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Filter - July 12, 2008 - Starland Ballroom, Sayreville, NJ

By: Sean McGee

On a warm summer's eve, positive vibes were everywhere at the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, NJ. Filter were playing their first headlining concert in the area in years; a free concert sponsored by local radio station G-Rock. Some New Jerseyans were fortunate enough to catch Filter perform both new material and older classics when they opened for Stone Temple Pilots elsewhere in the state back in May.

Despite many never hearing of the two opening bands, both Thriving Ivory (San Francisco, CA) and God Fires Man (Brooklyn, NYC) built a very strong momentum in the crowd with their own unique edge.. Thriving Ivory had a lighter sound, much like One Republic or Maroon 5. The singer’s voice resembles that of Claudio Sanchez of Coheed and Cambria, but their overall sound works very well. God Fires Man then took the stage and injected some nitrous oxide into the air. If you took the riffs of Chevelle and the passionate stage presence of Against Me, shook them up in a test tube, and then hurled it at a wall, the explosion is called God Fires Man. This truly was a balanced lineup of openers when looking back at Filter’s eclectic range of work over the past decade or so.

Last but not least, Filter took the stage one by one. Each member boasted their own ovation from the audience despite having an entirely fresh lineup from scratch, aside from Richard Patrick - the founder of Filter and once-original guitarist for Nine Inch Nails in the late 1980’s and early 90’s. The new blood of the band includes Mitchell Marlow on guitar, Mika Fineo on drums, and john Spiker on bass.

Then, the 40-year old Patrick came out and the place erupted with excitement. The band kicked into the set with “Welcome to the Fold,” a staple from their most successful effort, 1999’s Title of Record. Their other three albums (1995’s Short Bus, 2001’s The Amalgamut, and most recently 2008’s Anthems for the Damned) were also felt in the set list.

Despite his age, Richard Patrick proved he’s anywhere but over-the-hill. He’s not as ferocious on his vocals as some can remember all the way back to Family Values tour in 1999, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. A big reason is because this is the first new record and touring cycle for Filter that Richard has done since he went to rehab after problems on the road touring in support of The Amalgamut in 2002.

The set featured fast paced madness in songs like “So I Quit” and “The Take,” but also mixed it up with the more relaxed “Cancer” and the always-present single “Take A Picture.” In addition to material from their four full-length albums, the guys blasted through two of their bigger songs that were from soundtrack compilations, “Trip Like I Do” as well as “Jurassitol.”

Each of the new members of Filter had a very tight performance and are extremely comfortable playing both new and old material. Despite bassist Spiker being very statuesque, Marlow rocked back and forth standing on a cabinet and swings the neck of the guitar back and forth like a baton twirler. Fineo on drums gives a strong backbone to the sound they produce and helps the lineup fight off the unbelievable realization that none of these guys shared the same studio/stage together a few years ago. With Patrick still at the helm of the ship he built and feeling healthier than he has in years, the entity Filter is alive and well.


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