Sep 2011 08

It was a rainy Friday night in Philadelphia. Amid the umbrella toting rabble on South Street, you could make out a select few determined revelers, dressed mostly in black, making their way to the Theater of the Living Arts. August of 2011 saw the industrial juggernauts known as KMFDM rolling across North America, at a nearly nonstop pace of 22 cities in 25 days, in support of the WTF? release. Inside the TLA, DJ Mighty Mike Saga was doing his best to get the evening underway with a mix of dark electro and ‘80s dance tracks.


Human Factors Lab took the stage with a mixture of harsh electronics, chunky guitar riffs, and really pissed off male vocals courtesy of the imposing front man Sev3n Factor. Their set was punishing and aggressive, complete with evil clown makeup and an angle-grinder shooting sparks into the crowd. After a few hate-filled songs, some of the members switched off to other instruments. I’d say those guys were pretty damn lucky to get to go on tour with KMFDM; maybe we will see good things from them in the future?


Army of the Universe took the stage to a mildly enthused, half full audience who may not have known who they were. But the moment they began playing, everyone took notice and people began to gather near the stage. They had a remarkable sound, a catchy combination of visceral electronic sequences, pounding danceable rhythms, gritty guitar riffs, and live drums from the multi-talented Chris Vrenna (Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson, Tweaker). Front man Lord K radiated glam rock coolness with a vocal performance that alternated between distorted whispers and Bowie-esque dramatic choruses. “LoveDead” and “Hollywood Drama” sounded like sleazy funky electro, while “Mother Ignorance” had an aggressive industrial rock sound. They did a great cover of Bjork’s “Army of Me,” and made a lot of new fans that night.


Then, the main event…


Moments before KMFDM takes the stage, if you are a longtime fan, your mind might wander back… back to when you were a rebellious youth, wearing the KMFDM T-shirts, surrounded by the KMFDM posters on your wall, blasting your eardrums with their angst-filled sounds. Only you and your cool friends knew who they were. Their albums were so secret, you had to wait weeks for it to arrive via mailorder catalogs. They were ahead of the curve and against the mainstream. They also never sold out or got soft, a fact which you are reminded of as the lights begin to flicker, and everyone around you starts screaming in unison.


They waste no time, launching into the single “Krank.” The riffs are powerful and choppy as always, with Jules Hodgson and Steve White flanking the stage on both sides. The mastermind of mayhem, Sascha Konietzko in the flesh, paces back and forth barking orders to his troops: “Pick up and rise!” “Krank it to 11!” making a Spinal Tap reference. The affable Andy Selway beats mercilessly away at the drums, a flawless whirlwind of energy. Lucia Cifarelli is bold and beautiful as always, offering up “Amnesia” and “Dystopia” as she sways gracefully across the stage. She casts a spell on the entire crowd and works spectators into a fist-pumping frenzy on “Rebels in Kontrol.” Along with most of the new album, they graciously added some older crowd favorites like “A Drug Against War,” “Bait & Switch,” and even had special guest William Wilson (Legion Within) lend his vocal stylings on the tracks “Spectre.”


The “rebels” were indeed in control that night. The enthusiastic crowd begged for more and was treated to an encore of “D.I.Y,” “Day of Light,” and of course “Godlike.” KMFDM most definitely tore the TLA to the ground, giving their fans a night to remember. But it’s all in a day’s work for these musical marauders, who went on to conquer Baltimore the very next night!


Lüke Haughwout (Mechanical_Harvest)
Photographs by Mandi Martini (Mandi_Martini)



    KMFDM – “Rebels in Kontrol”

    KMFDM – “D.I.Y.”

    Army of the Universe – “Mother Ignorance”

    Army of the Universe – “Goodnite”

Video by Lüke Haughwout (Mechanical_Harvest)

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