London, United Kingdom, Elektrowerkz, 09/15/2012
Imagine a venue tucked into the heart of London but conveniently hidden from the eyes of the unaware; the sort of place to which you wouldn’t stumble in unknowingly with derelict labyrinthine staircases that feel strangely cozy once they are filled with industrial boom. The venue is the cult Electrowerkz that for years now has been a Mecca for London’s goth/industrial/metal crowd and although vague dress codes, word of mouth invitations, and memberships are no more, there still is a flavor of fanciful mystery about Electrowerkz and frankly, all the better given its never changing underground spirit. It was here where Angelspit closed the European leg of the 2012 Wall Street Massacre tour and with the support of Uberbyte, Angelbomb, Die Kur, and Nessus Red, it was a very special night indeed.
With such a monumental lineup, the biggest surprise was the consistent variety and quality of the acts that preceded the well established British Uberbyte and Aussie masters of distortion. Nessus Red kicked off with a NIN inspired set that albeit inevitably grounded in Reznor’s signature emotionalism expanded upon familiar styles thanks to the trio’s youthful energy. Their alternative blend of guitars and electronica later gave way to Die Kur’s politically charged metal outrage. Stimulated by a video tableaux consisting of historical figures, it was perhaps lyrically heavy handed but definitely an absorbing performance from a band that enjoyed themselves immensely on stage and a vocalist that rendered Rammstein’s pyrotechnic setup unnecessary when he casually spat fire into the audience (or to strip it slightly from dramatic value into the air above the audience). Angelbomb opened (twice due to some technical issues) with the amusing “Walk Like Mickey Rourke” and a mix of harsh rock & roll guitars, melodic backgrounds made up of glitches, and a pseudo-rap, rhythmical delivery of lyrics. All of that resulted in this writer’s instant association of the band with old British powerhouses like Pop Will Eat Itself, which, given geographical conditions, was more than fitting.
With the crowd already boiling and the narrow, claustrophobic space full, Electrowerkz was ready for the first of the evening’s real heavy hitters – Sheffield based Uberbyte. An eccentric samba-like beginning caught the audience off guard and only when snippets of industrial rage found their way through the unexpected opening did the joke become truly apparent. Uberbyte began with “Sheffield’s Finest,” a pounding, bouncing track that in similar fashion to the band’s previous work acknowledged their artistic self awareness. It was the first truly danceable moment of the night and the audience embraced it fully, invited to the very edge of the stage by Uberman Richard Pyne. The band than began to humorously shift moods. “Archetype,” showcasing the band’s softer side, shared DNA with some of the best, most memorable work of Assemblage23 and VNV Nation and it was great to see people enjoy this new, unexpected direction from the group. Like all fan favorite artists, Uberbyte had a great rapport going with the crowd and their performance of “Jump Into Hell” was enhanced by Richard’s very own take on jump dancing. And it seems that Uberbyte’s deep running affiliation with German band Scooter expands beyond the tantalizing entry on their Facebook page. As Richard shouted “How much is the fish?” to an at least partially conscious crowd, the band’s new style crystallized on stage perfectly. Their set that consisted of the all new material from Five Year Plan was vigorous and entrancing and while not exactly what a hardcore industrial audience might have expected, it was enthusiastically appreciated long before this particular Uberbyte anthem, from their previous record NFY, closed their set.
But it was undeniably Angelspit’s night and by the time they got onstage, the crowd was wild and the venue packed. Like a sonic detonation they arrived, greeted by the shriek of the gathered fans – a band in the prime of its popularity. Angelspit seems to be an act meant to be listened to live – from DestroyX’s and Zoog’s usual imaginative appearance to the music’s evidently punk roots that radiate potently from the stage, everything about Angelspit seems to benefit from the band’s proximity to the public. What might seem like a checklist to some was, in this case, absorbingly intense and hits like “Ditch the Rest” or “Fuck the Revolution” were given a new, fresh quality due to the raw power of Angelspit’s vocal driven performance; the former in particular, stripped to bare minimum with emphasized percussion appearing to be even better than the original album rendition. “Toxic Girl” made apparent just how much magnetism lies in DestroyX’s sensual act and her energetic presence was constantly a no holds barred, uncompromising highlight. The charisma displayed by Zoog Von Rock emanated from the stage and “Maggot” sang in tandem with the audience felt like a real transfusion of energy. Angelspit might feed on distortion but at the same time seems to feed off the crowd’s reaction and the chemistry that they shared that night was evident. When asked by Zoog for requests, the venue burst into indistinguishable maelstrom of voices – this writer couldn’t be happier that what followed was the infectious hit “Skinny Little Bitch.”
Those in the United States to whom Angelspit is bringing this wonderful spectacle of fury and angst are in for a treat. There are ultimately very few acts that can make an atmosphere of garage band performance, fuelled by punk sensibility, furious attitude, and soaked in sweat seem so appealing. From constant interaction with those lucky enough to be right by the stage to DestroyX taking a picture of the audience at the end of the show, all speaks volumes about Angelspit’s commitment to deliver. “Fuck the Revolution” indeed!
Damian Glowinkowski (DamienG)
Photographs by Dulcie Faure Walker