Ice-T and Body Count’s much balleyhooed return to the Southern California concert stage Friday was almost as unsettling as the idea of censorship.
After enduring the leering presence of nearly 100 law enforcement officers surrounding the venue by car, helicopter, motorcycle, on foot and positioned on rooftops, crowd members for the sold-out event had to endure a flat, uninspiring and boring hourlong set of metal music.
Show marked the reopening of North Hollywood’s Electric Ballroom, a cavernous theater that usually books Spanish-language double features.
The interior of the Ballroom is reminiscent of the Wiltern Theatre, albeit without the balcony or any of that venue’s charm.
The Electric Ballroom stopped booking rock concerts after a 1989 gig by punk band Bad Religion was oversold, leading to a near-riot outside the hall.
Despite the considerable hype and controversy caused by Body Count’s song “Cop Killer”–which has been the target of police and political groups since its March release–it was an uneventful and peaceful evening.
Small religious and pro-police groups marched across the street from the the venue in protest of the song, their actions monitored by a horde of media worthy of a sports championship. One marcher carried a sign that read “Boycot (sic) Time Warner,” referring to the parent of the record company that distributes the Body Count album.
Musical highlights of this show were few. The ultraheavy “Voodoo” and the Motorhead-like “Bowels of the Devil” were the best of the band’s offerings. Songs like “Evil Dick” and “KKK Bitch” could only be called dumb rock.
Body Count’s style of speed metal is mediocre at best, derivative and amateurish at worst. The band lacks any dynamic sense, while the normally timely Ice-T has written lyrics that are not only unnecessarily vulgar but painfully obvious and base. When the mercifully short set ended with a very anti-climactic “Cop Killer,” much of the unimpressed crowd had already fled the scene.