It seems that the support for this “Fire and Fury” tour must have been hand selected by Otep Shamaya herself. I found everyone in all the bands and their crew to be overly happy, or at least have the appearance “happy.”
The line was long, and I guess not surprising, there were a lot of girls / women, many wearing previous year’s Otep shirts. The chatter I eavesdropped on was how they respected her and what she stood for.
The first time I saw her was in 2001 Ozzfest. I had no idea who she was, but her performance on that second stage was raw and a bit terrifyingly awesome. I’d seen her twice in between and am a big fan of Jihad and Sevas Tra. I was remembering that I once single handedly cleared out a country bar by putting an Otep song on the jukebox.
I arrived early and positioned myself directly behind the sound board to see the show. And, it would be remiss of me to not confess that part of why I accepted this show was I had a mission. Otep has taken to social media feuds with some of my friends, and I wanted to see for myself first hand if the rumor I’d heard that you can’t buy an opening band’s merch during her set was true. I had $40 cash in my pocket and my intention was to buy a shirt from each of the opening bands part way through her set. Now, I took a lot of shit for posting that I was going to the show. Surprisingly, it is still a sore subject here locally. She did say some pretty derogatory things about bands coming from “Portland,” suggesting we were not worthy of putting out good music (that’s how I took it anyway).
Up first was Ragdoll Sunday from a spattering of places in Europe. They were enjoyable and obviously by their message and their merch, supporters of equality among humans of all races, creeds, and sexual identity.
Phoenix nu-metalers Dropout Kings were next. With their blend of hip hop and metal, they had the crowd bouncing and everyone enjoyed them thoroughly.
Duing the 20+ minutes after set time that Otep and her crew took to grace the stage, I overheard a comment that would back up what I had heard about the female leader of the band. Fan to the crew member, “Are they ever going to come out”? Crew member: “They will be out when she is ready. She is the boss. We all take her instructions.” I was so surprised he actually said that out loud.
She came out and immediately took control of the crowd. She’s beautiful and a force, and I found myself torn between being a fan, and being a detective journalist out to secure the evidence that I couldn’t buy the opener’s merch during her set. I waited three songs in, and fought my way through the crowd to get to the merch tables. I was slightly apprehensive, because I don’t like being the center of attention, and the tables were visible from the stage. The opening bands had little lights that they used to shine on the merch and part of me wondered if she’d stop the show and say, “hey…what are you doing…. pay attention to me.” I got to the table, and…. They were pitch black and unmanned. Maybe they went to use the restroom or get something to eat? I waited a few more songs. They didn’t return. I put the $40 back in my pocket and walked to the back of the venue to watch the rest of the show (as I’d lost my prime spot).
Very few, if any, in the local scene were there to support, and I have to admit I felt a bit like a traitor. The show was good, but it was overshadowed by the fact that I couldn’t buy opening band merch during her set.
She is an amazing talent, and as a woman, I like much of what she stands for. However, her attitude and lack of support for local acts deters me from continuing to be a fan. And, the social media nastiness that she engaged in was very unbecoming.
I support music. Local, national, international. She was once a local band, and I think the reputation she has for being difficult, arrogant, and nasty might well be deserved.