Aug 2017 15

Bar XIII, Wilmington, DE – 08/05/2017
Prey & Obey Tour 2017 #3 - Wilmington, DE


PIG has been showing no signs of slowing down since returning to the forefront of the industrial/rock scene; following up 2016’s comeback album The Gospel with the Swine & Punishment remix album and the Prey & Obey EP, as well as touring and performing at numerous festival events, the Lord of Lard is clearly at the pinnacle of his powers. With the Prey & Obey Tour in the summer of 2017, he and his depraved disciples were joined on the road by a pair of engaging electro/rockers cut from a different creative cloth, but by no means lacking in their own brands of innovative intensity – Julien-K and Ghostfeeder. On a warm Saturday evening on the outskirts of Wilmington, the three bands brought forth a forceful to Bar XIII a display of electro/industrial rock & roll.


The lights dim, the stage bathed in a mélange of varying shades of red, blue, and purple to create a chilled and steely atmosphere befitting the electronic textures about to fill the speakers; the electronic beats and bass lines kick out an energetic and electrified style to begin the night on a fiery note. Headed by Derek Walborn behind an arsenal of keyboards and MIDI controllers and backed by guitarist Mark Hamer, Ghostfeeder was arguably the least familiar band to the growing crowd, but with songs filled with ambient rock vibrancy and gritty soundscapes underscored by pulsating beats too good not to dance to and Walborn’s striking vocal melodies, the band’s rising star power was undeniable. Performing songs from across Ghostfeeder’s three album releases, a particular favorite for this writer was the title track from the group’s latest album, “World Fameless,” its punchy synth and guitar riffs a wonderful showcase for Hamer, while Walborn’s natural charisma shined through one of the night’s catchiest choruses, signaling what deserves to be a prominent act for the electronic scene while riling and revving the crowd up for what was yet to come from the headlining acts.


An ascending synth rises through the speakers like a massive sound system powering up, and the beats kick with a percolating synth creating tension and anticipation in the audience. Clad in black and exuding the cool confidence of seasoned rock stars, Julien-K kicks right into high gear with “Death to Analog,” with Ryan Shuck immediately holding the crowd in the palm of his hand with a strident swagger; decked out in leather and shades, the interplay between him and fellow guitarist Amir Derakh, along with bassist/keyboardist/backup vocalist Bidi Cobra, was instantly captivating, backed by the power and precision of percussionist extraordinaire Galen Waling. Blending new wave and synthpop melodies with the blistering rock & roll vitality and aggression of industrial, songs like “Strange Invisible” and “Dossier” from the California Noir double album melded seamlessly with favorites from Death to Analog like “Kick the Bass” and “Futura,” demonstrating the band’s consistency of style and songwriting, while other songs like “Deep Beat Overground” and especially “Flashpoint Riot” provided Shuck the chance to lead the crowd in a rhythmic, raucous chant that shook the whole venue. Also notable was the vocal performance, with the lively melodic exchanges between Shuck and Cobra on “Kick the Bass” being a highlight of the night, and if ever the band’s graciousness were to be called into question, this writer would counter by saying that Julien-K is the definition of the people’s band – taking every opportunity to thank the longtime fans who have supported the group’s crowdfunding campaigns, as well as the new fans who may have come to the show for PIG but were now sharing and basking in the glory of Julien-K, giving appreciation and adulation to Ghostfeeder, and also taking a moment to say some heartfelt words about their recently departed friend Chester Bennington. Closing out the set was a marvelous performance of “Blue Monday,” once more covering the song that put Shuck and Derakh on the map as members of Orgy; needless to say, the audience drank up every second to indulge in a bit of nostalgia.


Once more, the lights go dim as the musicians take to their positions on the stage, the tolling of a church bell resonating through the speakers to immediately spark the crowd’s fervent and fanatical fury; they knew what was to come… had been waiting for it, and now their diligence was to be rewarded as the sermon of sleaze was off to a salacious start. Pulling double drumming duty, Galen Waling’s slow and insistent beats begin as Z. Marr’s throbs of synthesized bass reverberate while the venerably venomous Raymond Watts takes the mic and begins preaching the parables of pork, the crowd joining in the howls of “Hallelujah” as “The Gospel” begins PIG’s set. Donning his signature shades along with a militaristic hat and a frilly silver jacket, belting out a vocal barrage of growls and croons, Watts shows no signs of age or fatigue from over three decades of making music as he holds the crowd in his carnivorous clutches like the undisputed god of industrial/rock that he is. With Ghostfeeder guitarist Luke Dangler filling in for the absent Günter Schulz, a volley of scathing riffs begins “Prey & Obey” with the audience immediately joining in the chants led by Watts and longtime cohort and fellow icon En Esch, the latter’s seething German snarl meshing marvelously with Watts’ booming and bellowing baritone. The depth of the pair’s friendship was palpable as Watts and En Esch took turns visually and vocally teasing and, at times, feeling each other up in the kind of humorously suggestive manner that only those with such a close kinship and connection can pull off.


To say that PIG delivered a powerhouse performance would be an understatement, delivering a hellacious helping of hog hits like “A Fountain of Miracles,” “Serial Killer Thriller,” “Everything,” “Find It, Fuck It, Forget It,” and “The Only Good One’s a Dead One,” every moment sending the audience into frantic fits of frenzy. A particularly ominous moment came with the viciously nightmarish intro to “Wrecked,” Watts reciting the bleak and bloody poetry of “Ojo Por Ojo” amid the samples of torturous abuse that so disturbingly begin the song… but once the boisterous riffs, bubbling synths, and boiling rhythms of the song proper begin, “Wrecked” is embraced emphatically as the industrial/rock classic that it is, the crowd joining in fist pumping shouts of the chorus. And for those who yearn for the bygone days of 1994-1995 when Watts and En Esch (and Schulz) were fixtures of the Ultra Heavy Beat, the band delivered a triumvirate of NIHIL tracks – “Juke Joint Jezebel,” “Flesh,” and “Disobedience” – with that distinctive touch of pork as only PIG can perform. Oh, but the callbacks to the past didn’t end there, PIG then launching into the funky bombast of “Kickin’ Ass,” given just a douse of extra distortion to give it a modern flair.


After the show, this writer had an opportunity to speak briefly with Watts as he navigated the throngs of adoring fans, taking a moment to commend Dangler on his prowess and proficiency with filling Günter Schulz’s shoes for the remaining dates of the tour. Indeed, Dangler didn’t miss a single step as he played those signature licks as cleanly as if he had written them himself, while credit simply must be given to Galen Waling for accomplishing the unenviable task of playing two sets every night with the same mechanical force and precision of a cybernetic organism!


One of the hallmarks of the electro/industrial scene is its diversity, and the Prey & Obey Tour certainly delivered as each of the three bands showcased a very different and singular style of music, all of which melded into a continuous stream that left everybody in attendance exhausted and fulfilled. While Bar XIII may not be the largest of venues, the space was more than adequate to the task of hosting the bands, with crisp sound and lighting that made each band a spectacle unto itself. Put simply, the Prey & Obey Tour was not to be missed, and if you did… the next opportunity you have to see Ghostfeeder, Julien-K, and PIG on the stage, you owe it to yourself not to miss it again!


Article by Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)
Photography by Tabetha Patton (MizTabby)
Julien-K Tattoo by Chad Jankus, courtesy of Sarah Wieberdink


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