Oct 2013 09

The Metro, Chicago, IL
Day 2: 2013/09/28

 

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When ColdWaves took place last year following the passing of Cracknation’s Jamie Duffy, it seemed an arduous undertaking. This year’s ColdWaves II, by comparison, seemed even more a daunting task, bringing together a wider range of acts to perform across not one but two evenings. And yet, somehow, the organizers – WTII Records’ David Schock and Cracknation’s Jason Novak – made it happen, bringing together some of the industrial rock underground’s best acts from past and present to once again pay tribute to Duffy’s memory and raise funds for the Hope for the Day charity for suicide prevention. With the first night’s lineup of bands including such heavy hitters as Skrew, 16volt, Iron Lung Corp., and Prong, it was clear that Friday, September 27 was devoted to the more metal side of the coldwave scene, leaving the following Saturday night to focus on a more varied and electronic set of acts.
Not unlike the previous night, the attendance began light and gradually grew to fill the Metro near to capacity by the evening’s end, but even at the start, it felt as if more people were making it out. Whether this was due to the greater freedom of a Saturday night or due to the less abrasive lineup of bands, who can say? All that mattered was that on both nights, rivetheads and machine rockers came out to embrace and enjoy this particular niche community.

 

Having joined BILE on the band’s Built to Fuck, Born to Kill tour, The Rabid Whole was, as an up-and-coming act, fortunate to land the opening spot at ColdWaves II. As such, the Canadian five-piece was setting out not to disappoint, delivering a melodic and electrified brand of rock that was a welcome respite from the all out aggression of the previous evening’s festivities, though no less energetic in its delivery. Performing a majority of songs from the band’s latest release, Refuge, The Rabid Whole presented a very stylish image that complemented perfectly the slickly produced music, bridging the gap between the older and newer generations of industrialized rock.

 

Not content to let the more electronic and less metal-intense focus of the night be a deterrent, BILE took to the stage for the final show of its first major tour in a decade. And to see Kyrztoff take to the stage again in all of his virulent glory, his voice as scathing and his guitar as grinding as ever, with Rick “Bear” bearing his tattoed exuberance on bass as he’s always done, it’s as if BILE never left. With Frontal Boundary’s Brendin Ross contributing keyboards and backup vocals and Rick “Mindcage” on rhythm guitar, the band plowed through an incendiary set of old favorites like “I Reject” and “In League” alongside newer tracks from Built to Fuck, Born to Kill, solidifying BILE’s place as one of the underground industrial scene’s most horrifically enticing entities. While the drum programming was somewhat drowned out by the wall of noise produced by the quartet, it was still a furious display of classic industrial/metal.

 

From sharp dressed industrial business to total rock abandon, Hate Dept. may have opted for a less debonair appearance this year, but with a new album of material to add to its legacy, Steven Seibold and company delivered an entertaining performance. With Seibold riding the fine line between offense and humor, shouting at members of the audience to be silent since he is speaking or berating them for asking what happened to the suits, the crowd seemed in on the joke, laughing along and reveling in the band’s mechanized rock glory. With drummer Matthew Z. Belcher, guitarist Nick Meade, and bassist Jae Stevens rocking out in their respective areas while Seibold passionately struts about the stage, occasionally controlling the keys and laptop and at one point unapologetically forgetting the lyrics to “Disonnector,” yet effortlessly continuing to perform in fine form. Belting out such gems as “Leaving,” “Won’t Stay Lit,” and “Start Digging,” Hate Dept. may not tour regularly, but makes up for the relative absence by delivering a powerhouse show that demonstrates the band’s proficiency both in the studio and live.

 

Event organizer and Cracknation founder Jason Novak may have been spearheading Acucrack (ultimately dropping the DJ? prefix) as a solo act for some time, but for many, the electronic act is always best remembered as featuring Novak and partner Jamie Duffy. Stepping back from the upbeat electro and drum & bass of the past and gearing towards a darker, more varied and industrialized sound, Cyanotic’s Sean Payne steps up to the plate to provide Novak with more than ample support for Acucrack’s incendiary set – while two men behind keyboards and laptops might sound like the least interesting show visually, the pair makes up for it with a series of abstract sonic constructions the likes of which play perfect soundtrack to horrific and psychedelic flights of epic phantasm that surely invade the minds of every proud rivethead. His guttural screech as powerful as ever, Novak’s vocals fill out the audio violence wonderfully, making for one of the coldest of the coldwaves.

 

While GoFight has been carrying the mantle of Jim Marcus’ creative endeavors, Die Warzau remains the progenitor, one of the first acts to combine performance art and live theatrics with a funky, almost R&B influenced form of industrial that has kept the band a singular entity in the scene. With Vince McAley providing no small amount of percussive power behind the drums along with the low-key but fluid motions of keyboardist/guitarist Daniel Evans, the return of Van Christie to the fold marks this reunion as one of the most anticipated of the evening. With Marcus’ face painted in a ghostly, almost tribally shamanistic manner, the band’s performance is equal parts rock show and soulful ritual. With such classics as “All Cut Up,” “Coming Down,” “Land of the Free,” and “All Good Girls” given just the right amount of sonic updating to add no small amount of force and modernization to stand up to newer songs like “Insect” and “Last Generation,” Christie’s bravado and – dare it be said – grace onstage played perfect complement to Marcus’ wild abandon, reminding many what made Die Warzau’s dynamic work for 20 years before the band’s transition to GoFight. Even the slower, almost dub styling of “Liberated” created a veritable buildup of volume and emotion that helped to solidify Die Warzau as one of the definite highlights of this second evening.

 

If there is such a thing as industrial royalty, one would think that as the legendary vocalist for Nitzer Ebb, Douglas J. McCarthy would be it. With a vocal and lyrical style that has set the standard for much of what has come after in the genre, McCarthy’s presence at this event was indeed one of the key selling points for many who might have otherwise felt some trepidation or hesitation. As such, it is unfortunate that his performance at ColdWaves II was met with such a lukewarm response, due in no small part to its possessing of a very different vibe, especially after the vigor displayed by Die Warzau. Perhaps Mr. McCarthy’s absence from Iron Lung Corp.’s rendition of “Join in the Murderous Chant” the previous night should have been indicative as his set eschewed his history with Nitzer Ebb and concentrated on his current solo output; not an unworthy endeavor in itself, but once again, acting as a departure from the general atmosphere of the evening and the event as a whole. While purely electronic and appropriate to the second night’s focus, Mr. McCarthy’s solo material is of a much slower, less heavy tonality, making for a rather subdued entry by comparison. Not allowing this to deter him, he sang his songs with no small amount of passion and pride. Perhaps his placement as the penultimate act on the evening’s lineup was a poor decision, for this writer got the impression that had he gone on earlier, the audience might have been more receptive… or at the very least, it would have allowed a better flow from the softer electronics to the more upbeat sounds heard up to now. What this writer is almost sad to say is that the raffle that followed, hosted by special guest Burton C. Bell and in which one lucky gentleman won a Schecter guitar signed by all the artists was somewhat more entertaining.

 

The Metro fills with fog, the lights shine to create a dramatic haze, and the rumble of bass and samples echoes through the speakers until the cloud dissipates slightly to reveal Chris Connelly decked out in shades and a cowboy hat taking the mic, Paul Barker stridently behind him on bass. After a moment, Connelly proudly announces, “We are Revolting Cocks,” receiving a roar of adulation and applause from the eager crowd. While unable to use the name legally (due to acrimony with the band’s founder and the Cocks Members’ former associate), in the hearts and minds of virtually everyone in attendance, artist and fan alike, this was the true spirit of Revolting Cocks. With Cracknation’s Dan Brill filling in on the drums, 16volt’s Eric Powell taking over the guitars, and fellow RevCo alumni Duane Buford on the keys, the band launches headfirst into “Cattle Grind,” signaling to the audience that this was going to be a stellar set… and it certainly was. “Beers, Steers + Queers,” “No Devotion,” “Physical,” “Attack Ships on Fire,” the band left no classic of industrial rock debauchery unturned, and the crowd was loving every second of it. Jason Novak and Burton C. Bell joined at various points to make for a well rounded spectacle on par with the previous night’s ILC show, but for this writer, it was a real treat to see Marc Durante join the Cocks onstage, also decked out in a cowboy hat and slinging his Durantula design guitar, helping to transport everyone in the Metro back to the heyday of the late ’80s/early ’90s WaxTrax! era.

 

Even as the show ended and the Metro struggling to close its doors to conclude the now rainy night, it can truly be said that there was nobody left unsatisfied by the end of the second evening of ColdWaves II. Like the first night, an after-party was held at Neo, this time with sets by resident DJ Jeff Moyer and Clay People’s Dan Neet… oh, and I spun a set too. While many of the visiting patrons were there simply to dance to their favorite EBM and electro/industrial hits, it was still a pleasant atmosphere to indulge in a drink and engage in conversation with a bevy of musicians whose renown in the industrial scene is simply undeniable. Once again, the club was filled to capacity; a welcome sight that confirmed the sense of community shared by those in attendance.

 

Not enough credit can be given to David Schock and Jason Novak for continuing to pay tribute to Jamie Duffy’s memory by organizing one of the finest examples of scene solidarity one could imagine, providing an avenue for bands to reunite, old grudges to be swept aside even if only briefly, all in the name of a higher cause. As to the future of the ColdWaves event, only time will tell if there is to be a third installment. Maintaining such momentum for something so momentous is no simple task and the monetary initiative is often elusive to the point of nonexistent, and while it can be argued that such things should not be the end goal (and indeed, they were not in principle), such things are necessary to put on an event of such magnitude. Still, if ColdWaves II proved anything, it’s that the industrial rock scene is still alive and full of people hungry for some aggressive musicianship and energy; as long as the demand is there, as long as there is a community ready to embrace the weird and enjoy the strange, then ColdWaves will live on and Jamie Duffy and those like him, both here and gone, will have a place in industrial music history.

 

Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)
Photographs by Tabetha Patton (MizTabby)

 

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