While this is a rare occurrence for ReGen, it seems fitting that this particular article be presented from a very personal perspective on the part of its writer… after all, I knew Jamie Duffy. I admit that I didn’t know him as intimately as some, but perhaps more than a few who would have liked to, due in no small part to my admiration for his music – not just as a member of Acumen Nation and DJ? Acucrack, but as a producer/engineer/performer/remixer, having appeared on albums by such personal favorites as The Aggression and Hypefactor, Sister Machine Gun, Pigface, and Cyanotic. Having seen him perform in Crackumen (as his surrogate son Sean Payne would often refer to them), I had the opportunity to meet him more than once, which sparks the memory of the first words he ever uttered to me upon introducing myself to him as a representative for ReGen Magazine: “Wait right here! I have stories!”
And stories he did have, none of which I can recall as I write this, although I do remember a smile on his face as he told them as I, no doubt, bore a wide-eyed expression of awe and veneration. This was in early 2007 when Acumen Nation was on tour with Front Line Assembly just after the release of the band’s extreme metal masterpiece Anticore, and I was fortunate enough to catch the band in Baltimore and Washington, DC, where Duffy introduced me to none other than Dylan Thomas More, formerly of Chemlab. During the band’s later tour in 2008 with Cyanotic, I met Duffy again, at which point he said to me that he appreciated my writing, finding it to be perhaps “too honest, but great reads.” I, at this point, resolved to InterView the man, and he and I would communicate sporadically over the following year to arrange it… finally, Duffy determined that given the extent of what he’d have to say, it was best to avoid phone charges and simply conduct the InterView in person; a difficult task given the distance, though it did give me all the more reason to visit Chicago. You know how they say you have to seize the day? Well, it’s true.
And yet, in a way, it was still Jamie Duffy who brought me to Chicago, and while I would never have the chance to InterView him, I would still be able to take part in something to honor his life and his music. In this case, it was Cold Waves: The Jamie Duffy Memorial Show. Organized by Duffy’s musical partner Jason Novak and WTII Records’ David Schock, for this one Friday night on September 7, 2012 at the Windy City’s Bottom Lounge, fans of coldwave and industrial rock from across the country came to celebrate not only one of the scene’s key figures, one of the people who helped to shape the music that defined an underground generation, but the music itself. Filled to capacity and featuring an once-in-a-lifetime lineup of the scene’s heaviest hitters, from 16volt to Hate Dept., from Chemlab to Cyanotic, and even reuniting such blasts from the past as The Final Cut and The Clay People, the Cold Waves event represented the very spirit of the industrial rock community.
In normal instances, this would be the point where the standard Show ReView kicks off, discussing each band’s performance and giving attention to the audience. However, considering the nature of the event, this would be simply too cumbersome an article, especially with so many bands, several of which underwent a transformation from one incarnation to another. For instance, Hate Dept. being joined onstage by Charles Levi, Curse Mackey, and Martin Atkins, and performing “Insect/Suspect,” thus becoming Pigface for that one song; or the transition from Czar to Acumen Nation to Iron Lung Corp., all featuring the revolving door of members to culminate in a blistering set that encompassed the finest of the Cracknation. Even GoFight – essentially a reimagining of Die Warzau – managed to fit in a performance of not only “Land of the Free,” but also the absent Sister Machine Gun’s “Wired.” Of course, I have to mention that my personal highlights included 16volt, during whose performance my voice finally died from shouting at the top of my lungs (it has barely recovered since), and The Clay People, whose performance of “Pariah” was nothing short of euphoric for me, especially as front man Dan Neet grinned maniacally throughout the entire set. Acoustic sets from I:Scintilla and The Damage Manual, the latter present only as the duo of Chris Connelly and the aforementioned Atkins, helped to round out the variety and versatility, providing some atmospheric respite from the grittiness and the volume. At the end of the night, as every musician (including several who were in attendance but had not performed up to that point), along with Jamie’s mother Pat “MamaKidd” Duffy took to the stage for a bombastic cover of “Jukebox Hero,” if one couldn’t feel the sense of camaraderie and love before, it could most certainly be felt now. Old rivalries forgiven, personal dramas irrelevant, and through the tears were smiles. Sure, I could – and perhaps still will in a future article or series of articles dedicated to each band – do a regular Show ReView… but not here, not now. Almost two months after the event, I find myself still reeling from so singular and profound an experience.
So, what is the point of this article? Why adopt such a personal tone instead of focusing on the details and exhibiting my usual professional objectivity? Quite honestly, I find it impossible to do so. There is simply no way to present any sort of critical perspective on such an event; this wasn’t that kind of show. This wasn’t just another tour featuring some bands trying to put on the best performance possible. This wasn’t another big lineup of bands striving to sell some more music and T-shirts and give people a good time for the sake of a good time. No, this was about the music that drove a generation. This was about the audience that loved the music and made it a community. This was about the people behind the music, who created it and brought the audiences together with them. And above all, this was about one particular person behind the music. This was about Jamie Duffy. What is the point of this article? Ultimately, it is simply to say… thank you.
Thank you, Jamie Duffy, for the music you helped to create, for being an integral part in defining the soundtrack of my life as I was growing up and well into my adulthood, for your kindness in the few times we spoke, and for being a guiding force in my own musical aspirations. Thank you, Pat “MamaKidd” Duffy, not only for your son and the love and support you gave him in his life, but also for that which you gave to his music, his friends, and the audience that loved them; and for the hug as you managed to somehow recognize me in a crowded venue. Thank you to David Schock and Jason Novak for putting together such a momentous tribute, for bringing together the bands and musicians to honor Jamie and perform such great music. Thank you to those bands and musicians – and believe me, I’d love to name each and every one of you personally – not only for honoring Jamie and performing such great music, but for the love and appreciation you show the audience. And thank you to the audience for returning that and showing as much as we were given. As Dan Neet said at the end of the night, “We still have a fucking scene!” It is sad that it took the loss of one of that scene’s foremost figures to remind us all of that, but as Jim Marcus had said in his memoriam to Jamie Duffy, “Save something for tomorrow.” Even amid the turmoil, the arguments, the squabbles and artistic differences, the financial difficulties, the broken emotions and tumultuous relationships, this music and this community exists because we all want it to – Jamie Duffy wanted it to, and so we all share in it, artist and audience alike.
Thank you, Jamie Duffy. You are loved and missed.
Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)
All photographs by Katherine Gaines
Courtesy of Ambient Eye Photography