Thursday, March 21, 2013
KMFDM @ The Variety Playhouse
It was a younger crowd up front than I expected. The venue seemed a little odd the only other band of a heavy nature I had seen at the Variety was Anvil and the Swans. Anvil was during the promotion of their documentary and the Swans are heavy of a more sonic nature rather than metal. I liked what I caught of Chant's set and Legion Within seemed like they should have been playing Dragon-con instead. The song writing seemed to be the biggest point of contention as they did an alright job with their cover of Bowie's "Hello Space Boy". The vocals were the glaring weak spot as their front man was energetic enough and had a very dramatic prescience, his imitation of Peter Murphy was hampered by his lack of range in the upper register. However he did a pretty decent job handling Tim Skold's vocal parts on the song Anarchy when he came out toward the end of KMFDM's set.
KMFDM came on with a bang and never really let up. Their songs lend themselves to maintaining a high energy set. I noticed going back the next day to listen to the studio recording how much fuller the songs sound live, which is rare for an electronic act which are more notorious for sounding like karaoke to backing tracks. The live drums factored heavily into this as well as the dual guitar attack. The crowd's reaction was interesting to watch as the range of what the band does draws in every one from the headbangers who got the mosh pit going toward the end to the Black Number One set of girls who were just their to dance. There were a couple of screaming queens which ran with wrists flailing when the pit broke out , I mean what other crowd still has that kind of diversity ? The last time I saw Nine Inch Nails most of the crowd was drunken ex-frat boys. Granted the fact the we're playing with Jane's Addiction might have attributed to that and KMFDM had more songs in the clubs than on the radio waves most of their careers.
I do tend to forget at the Variety the monitor mix is rather low upfront so you are getting hit by stage volume alone when standing close to the stage making the vocals a little thinner than if i had been standing at the outer edge of the pit. Still I could hear the vocals when it mattered. They pumped out the new stuff I was curious to hear live like "Quake", "Kunst", "Ave Maria" and "Animal Out" as well as their solid older material such as "WWIII","Son of a Gun", "D.I.Y", "A Drug Against War","Hau Rock" and "Megalomaniac". I did think it was odd "Juke Joint Jezabel" was not played since it was a hit of sorts for them, but I don't have any emotional connection to it as most of the drugs I did to them back in the day were to the "Angst" album. The first time I ever free based heroin I was listening to it. But now with those days behind me the music stands on its own and I have less romantic drug attachments associated with it than I do say Skinny Puppy's "Last Rights" album. I think where KMFDM has the edge over a lot of their peers is hooky songwriting , where the fans appeared to have more of a connection to the songs than simply being lost in dancing or moshing.
Their light show was much different than the tempest of strobes and blanket of smoke. This time the neon lit glow of the midis work stations both used as pulpits of sorts. But they didn't rely on too many bells and whistles. The Female singer Lucria exuded the most show stealing charisma of the night. She prowled the stage with the intensity of a dominatrix but could shift into a flirtatious siren or cyborg go-go dancer. She could also add almost a metal like quality to her voice to match Sasha's more aggressive delivery.
If you are a fan of the band or just industrial strength Edm then you owe it to yourself to catch these guys live when they roll through your town. The tickets were very mid-priced and Chant sounded like they would have been worth the effort to have gotten their a little earlier. The band is also offering a chance to grab some of their more vintage merch from previous tours if you wanna roll up into goth night looking a little more legit, so bring an extra twenty bucks.