Otep Impresses Local Fans

Otep Highlights Stacked Lineup

Every so often an artist comes to town who you’ve wanted to see for a long time. Occasionally, it is without much pomp or circumstance, or even much warning. This was the case when I discovered that a friend was interested in attending an event on Facebook. That event? Otep playing the Haven Lounge in Winter Park. I had to go.

The Local Florida Bands

Thanks to my new friend, Dylan Mathews of Dylan Mathews & The Flips, I got into the show, free of service charges. They, and a few other bands would be spending their night opening for, and enjoying Otep’s show themselves. After meeting Mr. Mathews to get my tickets, I got myself and my lady a good spot to enjoy the show- having both a great view of the stage, easy access to both the bar and the restroom, and close proximity to the bands’ merch tables.

Without much delay Dylan Mathews & The Flips kicked the show off. To be perfectly honest, a combination of my ignorance of their material and based on the main attraction, I thought they would be some kind of punk band. I quickly learned that they are far from that. If I were to give their sound a synopsis, it would be this: A modern take on a classic rock sound, they have taken an inspired sound from their heroes, something between Lynyrd Skynyrd and Led Zeppelin, and made it their own, with a nod to the condition that we consider modernity now.

While absolutely not what I expected, and possibly out of place for the crowd that assembled in the Winter Park watering hole, they rocked, performing their set like seasoned pros. I would definitely like to see this Lake County based quintet again, they put on a great show. To find out more about them, check out their Facebook page.

Up next was Armada, a great Orlando-based band. Their sound is pretty hardcore, but singer Jeremiah James throws in a bunch of clean vocals, which I like. This is my second time seeing them, the first being at a Pulse benefit concert, which was also at the Haven. That time was their maiden voyage, so to speak, but right out of the box they were awesome.

They have only improved their live show, with plenty of practice, as they play live at spots all over Central Florida. If you like some good hardcore music, check out their Spotify page , and if you like what you hear, come see them live at the Summer Meltdown show, this weekend, which was originally booked for Venue 578, but was changed to Haven Lounge for reasons unbeknownst to me. This is the FB page for the event. Come out and support local music!

After Armada, F.I.L.T.H played. It is hard to classify their sound, which is heavy, but not overly so, more like the stuff from the 1980’s. They are from Orlando, and I’ve seen them a few times, like when they played Kink Music Festival a couple years back. They are regulars in the Central Florida scene, easily recognized by their ensembles of all black clothes accessorized by bright green ties, shoes, or other pieces. Everyone in the band has their own style, but they still share the same theme.

While they are locals, they have opened for big bands before, such as Nonpoint. These guys are great showmen, each playing to the crowd, and do their best to entertain the audience. See for yourself what F.I.L.T.H is all about at their next show, along with some other great local acts NoSelf and Auditory Armory. It is a benefit show, with proceeds going to an organization that helps veterans, so if you needed another reason to get out to a rock show, how about that?
With F.I.L.T.H clearing out their gear, the local bands were done.

The National Acts

Up next were a couple of groups on tour with Otep, including The Convalescence, who are from Ohio. These guys look like extras from a Mad Max movie, wearing black paint, black clothes, and sporting crazy hairstyles, as well as plenty of piercings. They are the embodiment of what someone would think of if describing a death metal fan.

They were brutal. Though I couldn’t understand some of the lyrics, I could feel the energy and passion singer Keith Wampler poured into them. The beer soaked floor in front of the stage became an impromptu mosh pit, as the headbangers in attendance thrashed about violently. It was beautiful. I was taking in the scene from within the pit, moshing with the other rowdy audience members who had no fear of falling on the hard tiles.

I didn’t last too long, just a couple of songs, before a combination of an elbow to the ribs and my old age sent me back to my seat by the bar. I took in the rest of their heavy performance from there, visiting their merch booth once they’d finished to score some sweet swag. They are currently on the Resistance tour with Otep, but have played other venues before, like Mayhem fest, and Dirtfest, so I’m sure that at some point they will be back through our area.
Their Facebook page has more info, as well as some of their videos embedded, if you want to know more.

The other band was Brand of Julez, a hard rock band from New York. I wasn’t really feeling their vibes, and they seem young and inexperienced, but the audience seemed to receive them well. Check them out for yourself- just because I’m not that into them, doesn’t mean you might not be.



After they had finished, we had to wait for Otep. Her band, during sound check, played an instrumental Slayer song, which I recognized. What a great way to do a sound check. More bands could do it this way. I wouldn’t mind. If you are wondering who Otep is, don’t worry, I am here to inform you.

Otep Shamaya is an openly lesbian, animal rights activist who hates right wing politics, and Donald Trump in particular. She and her bandmates compose songs with subjects ranging from child molestation to overthrowing the government. Favorites of mine include “Smash the Control Machine”, off the 2009 album with the same name, and “Confrontation”, from 2008’s The Ascension. Otep hails from LA, and have a wide range of musical influences, ranging from The Doors to Slipknot. They do an excellent cover of Nirvana’s “Breed” as well.

She came out with a flame in her hand, her guitarist looking like some post-apocalyptic gladiator, and they played “Battle Ready”. After that, she informed us that they would never play the Haven again because of some ongoing technical difficulties. Then she went into a tirade about Donald Trump, arguing with some hecklers in the audience. It all seemed petty, but if you go to a show, should you really try to get in a screaming match with the performer because of your own political beliefs?

They got back to playing, pumping out songs like “Apex Predator”, and “Rise, Rebel, Resist”. I love how she can take her voice from that of a sweet, little girl, to a guttural growl in the same breath. It helps to narrate the stories set to music that most other artists would fail miserably at. She made sure the audience participated, having us sing back choruses to songs, like “It’s family fun time/let’s commit a hate crime”, after telling us to punch Nazis in the face.

For sure, Otep is not for everyone. Anybody who shares traditional, conservative values would probably find her music offensive, and vulgar. But for people who feel like they are being undervalued, taken advantage of, and angry, Otep’s music speaks for us, echoing the angst and insecurity we feel. Hers is the voice of a rebellion, already in progress, for better or worse. With Otep, there really is no in between, you either love it or not, and as she wrapped up the show with “Confrontation”, I, at least, felt somewhat vindicated in my own beliefs.

It is a wonderful feeling to find someone who can put into words just what your heart feels. That is the power of Otep.
Check them out yourself to see if you feel it too: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D79peD6i-rw .

Otep is on tour for a while yet, but you won’t see her in Florida soon, as that leg of the tour is over. But I consider myself lucky to have seen an artist, an underrated one, in such an intimate venue. Hopefully, I will be able to again, in the future. Until then, keep up to date with all the rock in Central Florida by following Rara’s Farm and keep on rocking!

RARA’s Farm is a rock music blog keenly focused on sharing killer rock music news to the rock music fans who visit our site. Make sure you Like / Follow Us below to keep in the loop on new music worth a listen, or just to be nice to us.

Rock On!
Phil Snyder


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