Monday, April 7, 2014

Concert Review - Combichrist, William Control, New Year's Day - 4/4/14 at Empire, Springfield, VA

Combichrist first introduced me to industrial music almost ten years ago - my first time at (DC goth club) Midnight in my senior year of college, the DJ played "This Shit Will Fuck You Up," and my friend J and I turned to each other like, "That was amazing! What was that?!" Back then youtube wasn't what it is now, and the only version I found of that track was a video someone had made of their friends running around in the woods (possibly with swords) to part of that song. But I was hooked - Combichrist instantly became my favorite band to dance to at goth/industrial clubs.

Somehow, though, my bumpy journey through metal and industrial since then never managed to put me at a Combichrist live show. So you could say I'd been waiting ten years for this show.

I was less than excited about the opening bands, having seen William Control opening for The Birthday Massacre and not being impressed, and never having heard of the other one. So I wasn't terribly concerned when I wasn't able to leave until after my daughter's bedtime and arrived at Empire around 10pm. Besides, I walked into the venue about five steps behind Combichrist, so it was worth it, even if being in line prevented me from actually interacting with them. (And also met up with my pal L in line, what a surprise!)

When I got inside, it was the middle of William Control's set. They sounded much better this time than last time, and the singer seemed like less of a jerk as well (he actually thanked the audience at the end of the set!). There were more heavy driving beats and danceable synthpop melodies, most noticeably in the songs from their new album (which came out that day). I felt their sound, especially in the new songs, was rather similar to Terminal Choice, although the vocals were a little less gritty and in English, of course. I actually enjoyed the set this time and moved a little bit.

Between sets I found out a bit about New Year's Day from S. He compared them to Stitched Up Heart but said they were not as good - they were energetic, but the songs were missing something. (Read his review for more on them.)

Finally, after teasing us with a seemingly interminable and unusally movie-soundtrack-epic-sounding intro, Combichrist at last came out to the title track of their new album, "We Were Made to Love You." This track, while nice and heavy, and rather discordant, in the ear-drowningly harsh vein of Psyclon Nine (my fave industrial act), was also hard to dance to in limited space, due to its unusual, drawn out rhythm. So I didn't move much for that first song, but as they moved on into other songs with those signature danceable Combichrist riffs, I danced to pretty much every song, and finally rushed into the moshpit, I think for "What the Fuck is Wrong With You," as well as "Get Your Body Beat." I tried to start the pit during "Sent to Destroy," but the guys just looked at me like I was crazy. That was the last song; I (and others) expected "This Shit Will Fuck You Up" as the closer, but we were disappointed :( I had an excellent time, dancing and moshing for most of the show, or headbanging for the songs that had more of a groovy or racing metal vibe (such as "Maggots at the Party" and "Love is a Razorblade," respectively). They did play a slow song ("The Evil in Me"?) which was not really danceable, but maybe it was good to have a break. Certainly, I'm used to having to put up with a lot of slow songs whenever I go out for goth/industrial music and dancing ;) The vocals sounded a little different - perhaps a little more natural and less like some evil electronic overlord, but that didn't affect my enjoyment much - I was mostly there for the rad harsh-industrial dance beats anyway.

Andy LaPlegua (vocalist, band mainman) made some interesting comments about the band "not belonging to a scene anymore" and fans being afraid to like the new album because it's not in their usual scene, but he was met with cheers when he proclaimed the crowd to be the band's scene. Although the new album strays quite a bit from the charging, harsh energy of Combichrist's dancefloor standards, with some VNV Nation-like flowing waves of synth in one track, Daft Punk-like electronic noise in another, and some songs with more a metal than dance vibe to them, it's good music, and there are floorkillers like "Every Day is War" (which sounds quite similar to "This Shit Will Fuck You Up," down to the electronic squeals). I'm definitely not disappointed; I mean, a song of dancefloor hits in the all the same style would be boring, honestly. The album makes an interesting, varied listen; I only need one or two songs from it to request on the dance floor.

So anyway, after my ten years' wait, I was very satisfied with live Combichrist. (Only dancing to "This Shit Will Fuck You Up" could have made it better, but at least they played my other favorite songs!) Considering I couldn't get there till late, and one hour of nonstop industrial dance party was probably the most my body could handle anyway, I wasn't bothered by the less than stellar support. Really I just wanted to see (and dance to) Combichrist, and they delivered.


  1. you should mention that the crowd was pretty crazy as well- in a good way

    1. Oh yeah, there was much more moshing than I expected (though having only that Aesthetic Perfection set at the Birthday Massacre show to compare with - slightly different crowd maybe) and lots of movement in general. And the place was pretty full. Hopefully that means Empire will get more harsh industrial acts!