Feb 2013 06

New York City/Brooklyn, NY, Europa, 01/24/2013


From contributing fan Erik Kay comes a special report on one of the most anticipated and most appealing shows to sweep the underground music scene in years. Gay electronic act Hirsute Pursuit, along with noise pioneer Boyd Rice, brings its special brand of highly stylized and sexualized techno to a diverse crowd on a cold January night in New York City, making for one hot performance!


I first heard about Hirsute Pursuit after seeing their video of David Bowie’s ‘Boys Keep Swinging’ featuring Boyd Rice. I Googled them and read some amazing reviews, so I bought their album, Tighten That Muscle Ring – it made me squirm, gag, laugh, cringe, dance, reexamine my sexuality… and I loved it! (I’m still straight, by the way.) So imagine my delight when I found out that they were playing live with one of my favorite artists, Boyd Rice. I bought tickets the day I read about it. Then another favorite of mine, Cult of Youth gets added to the show. It keeps getting better; next, I hear that another band (who I never heard of), House of Blondes gets added to the bill. Two of my favorite DJs, Theologian Prime and Abstract get added to the show. Sounds like the perfect night. Over a month later, the event finally arrives. I had no idea what to expect from the crowd. Would it be a bunch of gay guys in leather? Men in uniforms? Goths for Cult of Youth? Protestors for Boyd? Protestors for Hirsute Pursuit? Much to my delight, it was all the above (minus the protestors) and more – men, women, and everything in-between; goths, leather, bears, hipsters, industrial, and just your average Joes. Observing the crowd, it appeared to be 80-90% straight (a lot of couples) and everybody was polite and civil (something I’m not used to at most concerts).


The night starts out with some great music played by one of the DJs until the arrival of the first band up, House of Blondes, a synthpop band akin to The Postal Service. Not having heard of them before this night, I was unfamiliar with the band’s music. Then all of a sudden, I start to hear ‘Psycho Killer’ as the band performed a rather nice cover. I and the appreciative audience actually enjoyed this band quite a bit, leading to my going to Other Music to purchase their album the next day. I later found out that everybody on the bill was handpicked by Harley Phoenix and Bryin Dall of Hirsute Pursuit – applause to both of them for having good taste and the good sense of booking bands and DJs that fit with the spirit of the night but didn’t sound alike, thus giving each band exposure to an audience they might not otherwise have. Next up was Cult of Youth, who I have seen a number of times and have never failed to deliver; tonight was no exception. It was perhaps a little harder and more testosterone-driven than usual, but you had to expect it from this night. Sean was in rare form, literally growling out the lyrics and taking on a He-Man role, as was the rest of the band. It was great! I may be a little prejudice because my favorite Cult of Youth album is Love Will Prevail and they performed most of it at the show, making for an extremely strong set!


Although I was excited to see Hirsute Pursuit, I have been a fan of Boyd Rice for so many years that I lost count. Along with Throbbing Gristle, this man created the entire noise genre that so many bands play today. You would think that he would have lost some of his presence and command, given that he’s up in years and has been doing this for so long, but no fucking way! His set began with personal photos and clips from his movie as a sort of set up to the show with an autobiographical look into the man himself. Then Rice storms onto the stage in his well known uniform and holds the crowd by their balls (later, Harley Phoenix squeezes them and won’t let go). The show starts out at a volume level that is palpable to even the most mild mannered concert goer, but it sure as hell didn’t stay that way. Rice released his first album in 10 years, Back to Mono, and showed the crowd what noise music should be! As he got more intense, so did the music, until it reached such a fever pitch that you didn’t know if your ears could withstand it and then suddenly… silence. The crowd was dumbstruck, which isn’t easy when you’re dealing with a New York City audience who has seen it all and is completely jaded. Kudos to you, Mr. Rice!


At this point, I’m thinking that anything I see or hear is going to be a letdown next to what was just experienced. Boy was I wrong! After a brief interlude, two guys in leather masks appear on the stage and I hear an ominous drone playing. It’s deep and dark and fills the club with a dirty air. Then, ascending through the crowd in full ‘beyond leather’ apparel, walks Harley Phoenix with two barely dressed men behind him on leashes. He walks onto the stage, placing each ‘slave’ on either side, grabbing the microphone from the stand, and throwing the stand to the side. He looks at the audience with a sly, evil grin and says, ‘I’m going to fuck that hole until you can’t fucking see straight.’ The crowd goes wild. Phoenix has arrived and it’s clear to everybody that he is in charge and everybody is just fine with that! At the end of the first song, the crowd gives an explosion of applause. Phoenix smiles and says, ‘You’re welcome.’ This is a man who has immense power and knows it. His lips curl up as he looks at the crowd, and says, ‘I guess I should thank you for coming. Have you cum yet?’


I have never been to a club show where people are actually smiling and dancing and afraid at the same time. It never stopped. Everybody was enraptured. Phoenix would occasionally lead one of the slaves to the front of the stage, command them, which they obeyed immediately, and did with them as he would, much to the crowd’s delight. At this point, I have to note that there was one asshole standing near me that kept yelling out Boyd Rice or ‘Boys Keep Swinging.’ Phoenix handled it well and told the drunkard that he needed to learn patience. The crowd showed their agreement with more applause!


Hirsute Pursuit works its way through three or four songs (my head was swimming, so I lost count) and then Phoenix goes to the back of the stage and lifts a black cloth. Out crawls a masked creature from Hellraiser. When the mask is removed, it becomes obvious that this Phoenix’s boy, Syluss (featured in a many of the band’s promo pics). The song ‘All About Me’ begins, becoming a call and response between master and slave as Syluss intones ‘Yes, sir.’ Phoenix then allows his boy to crawl all over the stage and interact with the audience. He is a show unto himself. The show continues with highlights from both albums. During the song ‘Fuck,’ Phoenix fake-fucks each slave in the ass, one at a time. The applause becomes deafening as he says, ‘Tighten that muscle ring. I don’t care if it hurts. I want it to hurt.’ A crowd favorite was definitely ‘Cock Thoughts;’ from the moment Phoenix says, ‘I want you thinking cock thoughts. Hard, deep, accommodating, cock thoughts,’ that’s all I, or anybody else within ear shot, could think about.


After ‘Cock Thoughts,’ Boyd Rice appears on the stage and performs ‘Boys Keep Swinging,’ hugging Phoenix lovingly several times. There is some serious man-love between these two and the chemistry is palpable. Phoenix relegates himself to background vocals, but holds the crowd’s gaze squarely on himself and Rice.


I thought that was the end, but the crowd wouldn’t let it be so, and more men come on to the stage. (Why does everything sound dirty when you’re talking about Hirsute Pursuit?) I recognize the lead singer from House of Blondes, Sean from Cult of Youth, and… wait a second; is that Lee from Annihilvs Power Electronics? Yes it is! Testosterone can now be tasted in the air! A new song, one that I don’t recognize starts. Everyone along with the two band members start singing/speaking, ‘Walk the night!’ I don’t know this song (editor’s note: the song is a cover of ’70s disco hit ‘Walk the Night’ by Skatt Bros.). Next, Rice returns to the stage and starts doing a verse. Bryin Dall has now switched to the thing I think he does best: guitar (having played keyboards all night). The guys continue to do the chorus, Rice leaves, and Phoenix is back in charge doing the verses and teasing the slaves and select audience members with an evil looking, chrome handled, leather flogger.


Just like after sex, once I’ve reached the climax, I am thoroughly drained. Hirsute Pursuit was even better live than on the band’s recordings; I didn’t think that was possible. They say it is music that smells like a man, and after this show, I know why. If Hirsute Pursuit plays near you, beg, borrow or steal to get there. This is one band that you will regret not seeing. As a side note, it appeared to me that the bears in the audience were there for Boyd Rice, while the straights appeared to be there for Hirsute Pursuit. All I can say is that I’m still thinking cock thoughts!

Erik Kay
Photographs by Greg Cristman – courtesy of Greg C Photography.

Hirsute Pursuit



  1. Luke says:

    Great article…

  2. […] Re-Gen Magazine has published my Hirsute Pursuit & NON/Boyd Rice photos from January 24th at Europa in Brooklyn, NY.  See the article and photos here. […]

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