At first we thought that was KISS strutting up at us from our slideshow of this weekend's Warped Tour at Shoreline Amphitheatre. But no -- monstrous black-and-white makeup aside, those guys are way too skinny to be in KISS.
Turns out we were eyeing Black Veil Brides, a Hollywood pop-metal act whose members look like the gaudy Grand Poobahs of arena rock if they were meth heads. This is apparently the kind of thing that now passes for Warped Tour fare: zebra-zombie makeup, bondagey black pleather getups, comical rhinestone-cross ear medallions. Take your yearly beer budget, double it, and you've got what these dudes spend on eyeliner in a single night. And just like their fast-heavy-soaring songs, you can't tell any of these semishirtless band members apart.
Is it just us -- and the considerable time that has elapsed since we were 13 -- or is this all completely confusing? Is it supposed to be punk? Is it supposed to be metal? Is it supposed to be good?
At the core, this is just pop of the most mundane teenage self-help variety, with vague reassurances (sample refrain: "No one can tell you who you are") inserted sans context over staple moves from three decades of heavy/fast rock. One moment they're cribbing generic thrash metal, but the shout-along chorus in each radio-friendly song owes its origins to straight-up hardcore. And their outfits are pure hair metal.
Summing up this catastrophe is the video for "Fallen Angels," below. It has the band members rising from the wreckage of a post-apocalyptic L.A., dressed in the worst leather-and-studs garb, singing to reassure their insecure listeners of their place in the (now-destroyed?) world. Just like the video, Black Veiled Brides represent an age of heavy music where all of the previous orders have been dismantled, and where there is no contradiction, or even irony, in melding elements of once-distinct musical styles into one bland hard-rock sausage -- not to innovate, not to challenge, but simply to pander to young consumers' self-doubt.
Ugh. If these people are to inherit the world -- or even the Warped Tour -- please, let us perish. Or at least spend eternity listening to KISS.