James Noir, Ugly Distance, Two Dead Roses, The Inhumanity
February 09, 2013
Checkers N Trophies Kent, OH
I’m torn about whether or not I should write a review about the Industrial Solstice I attended Saturday with a few friends. On the one hand I enjoy doing this, it’s good practice, increases my online presence and helps to build a resume. On the other the timeliness aspect is quickly fluttering away and my mother always told me: if you don’t have something nice to say don’t say anything at all.
Well, I’ll just write the mean things.
Checkers N Trophies is a neat little bar nestled in a residential area off the beaten path in Kent. We thought we were lost for a while as the only other buildings in the area were filled with families that I’m sure were quite annoyed by the end of the night. The best thing about the place is that it has a maximum capacity of 80 so bands with a small draw can feel really cool by packing thirty people into the place and making it look packed.
The show started with James Noir who went on stage an exasperatingly long time after the 8 pm advertised start. I usually don’t mind waiting around a bit, it’s par for the course. We even got there at about 8:30 just because we were expecting this. But when there was still no music for over an hour I began to get a bit irritable. It could be my new found sobriety and the fact that beer was calling to me and I had no live entertainment to take my mind off of it, but it seemed like it took forever for that show to start.
Noir advertised himself as “industrial music and performance art” so I was quite interested to see his show. And sure enough he does make a whole-hearted attempt at performance art, but he falls a bit short from achieving any lasting impact. His music is decently produced, but plays through his Mac Book while he sings through a mask which muffles his voice to the point of being unintelligible. All of this would have been maddening enough even if his computer hadn’t crashed several times during his show. His performance included a plastic statue of Jesus, some spray paint, an ax, a TV and a giant headless teddy bear. While I did find myself slightly offended by his spray painting Jesus in the face, (a sign that I’m a decent christian and he was doing a decent job) nothing else managed to amuse me much. He would have had a better impact if the Jesus had been a little more lifelike and responsive to his ax. An ax that bounces off what it’s meant to destroy doesn’t have much effect either literally or figuratively. It’s always nice to see someone smash a TV, but the message “Kill Your Television” has been used to death. I’m not sure if his “Everything is Dust” slogan and ambiguously anti-consumerism videos were meant to be a critique of the shallowness of our culture, but he would have made the statement louder if he had used a cheaper computer and not worn the emo uniform of skintight jeans and baggy t shirt.
Ugly Distance did their job of entertaining me and were the only band of the night to put a smile on my face. It was nice to see a group (though there were only two of them) where every party played an instrument. While all four acts used a backing track, Ugly Distance was the only one without a guy just singing instead of singing and playing. When it comes to live music, I’m of the mindset that the more live the music is the better. A guy holding a mic and not playing an instrument is a waste. To add to that, the other thing that kept me amused was their use of covers. Even the best original band can bore me if I’ve never heard their tunes before so a smart band knows its a good idea to throw in some songs an audience has already heard. Their use of Gravity Kills and Nine Inch Nails was both bold and appropriate for the evening. While they wouldn’t have been the songs I’d have done, I can only commend them on their good taste.
Two Dead Roses is a solid industrial metal band and had a great sound, some rocking tunes and some killer riffs. The thing that was bad about them is that it’s just sad to see two guys in their early thirties rocking out on a small stage to a backing track. You’d figure that by the time you reach that age you could find a drummer and a bass player. Of course I’m starting to think that industrial music is less about transgressive and provocative themes than it is about guys that just can’t seem to get a full band together and/or have extreme megalomaniacal tendencies. I love the stuff, but really there are very few industrial acts that go into the studio and out on tour as full live bands. I’m sure I would have enjoyed a CD of Two Dead Roses, but as a live act I was not immensely impressed with them. And I’m pretty sure I saw the guitar player in a Mighty Mighty Bosstones video once.
The Inhumanity was a bit of a letdown. They built themselves up and never really
delivered. There was a cool instrument being played. In lieu of a bass guitar one man played what he termed the “Stormbringer.” a metal pipe fitted with a bass guitar string and having a Jacobs Ladder (high voltage traveling arc) on top. While this was cool it wasn’t nearly enough to make up for the Rock Band drumming and the lack of any hooks or decipherable lyrics. The pivot of their performance involved an old soundboard and an aluminum baseball bat which failed to illicit as much amusement as Noir’s earlier altercation with the television. I could have probably enjoyed their New Wave electronic sound a little more if there hadn’t been so much reverb on the mic that the lyrics were completely indecipherable. I try to keep an open mind and though my tastes tend to steer more toward NIN and Ministry I would have been willing to give them a chance.
Thankfully the night did eventually end and we escaped without being axed, clubbed or blown up. Next week I plan on attending the Taste The Scene event at Chuck’s Steakhouse so if any of the members of these bands would like to kick my ass you’ll know where to find me. I hope you’ll see my observations as constructive criticism and I wish you all the best.