[More pics located in this Flickr set]
Not a band I’d heard of before a week or so ago, but after checking out some videos on YouTube and a handful of recommendations from friends I decided to take a chance. The Arches is a weirdly-shaped venue, and there were three support acts so I aimed to get there for the doors opening. However, there seemed to be some technical issues so the 7:30 advertised time ended up nearer the 8pm time printed on the ticket (which I’d not seen previously as I was collecting in on entry).
Xavia were due on at 8, but hit the stage maybe a quarter of an hour later. Definitely local judging by the lead singer’s voice (which sounded pretty much along the lines of “like us or I’ll knife you” in its Glaswegian-ness), they managed to get a small pocket of the crowd going with their electro-goth-metal fusion. Not a bad little band, frankly. If I had to pick out a band they reminded me of, I would go for the Sisters of Mercy, though fans of both bands would probably lynch me for saying such a thing.
Next in line were Surgyn – pair of lads who looked like students dressed in white rubber aprons. The “music” consisted of a MacBook playing backing rhythm while they lampooned around shouting. Sorry, but completely not my thing. Full marks for the “look” and having the balls to get up on that stage, but otherwise they were no better than Boyzone. No musical instruments and lot of jumping about. Pants.
Jayce Lewis was main support, another act I’ve never heard of but judging by the amount of merchandise available I guess he’s more popular than I expected. Not a bad front man, but the music didn’t really hit any nerves for me. A fair bit of the crowd definitely knew his material and enjoyed it well enough. Good, but forgettable.
Finally, running pretty late and eventually over-running the “strict curfew” by a significant amount, Andy LePlegua (a.k.a. Combichrist) took to the stage for what was a pretty non-stop performance. Interaction with the crowd was fairly minimal, but this could have been down to trying to cram all the songs into a shortened set as a result of the delays. Don’t get me wrong, he was hardly charisma-less but there were just no rambling between-song speeches or delays.
From another point of view, it was simply 90 minutes or so of relentless “electronic body music“.
Combichrist’s music seems to vary slightly from material a little closer to Surgyn’s, through to something more akin to Rammstein. What makes the difference is the introduction of real instruments. After a couple of songs, the electronica was joined by a proper drummer on proper drums. Later on, a rather scary-looking guitarist (I shit you not – he could have passed for the masked guy from Scream) added another layer of depth to the sound.
Now, I can’t name a single song, but the one thing that really made the music interesting was that drum kit. I don’t care how great your laptop and synths and all that shite are, you simply cannot have a thumping soundtrack without proper drums. Bollocks to your “unf, unf” and “tsh, tsh”. They pale into insignificance when put up against a madman with two sticks, some stretched skin and a few metal frisbees to batter the ever-loving crap out of.
This is what separated Combichrist from the other bands of the evening. They were more brutal, harder, faster and overall just more metal. OK, so they’re definitely not a traditional metal act but there was enough in there to keep me interested. Not the sort of thing I’d normally listen to, but definitely a good live act.