Alien Ant Farm / Dredg - Manchester Academy - 1.2.02

Its hard to believe that just over 6 months ago Alien Ant Farm were virtually unknown to anyone outside the rock community. In a twist as Michael Jackson was just about to make his ill-fated comeback the radio picked up on the Ant Farms cover of the Jackson classic "Smooth Criminal" and the rest as they say is history. Not that its been smooth riding ever since as accusation of sell out has plagued the band from hardcore fans and critics alike and news of a rumoured covers album is unlikely to do anything but confirm the fans fears.

After playing the city last May on the support slot for fellow Papa Roach, AAF are keen to pass the baton on to the next generation which is where Dredg come in. Almost at the opposite end of the spectrum to the Ant Farm, Dredg play highly emotional stadium sized rock music with influences spanning from 80s electronica like Depeche Mode through to contemporary acts like System Of A Down. Sadly it seems to fall on deaf ears for much on the teenage fans in tonight's audience who have more than enough worries growing up without having to listen to dark gothic rock music.

Alien Ant Farm on the other hand are the sort of band who can sit easily next to S Club 7 on kids TV which explains why much of tonight's audience seem to be here on the basis of the "Smooth Criminal" single alone. For some bands a novelty song could be the death of them but when you have songs such as "Movies" to follow it up with you get the feeling that this time next year AAF will be stronger than ever. Although new song "Bug Bytes", recorded for the new Spiderman movie, lacks any trace of a tune and has the words cash in written all over it.

Dryden and co are perhaps this years most unlikely rock superstars adding a much needed humour injection to the rock scene and its in this live setting that the band really excel. Perhaps its sometimes unintentionally funny, such as when Dryden asks the hardcore Manchester rock crowd "Were going to London tomorrow. Do you guys like London?...he's got the best of intentions but sometimes he just ends up looking a bit Tim Nice But Dim.

They may not be to everyone's taste but 10 years from now there will be people in bands saying they never listened to rock music until they heard Alien Ant Farm. What more of a tribute can you ask for?

Alex McCann

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