The Riot Room, Kansas City, MO – 09/03/2018
Kansas City was the next to last show in Glitch Mode Recordings’ summer Decode Tour, which featured flagship act Cyanotic accompanied by KANGA, Amelia Arsenic, RELIC, and For All the Emptiness. Performing 24 shows in 32 days with five bands can be difficult, but this cybernetic conglomeration made it an exercise in efficiency with the requirement of only seven people to make all five bands work.
Opening the show was Kansas City’s Amphlux, with sole member AJ Whitehead performing live keyboards over backing tracks. Musically, the project blends industrial, dubstep, drum & bass, synthwave, and a bit of chiptune. A varied mix to be sure, but unlike a DJ set, he plays the melodies live; he even broke out a MIDI saxophone for a short while, adding a nice element to the show – it’s refreshing to see someone in the purely electronic world pushing his craft and taking some chances. Next up was another local favorite as Kansas City’s Evil Kunst brought its own brand of electro/industrial/rock combined with spoken word and avant-garde vocals. The band continues to hone its craft but did end up with some technical issues near the end of the set, forcing a brief period of musical improvisation.
A common occurrence throughout the evening was the speed with which the bands would take the stage, barely waiting for the previous act to leave and without announcing that a new set would begin, starting with For All the Emptiness. After Evil Kunst tore down, no one came up onstage to setup and the DJ spun his industrial mix along with some video accompaniment… so, when a new song and video started up, still with no one onstage, it was a surprise to hear someone was actually singing. When we approached the stage, For All the Emptiness’s Jonathan Kaplan was shrouded in almost complete darkness, pacing around while singing. Out of all the bands on the Decode Tour
, For All the Emptiness was the odd man out as the band’s music is much more in the classic EBM and futurepop style. Kaplan put himself out there as a performer, walking right up to people in the crowd and belting out his tunes without hiding behind any vocal effects or backing tracks. You could hear him without the microphone and he pulled it off. Unfortunately, as he stayed primarily in the darkness, it was difficult to shoot any photographs of his performance.
Shortly after, Jordan Davis and Dan Dickerscheid took the stage and started prepping their gear. Though RELIC had only been listed as playing three out of the 24 shows, Kansas City not being one of them, it was announced that Davis and Dickerscheid were the backing band for Amelia Arsenic, who was up next on the bill. So, when Davis announced, “We are RELIC and we are going to play a quick set,” it was quite a surprise. Someone in the crowd shouted out “Holy shit” as the audience returned to view the stage. With Davis on keyboard and vocals and Dickerscheid on drums, RELIC tore into a four song set, playing songs off of the duo’s latest release, Social Drift
, and shifting the gothic dance tone into a full on rock show. Apparently, Kansas City was not the only city in which RELIC performed a surprise show, but it was very much welcome.
After those four songs, Davis and Dickerscheid remained onstage to be joined by Amelia Arsenic. While singing, Arsenic dominated the stage with energy and confidence, but between songs, she came off as shy, almost as if she were afraid to talk to the audience. Once, she referred to herself as a “little koala,” which is a bit of a contrast from her dominatrix persona from her time in Angelspit. But since then, she has come into her own as a performer being able to control the stage while also exhibiting a more vulnerable side.
Davis and Dickerscheid were then granted a break as KANGA came up onstage. In her earlier days of performing, she seemed a bit unsure of herself and her stage presence was a bit on the plain side. But ever since, she has become much more confident and embraced the dark and sensual nature of her music, and this show was no exception. She moved around through a combination of dancing, headbanging, and contortionism while singing songs mostly from her 2016 self-titled debut. However, she did include a couple of new, unreleased tracks that went over very well. Although this was this writer’s second time seeing KANGA perform live, he would gladly see her again.
Then Davis and Dickerscheid returned for their third and final set, joined by Sean Payne on vocals, and Jenny Anne Payne on additional keyboards. The last time Cyanotic came through Kansas City, the band did not have a drummer; at the time, Payne had said it was because he wanted people to hear the electronics. This time, there was no guitarist, keeping in the spirit of the band’s latest album, T2
– the expanded edition of Tech Noir
, which also lacks traditional guitar.
The show suffered none for it though as the band kept things heavy and moving, with the drums and the harsh vocals bringing the metal without the need for guitars. As such, Cyanotic’s music bore a decidedly mechanical feel, as it should. Nobody has to make huge gestures to show how hard they are rocking out, instead being allowed to revel in the viciously electronic power of the Cyanotic sound. The group performs with an almost casual demeanor and it comes out just as brutal. Of course, that was a bit of a tradeoff; sometimes a crowd can feed off of a band’s kinetic energy, but with Cyanotic, it is all done with the audio and it is done well.
The Decode Tour was a nice package, bringing several talented up-and-coming bands along with a more established headliner all into one show; unfortunately, Kansas City was not one of the stops that included Rabbit Junk, but from the schedule, it looks like the band mostly played weekends. This writer assumes this is, at least partially, because of J.P. Anderson’s day job as a professor. Maybe next time.
Article by Douglas Leach (nowandforalltime)
Photography by Joseph Wilson (JWilson)
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For All the Emptiness
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