Baltimore Soundstage, Baltimore, MD – 09/09/2018
With all three bands performing at this year’s ColdWaves events, it’s only natural that a tour should coincide – with two legends of the industrial music scene joined by a promising newcomer, the 2018 tour of ohGr, Lead into Gold, and Omniflux has proven to be one of the year’s most anticipated and exciting events. On the warm Sunday evening of September 9 at Baltimore Soundstage, the Charm City audience was treated to a night of exploratory electro/industrial that simply was not to be missed.
First to take the stage was Omniflux, the project of Mahsa Zargaran. A monolithic screen stands oppressively in the background, encasing Omniflux’s sleek silhouette in a brightly lit display of animated images, all created by her. The hum and thrum of her programmed rhythms and abrasive synth textures provide a consistent fluid motion for her shrilly melodic and heavily effected vocals to take flight, making for a lush audio/visual ambience that gradually ensnares the audience. The layers of harmonic and electronic effects do not hide the strength of her singing, filling out the sonic space and interacting with her instrumentals in a manner not dissimilar to The Knife or Fever Ray. After the first five songs of her set, she addresses the audience to introduce herself and entice people to her recently released Aquarelle
debut at the merch table, the pride of which belies her slightly mousy demeanor – she’s clearly quite proud of the accomplishment of having written, performed, and produced Aquarelle herself, with minimal assistance in mixing and mastering. Ending the set with one final song, Omniflux was a strong experimental opener, with more than a few in the crowd – including this writer – clearly converted into new fans.
What can be said about Paul Barker now that hasn’t already been said? One of the key figures in the evolution of industrial music thanks to his forceful and groovy bass lines, he is practically royalty in the underground music scene, with his Lead into Gold solo outlet having made a triumphant return after a long absence with the new album The Sun Behind the Sun
. With a sound that was neither throwback nor total reinvention, Lead into Gold’s sound bears all the hallmarks of Barker’s history in the scene, complete with an exploratory approach toward sound design to give his music a unique character.
With the bulk of his set encompassing tracks from The Sun Behind the Sun
, Barker’s towering presence onstage is absolutely palpable, backed by frenetic animations that bathe him in a constant light; although different in style from the preceding act’s, the visuals almost seem to be a tonal continuation, aided by Zargaran joining Barker onstage to provide guitar accompaniment during the latter portion of the set. This writer had stated in his ReView of the album that Barker’s less-than-polished vocals added a certain grittiness to the music, but in the live environment, they reach their fullest power in creating a disturbing melodic anchor to his pulsating mechanical compositions, with the now classic “Faster than Light” proving to be a highlight for the audience.
The lights dim. A table with a simple but elegant box embroidered with the band’s name sits beside the mic stand, the crowd cheering as each band member takes to the stage, and when the enigmatic and legendary front man arrives adorned in a loose black hoodie, his face obscured by a demented animalesque mask, the audience erupts into a furious roar of anticipation and adulation. As the band breaks into “Smogharp,” it becomes immediately apparent that this set will be a far different affair than the hits package of the previous tour in 2017; no, this is something else, a showcase not only for the new TrickS
album but for the weirder moments of ohGr’s discography.
For example, the set included spirited performances of other tracks from the 2008 album Devils In My Details
like the ballistic “Shhh,” on which drummer Justin Bennett was clearly in his element as he unleashed the song’s percussive barrage, the crowd waving fists and launching into a moshpit fury with the song’s howls of “Smells like shit!” In contrast, the solemn and melodic “Witness,” a particular favorite of this writer, brought the main set to a close with a flurry of crystalline synth layers and explosive guitars.
For certain, ohGr made sure to deliver some audience favorites like “Pissage” or “HiLo,” and the encore was an expected one-two punch of definitive tracks from the Welt debut like “minuS,” “wateR,” and “deviL.” but TrickS
was the real star here, with the show acting as a visual extension of the album’s themes of deception and misdirection. From pulling a demented stuffed rabbit out of the aforementioned box, which Ogre made sure to show the audience was indeed empty, the damaged ears of his mask gradually revealing themselves under the hood for a brilliant visual display that mirrored TrickS
’ Roman Dirge designed imagery; from spastic card tricks to the use of an rotating spiral prop to induce a hypnotic state and bend the audience to his will, along with frenzied and acerbic performances of songs like “maJiK” and “TrickS,” the renowned theatricality of Nivek Ogre was on full display, with guitarist Matthew Setzer and bassist William Morrison sharing keyboard duties with Dustin Schultz all smiles and joining in the upfront antics to create a viscerally entertaining experience.
Although a new song and not yet the most familiar entry in ohGr’s oeuvre, “Mind made goD” stood as one of the most powerful moments of the night as an explosive moshpit erupted to the song’s entrancing chorus. Even amid this flurry of pure enjoyment were the more intellectual and political moments like “WaTergaTe” and “SubjecT,” Ogre at one point praising the diversity of the crowd – “I see people of different colors, races, and creeds” – in his usual poetic manner, while at another stating feistily, “Yeah, I’m a libtard,” garnering a lively roar of approval from the crowd.
To see a show like this, it’s no wonder that ohGr and Lead into Gold have become two of the most revered and beloved entities in the industrial scene. Coupled with a newer act like Omniflux possessing the skills and the chops to match their creativity, along with an enthusiastic and open minded audience, it can most assuredly be said that the scene is far from dead.
Article by Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)
Photography by Tabetha Patton (MizTabby)
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Lead into Gold
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