— System of a Down (@systemofadown) April 22, 2015
Though the main focus of L.A. rock band System of a Down’s Wake Up the Souls world tour, which kicked off at the Forum in Inglewood on Monday night, is to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide, the important, heavy subject matter didn’t dampen the Armenian American quartet’s crushing, high-energy set.
Both the band’s anchor, John Dolmayan, and frontman, Serj Tankian, said last month that if the performances encouraged just 1 percent of the audience to talk about or spread awareness of the genocide, it would be gratifying. However, they were also fully aware that most fans would show up just to dance around for a couple of hours, saving just enough fuel to lose their minds during the closer, “Sugar.”
The evening was laid out in three acts, which were broken up by videos that were voiced over by Rage Against the Machine guitarist and activist Tom Morello. Each clip explained a little about the Armenian genocide and conveyed that there needed to be a “truthful and just resolution” for the estimated 1 million to 1.5 million Armenians who died during the massacre and forced deportation by the Ottoman Empire, which began in April 1915.
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“Being that this is the 100 year commemoration of the genocide, we decided to make Souls into a tour,” frontman Serj Tankinan said on a recent telephone conference call. “Originally, the idea was to visit different capitals that were part of World War I, and kind of bring light to what’s going on in terms of Turkey’s denial of the genocide.” The Turkish government maintains that Ottoman authorities did not systematically try to eliminate the Armenian people.”