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Alien Ant Farm Invades Axis

Band Brings Hard Rock, Power Ballads, and Michael Jackson to Boston

By Jennifer L. Ford

The stage is black, and all in Axis, though packed to capacity, are still. Then, with no warning, the quiet is broken by a familiar melody -- the theme from Close Encounters. A deep voice comes over the loudspeakers, “and now Alien Ant Farm!” The crowd is quiet no longer, and they get even louder when the band they’ve all come to see, Alien Ant Farm, walks out on stage. The lead singer, Dryden Mitchell, walks over to the mike and says “I want to thank you guys for coming out here to support our music.”

And then the band begins to play ...

They launch into their first song, “Courage,” and the crowd goes mad; the mosh pit fills with guys rhythmically trying to kill each other. I am standing aloof from the crowd and as far away from the pit as is possible without actually standing outside the building. I have come prepared to cast pitying glances on the thrashing youths who had come to see a band like Alien Ant Farm. I had known that the band would be playing for them, not me. But suddenly, as the band starts screaming the chorus “I never said you were a mistake at all/ You’ve got it all wrong/ You’re misunderstanding,” I know the band is playing for me as well.

They play their second song, “Universe,” to great effect, and when they begin the third, the obligatory girl gets up on someone’s shoulders and bares her breasts to the stage. Dryden pauses for a split second and stares at her, mouth agape, then continues singing “Sticks and Stones.”

The band then plays “Stranded,” “Whisper,” and “Calico” in quick succession, and just when we think it can’t get any better, they switch to their mellow side, prefacing their next song with “If you hate your boyfriend or girlfriend, this is your song.”

Then they begin “Attitude,” my favorite song on their album, ANThology. As they crooned “Your solitude is welcome, welcome/ Your attitude is welcome, welcome/ You are welcome,” even the boys in the pit had to stop and marvel at their versatility. One minute they play hardcore metal, and the next they sound reminiscent of Counting Crows.

They play another mellow song, “Death Day,” a track about a guy wanting to kill his girlfriend, and then switch back to the hard stuff; the pit boys are getting antsy. The band plays “Movies,” a song that many of us in the audience have specifically come to hear. We sing along with Alien Ant Farm for the chorus, “I want you to be free/ Don’t worry about me” and shout an enthusiastic “hell yeah” when bassist Tye Zamora asks if we liked the song. When queried, we vow to watch the video on MTV when it comes out; for this band, we would do anything.

While we are still settling down from a rendition of “Movies” that sounds, like all the songs they have played thus far, exponentially better live than on their album, Dryden launches into “Flesh and Bones,” the third track on ANThology.

The band completes this song and thanks us profusely for listening to their music and coming out to see them. We can they are almost finished, and everyone knows exactly what the next song will be. Zamora yells, “You knock me off of my feet now baby! Woo hoo!!” and they play “Smooth Criminal” to end their set.

The crowd jumps up and down in unison, and sings along. The song is performed excellently, complete with Michael Jackson-esque strutting and crotch grabbing. And then, all too quickly, it’s over. They leave the stage with another polite, “thanks, guys,” and as we all exit the Axis, we know the only proper response is, “Alien Ant Farm, you are welcome.”