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Otep

The Rock, Tuesday, May 6

Los Angeles-based quartet Otep raged through its 80-minute performance at The Rock without the help of any fancy light displays or enormous backdrops. The band didn't even need security as they marched through the crowd onto the stage while their intro music, Carl Orff's "O Fortuna," played over the PA.

Warming up onstage by playing a tribal beat, the band ripped into its opener, "Possession," from its 2002 full-length debut, Sevas Tra, and the crowd--including a little girl rocking out on her dad's shoulders--erupted into a headbanging frenzy. Focus shifted from frontwoman Otep Shamaya, whose death grunts and growls came with bigger balls than all the men combined in The Rock, to guitarist Aaron Nordstrom, whose dreadlocks flew all over.

Otep only played 10 songs during their performance, and during the time between, the band jammed, or Shamaya, also a poet, expressed her thoughts to the crowd.

Prior to playing "Blood Pigs," Shamaya told a story to the youthful crowd about an incident during which police told her not to swear onstage. She responded by saying that she was protected by the "First fucking Amendment." Cue an audience roar of approval.

Dedicated to the "free thinkers and the rebels who decide to vote," Otep next played the politically charged "Confrontation," from the group's newest release, The Ascension, and donned masks from V for Vendetta for the occasion. Toward the end of the song, a young girl was escorted out of the pit with a bloody nose.

"The world I see, the moon is always high ... monsters, martyrs, daughters," Shamaya stated in her next spoken-word moment, prior to the song "Ghostflowers." Anytime Shamaya said anything throughout the night, the crowd became silent and listened to her thought-provoking messages. "You guys are louder than the PA," Shamaya complimented the crowd at one point.

In a black veil, Shamaya dedicated Otep's cover of Nirvana's "Breed" to the late Kurt Cobain.

Draping herself with a gas mask, a crown and the American flag, Shamaya dedicated the group's last song of the night to the men and women of the armed forces, whom she declared true heroes. She also demanded that everyone request the resignation of President Bush, prior to erupting into "Warhead." Holding a stick with a Bush mask attached to it, she demanded that the crowd revolt and vote as the group exited the stage.

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More by Jon Hobson

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