28 June 2015
Fastbacks Brewhouse and Grill; Brookpark, OH
One Man’s Failure, Blight Vs. Blight, Syringe, Ghostfeeder, En Esch
I was a little hesitant to attend another Industrial show after the last one I went to was such a downer and my feelings on the genre have changed over the years, but I was pretty excited to see longtime KMFDM member En Esch playing at a small venue in Cleveland so I took a chance that it would be worth it.
Turns out it was a great show!
Fastbacks Brewhouse is located right next to the Ford Engine Factory in a suburb of Cleveland which it makes it a perfect venue for Industrial music. It’s not an ‘industrial wasteland,’ but I’ve always associated Industrial music with factories and there’s a huge one right across the street.When I first walked in I worried I was in the wrong place. Alan Jackson was playing on the jukebox and I couldn’t hear what was happening downstairs. I visited the men’s room and was surprised and confused by a handful of pennies in the urinal. I’m wondering if this is a variation on the practice of leaving coins on soldier’s graves. Perhaps a penny just means I pissed here. Maybe a nickel means I saw another guys wiener. I’m guessing dimes and quarters denote some George Michael type shit.
I’ve gone on record saying I don’t like performances with one guy and a computer, but One Man’s Failure gets a pass because he was playing a guitar. I can’t be totally mad at someone who makes it as much of a live performance as he can and lets me know what an EBow sounds like. I thought one of the riffs he was playing was Alice in Chain’s “Sludge Factory,” but it wasn’t. If he had rocked that I would have loved it.
The last time I saw Blight Vs. Blight I remember thinking that what he does is really close to hip hop. He’s the only guy-with-a-computer band I’ve ever dug and I think it’s because the focus was always on the beats and his voice. I never heard much prerecorded crap and was able to just enjoy the basic groove of his music. Now that he’s added live drums and guitar the band has only gotten better. Adding dark Industrial beats with some thrash guitar is always a recipe for success as far as I’m concerned. Plus you can’t not like a guy who screams “no swimming allowed” in such a way you get it stuck in your head.
My only problem was not being able to hear the guitar solos. This could have been due to the acoustics in the room or the amp settings. I’ll have to check them out in the future to see if I can hear them. I was surprised at how low tech this show was. I didn’t see any drum mics and very few for instruments. But with as small of a room as it was there wasn’t much of an issue.
It was great to see Syringe play a good show. After writing them off quite a while ago I was surprised to see them rocking out and playing through amps instead of running through a computer and stage monitors. This gave their live performance a healthy dose of presence and allowed the sound to come through cleanly instead of being blended together. It was nice to hear the drum machine and synth in the background where they belong. I’ll take live drum fills over prerecorded ones any day.
Ghostfeeder managed to confuse the hell out of me. I’ve seen a few bands where 2 guys play keys and/or guitar over drum machines, but I’ve never seen it done well. The stuff they were playing was upbeat, in key, in time and (strangest of all) enjoyable. With their backdrop and light show I couldn’t help wonder what they were doing at Fastbacks and not at SXSW or Lollapalooza. I think if they put some more ‘suck’ in their sound they could really go places. If they just work on it a little bit more so they can drive a guy like me outside to get away form their music they might just be the next big thing.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect from En Esch. His former band, KMFDM, just played the House of Blues in Cleveland and will be back on Aug 8. I know what to expect from them, but what do I get from him? It was a very small intimate show with a small crowd, just a few guitars, drums and a laptop. I was surprised there weren’t more people there, but I was happy about it. The atmosphere was much more like VH1 Storytellers than a rock concert. They started off with a bluesy number sung by co-vocalist Lady E and Esch showing his chops on a black Fender strat. I’m surprised Industrial and the Blues haven’t been mixed more considering the big industrial label, Wax Trax!, was based in Chicago.
From there is was onto the dark dance music I know and love from KMFDM. I’m sorry to say I only recognized 2 songs, “Leid Elend” and “Juke Joint Jezebel,” but I did find myself singing along to one tune I heard from Spank! I couldn’t believe how low key the show was. The dread-locked guy I thought was a roadie for Ghostfeeder turned out to be Esch’s drummer and GF’s guitarist Luke Dangler joined them for most of their set.
I think the most impressive part of the night was when as I was leaving Esch was chatting with members of the opening bands. I’ve never seen that before. It’s nice to see someone who’s been playing music and touring the world as long as I’ve been alive still taking an interest in the scene and his fans.
I’m definitely going to be listening to a lot of KMFDM and Esch’s other project, Slick Idiot, over the next few weeks. Then the next time he comes around I’ll recognize more of what I’m hearing. I just hope it’s still in a small intimate venue.