Watch: System of a Down Destroy a Tiny Club in ’97 Right Before they Blew Up

Vladimir Petkov, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
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System of a Down’s self-titled album was released on this day way back in 1998. 24 years later and its impact is still felt around the world.

On paper, this band should’ve never worked. A sonic hybrid of Dead Kennedys, Queen and Slayer shouldn’t have had mainstream appeal. But, the songs were just that good, the timing was just right with nu metal’s ascension in the world of metal and beyond it, and alas, here we are.

As we were reflecting back on this gem of an album, we came across the stellar full set below from 1997- July 11, 1997 to be exact. System of a Down’s self-titled album wasn’t out quite yet, but a huge portion of the set was dedicated to songs from it.

As you’ll see, the band was firing on all cylinders in the super tiny Whisky a Go-Go in West Hollywood (MAYBE 500 people were there if it was a sold out gig).

Serj Tankian (lead vocals, keyboards),  Daron Malakian (guitar, vocals),  Shavo Odadjian (bass, backing vocals) and John Dolmayan (drums) all had the perfect musical chemistry. Fun fact- John had replaced original drummer Andy Khachaturian in 1997 so it’s very possible that the show below is one of his first gigs with System of a Down.

Some bands just have “it” from the jump, and System of a Down was clearly one of them. They sounded arena-ready before anyone outside of the Los Angeles area really even knew who they were. It’s no wonder that the band caught the eyes and ears of producer extraordinaire, Rick Rubin, who would of course go on to be an influential part of their record contract signing and the self-titled album.

Here’s the setlist & timestamps of this iconic show, but if you have the time, it’s really worth a full watch from start to finish:

1 – Know (00:00) 2 – War (02:54) 3 – Mind (5:30) 4 – Honey (11:40) 5 – Temper (14:22) 6 – Marmalade (17:14) 7 – Soil (20:48) 8 – Blue (24:12) 9 – Suite-Pee (28:17) 10 – Peephole (30:49) 11 – Darts (34:52) 12 – Sugar (38:50)

Watch an early System of a Down play songs from the self-titled album:


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