San Francisco, CA, The Independent, 03/09/2013
While the rest of the country was battling record-breaking low temperatures and snowstorms, San Francisco was blessed with a temperate night, perfect for talking a walk to The Independent for a sold out performance by legends of the industrial scene.
The line wrapped around the block an hour before the doors opened and at least half a dozen desperate ticketless fans milled around hoping for the magic words, “Does anyone need an extra ticket?”
Unlike most concerts that pass through lately, KMFDM was relegated to only one opening band this time around – their favorite label-children, Legion Within. Headed by the sporadically flamboyant William Wilson, Legion Within was a bit difficult to classify. On record, the band seems dark and quite reminiscent of early romantic gothic groups. Live, however, the band was rougher. Fidgeting with his corset, Wilson threw in a few dramatic poses and swishes of his hands as his vocals strayed from almost melodic to uninhibited yells. Bassist Erica “Raven” Branch-Butler had the requisite coolness, though she seemed almost disconnected from the rest of the band, if not from the music. Alas, the other three onstage – guitarist Paul MacKusick, drummer Aaron Nicholes, and keyboardist/guitarist Shannon Cole – were barely able to move at all, limited by KMFDM’s equipment, which took up much of the space. It took some time for the audience to warm up to Legion Within, but a few songs in the applause started to build. Even with the limitations and uneven performance, the music was enjoyable with songs like “Someone’s Speaking,” “Rise,” and “Fascisti” garnering a positive reception. The band was likeable, with Wilson being an especially charming. Perhaps unfortunately, it is difficult to listen to Legion Within live, then listen to a recording, and recognize it as the same band.
Between bands is usually either a live DJ or a prerecorded playlist of music chosen by the performers: songs that are similar in style or the band’s favorite artists. To the audience’s surprise, during the break between Legion Within and KMFDM, classical music quietly trickled in. It was lovely, and after 20 minutes or so, there were a few small clusters of people approximating Regency-style ballroom dancing, albeit in a completely ironic way, of course.
KMFDM just doesn’t age; after 29 years of performing, Sascha Konietzko is apparently still only 35 years old. He owned the stage, watching every member of his band and giving so much energy that it ignited the previously lulled audience into a frenzy. How he manages to perform every song nearly identically to the recorded versions everyone knows so well is a feat of masterful vocal control. Lucia Cifarelli was incredible as always, sexy and performing dance moves that seemingly defy gravity. The rest of the band held their own, taking full advantage of their assigned areas, making the stage seem like their natural habitat. Starting strong with the epic “D.I.Y.,” the energy just kept going. “Kunst,” the title track from the latest album, was a crowd-pleaser with its references to so many other big hits and the sing-along chorus “KMFDM: Kill motherfucking Depeche Mode.” The new material from KUNST
blended perfectly with all the older songs like “Free Your Hate” and “Hau Ruck,” in some ways even surpassing them. It got to be very late, but the legends managed to give two high octane encores, even as the crowd’s energy began to wane. Simply put, it was another great show! It wouldn’t be a surprise if we are to see an age-defying Konietzko and company pounding the stages around the world for another 30 years.
Charity VanDeberg (CharityV)
Photographs by Noel Holmes