The internet is a fetid womb from which perverse and offensive offspring are born into popular culture. Bizarre sexual fetishes that make most normal folk squirm with disgust found a home and a highway through the networks of the web, while countless musicians found fans in similarly derelict corners of cyberspace. L.A.-based Hollywood Undead is one such group. The band rose from the web to relative fame as an abrupt, unfiltered mash of underground grit and Internet savvy.
Hollywood Undead is the wild middle child between Linkin Park and Insane Clown Posse. The masked rap-rock, genre-blending six-some screams debauchery and depression without committing to either. Its party anthems highlight hedonism with what must be an intentional sense of humor or else a humorous lack of sensitivity. Hollywood Undead's more emotive tracks deal with loss, loneliness, and ethical ambiguity. Matured over a decade, the group’s noise is like a strong artisanal cheese, selective yet complex, putrid and somehow popular. It's amassed an army of "H.U. Soldiers” who identify with the band's juxtaposition of party rock, rap, metal, and emo undertones.
The group got its break via MySpace (for our younger readers, MySpace is like Facebook's drunk uncle) around the time the social-media site mutated into a record label. After positive feedback to an early song, Hollywood Undead was created in an act of sudden pragmatism.
“Whoever was in the room at the time and played an instrument was in the band," cofounder J-Dog told Shave Magazine. Hollywood Undead's debut album, Swan Songs, was adopted and then abandoned as Myspace Records’s first major release because the oft explicit H.U. rightly refused to be censored. It then spent years finding a label that would back its unedited record, finally releasing the album in 2008 to good sales, decent reviews, and a number-22 spot on the Billboard 200.
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That same year, H.U. Soldiers showed how internet democracy can introduce a subculture to the public. Baltimore’s 2008 Virgin Mobile Festival held a “Book the Band” competition in which fans could vote for an artist to perform. In numbers only the internet could mobilize, H.U. Soldiers swept their boisterous idols onto the south stage alongside traditionally booked artists like Bob Dylan, Kanye West, the Black Keys, and Lil Wayne.
H.U. Soldiers demonstrated the incredible power of social-media organization two years prior to the Arab Spring. Since then, Hollywood Undead has established itself as one of many manic acts to emerge from the jnternet's womb. And it hasn't stopped screaming since.
Hollywood Undead with Cane Hill. 7 p.m. Thursday, April 30, at Revolution Live, 100 SW Third Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-449-1025, or visit jointherevolution.net. Tickets cost $21.50 plus fees via ticketmaster.com.