Massive Attack – The Mezzanine XXI Tour at Radio City Music Hall on Sept 26, 2019
The appearance of Massive Attack, the British electronic audio-visual music project took place at NYC’s venerable temple of art-deco design, Radio City Music Hall, five months later than originally scheduled due to prior cancellation of the April date. Headed by multi-media artist Robert Del Naja, a.k.a. 3D, Massive Attack is viewed as one of the seminal originators of the subgenre trip-hop and is noted especially for extraordinary light show accompaniment with their performances. Also noteworthy is MA’s heavy message of progressive, liberal-left politics both onstage and off.
On this Thursday night, while awaiting MA’s appearance on the stage, the crowd sat restively during an hour’s delay filled with lo-fi, cringe-worthy pop through blown speakers (think Britney Spears and Chumbawamba) before the much awaited band took the stage. No sooner than they did, a spectacular light show filled the back screens. After a bombastic, explosively dazzling intro, the oversized video imagery settled on peaceful CG-animation of aerial sequences – flights over idealized landscapes. Meanwhile, the stage was kept so dark that it was hard to discern how many band members or even how many drum sets (two) were on stage.
The opening number was a cover version of the Velvet Underground’s “I Found a Reason,” the first of eight covers that would comprise about half the songs performed that night. Other covers included The Cure’s “10:15 Saturday Night,” Bauhaus’s “Bela Lugosi’s Dead,” one by Horace Andy, one by Ultravox, one from the late Swedish DJ and electronic musician, Avicii and Pete Seeger’s folksy “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?”
All the other nine tracks that constituted the set were from its one source only, its most successful album: Mezzanine (1998). These included the eerie title track, the laid-back and jazzy “Exchange,” the slow-paced “Risingson,” the tribal/percussion piece “Inertia Creeps” and the galloping “Dissolved Girl.”
Unlike the peaceful imagery of the video accompanying the first song, the rest of the light show consisted of strobiscopic and rapidly flashed animated as well as still images of diverse and very disturbing sights, sometimes coordinated with the rhythm of the music, sometimes not. Large-letter text headlines and slogans overlaid many of the images as they flickered and resonated on multiple screens with messages pertaining to such timely and timeless issues as individual freedom, government control, conspiracy theories, pollution, militarism, conformity and the opioid crisis.
The high points in terms of crowd response came during the 14th and 15th songs (of a total of 17), namely “Angel” and “Teardrop,” the two seeming favorites from the Mezzanine album. The crowd’s roars of appreciation indicated that they had been amply repaid for the uncomfortable hour-long wait for the show to begin.
Assemblage 23: QXT’s 28th Anniversary on Sept 14, 2019
To mark the 28th anniversary of QXT’s, the area’s premier alternative/industrial nightclub, Seattle-based electronic band Assemblage 23 took the stage. The opening act, Helix, a collaboration of A23’s Tom Shear on keyboards and vocalist Mari Kattman performed a Synthwave set that was well received.
The first time A23 played at this venerable institution was 20 years ago, so it was a special anniversary for the band as well as the club. In celebration, the band put on an incredible, 85 minute set covering virtually their entire repertoire, i.e. all their hits plus a few rarities. Crowd favorites included “Damaged,” “Naked” and “I Am the Rain.” Vocalist Tom Shear was joined on stage by long-time keyboardist Paul Seegers and new addition to the group, live drummer Michael Jenney of the band Alter Der Ruine. The floor was packed approaching full capacity.
That a relatively small, unpretentious club like QXT’s continues to summon some of the top names in modern music like A23 is a noteworthy benefit to local NJ fans as well as commuters from the greater NYC area. Rarely does one get to see and hear performers of such national and international status close up and personal as this. Much can be attributed to the tireless planning and sometimes difficult arranging done by the production staff who have few of the resources available to major venues such as the nearby Prudential Hall, Madison Square Garden or Radio City.
Cold Waves NY at Brooklyn Bazaar on Sept 18 & 19, 2019
The annual Cold Waves Festival crossing the country stopped for two days in NYC this year at Brooklyn Bazaar hosted by Saint Vitus Bar, Xris SMack and bands from that particular genre.
Wednesday Sept 18 featured post-industrial electronic duo Statiqbloom, “machine rock” group project Chem Lab and English alternative rockers Pop Will Eat Itself. Xris Smack did the honors deejaying.
The following evening Thursday Sept 19 featured Jenna from Anatomy, Ministry’s Paul Barker with his “Min Dub Sound System,” Severed Heads and British soundtrack artists Test Dept.
An afterparty show was held at nearby Saint Vitus club featuring Seattle metal rockers Confines live and DJ sets by Patrick Codenys of Front 242 and famous author/lecturer and DJ Andi Harriman.
Goth Symposium: An Afternoon of Illustrated Lectures at Brooklyn Bazaar on Oct 5, 2019
Noted author on all things dark and eighties-centric, Andi Harriman hosted an all-day symposium on the Goth scene as it relates to society, culture, art and music. Topics included the following:
“Black on Black”
“Gothic Queer Culture”
“A 40-Year Love Affair Between Goth and the Occult”
“Mexican Gothic: The Thematic and Aesthetic Presence of Goth Culture in Mexico”
“Post-Punk Album Art from 1978 – 1990”
The symposium was followed by a performance of the German band Pink Turns Blue.
Necropolis at Windfall in NYC on Oct 5, 2019
The October occurrence of Necropolis took place – as it always does – at NYC’s Windfall on the first Saturday of the month. Host DJ Father Jeff was joined by Aengel and Patrick taking turns in the booth. Sara manned the bar and Paradox hawked her unique merchandise from a table just off the dance floor. The barista for the evening was QXT’s Sara.
Father Jeff opened the night with “Evelyn” by Clan of Xymox, setting the initial mood, but eventually “Für” by And One and “Crucify Me” by Moev turned things considerably more lively. Eventually Siouxsie and the Sisters of Mercy served as definite anchors to the timeless substrate of Post Punk music.
Making the scene that night were breath-taking beauties Ashley, Chloe and Lauren, each of She-Devil events fame; Matt V Christ, who seemed inseparable from the aforementioned trio of lovelies; DJ Arsenal and Monica; long distance scenester from the Jersey shore, Michael Kennedy; late arrival, William Welles; and Bill, the omnipresent pencil-&-flashlight artist.
The floor was, as usual, crowded with dancers who responded enthusiastically to the compelling mix of darkwave, goth and industrial tracks that filled the air.
Paradise – KFDM
This is the twenty-first album by German industrial band KMFDM, a guitar-laced, electro-industrial re-statement of the band’s persistent message of defiance and denunciation. It contains elen tracks, most in the four-to-five minute range with a the fourth, title track running eight solid minutes.
Today, KMFDM consists of a new core lineup with founder, frontman and principal composer/vocalist Sascha Konietzko; along with Lucia Cifarelli, frontwoman/ principal writer lead female vocalist; and includes Andy Selway on drums and Andee Blacksugar on guitar. Guest performers include Raymond Watts, an original member who contributes his deep, rumbling growl on the ninth track; vocalist Andrew Lindsley; and bassist Doug Wimbish
In the opening track, “K.M.F.” a hoarse mantra repeatedly issues the call to “Kill, mother-…” in response to the alleged injustices by the powers-that-be, enumerated by rapping vocalist Andee Blacksugar and female vocals that alternate with audio samples. “Oh My Goth” showcases Cifarelli’s feminine vocal appeal as she alluringly declares herself “the queen of hell,” to the backdrop of relentlessly belching and squealing guitar riffs. In the title track, Konietzko and Cifarelli lay out the cynical rejection of utopian assertions to a sharply choppy break beat and guitar cadenzas.
Founded in 1984, KMFDM has never abandoned their post-punk industrial roots, nor have they done so with this latest release. New synthetic sounds, elements of world music as well as vocal novelties have eben introduced here. Nevertheless, galloping rhythms continue to prevail through most of the album, often with pleasingly melodious synths and varying vocal styles. Reggae rhythms make their appearance in the final track “No God” before transforming into a funky rhythm when Konietzko and Blacksugar make their harsh, whispered statements before the track ends with an industrial sample of an unanswered phone call (to God?)