Empire, Springfield, VA, 2013/09/01
Spellbound has been one of Washington, DC’s longest running club nights for the industrial/goth/electro scene, while the night’s host Lori Beth has been expanding her resume to become one of the top promoters for shows in the area. Having booked GoFight and I:Scintilla in August of 2012, it was perhaps only a matter of time before she would once again bring Chicago’s preeminent electroscuzz trio back to the Nation’s capital, especially now with the band’s debut Music for Military Torture
having been released earlier this year.
Joined this time by Dead on TV, which features GoFight members Daniel Evans and Vince McAley, GoFight’s return to DC was a show this writer did not intend on missing. With the Saturday night devoted to a special fundraiser for the independent film Of Dice & Men, GoFight’s Jim Marcus was invited to lend his prominent DJing skills to build up anticipation for the following night’s show, taking place at Empire in neighboring Springfield. After DJs Shade and Mindjacket prepped the slowly building crowd with a mix of electro standards and a few gems, Marcus set his sights purely on the dance floor, pulling all the stops with a diverse and eclectic mix as funky and as abrasively pleasing as the music he has made with Die Warzau and GoFight. The real treat, however, was the next night at Empire, formerly known as Jaxx. Transitioning from a predominantly metal and rock venue, Empire exuded all the charm and grace of a swank gothic nightclub with two rooms, each with its own bar and lounge area for patrons to sit back and enjoy a drink – the Alchemy Lounge, devoted to goth, death rock, and dark wave, the DJ sets provided by Shade and Nekromantra, while the main room kept the industrial energy going as MindCage and Loss of Signal spun a searing mix of EBM, hard electro, and industrial music, complete with a variety of art and fashion vendors.
While punk music is certainly not everybody’s cup of tea, there are some bands that manage to shift the paradigm simply by bringing a level of production savvy and musical ability to enhance the aggression and entice some who might otherwise not take notice. Dead on TV is just such a band, especially in its current incarnation as a fully fledged quartet. Front man Daniel Evans displays the kind of spastic abandon and mania that on its own is enough to make headlines, but when topped off with an actual handle on melody and lyricism that is both humorous and substantial in equal measure, becomes the stuff of legend – writing on the floor, climbing to the top of the speaker cabinets, and barely taking a mere second to stand still as he belts out his acerbic voice in classic punk rock style. Switching from one tongue to the other cheek, Mike Bradberry – formerly of The Gothsicles – adds the new wave flavor on the keyboards, giving a touch of electro flair to keep Dead on TV’s sound from being too out of place for the primarily industrial/goth crowd, while Corey Devlin displays his prowess on the guitar with a handful of seething shredding solos along with the catchy riffs. Providing the percussive power was Vince McAley, and this writer wishes it to be known that this man deserves to go down as one of the finest drummers in modern music; demonstrating equal parts precision, speed, and force, moving with deceptively wild motions that hide the control beneath the chaos. With songs like “Dirty American,” “Fuck You, I’m Famous,” “Pale Shelter,” “Last Chance for Love,” and a new rendition of Die Warzau’s “Mona Lisa Communista,” Dead on TV won the crowd over quickly and effectively, making for a raucous and rocking opening act that is destined for greater things.
For those who miss the days when industrial/electro music possessed an element of funk and groove, exhibiting as much a respect for the rhythm and the musicality of the bygone days of soulful music as for the noisy and electronic experimentation of the avant-garde that seems to dominate the mindset, GoFight is a more than pleasant reminder. As Jim Marcus has picked up the pieces left in the wake of Die Warzau’s dissolution, taking the sexy electro and ballsy industrial further into a more modern but still edgy sound, GoFight’s music lives up to its anti-war/pro-sex tagline as opening song “Line Up” with its catchy chorus of “Line up for the revolution” immediately sparked people in the audience to sing along, followed by the ultra-sexy “Fuck Like a Movie Star.” With Daniel Evans taking over background vocals, keys, and guitar, his presence is more laidback but no less gritty as Marcus commands the stage, his dreadlocks swinging as he belts out his melodic yet aggressive vocal hooks. The same could be said for “Give the People What They Want” and “Sex Theology (Getting’ It On),” with Mike Bradberry joining onstage to provide backup vocals along with Evans. As this writer’s favorite song by the band, “We Are the Enemy” was an unabashed highlight, the slithery bass line and pumping beats prompting fists to wave in the air with every “Fight” refrain, while “White Guys” with its dubstep warbles and Marcus’ superfast rapping had people unsure whether to dance, laugh, or both (the latter more than likely to win out). Once again, the drumming of Vince McAley can’t be understated as his force and precision perfectly augments the electronic beats, while every scathing electronic pulse and bass line throbbed through the speakers enough to reach into every audience member’s libido.
With “Peacemaker” ending the proceedings, if there was anyone in the crowd uncertain as to GoFight’s quality as a live act, those doubts were surely quelled, the band sounding every bit as good in the live environment as on record, solidifying this writer’s opinion that Music for Military Torture stands as one of the year’s best outings. Put simply, GoFight is a band the current music scene needs, no matter what the genre.
Die Warzau will be reuniting to perform a set at this year’s Coldwaves II event, being held at the Metro in Chicago, September 27-28. GoFight performed at last year’s Coldwaves in tribute to the late Jamie Duffy, to whom Music for Military Torture is dedicated.
Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)
Photographs by Jessica Jastrzebski (JJastrz)
Dead on TV