimately repetitive) Korn, and immeasurably superior to the (frankly intolerable) likes of Linkin Park and Incubus, this is evidently one band which I missed back in the 90s which I maybe shouldn’t have. Sure, they look a bit like a cross between Limp Bizkit and Suicidal Tendencies, and at a pinch sound like a cross between the two…yet they manage to carve their own niche by swinging seamlessly between thrashy punk, groove-based metal, RATM-style rap-rock and even straight-up reggae. To be sure, singer Jahred Gomes has a mightily impressive vocal range, which only becomes vaguely strained on a (mostly serviceable) cover of Bob Marley’s “No Woman No Cry” – okay, so I did recognise ONE song they played tonight! – and the musicians he shares the stage with are no slouches when it comes to knowin’ their chops, neither. A band that both rocks and raps hard, but never without a hearty dose of soul.
Don’t chalk me up as a full-blown convert, but I now have some comprehension why so many in the audience tonight have an enthusiasm that stretches, at its most extreme, to hed (p.e.) tattoos; one of the few “nu-metal” era bands to healthily survive into the present, and it’s not hard to see why. A highly enjoyable and satisfying night all ’round, methinks.
© Michael Bowser, Music Vice
Photos of (hed) p.e. and The Haveknotz at The Corner Hotel, Melbourne: