Saturday, October 27, 2012

My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult - October 26, 2012 - McGuffy's House of Rock, Dayton, Ohio

As I type this I have now seen My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult twice. My first experience with the band was seventeen years ago at the Garage at Caddy's Complex in Cincinnati (long since razed to make way for the Bengals' Paul Brown Stadium - probably a poor trade-off) on their Raygun magazine tour in support of their Hit & Run Holiday album. The lineup has changed (Levi Levi on bass is a standout memory), the core of Groovie Mann and Buzz McCoy have aged noticeably (as have I) and the sound, stripped down to its essential elements for this twenty-fifth anniversary tour, has never been better.

I've been to McGuffy's multiple times and, while it may be unimpressive from the outside, it's a great room on the interior, the sound is usually stellar and everyone on staff is a class act. This evening was no exception. Dayton locals Fire the Drummer opened the show and should reconsider their name, adding both guitarists and, possibly, the bassist to the list for headcount reduction. The band - and particularly one guitarist - suffered from a perpetually detuned instrument and spent way too much silent time between songs tuning up. And when they played, backing vocal attempts at harmony were spectacularly awry. On the upside, the band's original compositions were energetic, melodic metal and stage presence when they were actually playing was half-fantastic (one guitarist seemed content to stand still and look down) and they offered a couple inspired covers. Their set, at near an hour, was a little overlong but I wouldn't mind seeing them again if they could get - and keep - everything in tune.

Vancouver, British Columbia's Left Spine Down have been support throughout the tour and certainly provided a time machine of sorts to the Thrill Kill Kult's early days. From their visual aesthetic (think that volleyball from Cast Away fronting PiL) to their electro-industrial stage dressing and vocals often delivered via megaphone, the band recalled a host of old favorites, especially Information Society for me, while spouting out what they call "cyberpunk." They were a tight unit who delivered especially well live (particularly with their cover of Joy Division's "She's Lost Control"). It's also worth noting that the man behind their programming and keyboards, Jeremy Inkel, has also been with Front Line Assembly since 2005. I was tempted to grab a CD last night but, selfishly, opted to wait to sample a little more of the studio product online before committing dollars to what was largely an appeal to nostalgia for a genre in general.

My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult / photo by gogmagogical

My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult, with minimal set dressing - a banner with rear-projected visuals and a small bar center stage - sauntered out and we were all soon wrapped in "A Daisy Chain 4 Satan" which, if Left Spine Down had transported me to the 80s, left me firmly and emotionally planted in 1990. Buzz McCoy's keys and programming provided not only a framework for the band's trademark synths and samples but also much of the evening's low end. Mimi Star's bass was as powerful as that which propelled Confessions of a Knife and both her delivery and stage presence were spot on for the material and mood. Beki Colada represented the band's perpetual back-ups, the Bomb Gang Girlz, onstage and added an essential vocal element to Hit & Run Holiday numbers, in particular, as well as a lead on a track from the ladies' A Taste 4 Trouble 2012 LP, "Sez Who." Westin Halvorson of Desillusion provided spare, effects-laden guitar leads and Justin Thyme rounded out the band onstage, standing with a set of snares and cymbals.

My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult / photo by gogmagogical

Groovie Mann was the star of the show, to be sure, and held court center stage throughout, acting equally as both snake and charmer, leering, slithering and seducing - and seemingly perpetually discarding layers of leather - as the band traveled through the strongest points of their discography: "Easy Girl" and "Gateway to Hell" popping up from I See Good Spirits, I See Bad Spirits, "Rivers of Blood" and  "Days of Swine & Roses" also appearing from Confessions..., Sexplosion!'s "Sex on Wheelz," of course, and 13 Above the Night's "The Velvet Edge" and "Badlife." A few later favorites popped up and I was thrilled to hear The Reincarnation of Luna represented with "The Untouchable Class" as fiery rave-up. Even A Crime for All Seasons saw the light of day once again via "Sexy Sucker." The band was spot-on and virtually flawless with sounds arranged appropriately for the setting and a mood befitting a retrospective show. Nothing was overblown (for the Thrill Kill Kult, anyway) and, for a band where the visual image can rival the audible element, the music spoke for itself and was impressive to say the least. The show was a testament to the staying power of the band's material, with that over two decades old more than holding its own with any contemporary sounds. Nearly every album in the band's oeuvre was represented (the most recent Death Threat went unheard) but it was the one-off from The Crow, "After the Flesh," that raged back from the dead to close the show and may have been the biggest crowd-pleaser of the core set.

My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult / photo by gogmagogical

The crowd demanded an encore and, of course, the Thrill Kill Kult delivered. The size of the sound on "Glamour is a Rocky Road" belied the number of players onstage but it was a seamless pairing of "Kooler Than Jesus" with "A Girl Doesn't Get Killed by a Make-Believe Lover... 'Cuz It's Hot" that brought down the house in an incredible heaving, sweaty mess of glorious, sloppy sound. My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult weren't studio-neat and crystal clean at McGuffy's. They were dangerous. They were dirty. Exactly like we want them.

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