New York, NY, Gramercy Theatre, 03/10/2012
It was a brisk Saturday night and as millions of normal Americans were settling themselves safely into bed, in the city that never sleeps, another legendary Cybertron party (by VampireFreaks) was just getting started. The theme of night was “7 Deadly Sins” and many participants took the opportunity to dress up as their evil alter egos. New York DJ Chris2 directed the event’s debauchery in a lovely zombie pope ensemble. Cybertron shows are usually stacked with several industrial/electro acts, but that night, the job of rocking the crowd fell squarely on Cylab. Founded in 1999, the music of Cylab (cooked up by producer Percy Trayanov) is more experimental than typical EBM dark electro with complicated soundscapes building around the unique style of SeVerina X Sol’s shape shifting female vocals.
“Dragonfly Dream” and “Shifting Time,” both amazing songs, sounded slightly off due to some sync issues in the monitors. Despite this, and while Cylab member Dre Robinson was sadly not able to play drums at this show, the crowd was supportive and by the third song, everything was right. On “Spheres,” SeVerina’s trademark hypnotic vocals radiated beautifully throughout the venue. You could tell some members of the audience weren’t sure how to dance to it, as if the glitchy tribal rhythm was challenging their brains. Better received was the familiar “Dented Halos,” a great industrial/electro club track stripped down to nothing but the beat, a relentless rhythmic noise that provides a minimal backdrop for SeVerina’s esoteric vocal performance. It’s like a crushed futurepop song getting a root canal.
The Siousxie inspired “Skin” was an expected highlight of the night, being a top track from Cylab’s latest album. With a cry of “Let’s get messy,” the dance floor immediately started moving. You could feel the vibrations even in the floors; the infectious bass of the track rocking the entire theater. “Trigger” was a fast cyberpunk track packed with angst and an industrial head banging beat. SeVerina’s power seemed to build with each new song, and the crowd was getting into her stage presence. With the reverberating chant of “Om Klim Kalika-yei Namaha,” the fist pumping “Kalika (Cut It Up)” was the final song in Cylab’s short set. The Hindu phrase translated loosely as “I attract she who is dark and powerful” accurately describes the thought provoking sonic chaos that is Cylab. Despite a shaky start and being down one player, the band soldiered through and managed to win over the crowd. Cylab deserves credit for enduring as a band despite the three members being geographically split up (New York, Los Angeles, and Seattle) and also for their commitment to making intelligent, dark electro that is danceable yet challenging at the same time… and last but not least, putting it all onstage.
After Cylab, the crowd was treated to a taste of burlesque. The performance started with the white angel (Lydia Lael) floating gracefully around the stage with her wings open, glowing beautifully in the light. Along comes the seductive dark angel (Minnie D’Moocha) and they proceed to undress each other. The amorous angels roll around for a spell, until suddenly everything turns sticky with the addition of chocolate syrup and whipped cream.
Also present that night were two special guest DJs – Mark Jackson (VNV Nation) and Daniel Graves (Aesthetic Perfection). Jackson with his infectious smile mostly just hung out and kept the songs running smoothly while he talked to people, which was fine since VNV Nation had just performed an entire show elsewhere that night in Brooklyn. Graves, however, put a lot of creativity and effort into his terror EBM/rhythmic noise set, which left many impressed.
If you don’t happen to live in New York, you should at least once try to attend a Cybertron event by VampireFreaks. Just be prepared to stay up all night; these zombies don’t stop partying until the sun comes up.
Lüke Haughwout (Mechanical_Harvest)
Photographs by Mandi Martini (Mandi_Martini)