Baltimore, MD, Club Orpheus 09/13/2011
Club Orpheus is one of the most talked about venues in Baltimore, primarily as one of the last vestiges for the goth/industrial scene. Hosting more than a fair share of the city’s prominent events for many years, the club has been a hotspot for many a renowned act, from bigger names to artists on the rise. On a warm Tuesday night in September, Charm City rivetheads would receive a dose of both as Orpheus was the site for the Viscerex Complex tour, featuring eminent industrial act Android Lust, and up-and-coming aggro/electro act Roughhausen, with I, Parasite in support. The crowd was a mixed bag of longtime fans anxious to see Shikhee and company take them through her dark and winding road into electro/industrial fantasy and unsuspecting patrons attending to sate their curiosity.
Founded by longtime Android Lust collaborator Christopher Jon, I, Parasite is one of the most unique acts in the underground scene, and one need only hear their blistering and aggressive set for proof. With Jon thrashing and flailing about like a madman onstage (little more than the regular dance floor for the venue), his long hair often obscuring his face, his voice moves effortlessly between sullen melodies and caustic raging screams that would surely impress the most hardened metalhead. Especially impressive was the interplay among all the band members, with Scott Landes’ work on guitar exploring all the complementary aspects of ambient noise and progressive technique and technicality, with he and drummer Steve Kefalas effortlessly tackled some rather complex rhythmic changeups in songs like “Child for Our Amusement” and “Obsessive Repulsive.” Despite some sound issues, which are – sad to say – not unusual for Club Orpheus, resulting in a sometimes jarring experience as vocals and guitars would sometimes inconsistently overtake each other, I, Parasite certainly garnered the audience’s attention and prepared them more than adequately for the star of the night.
Time passes, and Jon, Landes, and Kefalas take to their stage again, this time as the backing band, allowing the dark siren to take front and center, her voice soaring like an impassioned siren with opening track “Beautiful Stranger.” The music of Android Lust has always rode a fine edge between sensual beauty and erotic discord, at once disturbing and engaging, augmented by cascading shards of light and shadow. Jon moves seamlessly between the keyboards and the bass guitar, while Landes and Kefalas once again create a rhythmic and noisy accompaniment that enhances the power of hits like “Dragonfly,” “Kingdom of One,” and “Hole Solution,” the latter adding an upbeat and danceable vibe that the audience clearly appreciates. As if that weren’t enough highlights, the band’s best known song “Stained” receives quite the response, the warm and penetrating tones bouncing amid squelches of guitar and synth as Shikhee sings overtop a combination of manipulated echoes and backing tracks for a fuller sound. “The Body” also ranks as one of Android Lust’s finest compositions, given added weight in the live setting as it begins with a subdued pulse that steadily rises into a virulent display of industrialized rock energy. Given the enclosed space of the venue and the less than equitable sound system, Android Lust made do and used the noise to their advantage, further demonstrating why the band is one of the most esoteric, understated, and impressive acts in modern industrial.
By this time, the midnight hour is close at hand, and many of the crowd began to clear out, be it due to exhaustion from the blistering sets by the preceding bands or simply because it was a Tuesday night (the statement, “I have to work in the morning” being uttered by more than a single person, this writer included). Nevertheless, Roughhausen strutted confidently onstage with front man Jeff Stoddard belting out his abrasive vocals and guitar riffs with all the intensity of a veteran warrior wielding his mighty axe. Drummer Allen Brunelle and keyboardist Denni Boger ably accompanied as a series of frantic and often lewd video projections played against the band’s visible live energy. Unfortunately, by this point, the enthusiasm displayed by the crowd during I, Parasite’s and Android Lust’s sets had waned, resulting in Roughhausen making a less than stellar impression.
Besides the aforementioned sound issues, the night also began somewhat dubiously as it boasted to be an early show with doors opening at 7:00pm, the first band finally taking the stage a little over an hour later than was intended. This no doubt also played a part in the less than warm reception Roughhausen had received in Baltimore, but such are the vagaries of touring. All in all, the Viscerex Complex tour exhibited a trio of fine collective talents that may have perhaps been slightly mismatched for the expected audience.
Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)
Photographs by Johnny B. (JohnnyB)
Courtesy of Johnny B Photography – http://www.johnnybphoto.net