System Of A Down Cancel Dates After Gear Ripped Off

Vehicle with $250,000 in equipment reported stolen from heavy-metal act and tourmates Fear Factory and Spineshank.

Heavy-metal acts System of a Down, Fear Factory and Spineshank were forced to postpone 12 dates on their current tour after a truck containing the bands' instruments and equipment was stolen Saturday in front of their hotel in Philadelphia.

Fear Factory frontman Burton Bell, 29, said that upon discovering the theft he laughed at first, thinking it was a joke. The laughter quickly subsided, he added, as he realized the truck and what he estimated as "several hundred thousand dollars' " worth of equipment was gone.

"There was broken glass right where the driver's door was," Bell said. "That's how we live. That's what we do -- and someone took it all away from us. It's like taking a writer's hands away or something. We're all just in shock."

Guitarist Mike Sarkisyan, 21, guitarist for the L.A.-based Spineshank, offered a blunt assessment of the theft. "I hope whoever stole it dies a miserable death," Sarkisyan said.

Bell said that the truck was stolen between 9 and 11 Saturday morning as it was parked in front of the Comfort Inn. He added that it contained gear, light equipment, props and "everything that makes a show happen."

Sgt. Susan Slawson of the Philadelphia police confirmed that the vehicle, worth an estimated $50,000, and equipment valued at $250,000 were reported stolen Saturday; she also confirmed that police are currently investigating, but have no leads at this time.

The three L.A.-based bands were about halfway through a 24-date tour that began in Palo Alto, Calif., and was set to make a complete sweep around the U.S., with a closing date of Feb. 6 at the House of Blues in West Hollywood, Calif.

Prior to the start of the tour, System of a Down singer Serj Tankian, 31, said he was excited to be heading out in support of their self-titled debut, which contains such tunes as "War?" (RealAudio excerpt) and "P.L.U.C.K." (RealAudio exerpt).

"I love touring. It's very exciting," Tankian said. "It's good to be able to get out there and swap energies with thousands of people and be able to translate something deep inside of you that's the trueness of you onstage."

The bands will be returning home to Los Angeles, and will try to assemble new gear and instruments in time to play the currently postponed Feb. 6 show at the House of Blues in Los Angeles, according to Bell.

Postponed System of a Down/Fear Factory Tour Dates:

Jan. 23; Philadelphia, Pa., Trocadero Theater

Jan. 24; Washington D.C., 9:30 Club

Jan. 26; Montreal, Que., Medley

Jan. 27; Toronto, Ont., Opera House

Jan. 28; Cleveland, Ohio, Peabody's Down Under

Jan. 29; Detroit, Mich., Harpo's

Jan. 30; Chicago, Ill., Metro

Jan. 31; Minneapolis, Minn., First Avenue

Feb. 2; Lawrence, Kan., The Bottleneck

Feb. 3; Denver, Colo., Lodo Music Hall

Feb. 5; San Diego, Calif., Brick By Brick

Feb. 6; West Hollywood, Calif., House of Blues