The State Theatre, Falls Church, VA – 07/31/2015
There are few things more gratifying than when a band survives for any length of time despite overwhelming opposition from the natural flow of time – a flow that brings with it changes in technology, the industry, and the very audience. For over three decades, the Ultra-Heavy Beat has been going strong and with the 2015 Salvation tour, KMFDM is showing no signs of losing steam any time soon. Having long settled into the current lineup that has lasted since 2002, the band as it exists is the very definition of a well oiled machine, breaking out an ever shifting repertoire of KMFDM’s best songs from across 30+ years with as much fervor and ferocity as the most youthful of musical transgressors, but with the polish of performance that can only be exhibited by experienced veterans. For the third consecutive tour in a row, the Texas based tribally-induced percussive assault of CHANT joins the industrial/rock legends, along with Florida’s Satanically minded Seven Factor on select dates, like the Friday night of July 31, 2015 at Falls Church, VA’s State Theatre.
Starting off the night’s proceedings, Seven Factor takes to the stage as the fervent howls of a religious procession reverberate throughout the hall. After unleashing a few sparks from the metal grinders, the band launches full throttle into a blistering display of blackened industrial/metal with “Into the Light.” Headed by vocalist Seven Dunbar, most of the band is adorned in formal attire consisting of black and crimson suits befitting the Satanic theme of the music, and recalling the likes of Akercocke (with the exception of keyboardist Kimmii Kat Love, who sports a fetishistic look that still somehow meshes well with the rest of the band), which along with red lit keyboard stands allows Seven Factor to take full advantage of the precious little stage space available amid the bevy of equipment to create a visual accompaniment to the sonic onslaught reminiscent of the likes of Psyclon Nine or Dawn of Ashes. Dunbar’s vicious growl is acerbic as that of John C. Hall III’s guitars, with Jay Factor providing ample groove and low end on the bass (at one point even leaving the stage to run amid the crowd, only to reappear unexpectedly at Dunbar’s side; a delightfully curious moment in the show). This cacophonous wall of rather evil and near impenetrable distortion, offset by the throbbing electronics delivered by way of Love and Little Sister’s keyboards, is further extrapolated with tracks like “The Fallen” and “The Watchers.” Ending in a hail of incendiary sparks, Seven Factor’s music may have been a much more darkly metallic affair than what CHANT or KMFDM have to offer, but the crowd enthusiastically welcomed the opening act’s vitriolic sound and were now pumped and primed for the headliners.
By now, CHANT’s live performances have become the stuff of industrial lore; driven primarily by percussion, the band’s tribally influenced sound and presentation has only grown in stature over the past several years. From the ominous buildup of the opening track, “Brave New Apocalypse,” the trio of vocalist Bradley Bills, keyboardist Kristopher Robin, and guitarist Alvin Melivin all add to the thunderous roar of percussion, their rhythmic interplay creating a truly dynamic live sound that in conjunction with the impressive lighting rig makes for quite a spectacle. This persists as the crowd roars and pounds along with each passing beat, matching pace as each song finds CHANT gaining in momentum, with the energetic aplomb of “Manifesto” being a highlight thanks in no small part to Melivin’s guttural riffs complementing Bills’ complex rhythms. In a similar fashion, the audience is clearly taken in by the bombastic chorus of “Universal,” while old favorites like “Point and Click” and “Revolt” are veritable anthems that the audience immediately embraces as modern classics.
As has been stated many times (especially by this writer), not nearly enough credit can be given to the musical prowess exhibited by this band, particularly as Bills switches between a standing and sitting position, his drum kit a mish-mash of traditional acoustic and electronic drums with some odds-and-ends (i.e. trash cans and other accoutrements), all the while never losing his rhythmic foundation even as he bellows his searing melodies. As well, Robin and Melivin switch effortlessly between their respective instruments and their own drum sets, showcasing a trio that is obviously well rehearsed and unafraid to give the audience an unforgettable performance. Judging by the cheers from the crowd, CHANT’s mission was accomplished, with any unaware or uninterested prior to the show now converted to become one of the tribe.
The lights dim, the fog hits the stage, and the crackles of lightning blast through the speakers to introduce the fanfare of synthesized brassy pomp. The beats enter along with the scratchy guitars and Sascha “Käpt’n K” Konietzko takes to the stage to lead the crowd in a chant of “One for the Money, two for the show, three to get ready, now go kids go!” To begin the set with the 1992 hit was indication enough that for the Salvation
tour, KMFDM is dusting off some old favorites that perhaps haven’t been performed live in quite some time, but this only serves to illustrate the band’s devotion to those fans whose support has endured through all of the changes in lineup and sound over the years. With the mosh pit virtually having begun at the onset and continuing to build in intensity with each consecutive track, it’s clear that the fans’ support is being repaid in kind.
A couple was even invited to the stage at one point whereupon the young man proposed to his lady, receiving howls of approval from the crowd and hugs from the band as she accepted. If ever there was a group with a strong and tight-knit bond with its audience, KMFDM is the band, leading this writer to wonder just what sort of bug crawled in and died in the author of a recent article about the kickoff performance in Houston… but I digress. The interplay between guitarists Jules Hodgson and Steve White is as tight as ever as the pair exchanging their flanking positions on the stage sporadically throughout the set, as well as each trading off more than a few solos. Similarly, Konietzko and Lucia Cifarelli are quite the vocal partnership onstage, each complementing each other and taking on lead duties as the song demands, while drummer Andy Selway is the veritable glue that holds each track together, truly creating – along with the electronics – a sound that can only be called “Ultra-Heavy Beat.”
Did I mention that old favorites would be dusted off? Several longtime and somewhat obligatory staples of a KMFDM live set remain, such as the danceable, groovy, yet Teutonic and always guitar-driven bravado of “Light” and “Megalomaniac,” along with the thrashing insanity of “A Drug Against War,” during which the ferocity of the denizens of the mosh pit reaches its pinnacle, and while still a newer track, “Amnesia” has become something of a modern KMFDM classic thanks in no small part to Cifarelli’s aggressive yet sultry, acidic yet sexy vocal melodies, topped off by a catchy and anthemic chorus. The same can be said of “Tohuvabohu” as more than a few members of the crowd were discernibly shouting the Latin phrases of the chorus, while the thunderously marching beats of “Hau Ruck” and Selway’s almost machinelike precision in the breakbeats of “Son of a Gun” continue to shine in any KMFDM live show.
Of course, it wouldn’t be the Salvation
tour if “Salvation” was not included in the set list, and the audience was all too pleased to hear the iterations of the chorus to “Naïve” in the song’s coda, sparking memories of 25 years ago. But where the set really takes a trip down memory lane is in the inclusion of tracks from NIHIL
, particularly “Terror,” during which Konietzko breaks out the megaphone as the crowd shouts along with him, “We shall use all peaceful means to overcome tyranny!” Also from that album, the band breaks into “Ultra,” Selway’s drumming playing well atop those familiar metallic clangs and while perhaps not as slithery or as seething as Raymond Watts’ signature snarl, Konietzko’s assertive delivery more than compensates to make the song’s inclusion a special highlight of the night; as this song was responsible for this writer first becoming a fan of KMFDM two decades ago, it was quite emotional for me having not heard the song live since the WWIII
tour of 2003. The same can be said of “Last Things,” one of Cifarelli’s most poignant vocal and lyrical pieces, while “Waste” also returned with its almost maniacal speed and percussive fury, leaving “Godlike” to close out the night.
Over 30 years of conceptual continuity, KMFDM continues to rip the system with a decidedly singular and inimitable sound that remains the benchmark for all industrial/rock, despite what many may think or say. This writer finds it an unfortunate circumstance that many continue to pine for the past when KMFDM was defined more by the onstage extravaganza of a revolving door of guest performers, though it is perhaps not unusual that some would prefer to languish in the memory of some bygone era that had a profound impact on their lives rather than accept the present. Still, the level of ire that some exhibit – characterized by the aforementioned Houston article – at the fact that Konietzko and his company of musical miscreants continues to carry the name of KMFDM well into their advancing years is, to this writer, dubious and ultimately a very sad and pathetic thing. Through all of the changes in lineup, technology, style and approach, KMFDM has always remained an extension of Sascha Konietzko’s vision and those willing to follow his lead. As stated before, the band is a well oiled machine that can crank out the old hits while still being able to churn out some new surprises along the way, as proven by the Salvation
tour. Any of us should be so lucky to be doing anything we love for three decades as KMFDM has. Philosopher Alan Watts (no relation to Raymond… at least, as far as I’ve been able to determine) stated once that “The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance” This writer can think of no better statement to personify the KMFDM’s progression across three decades.
Website, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, KMFDM Store Website
Website, Brave New Apocalypse Website, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, ReverbNation, SoundCloud
Website, Facebook, Twitter, ReverbNation
Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)
Photography by MizTabby (MizTabby)