Recap: Captured! By Robots/Juiceboxxx at Cactus Club 10/18/09

(Ed. Note: Yeah, yeah, this video is from San Francisco in 2007, but it features a song performed at Sunday night’s Cactus show, and seeing as it was performed by mechanical robots, how much different could it have been? Yeah, yeah, we were too busy rocking out to get any photos or video. We blew it. –F-B)

Words by Abbie Amadio

Cactus Club was surprisingly packed for a Sunday night—with Juiceboxxx and Captured! By Robots wrecking the back room and metalheads filtering in post–Mastodon/High On Fire/Converge to drink beers and talk metal. As typical for human hip-hop beat machine Juiceboxxx, he ripped through his set, climbing on tables, throwing himself on the floor, grabbing people by the hair and giving their skulls a good shake, and, per usual, delivering an unnervingly energetic performance. (“God, this is fun, but please don’t tackle me!”) The guy is seemingly possessed and always a good time, bouncing off the walls like some backwards preacher; his eyeballs wide, rolling them upward as he stares antagonistically at the crowd. Some of his more masochistic fans followed suit, getting up close to catch some of his sweat, dance, and join in the spastic chaos of his performance.

And then, robots. Or, wait? ROBOTS!

The first half-hour or so of Captured! By Robots’ set was for ogling the robots, whether or not the ogles were looks of amazement or horror. Some people looked aghast as the Headless Hornsmen jerkedly moved forward and backward, horns sometimes drunkenly entering a song, machinery dressed up in collared shirts rimmed in blood and men’s dress pants. Kind of sick, but mostly remarkable. By and large though, mouths were half-open and smiling, in awe of the Frankenstein-anomalies on stage. Demented animatronics with bulging eyeballs and bad hairdos, drummer bots DRMBOT 0110 and AUTOMATOM played the major antagonizers to the captured human JBOT (aka Jay Vance), lambasting the human’s rank body odor and overall failure at living, which did little to enhance the uplifting theme of the show. GTRBOT 666, the center-stage guitar/bass player, was by far the most impressive robot, and the most ominous looking piece of machinery. Also, of course, the bot who probably gets the most chicks. (Sorry.)

The theme of this Captured! By Robots tour is “Get Motivated!” Writing pseudo-psych self-help aphorisms like “Believe,” “Don’t Run From Your Problems,” and “PMA (Positive Mental Attitude)” on a dry-erase board on stage, JBOT acted as “life coach” and all-around positive reinforcer, urging everyone to pull themselves out of their post–Dubya recession funks and get and/or stay AWESOME, while his band of captor robots verbally shat on his stupid human hopefulness. The set was entirely covers—and all of the covers (excepting self-indulgent robot-themed songs toward the set’s end) played off the mantras pushed on the crowd by life coach JBOT. Getting Rocky heavy, C!BR rattled through the Rocky theme song and Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” at ear-plugging volume. Bad Brains’ “Attitude” reinforced JBOT’s call for PMA, and Springsteen’s standout “Born To Run” threw the crowd a bone and let them know, “Hey, it’s OK. We’re all awesome, but we all run from our problems sometimes.” Even the Boss. “Bridge Over Troubled Water” was by far a favorite, as JBOT and C!BR growled and thrashed through Simon & Garfunkel’s adult-contempo snoozer. Likewise, Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’,” always a crowd pleaser, drove the self-help/get-motivated message home—Yeah, some of us are depressed, some of us don’t have jobs and are completely disenchanted with our government and country, and some of us “smell like egg salad and diarrhea,” but it will all be OK as long as we believe. Right everybody? Right Steve Perry? Right and right.


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