Philadelphia, PA, Starlight Ballroom, 11/11/2011
Philadelphia’s Starlight Ballroom has evolved into one of the top spots in the city for gothic/industrial club events, and on this Friday in November, it was easy to see why. With eight DJs, table after table of music and merchandise, and three live music performances, I Love (<3) Industrial was another night where the underground was definitely alive and kicking. Multiple VJs projected flashes of horror and science fiction films on giant screens. Industrial boys and girls showed up dressed to the nines to socialize with fellow aliens, and take in the dark carnival atmosphere.
Detroit Diesel made their way down from Quebec to share their brand of militaristic terror EBM, although only the vocalist was present that night. With relentless beats and tightly regimented sequences combined with airy romantic lead melodies, Detroit Diesel impressed many first time listeners that night. Vocalist and producer Jocelyn Laflamme paced like a power hungry dictator on stage, screaming evil orders into the microphone. The ubiquitous DJ Totentanz (who was filling in that night) added to the excitement by getting the crowd worked up with fistpumps. Tracks like “Serenade” and “All Lost Before Dawn” were enthusiastically received by the crowd. Through all the distortion and vocal effects, a distinctive French accent could still be heard, which added a different flavor to the typically unintelligible terror EBM style of a harsh whisper. With a commanding stage presence and solid songs, not to mention really nice looking merchandise, Detroit Diesel earned a lot of new fans.
Hailing all the way from Portland, the industrial/electro project Dead When I Found Her made their east coast debut. The band’s loving tribute to the golden years of Skinny Puppy has been exciting old school fans since the Harm’s Way debut was released in 2010. After starting their set with the slow, sample-heavy instrumental “Curtains,” the duo of Micheal Arthur Holloway and John C. Worsley began winning over the crowd with “Phantoms.” Dead When I Found Her stay away from typical four-on-the-floor dance beats by breathing new life into rhythms that are typically neglected. On “The Proof,” aggressive guitars are backed by lethal hammering beats, creating a chunky groove that gets a lot of heads nodding in approval. Holloway’s cold and restrained approach to vocals and his aloof stage presence leave you to get lost in the music itself, and many in the audience were unable to keep from dancing. The complex driving beats and tight percussive bass sequences of “Fixer Fixed” undoubtedly remind some older concert goers of their favorite underground industrial bands from the early to mid ‘90s. On stage, Dead When I Found Her may still be trying to find itself as a live act, as they do little to interact with or acknowledge the crowd, but the music is so good that you don’t mind. To the amusement of some and the confusion of others, the band ended its set with a gothic/industrial cover of Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight.”
And for those that enjoy a sense of humor in their music, Chicago’s The Gothsicles took the stage as the final act of the night. With angsty 8-bit songs about video games, it was clear that vocalist Brian Graupner (a.k.a. darkNES) and keytarist Cylon Belmont did not take themselves too seriously. “Save Dat Mermaid” was packed to the gills with old Commodore 64 sounds and tweaked out analog sequences. While clips of old school Nintedo games were projected on the screen, darkNES screamed into the microphone about how hard the game was to beat. He even wore a Power Glove. The Gothsicles also took jabs at the scene with “So You’ve Decided to Become a Goth,” which described the easy steps over an upbeat Atari-esque backdrop and a faux ‘50s instructional film. They even did their own “geek punk” version of the theme song to Fresh Prince of Bel Air. The duo brought their trademark tongue-in-cheek enthusiasm to the stage, offering hyperbeats that were fun for all who wanted to dance.
The night was another massive success for tireless DJ & promoter Mike Saga, whose name is synonymous with good times. Years from now, when we are shriveled and useless, we will still be able to remember where we were on 11/11/11.
Lüke Haughwout (Mechanical_Harvest)
Photographs by Mandi Martini (Mandi_Martini)
Detroit Diesel (with Guest DJ Totentanz)
Dead When I Found Her
Videos by Lüke Haughwout (Mechanical_Harvest)