My gigging in 2020 has perhaps started slower than usual – I didn’t see a single show in January – but this might be down to the fact that by all accounts, there wasn’t a lot going on in January in our part of the music world. It was almost as if after a traumatic year, everyone needed a bit of a break before we got our teeth into 2020.
/Into the Pit/210/3TEETH + <PIG>
/Into The Pit/Bands
/Into The Pit/Venue/Date
And potentially things aren’t looking quite so great in the future, either, with hardline posturing from the UK Government over the deal with the EU that could well have catastrophic effects on touring artists. But, as with everything in this sorry saga, no-one seems to have any real idea of what’s actually going to happen, even less any form of plan, so I guess we need to sit tight and wait for things to become clearer. But one thing is for sure – don’t hold out too much hope.
In the meantime, though, we are getting some great tours coming through, and this had the feeling of a heavyweight tour, of an old hand touring with the new pretender. <PIG> have been around since the nineties, and in recent years have surged back into the wider scene with a string of releases and some excellent shows, while 3TEETH seemed to emerge fully-formed from LA in the middle of the last decade and have quickly risen to tours with the likes of Rammstein and Tool, and for their third album last year signed with one of the big European metal labels, a sign of their wider appeal.
I’m no stranger to seeing either band, either: this was the sixth time I’ve seen 3TEETH since Cold Waves (Chicago) in 2014, and the fourth time I’ve seen <PIG> since Cold Waves (Chicago) in 2016, and I was curious to see how the bands would fare in a bigger venue in London than I’ve seen either in before over here. Heaven is a venue I like a lot for gigs – the stage is high, which gives a good viewpoint for pretty much everyone, and the PA usually has a lot of power which means that most bands sound great in there. The size of the venue, too, meant this wasn’t fully sold-out but it was certainly a vastly bigger crowd than would ever have fitted into Electrowerkz, where we might have expected them to play in the past.
<PIG> took to the stage a little earlier than billed, which was no issue as it meant that we got a bit more of the Lord of Lard for our troubles, and it was a hugely enjoyable set. What I’ve found fascinating watching them live in recent years is the way that they have rotated the songs, rather than sticking to the same back-catalogue items every time.
/The Chosen Few
/Find It Fuck It Forget It
/Painiac (Nothing Touches Me)
/Juke Joint Jezebel
/Prey & Obey
As was the case here, as a friend attending with me gasped at the fact that two songs from the oft-forgotten Sinsation were aired, most notably for an outstanding rip into the bass-heavy filth of Painiac (another reminder that <PIG> have long been doing a better version of his old band KMFDM than the band themselves do). This was rammed home by what has become the traditional crowd involvement to a still-astonishing Juke Joint Jezebel, a song that is the best part of twenty-five years old and still doesn’t seem to have aged a day. That said, some kids down the front were non-plussed by <PIG>, wondering who “these old guys were”. I suspect they may not have gone and investigated older songs, but that’s their loss.
Most of the set otherwise was taken from the more recent releases since the band effectively reactivated in the last few years, with the roaring Prey & Obey in particular (not to mention the pounding opener The Revelation) taking top billing as the best of the new songs by far. But generally, this was a fantastic set, one with tunes, humour, a touch of glamour, and thumping industrial metal that hopefully got the band a few new curious fans from the 3TEETH army that had descended on the venue. Will I be back next time they play in London? Damned right I will.
The fast rise of 3TEETH has gained them some blowback in the scene, which is to be expected. Grumblings of “selling out” continue to come through, which I see as bullshit. Why shouldn’t a band want success? Far too few bands these days manage to break through to a wider audience, and we shouldn’t be gatekeepers, keeping bands down to a level that means they are “our” thing and no-one else’s.
In 3TEETH’s case, their rise has been on their terms, with smartly-chosen support slots on big tours, which have exposed them to the kind of audience that many bands would kill for, raising their profile and helping them to evolve their sound, which has moved a bit more toward the metal side of industrial, but that’s their choice. They haven’t, though, forgotten many of their earlier fanbase, with an active group on Facebook that isn’t all shitposting and has fostered a genuine community (with frequent band input) that saw a number of meetups of people from it across the UK tour (and presumably has continued as they moved into the mainland Europe part of the tour).
/SELL YOUR FACE 2.0
/Pit of Fire
/Master of Decay
As a live entity, the band have certainly evolved, too. Back when I first saw them at Cold Waves, it was an oddly mechanical set, as if the-then four-piece hadn’t worked out quite how to present themselves on-stage, and it took a few more shows before they really came into their own. Having expanded to a five-piece has transformed their sound at previous shows, though, a snarling, heavy-as-fuck beast with Lex prowling the front of the stage. But something felt off on this night, especially as they took the stage.
Something with Chase’s guitar set-up failed, meaning that they began HYPERSTITION without lead guitars, which needless to say meant an initial abandonment while they fixed the problem, and it seemed to knock them off their stride a little bit (which is entirely understandable). But by the time of the hulking, stomping power of EXXXIT – by far one of the best tracks on METAWAR – we were back on track, and it was a reminder of what this band do when the alchemy of industrial and metal is absolutely nailed.
More of that later, but what was also notable – another sign of the band pushing relentlessly forward, perhaps – was just how little of the first album was aired. Master of Decay – pretty much the first song they released back some years ago – keeps a place in the set, and being a song almost devoid of guitars, does rather stand out amid the metal of the newer songs, and the instrumental Chasm gives the latter part of the set a bit of breathing space paired with the dreamy Insubstantia (a break that was much-needed, frankly).
What has also become clear is how much more suited some songs are to the live arena than they are on record. Slavegod is vastly more savage live (and the delivery suits the live sound better than the recorded one), while Shutdown was nearly stomping holes in the floor by it’s conclusion. Atrophy, though – a song that has enough teeth on record – turns into a monstrous, anthemic beast live that not unexpectedly whipped up an enormous ‘pit in the crowd.
The final act, though, is one that has become something of a visual signature, as easily the most commercially-friendly (and has an appropriately slick video to boot) track on METAWAR. President X – complete with leather coat and lizard mask – has become the set-closer, and remains an impressive and enormously enjoyable song with a snarling, sneering political undertone that is impossible to miss – and that’s the point. A kickback against the same old shit being delivered from US politicians in particular, the issue is now becoming more pronounced in the UK and quite how we dig ourselves out of the respective holes that have been dug is becoming more difficult to see by the day.
Music, though – political comment or not – is a means of escape for many, much like other forms of culture. And to meet up with like-minded friends to see bands we love, this is community, it is a way of getting through dark times. Needless to say, it helps if the soundtrack is great, and for the most part, this was. Here’s to more nights like this.
Full set of photos are on Flickr.