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Combichrist What The F**k is Wrong With This Tour? 2007 Concert Review
August 31st, Milwaukee, Miramar Theatre
You know it's bad when I'm yearning for The Rave.
Yeah, I said. The one Milwaukee show I go to not at the Rave and I end up wishing it had occurred at that shithole of a concert hall. It's an interesting turn of events, I'll say that much. Before I get into the Miramar Theatre's deficiencies, I better cough up the mandatory introduction which expresses my interest in the act in question and my rationale for spending $15 to see them. I like Combichrist. I first became aware of the band last year during KMFDM's Hau Ruck Zuck tour, in which Combichrist served as opening act. I liked them back then, but my interest really came after listening to their music off the Internet, specifically debut album The Joy of Gunz and the most recent album, What The Fuck Is Wrong With You People?. Combichrist belongs to the industrial subgenre of EBM (electronic body music), which is pretty much like what it sounds. Music that gets your body moving on the dance floor or in the pit. This in mind, I became keen to see Combichrist again in a live setting. I had seen them at the Rave the first time and naively assumed the change of venue to the Miramar would enhance the experience. How wrong I was.
See, the problem with the Miramar is, compared to the Rave, it's fucking small. With chairs bolted to the venue, meaning a very small area for the dance floor. This does not make sense when trying to attract a relatively popular EBM (body music = DANCE) band who relies a lot on crowd energy and dancing (what with several of their songs being ABOUT dancing, such as "Intruder Alert" and "In the Pit"). Thus, it's quite possibly a recipe for disaster. But enough about the venue. Time to log my experiences. So I showed up at the Miramar around 7, clad in my douchebag prescription sunglasses and my custom Ultra Heavy Beat shirt. The first act started at around 7:30.
Negative Red: The opening opening opening act. I originally thought I was seeing only Modulate, Imperative Reaction and then Combichrist. So imagine my surprise when Negative Red starts playing around 7:30. Negative Red, an industrial act located somewhere in Wisconsin, boasts some pretty good guitar and an annoying as fuck frontman. The guy resembles one of the fucking guys from the Killers. You know, the pudgy, gay-looking one. And he either growls or emo whines his vocals, the former definitely better than the latter. In addition, their sound seemed a bit off. Everything blended together to create a rather impenetrable wall of sound, leaving me uncertain whether it was due to poor equipment or their intention. Still, despite my complaints, they put on a decent set of 6 tracks. Amusingly, everyone else at the show seemed to share my opinion of them, as I heard very, very few cheers after their set ended, and no moshing or dance activity at all. Knowing my luck, they'll become the next The Birthday Massacre and I'll be kicking myself for not buying their demo and selling it on eBay years later for $50.
Modulate: Never heard of them before their performance, and I was pleasantly surprised as a result. Modulate is the damn good industrial act formed by DJ Echo, with hard edged tracks featuring copious amounts of EBM beats, samples (to make up for the lack of vocals), and techno noise perfectly fit for club consumption. One track in particular they played, "Skullfuck", was memorable because they sampled the famous "Skullfuck" line from Full Metal Jacket. The "I'm gonna give you three seconds - exactly three fucking seconds - to wipe that stupid-looking grin off your face, or I will gouge out your eyeballs and skull-fuck you!" one. The brutality of the beats inspired me to get out of my seat and move towards the dance floor and try my luck and moving with the crowd and such. I have to say, the collective energy got my ass moving. It was then that I felt like Adam once he bit into the apple of knowledge or whatever. I felt shame for no doubt looking like a damn fool headbanging and swaying somewhat to the music. Especially as I was on the outer edge of the floor, making me perfect mocking material for those still seated. Still, Modulate kicked ass, even if I spent less time thinking about the music and more about myself.
Imperative Reaction: Imperative Reaction I had heard of, it being an electro-industrial project of high quality. I downloaded two of their albums a couple weeks before the show and thoroughly enjoyed them. So was the case of their live set, which to my knowledge mostly came from their 2006 release, As We Fall. Singer's a bit polarizing (I've heard him described on message boards as "AFI-quality"), but I do not think anyone can dismiss the strength of the production and the programming. Plus, the music makes for quite the energetic stage show and crowd. At this point I threw pride/shame to the wind and made a fucking fool out of myself by jumping up and down, arms flailing about, much like everyone else in the crowd. Band members were personable and frequently doused the crowd with water from the water bottles. I believe I got splashed in one of those instances. (Or maybe Modulate did it. Or Combichrist. It kinda blurs after a while.) Imperative Reaction played somewhere around 8 songs and did a good job of getting the crowd to behave as fools for their amusement, or whatever other purpose they had in us jumping up and down.
Combichrist: Finally, after several hours of being at the Miramar and not seeing the headliner, Andy LaPlegua and the touring musicians that comprise Combichrist appeared on stage amid much cheering and fanfare and such. And it is at this point that my night takes a turn for the worse. See, I had made the decision not to open a bottle of booze before the night's festivities, and I decided not to either convince someone to buy liquor for me at the show or steal liquor from someone whilst they went to the Mohinder (or bathroom, for you savages not understanding my derogatory Heroes reference). No drugs in my system. Completely sober. A touch self-conscious. No girls paying notice to me (probably because of my relatively normal attire and my steadfast desire to not behave like a drunken idiot; Marilyn Manson rejects seemed to be the norm for boy toys at the show). Thus, I had the reflexes and the senses of a sober man wary of his own movements. So when the moshing started...I was unprepared. Unprepared for the onslaught of 260 lbs. lummoxes heading my way. The romanticized vision of moshing involves attractive people, mostly women, moving in ways in which stimulate the sex drive. But the realistic version, well, it's a lot of sweaty, large men unaware of their own stature and how it impacts the others around them. For example: I am rather light for my height. Not a Holocaust victim, but not your typical sweaty Metallica fan either. I was in maybe the third row of people, trying to get in position next to a particularly hot girl. Yet I am denied due to a rather large fellow running and flailing from side to side (for an approximate distance of 12-15 feet). No one was acting the jackass in the way he was, so consider him an aberration. He bashed into me several times, throwing me in different directions each time. Because the place was packed, the people I fell onto pushed me back in the direction from whence I came. This continued on until I was able to manage my way to the farthermost edge of the floor, putting myself in the company of those who wanted to actually hear the music and observe it (instead of jump around or headbang into epilepsy). I noticed some wetness on my head that a natural emission such as sweat could not account for. Went to the bathroom mirror. "FUCK!" Yes, I had a long, fairly deep gash above my eye, to the right of where my left eyebrow ends. Of course, there's nothing like first aid in the bathroom; just a Birthday Massacre poster (which someone tore off the wall and defaced some time between 7:00 and 9:30).
I tried cleaning the wound and got it to bleed in such a way that it didn't, you know, drop into my eye or something. I returned to the concert and spent the rest of it in a seat and leaving between songs to check my wound. Fucking mosher assholes. Oh, I should probably talk about Combichrist at some point. Heh. Combichrist was, well, Combichrist. Hardcore EBM with lyrics centering on violence, death, destruction, sex, misogyny, partying and so on. If you're at all familiar with Andy LaPlegua, you should know what to expect for the live show. He jumps around, yells, dresses like a psychotic rodeo clown from Hell and acts in a highly energetic manner on stage. Talks up the city of Milwaukee, etc. Multicolored lights, strobing and blinding simultaneously everyone in the audience (the strobing turned my beatdown into a slideshow). And plays the classic Combichrist canon, this time including songs of What The Fuck Is Wrong With You People?. Tracklist went something like this (forgive me for any inaccuracies): "5AM Afterparty" (for intro), "Today I Woke To A Rain Of Blood", "This Is My Rifle", "Intruder Alert", "Are You Connected", "Electrohead", "Without Emotions", "Red", "What The Fcuk", "Fuck That Shit", "Give Head If You Got It", "Blut Royale", "Like To Thank My Buddies" and "This Shit Will Fcuk You Up". As you can see, a healthy mix of Combichrist's most popular and most live adaptable songs. The only glaring one missing is "Get Your Body Beat" due to its obvious connections to moshing. Still, diverse setlist with not a lowlight in the bunch. They played much better this time than at the Rave last year, and that may have a lot to do with the venue; the Miramar boasts much better acoustics.
After Combichrist's encore ended, I left the venue, not old enough to go to the afterparty and not especially clamoring at the idea of drunk women with their makeup all fucked up and running. Goth girls do not look good drunken.
Much like Rock the Bells, I got nothing in the way of pussy from the crowd due to the lack of appreciable talent there. Yeah, there were your typical hot gothic/rivethead girls, clad in band T-shirts, fishnets, short skirts, high heel boots, copious makeeup and all the other required accessories. But all or almost all of them fit into two categories which, for me, spelled shit out of luck. The first category is 'chicks who have boyfriends'. It takes an experienced motherfucker to steal a chick from a guy right under his noise, and I am not a smooth player out of a shitty blaxploitation flick. You would either have to pull a Cocoon (as seen pulled off by Mr. Burns in "Lady Bouvier's Lover"), or you'd have to wait for the lunkhead ICP reject boyfriend to stop off for a shitty vodka cocktail and charm the girl's panties off in the span of, oh, 90 fucking seconds. And God forbid you hit on a girl and then realize her boyfriend's standing a couple feet away from her. A crowded environment like a concert is no arena for a winning fight (especially if you're a skinny fellow like me who relies a lot on concealed weaponry and pressure points, requiring a degree of precision impossible in a weed-and-beer environment). Second category: underage girls. As this concert is all ages and Combichrist's fanbase skews way younger than, say, KMFDM, underage pussy was in abundance at the Miramar. I am not one to trifle with such women, no matter the desire or the rationalizing ("well, I'm only 19, so if they're 16 or 17, it's not a huge deal..."). There's inevitably the point where you're fucking her and you think "God, this is statutory something or other". Or if not that, the dreaded post-coitus conversation. You'll rapidly realize there's a massive gulf in terms of interests, intellect, maturity, everything. Especially if she's a virgin (oh, how I hate the "this hurts" type of comments. JUST FUCKING SHUT UP AND TAKE IT! AND IT'S NOT A FUCKING MAGICAL EXPERIENCE EITHER!) Fuck, I don't know how Mark Foley did it. I just can't talk to 16 year old chicks.
Those factors accounted for, I give the show a 4/10 (1 point for abundance, 1 point for goth/rivethead attire, 2 points for the median level of attractiveness) as far as pussy is concerned. A lot of nice pieces of ass on display - but only on display. If you try something, you'll get your ass kicked or your ass fucked - in county jail.
I enjoyed myself overall, but I preferred the parts where my skull wasn't almost caved in to the parts where my skull was almost caved in. I have many lessons from my first real moshing experience. Mainly that moshing is fucking stupid, for people who don't know how to dance, and people who vastly underestimate their own Blob-like body type or Hanna-Barbera movement cycle movement patterns. And moshing in an area of the floor which houses about 90% males is not fun, it's just gay. Moshing is apparently a mythical thing, characterized by an ideal untenable in modern American culture. Final word of warning: industrial concerts will not have you regularly coming in concert with the warm bodies of attractive females in well-produced fetish gear. You will instead undoubtedly get the disgusting taste of man sweat from overweight oxen wearing faded Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson shirts. I still recommend going, but I do not want you readers to have any lingering misconceptions.