Just in case I thought this weekend couldn’t get any better or more fun, Saturday’s performances ended up being probably the finest day of live industrial music I’ve ever seen – and that was even with at least one act that I really, really don’t care for.
Festival Kinetik 4.0: Phase 03: Saturday
Uniquely for the weekend, this night was actually split across two venues – with the earlier, noisier acts in the slightly smaller Club Soda, and the two headliners back in the main venue Metropolis (this was all down to a Lykke Li gig having been pre-booked at Metropolis). As it happened, this actually worked pretty well, as Club Soda was still a good-sized venue, and had a useful balcony along the side that didn’t half make getting photos for a couple of the bands easier (and safer – of which more in a moment).
I think it’s fair to say that the Saturday opening act W.A.S.T.E. were one of the handful of acts that actually convinced me to make the lengthy trek across the Atlantic – and happily they didn’t disappoint. They were the single most extreme live act I’ve ever seen – a brutal forty minutes of searing rhythmic industrial noise that was clearly pushing many in the crowd to the limits of their endurance, and the blitzkrieg of horror-film samples and visuals above the band just added to the sensory overload. It was also notable for being a noise show that actually was a show – four live members, with laptops and keyboards, covered in warpaint and actually moving about (and beating the shit out of old laptops, too). Of such a vicious set, there was one moment that stuck out for being just off the scale, though – the blistering white-noise blasts that heralded a storming I Don’t Give A Fuck. Pretty much worth the trip to Canada alone, this was one hell of a start to the evening.
After that, Monolith felt rather tame. Old-school rhythmic industrial in pretty much every way – from opening with old favourite Disco Buddha to the defiantly retro graphics on the screen, and not to mention the one-man-and-his-laptop performance that really wasn’t a lot to look at. I think I managed about twenty minutes before my attention began to wander, and I needed a break for a while. I might have enjoyed it more had I not seen W.A.S.T.E. beforehand.
I still don’t get the fuss around the self-titled “industrial rave gods” [x]-RX. Basically this is for me exactly the worst of what the industrial “scene” has become in recent years – obsessed with image and lowest-common denominator “dance” music, utterly unchallenging and forgettable 4/4 beats and vapid slogans occasionally bellowed over the music. I’m sorry, but why this is so popular – a fair proportion of the crowd went as batshit for them as they did at Infest last year – is an utter mystery to me.
Much, much better – and proving just what you can do with industrial dance, if you will – were xotox. Obviously rather heavier than [x]-RX, they had the crowd onside from the very start – well, opening with dancefloor dynamite like Industrial Madness kinda helps – and basically had us dancing like bastards for the full fifty minutes, closing off with a screeching [xo]toxic and the eternal favourite Eisenkiller. I’d kinda forgotten just how much material xotox have, and how awesome much of it is. This is the party-loving, fun side of industrial noise – and I’ll be looking forward to seeing them again at Infest in August. Bring it on.
I’d heard an awful lot about Terrorfakt‘s live show – and the inherent dangers of going down the front to watch them – so I chose to head up to the balcony at a safe distance, and to get a good view. This turned out to be a very, very good plan. Terrorfakt don’t perform live like other noise bands. Well, they have four on electronics at the back of the stage, but it is what is going on in front of them that makes the difference. At any point, there are between 6 and 10 angle-grinding, hammering and generally beating the shit out of various metal things on stage – found sounds from random items, if you will. And when they properly hit the rhythm (they don’t always), the results are astonishing – particularly during Damage, where about eight people were absolutely battering out the (already) fierce beats. Otherwise, it was a mind your head job while watching the show – sparks flying everywhere during the angle-grinding, bits of metal going places as beer kegs and guard rails are hammered into pieces – and it was exhilarating to watch. Things got even more awesome at the close, as Ben sprung a surprise (even to some members of the “band”!) in unleashing a power-noise cover of Slayer‘s Raining Blood that had everyone onstage beating out the intro, and it sounded utterly immense. I’d love to see the full Terrorfakt show in the UK, but I think it’s fair to say health and safety would have an absolute fit. Mores the pity.
We had time for a short break after that, as proceedings moved back to Metropolis for the main events of the evening. And judging on the monstrous crowd, it was plainly clear that an awful lot of people were at Kinetik on Saturday night for VNV Nation. When they came onstage, they were greeted like heroes, and as always Ronan Harris looked kinda amazed at just how much adoration his band inspires. Honestly, the reaction here was like nothing I’ve ever seen for VNV in the UK – this was a few degrees more insane than that.
VNV Nation setlist
Tomorrow Never Comes
The Farthest Star
Amusingly, Ronan revealed that the set had been deliberately constructed around the idea of the end of days (you know, with the Rapture that never came having supposed to have happened on Saturday), and so it made for an interesting set – still packed with the old crowd favourites, of course – and it was dryly noted that there are an awful lot of VNV songs on this subject. Frankly, they could have played anything last night, though, and the place would still have gone mad. Anyway, I’ve gone on record as noting that I’ve never been the world’s biggest VNV fan, but this performance was simply brilliant. Full of skyscraping anthems, the odd ballad, and a clear connection between band and crowd that proved once again that despite having been around for ages, it’s clear that no-one is tired of them yet.
Another band that I was really, really excited about seeing this weekend were Front 242. I finally fulfilled a near-lifetime of waiting to see them live at Infest 2008, where they were fantastic – but here they were even better. Not a second was wasted as they bulldozed through what was pretty much a “best-of” set, with the sound being closer to the re:boot live album rather than the “vintage” take of recent years.
Front 242 setlist
Body to Body
Tragedy >For You<
Triple X Girlfriend
Welcome To Paradise
Im Rhythmus Bleiben
And it all started as any 242 live set should do – with Happiness. Hearing it on live albums is a thrill, but live it is the most astonishing rush as it builds and builds and builds and then explodes into life – and I was in the heart of the crowd as it did. Things got better and better from there, as they rolled out what was probably my dream setlist. They played everything I’ve ever wanted to hear them play, the sound was absolutely thunderous, and a mark of just how fucking fantastic the set was is that they were able to toss away Headhunter in the middle of the set.
Headhunter wasn’t even close to being the highlight of the set, either. Hearing Tragedy >For You< was awesome, but Circling Overland was something else again – the slow, measured attack of the beats and that staccato chorus was pretty much EBM heaven. Basically, this was Front 242 sending every other EBM/industrial band back to school – another brutally loud, powerful lesson in how to do industrial music live, playing all the “hits” and making the whole crowd come alive. As a storming Im Rhythmus Bleiben came to a close, the whole crowd was absolutely buzzing as we shuffled back outside to cool down – my feet were killing me, my ears were ringing too – and it appeared to be universally agreed that we had just seen one of the best industrial live performances ever. And even better? I get to see them again in December, and I can’t fucking wait.
Onto Phase 04