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July 8, 1999 -- New York City (The Elbow Room)

By: Pat Donnelly

Dope, who signed early this year with Flip Records (the label Limp Bizkit is on), came back to NYC for one last show before they went off to tour with Orgy and then Fear Factory.

About two years ago, Dope emerged from the scummy little clubs of the East Village, and developed a huge fan base. Their shows were intense, energy-filled balls of anger, and the fans loved it. They played a series of about 7 shows at the Elbow Room and Continental before playing at Coney Island High with God Lives Underwater.

Naturally, fans had very high expectations for the July '99 show at the Elbow Room. Fans had always depended on Dope as a release... playing great songs, with enough energy to get the crowd into a frenzy. This show however, didn't come close to what anyone was hoping for.

There were several departures from traditional Dope fare which may have contributed to the lackluster show. For starters, they got on stage within fifteen minutes of the time they said they would. This is an absolutely unheard of feat for Dope, who have been up to an hour and forty-five minutes late in the past. Second, they got on stage in all black clothes, which was a startling departure from their standard orange prison-garb they used to wear. Third, Edsel, the charismatic, mesmerising frontman for Dope, played guitar at this show. He'd never picked up an instrument at the shows, and it really detracted from his stage presence. Fourth, the guitars and synth sounded way too clean and processed. In the past the instruments had a certain rawness that really made them sound great and added to the show. But at the July '99 show the instruments were all very produced and didn't sound nearly as fitting to Dope's songs. And last, the music just wasn't loud. Usually one leaves a Dope show feeling like their ears have been stabbed repeatedly with knives, but this one felt like you'd been using a Q-tip or something. People were actually heard to shout "Turn it up!" during the set.

So these factors were all contributors to the poor crowd response. Dope played some classic staples, like "One Fix", "Spine for You", "Shit Life", "Suck", and "Fuck the Police". But much of what they played was new material, which the crowd was unfamiliar with, and didn't get into it as much. The mosh pit only broke out during "Spine for You", the last song they played. When Edsel changed into his prison garb, started to take off the shirt part, and hung over the audience, only a few people made some pathetic grabs at his legs. In the past when he did that, his entire body was barraged by hands, grabbing him rubbing him and trying to pull him into the crowd.

The actual music wasn't that great either. They played alright, but even the band didn't seem to have the energy that they had in earlier shows. It was a relief for fans to finally hear some of their favorite songs live again, but the band just didn't seem like Dope. Most fans are hoping that this was just a case of Dope having an off day. They return to NYC on August 18 with Fear Factory, so many people have said that they hope to see a resurrection of the things that used to be.

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