First band on were Skinjob, an act that have been around for a while but somehow I have managed to miss every single time they have played locally to me. So, I was looking forward to this. And immediately I was disappointed by the dreadful sound: somehow the sound was a muddy mess, with the live drums set far too high in the mix and obliterating many of the synth lines and vocals. Which was a real shame, as the songs show promise. Opener Beauty Is Your Toy is a great song, that with a clearer sound would have had much more of a chance of winning the crowd over. So, hopefully at Infest at least they will have a better sound mix that enables them to show off how good a live band they could be. Also really rather depressing was the girl sat up in front of the monitors for all of their set – unbelievably rude.
Modulate fared considerably better with their sound, at least. Since their last appearance here just short of a year ago, notes have clearly been taken from the bigger bands in the scene they have supported on lengthy tours – the three members of the “band” and Owen doing visuals all appeared onstage in matching white long-sleeved tops, and a neat symmetry to the equipment layout on stage. The pacing of the set was very good indeed, too, although it was notable that two covers/remixes were played – the stellar reworking of Faderhead‘s Dirtygrrrls Dirtybois was an early highlight of the set, as well as a later airing of The Prodigy‘s No Good (Start The Dance) which nearly raised the roof.
With nothing new to promote yet – the debut album Detonation is due soon – it was interesting to hear a number of new tracks aired, which although clearly new to the audience kept everyone moving. A suggestion that Modulate may be onto a winner with the forthcoming material. Older, more familiar material wasn’t ignored either, with a blistering Skullfuck as the centrepiece of the set (much, much stronger than the last time I saw it aired live), and the finale of the still-awesome Revolution, which I still maintain will be another monstrous dancefloor smash in time.
Even with a handful of technical issues (still, as noted elsewhere a nice proof that it was live) it is clear further steps forward have been taken from before, a strong discipline in the live performance, and of course an even more refined set of hard-hitting tunes. The album will push them even further forward, I’m sure.
Onto headliners Soman. With many of the crowd familiar with the live show (the brilliant appearance at Infest last year of course), it was easy to know what to expect. As the Soman website puts it, this is “industrial for clubs”: and is it ever. Even with Kolja on crutches following a broken leg, he still had a surprising amount of energy, although the incessant beats will have helped with that. It was relentless – an hour or so of bruising industrial techno, with not a moment wasted in keeping the crowd dancing and having fun. Kolja’s grin was infectious – you couldn’t help but smile and enjoy the set. Highlights included a dusting off of the now pretty old Divine, and spectacularly catchy new track Noise Anthem (from the brand-new Re:Up EP), while Mask was an immensely popular track. The latter I wasn’t initially sure about it, when I first got the album it comes from, but the more I hear it the more I love it. Final track was a third airing of another artist’s track for the evening – the brilliant remix of Combichrist‘s Sex Drogen und Industrial that has been a dancefloor filler for ages, and did the business well here too to finish the show.
So all told, a pretty good night. Too many sound issues across the evening to make for a really great night, but I’d like to see all three again in the live environment – interestingly all for different reasons.