Nov 2013 27

Rams Head Live, Baltimore, MD, 2013/11/02
 
KMFDM - Live in Baltimore, 2013

 

As Baltimore’s list of reliable venues capable of supporting large scale tours seems to have diminished greatly in the last few years, Rams Head Live remains a beacon of hope, providing a quality space for every hard rocker’s needs. Among the hardest rocking bands operating right now is KMFDM, the multinational Ultra-Heavy Beat collective that has for 29 years been at the forefront of the industrial rock scene. Having released the KUNST album and embarked on a full scale tour of the U.S. in the spring of 2013, the We Are KMFDM tour was a perhaps unexpected but certainly welcome thank you from the band to the fans, hitting several cities that were missed the last time around. As on the last tour, joining KMFDM was Texas tribal/industrial act CHANT, having made quite an impression on the KUNST tour and proving to be one of the most visually stunning and aurally powerful shows around.

 

While the upper levels of the venue were closed off, the crowd was a sizeable assortment of industrial and metal fans, and when Bradley Bills took to the stage behind his massive drum set and launched into “Hole” and “Empty,” the applause grew in strength and volume. With a kit that included trash cans, satellite dishes, and practically anything that could be banged on to produce a noise, Bills commands the audience with songs like “Point and Click” and “Crash Me,” the setup of light towers perfectly illuminating and complementing the spectacle. His equally animated band mate Kristopher Robin certainly made his presence known between the hydraulic moveable keyboard stand and his own percussive accompaniment, and with lyrics about freedom of individuality and the sociopolitical climate, CHANT gave one hell of a performance, ending with a cover of Velvet Underground’s “I’m Waiting for the Man.” Not every band gets asked to join a KMFDM tour twice in one year, but with a show like this, CHANT is destined to be a longstanding hero in modern industrial music.

 

Some time passes, and the electricity in the air is absolutely palpable; the stage is set with the band’s gear and banners, and the sounds of aggressive beats and seething electronics fill the room. It’s a beat everybody knows and loves, enticing the crowd to start chanting, “KMFDM SUCKS!” As the band breaks into the familiar bass line and chugging riffs of “KUNST,” the audience lets out a roar of approval. Few musicians are able to maintain such a steady flow of output and have the energy to match it live, but KMFDM has demonstrated time and again this ability – from the vicious twin guitar assault of Jules Hodgson and Steve White to the maniacally and mechanically precise drumming of Andy Selway, and fronted by the forceful vocals of Lucia Cifarelli and Sascha “Käpt’n K” Konietzko. As ever the sleek and sexy riot girl, Cifarelli held the audience in the palm of her hand as she gravitated between the danceable groove of such songs as “Amnesia” and “Animal Out” to the furious attack of “Pussy Riot,” “Free Your Hate,” and “Rebels in Kontrol,” moving with the regal intensity of a jungle queen. The Käpt’n, always decked out in his aviator shades and that trademark Mohawk, has seemingly not aged one bit, belting out his guttural vocals on classics like “Light” to newer hits like “Krank,” “Potz Blitz,” and “Tohuvabohu.” Bridging the gap between the old and the new, “I (Heart) You” incorporates the instrumental backing from “Don’t Blow Your Top” in a manner most satisfying, while Hodgson’s blazing solos on “Hau Ruck” and especially the closing “A Drug Against War” are simply fantastic.

 

But even after a frenzy of boot stomping, fist waving moshing, the crowd was still not content to let KMFDM leave without an encore, and when the bombastic orchestral fanfare of “D.I.Y.” began, the lyrics reminding us that “KMFDM will never stop”… well, what more could one ask for? “Megalomaniac,” you might say? Oh, well KMFDM delivers that classic in spades before closing out with a special rendition of “Anarchy,” this time featuring a guest appearance by CHANT’s Bradley Bills to take over the absent Tim Skold’s vocals. Those who were unfortunately disenchanted with Legion Within front man William Wilson’s swaggering goth/rock croon on the song during the KUNST tour may have found some solace in Bills’ much more straightforward and seething take, his voice doing well to match the song’s roughness and attitude. As the lights came on and the crowd dissipated, one would be hard pressed to find a single dissatisfied soul. After nearly three decades, KMFDM continues to set the standard for production and performance.

 

Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)
Photography by Jessica Jastrzebski (JJastrz)

 
KMFDM

 
CHANT

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