Nov 2013 27

Elysium, Austin, TX, 2013/11/09
KMFDM - Live in Austin, 2013


The Ultra-Heavy Beat marches on! The everlasting industrial superpower KMFDM returned to Texas barely seven months after prior appearances earlier in 2013. And just like the previous tour, KMFDM brought the familiar tribal/industrial sidekick CHANT to get the festivities started. The We Are KMFDM tour didn’t stop in Dallas this time, so this writer traveled down to Elysium in Austin, TX to witness the mayhem. The one-two punch of KMFDM and CHANT did not disappoint and made the cross-state travel worth it.


Since there were only two bands, opening act CHANT got to play a longer set than on the previous tour, which had three bands. The longer set felt more complete, more captivating, and just enraptured the crowd in a way that ephemeral, rushed sets can’t. To top off the intensity of the 45-minute set, Austin is also front man Bradley Bills’ hometown, so the intensity and vigor given by him and his coconspirator Kristopher Robin was escalated greatly. The audience got its feet moving a bit with the opening track “Hole,” but the show officially got rocking with “Empty.” “Hole” is a good warm-up track that gets the blood going, but the crowd just seems to feed off the energy Bills emits during “Empty” as he goes back and forth on the stage relentlessly pounding his conventional drum kit and the nine or so other drum setups composed of trash cans and satellite dishes. The passion continued with “Revolt,” which may be the most crowd pleasing tune CHANT has to offer. Its tribal beats and protest lyrics make it a track that can lead people to march into town and overthrow the government and that emotion is felt when played live.


What was most different about this set compared to the previous was that the fans were so much more involved. CHANT has been around long enough, so now most of the rivetheads, goths, and punks were singing along to all of CHANT’s songs; even the new ones not yet released on CD, “Low” and “Universal.” Also greatly improved is Bills’ voice. With more experience and touring, Bills has been able to hone in on some confidence and swagger and that shows each time he belts out a lyric. He is absolutely the complete package because his showmanship, his drumming, and his vocals are all on the same level now.


The set continued on with “Point and Click” and the fan favorite “Crash Me,” which never gets old no matter how many times it’s been played over the years. “Need” continues to soothe the soul and adds an intimate, alluring feel to the show as well. The dramatic and powerful “Blood+Peace” usually concludes most of CHANT’s sets and is an excellent way to close, but Austin got a bonus track right after it was played as the band unveiled its latest cover, “I’m Waiting for My Man,” originally done by Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground. It was a curious cover, but the longer it went on, the more it became a CHANT song and the more the crowd enjoyed it. It was a respectful homage to a recently deceased icon. Somehow, someway, CHANT found a way to take an already overly intense show and up it to another level. These guys are the next great thing to happen to the scene.


Not long after CHANT’s foundation rocking set, KMFDM exploded onstage with “KUNST,” which got some fans pushing and shoving a bit. The mosh pits erupted during “Amnesia,” however. Steve White and Jules Hodgson really stole the show as their guitars were the loudest elements of the set. It was almost to a fault as the guitars sometimes drowned out Lucia Cifarelli’s and Sascha Konietzko’s vocals, who together shared an equal load of singing throughout the set. One of the main highlights of the night was “Light.” Beer and people flew all over the venue’s floor as an army of KMFDM fans shouted lyrics and shoved their neighbors. Something about “Light” just translated better live that night. The calamity continued with “Pussy Riot,” “Free Your Hate,” and “Potz Blitz” bringing the highest amount of physical damage to those in attendance.


KMFDM barely had to perform as most of the action was going on between audience members. Konietzko and Cifarelli were stoic at times and seemed intent on standing behind their podiums most of the night, but that didn’t seem to be of concern for the screaming masses in attendance. The set list was similar to the shows performed earlier in the year, with very few classic KMFDM tracks being played. Despite the lack of older material, the set list was solid as each song seemed to build excitement and energy. “Hau Ruck” and the show-ending “A Drug Against War” were this writer’s favorite songs of the night. “Hau Ruck”‘s slamming beat has absolutely killed at every KMFDM I’ve seen. Then there’s the fan favorite “A Drug Against War,” which is the anthem of all anthems in music.


After a lengthy wait and hundreds of deafening screams, KMFDM performed an electrifying trifecta of songs for the encore. “D.I.Y.” and “Megalomaniac” got the ruckus reaction from the audience that they always do as they never disappoint and the show officially ended with “Anarchy.” Bradley Bills of CHANT joined KMFDM and sang Tim Skold’s part of the song. Everyone was all smiles on the stage as CHANT’s and KMFDM’s chemistry was palpable. The crowd put forth one last gigantic mosh pit and KMFDM left everything it had left on the stage. After the show ended, KMFDM sold a one-of-a-kind 25 year anniversary banner to a fan for $500 and took pictures with him, making the night just a bit more unique than some of the stops.


It’s been 29 years since the Ultra-Heavy Beat started infecting the world and it doesn’t appear that there is any known cure. KMFDM still has “it” and the band’s continued efforts to bring up-and-coming acts such as CHANT along for the ride continues to make these tours desirable to see.


Grant V. Ziegler (GVZ)



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