Dec 2017 21

The State Theatre, Falls Church, VA – 10-05-2017
Baltimore Soundstage, Baltimore, MD – 10-09-2017
 

 

Having earlier this year embarked on a U.K. tour with fellow Hamburg upstarts and musical partners Lord of the Lost, longstanding industrial/rock sensation KMFDM took to our shores once again to deliver a punchy helping of Ultra Heavy Beat mayhem. Supporting the 2017 Hell Yeah album and touring with fellow legendary industrial act ohGr, the tour began with the two bands headlining the third night of Chicago’s ColdWaves VI, with stops at The State Theatre in Falls Church, VA and Soundstage in Baltimore, MD to follow, which ReGen Magazine was fortunately able to attend.

 

A thin man in camouflage pants takes to the stage, and if you had been to KMFDM’s merch booths prior to hitting the floor, you’d recognize him as a fellow by the appropriate name of Ocelot – a.k.a. Andrew Lindsley. At first, it seems he’s simply tending to matters of equipment and stage space, shouting into the mic to rile the crowd up, which happens in short order. Then the familiar voice of Käpt’n K fills the speakers with a brief introductory manifesto – “Fuck rap, fuck music!” – that leads into a barrage of bass-heavy hip-hop beats and subsonic warbles, with Ocelot rapping furiously against all forms of bigotry and prejudice; this is Distorted Crown. Needless to say, the audience was slightly taken aback on both nights, although the Baltimore crowd was (strangely) less receptive than Falls Church to such a brazen and rather ballsy effort; granted, a solo hip-hop artist was hardly what anybody might have expected, but Ocelot gave it his all, sweat pouring from his brow as he moved with the sleek mania of his namesake, a smile never escaping his face. As a rapper, his proficiency could not be questioned, with many noting to this writer that his style was reminiscent of Cyprus Hill. With the opening band slot emptied by Lord of the Lost’s unfortunate absence, that band having been denied entry into the U.S., a tremendous amount of credit must be granted to Ocelot for stepping up to the plate with a musical style seemingly so out-of-place among the more purely electronic and industrial sounds of the headliners.

 

Nivek Ogre is one of industrial music’s most celebrated artists, and with his de facto solo band ohGr, he showcases his penchant for melodic songwriting in grand form. It has been several years since 2011’s unDeveloped, with a new album – Tricks – currently being crowdfunded and in production, and the scene is damn hungry for some ohGr. Awash in blue lighting, the ambience as the band takes to the stage is a palpably tense but soothing introduction, as if to lull the crowd into a relaxed but anticipatory state, broken immediately by the harsh opening chords of “maJiK.” Adorned in a mask that does not belie the nightmarish qualities of his lyrics or his visuals, a rather dapperly dressed Ogre swivels and shimmies across the stage with a serpentine fluidity that is at once menacing and sensual, his voice raspy and minimally affected to emphasize the human element amid these strange electronic soundscapes. Even after three-plus decades, Ogre demonstrates why he’s one of the scene’s most revered front men as he inspires looks and shouts of awe and adulation from the audience, while his band mates are seemingly energized with each harmonized chorus, “miNUS” being one of the set’s highlights. Even with this seemingly traditional rock band format, the electronic nature of songs like “wAteR,” “Nitwitz,” and “Shhh” were not lost. Justin Bennett’s drumming matching wits with the programmed beats as guitarist Matthew Setzer, bassist/guitarist Wililam Morrison, and keyboardist Dustin Schultz mingle about onstage with a virility that equals the singer’s, making each motion a spectacle unto itself. This was especially true during “Cracker” as Ogre almost slithers amid the onlookers’ howls as they chant along “You think you’re evil, but you’re not.” One would be hard pressed to notice a difference in response between the Falls Church and Baltimore crowds, proving this writer’s earlier statement about the scene’s now rather satiated desire for ohGr’s return.

 

The Ultra Heavy Beat is a force of nature, one seemingly immune to the ravages of time and changing attitudes; always musically of and ahead of its time while maintaining a lyrical relevancy that is as topical as it is timeless, KMFDM continues to defy the odds and draw on its rich history and loyal fanbase to continually kick ass live! The bombastic orchestral fanfare begins, the stage illuminated in an almost blinding haze, and “D.I.Y.” pumps out of the speakers to send the audience immediately into rhythmic fits of fervent industrial/rock bliss. Authoritative to the point of abstraction, the leather clad Sascha “Käpt’n K” Konietzko takes the mic with the seasoned confidence of a punk/rock military commander, every patron shouting along that “KMFDM will never stop!” Even through his signature aviator shades, his penetrating glare is as arresting as ever, letting each concertgoer know that he considers you one of his dependable soldiers in the band’s ongoing fight against conformity and mediocrity. The title track to the band’s latest album follows, continuing the mood and forging a raucous and triumphant chorus that gets the crowd pumped up and shouting “Hell Yeah” along with the Käpt’n. A new highlight was “Freak Flag,” a new track from Hell Yeah, and one that the viciously vivacious Lucia Cifarelli sings to perfection, blending melody and rage in a rallying cry to embrace individuality and reject convention. The same can be said of intensely danceable tracks like “Animal Out” and “Amnesia” and the sultry and bluesy “Murder My Heart,” her slick and sexy movements both menacing and alluring, while “Rebels in Kontrol” remains one of her most aggressively satisfying live showcases, the caustic thrum of that bass guitar line immediately sparking an explosive roar of approval from the audience.

 

Never a band to skimp on incendiary power in the live environment, songs like “Burning Brain,” “Total State Machine,” and “Glam Glitz Guts & Gore” from Hell Yeah provide ample fodder for those in the moshpit, playing well alongside newer classics like “WWIII” and “Hau Ruck” and longtime favorites like “A Drug Against War” and “Light.” Drummer Andy Selway blasts away behind the kit like a man possessed, his movements seeming spastic and unhinged but precise and almost mechanical; this is so even when things slow down for the dublike rhythmic fury of the classic “Virus,” a track that hasn’t been heard live in a long time, and proving a high point for many an Ultra Heavy Beat disciple. Perhaps most sublimely and subtly impressive was guitarist Andee Blacksugar, who throughout the set accomplishes as a single player what has traditionally been the domain of two or more string-slingers; even at the first show of the tour at ColdWaves with barely (if any) rehearsal time, he nails down every riff with a meticulous skill, his solos providing a bit of punkish energy that makes for a welcome flavor of freshness to KMFDM’s live sound. Concluding the performance was the almost obligatory “Godlike” – the familiar repetition of that Slayer riff, the resonant echoes of the child’s voice, and the ferocious chorus of band and spectators wailing “Now is the time / get on the right side / you’ll be Godlike!” the stuff of industrial/rock legend.

 

As with the preceding band, if there was a difference between the Falls Church and Baltimore reactions to KMFDM, it was indeterminate. All of this just goes to show that despite the inescapable assertions of the naysayers who insist that some of these “old” groups can’t possibly live up to their former glories, the fans will continually provide proof to the contrary. Some might have been dismayed that Ogre and KMFDM did not jump at the opportunity to perform some of their past collaborations, with songs like “Torture,” “That’s All,” and “Full Worm Garden” enduring the decades as some of the most popular either act has produced; yes… alas, one must accept that there were perhaps reasons for their absence, and it did little to diminish what was a powerful showcase on the Hell Yeah 2017 tour. Suffice to say that even after more than three decades, Ogre and Konietzko – with their respective complements of musical miscreants – are in as much top form as ever! Put simply, “Hell Yeah!”

 

Article by Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)
Photography by Tabetha Patton (MizTabby)

 

KMFDM
Website, Facebook, Twitter, SoundCloud, YouTube
ohGr
Facebook, Twitter
Distorted Crown/Ocelot
Facebook, Twitter

 

KMFDM – Falls Church, VA, 2017-10-05


 

ohGr – Falls Church, VA, 2017-10-05


 

Distorted Crown – Falls Church, VA, 2017-10-05


 

KMFDM – Baltimore, MD, 2017-10-09


 

ohGr – Baltimore, MD, 2017-10-09


 

Distorted Crown – Baltimore, MD, 2017-10-09


 

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