If you were standing in front of the stage at 11:00pm, you would have been witnessing the encore of Doro, an ’80s metal maven from Germany, to a crowd of mostly late 40’s Bud Light wielding metalheads. Fast forward to midnight and you’d be in the middle of a futuristic underground masquerade ball known as Cybertron. That’s how they do it at the Gramercy Theatre in New York City; as soon as one concert is over there is another one waiting to start. The latter was a Vampire Freaks-sponsored NYC event, complete with multiple DJs on two different floors, go-go dancers, and of course… live music. Participants looked sinister in black, some wearing vinyl bondage or industrial rave attire, some decked out in colorful synthetic dreadweaves. It was an assembly of night creatures.
The show was starting later than expected (thanks to Doro) and this audience was ready to detonate when the first band took the stage. I, Parasite were exactly what the crowd was is in the mood for: punishing industrial sequences, driving rhythms, and rage. The performance of “Child for Our Amusement” conveys a sense of foreboding through dischordant metals riffs. As it builds to its climax, vocalist Christopher Jon (a longtime Android Lust contributor) lets out a primal scream from behind messy brown hair. He stomps and stumbles around the stage like a madman off his medication; the crowd loving it. He calms slightly to a menacing whisper on “White,” which has a more deliberate and slower rhythm, courtesy of the highly skilled drumming of Steve Kefalas. Guitarist Scott Landes does an excellent job of alternating between sludge metal rhythms and eerie feedback during the quieter parts. This threesome of musicians drags you right into the eye of the storm, snaking back and forth from calm to complete mayhem. After only four songs, Christopher Jon switches over to synthesizers, and all three became the backing band for Android Lust.
As Shikhee steps out of the shadows to the microphone, the audience collectively cheers. To many fans, the music of Android Lust has always resonated deep inside its own chamber of the heart. She has somehow succeeded to stay the same after all these years: original, beautiful, visceral. More of a musical artist than a rock star, experimenting with personal and evocative soundscapes since the late ’90s, and even on her latest release, The Human Animal, she has managed to somehow still capture the same pioneering spirit that has given Android Lust its signature sound.
As the slow rolling beat of “Intimate Stranger” starts off the set, the stage glows with bright pink LEDs. The sweet sounds of Shikhee’s lament stretch out and hover like a mist over a sea of nodding heads. Android Lust onstage conveys a slightly futuristic feeling, not only because of the arpeggiating synths and glitch-laden trimmings of the music, but also because Shikhee herself looks sci-fi in her post-apocalyptic soldier suit. She stays away from boring club beats; instead “God in the Hole” has a sexy swing to it and “Saint Over” seems to pay tribute to the down and dirty beat from Nine Inch Nails’s “Closer.” Other new tracks like “It’s On You” fit nicely next to Android Lust classics “Kingdom of One” and “The Body,” in which Shikhee’s sweet sounding vocals are replaced by vengeful shrieks. With Jon, Landes, and Kefalas backing her, the tracks take on a slightly less electronic and more dark rock feel than on the albums, but its definitely better with live musicians than it would be with just backing tapes. Audience members cheer enthusiastically to the signature bass synth lines of “Stained” and “Dragonfly,” the most recognizable Android Lust songs due to their unique and stylized music videos. The moody “Unbeliever” from The Dividing is chosen to be the final track of the night.
When Android Lust was over, many people left the stage area to pack into the lower level dance floor, which kept pumping until 4:00am. Some may not have known that the final band, Roughhausen was going on after Android Lust. That confusion and how long it took to arrange the elaborate video projections and LCD screens may have contributed to slightly lower attendance. Their music was a well received blend of rhythmic industrial metal, punishing beats, and the aforementioned multiple screens displaying images of horror, sleaze, and ultra-violence. Front man Jeff Stoddard had a macho, raspy voice, grinding out riffs in rhythm with the precise drumming of Allen Brunelle. Keyboard player Denni Boger hid behind a bank of computers and synths like the mastermind of a mobile command center, and even contributed vocals. Roughhausen were definitely good, although billing them after two bands like I, Parasite and Android Lust seemed a bit like a harsh takeover. This might not have been their crowd.
That being said, all three bands put on a put on a great show, providing a memorable night (morning, actually) in NYC for fans of dark electronic and underground music. All of these bands deserve credit for continuing to put themselves out there and enduring the rigors of cross country touring without the luxuries afforded to bigger mainstream acts.
Lüke Haughwout (Mechanical_Harvest)
Photographs by Mandi Martini (Mandi_Martini)
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