Serj Tankian – Birmingham Carling Academy 20th August 2008

Serj Tankian's Solo Effort Elect The Dead
Elect The Dead - Serj Tankian's Debut Solo Effort

After a train journey to Birmingham and a few small issues finding the venue, we eventually got in place at the back of the long line. People were wearing various tops of either Serj official T-shirts, or ‘System of a Down’ related tops. When ‘System of A Down’ took there indefinite hiatus back in 2006, each member pursued there own path afterwards. Serj went solo and in October of 2007 he released his first album “Elect the Dead”, which was a piano/rock combo. Serj played the majority of the instruments on the record, and writing each song entirely. The album showed Serj at his best with his unanimous growls, and roaring falsetto to his Operatic voice and his high pitch squeals.

Ticket for the Night

The show began with the support act, Inme. Surprising to see this band not hit it big yet. The alternate metal was catchy with vocalist and guitarist, Dave McPherson, showing his talents on guitar and singing. They performed many songs in their catalogue including; Myths and Photographs, Cracking the Whip and White Butterfly. On the night they also announced that they had just uploaded a demo of a brand new song. Definitely a band to watch for in the future! (Have a listen to them here )

During the break where the crew remove Inme’s equipment and checked Serj’s and the FCC (Flying C***s of Chaos) The rowdy had by now had a few beers and were becoming impatient, everyone (and me) started shouting “We want Serj! We Want Serj!!” Over and over, then after a while the chants died out. However there wasn’t long left.

Suddenly the lights dimmed and everyone was in darkness, just a horde of bodies close to each other, gun fire and warfare is heard the crowd start cheering as the stage becomes alive. The FCC pick up there instruments get ready to play and a few tiny beeps are heard. Empty Walls suddenly starts with a huge roar of heavy guitar and piano. Serj gallops gallantly on stage shouting “Birmingham!” down the microphone. The crows bob up and down like manic psychos. I was stood a few inches from the mosh pit – lucky me eh? Serj dressed in white top hat and matching jacket and waistcoat gives a sense that he is the ring leader, the circus master and we are his paupers. A very 1900’s effect, spoilt by his black jeans. Serj often wears extraordinary clothing (Including at a heavy metal festival he and the FCC wore pink shirts). The slow melodic verse’s of Empty Walls gets the crowds passionately singing along to Serj’s every word, whilst swaying into one and another. Then the courageous chorus’ of metal send some insane and clashing of skin occurs. However everyone else sings along. I did join in at one point and it was kind of fun in one sense but intense at the same point. Afterwards everyone in the pit shook my hand and hugged me (LOL).

The next song was “Feed US”, and the crowd seem to like this. The acoustic intro explodes into a war of political expression. At some point during this song one person behind me tried to crowd surf, however me and everyone else in front moved out his way and he fell to the ground leaving everyone in hysterics. Serj then spoke to the audience, “Has anyone here heard of Romeo and Juliet? *Crowd cheers* Has anyone seen Borat? *Crowd cheer again* Well when you put them together you get ‘Lie Lie Lie’!” A very alternate and piano based piece with lyrics suggesting incest between a brother and sister, leading to murder. Crazy, and it seemed the band was enjoying it. Serj then dusted his guitar off and played; “Saving us” and Baby, with the FCC.

“Sound of war” was the next song to be jazzed by Tankian. A new piece that only dedicated fans would have seen on youtube due to watching other shows attending to this show. Serj after a few more songs told us “We are going to play a song that we like screwing up”. I knew what he was talking about but most others didn’t, Field (Drums) clicked his sticks and off the band went into The Beatles “Girl”. Serj had really revamped the song by making it a full band song not an acoustic guitar song. Halfway into the second verse Serj did just as he said, he screwed it up and instead sung “La la la la la la la la la” For a while.

Afterwards was probably the treat of the entire evening. The set list had it titled as “New Money”. When Serj enquired “How many of you guys like Abba?” most of the rock heads stared in bemusement. Serj had cleverly got Abba’s “Money, Money, Money” and his own “Money” to create a comical fusion. Using a vocoder, Serj manipulated his voice singing into 2 microphones.

Recorded by an eager fan (not very good quality, a lot of shaking)

Serj played a few more of his songs from Elect the Dead, plus an unreleased song “Charades”. Serj went off and the crowd were left to breathe for a moment. About a minute later Serj returned for an encore. He told the crowd “Me and Dan Monti (Lead Guitarist) did this next track and released this on a EP about a month ago. This is the first time we have ever performed it live.” It was the Empty Walls Dub Mix of the LieLieLive EP. They started the live version of the remix and it was nice and gentle, very good to hear and completely different compared to the original.

Recorded by an eager fan (not very good quality, a lot of shaking)

Track List

  • Empty Walls
  • Feed Us
  • Lie Lie Lie
  • Saving Us
  • Baby
  • Sounds Of War
  • Sky is Over
  • Praise The Lord
  • Girl (Beatles Cover)
  • New Money
  • Charades
  • Jazz Jam + Elect The Dead
  • Honking Antelope
  • Beethovens C**t


  • Empty Walls (Dub Mix)
  • The Unthinking Majority

Track List

  • Serj and The FCC Serj Tankian – Lead Singer, piano, samples and guitar
  • Mario Pagliarulo – bass, backing vocals 
  • Erwin Khachikian – keyboards, piano, synthesizers, backing vocals 
  • Troy Zeigler – drums, backing vocals 
  • Dan Monti – guitar, backing vocals 
  • Jeff Mallow – guitar, backing vocals 

Finally the last song of the night started, the crowd had been waiting the entire show for it. They played the Unthinking Majority and Mario (Bass) sang the last 2 lines of the chorus and proudly “showed off” Serj. The crowd started moshing again and more flesh touched for the singing fans. The song finished and many objects (including picks, set lists and even telephone numbers) were thrown of stage into the crowd.

Outside the show eager fans waited to meet the band and Serj. The newest member of the FCC came out first and I had a photo opportunity with him, plus he signed my Serj album. I saw Mario come out however he was really too busy and decided not to bother him. I thoroughly enjoyed the show and wouldn’t swap the experience.

If you would like to find more about Serj Tankian then please go to
Also check out his myspace and youtube.