So while 177,000 people get drenched and covered in mud at some small festival down in the southwest, a number of us were at the Grendel gig at Corp last night. And let’s be honest, we probably came out just as drenched as the festival-goers – but with sweat. With pre-sales being a little sluggish, it was in the small room – and was stuffed (and sold-out in the end, too). Not exactly making for a pleasant environment, then…
A good thing, then, that we had four live bands to distract us. First up were Uberbyte, Rikky from Killing Miranda‘s industrial side-project. It’s tough to know what to say about them, too. Certainly since their last appearance live that I saw they have toughened up the sound, and with much more of a visual presence. The problem is, I couldn’t help feeling that I had heard much of it before – like a number of other emerging bands in the industrial-electro scene, too much is based upon ideas other bands have already perfected, without an awful lot of thought into making a sound their own. The stompy beats are there, the synth melodies are there, the lyrics switch between English and German – but still I simply couldn’t get into it, and instead by closing track Wir Sind Uberbyte was feeling rather bored – and far from a ‘signature track’, it all feels a little contrived.
Something of a welcome – and unexpected – surprise was the set of The Judas Coven. All I knew prior to the performance that it was Adam from Lab-4‘s new act – and I was never any kind of a fan of their output. So with no fanfare, Adam and his guitarist appear on the stage, barely visible in the darkness in all-black. The low lighting suited the music – it was suffocatingly dark, sparse techno-industrial, with an edgy, distorted vocal attacking like a knife, a world away from Lab-4, and all the better for it. Look out for this lot descending like a dark shroud on you soon – next appearances are supporting FLA in July.
The main support act was rising stars Modulate. Much has been said about them – including by me – to the point that it is difficult for anyone in the industrial scene not to know about them now, and going on this performance they will only get bigger. Even with a (very) new expanded three and on occasions four-piece lineup, everything seemed to run like clockwork. Although with the strength of songs played, it was not difficult to see why. Skullfuck was done with as early as the second song, but had the packed crowd going batshit (and is much improved live from my first hearing of it), and things didn’t let up from there on in. Kommune 1‘s predatory stomp paved for the way for a roof-raising Revolution, Faktory‘s monstrous beats and shredding synth line sounded brilliant in a live setting, the new track played was a tantalising glimpse of where they head next, and then finally it was a bit of a shock to hear a well-executed cover of The Prodigy‘s No Good (Start The Dance) to close things. Performance of the night without a question, and a number of us afterwards agreed that headline gigs in bigger venues than this can’t be too far away.
After such a performance, it was always going to be tough for Grendel to follow that. They made a good fist of it, though, with a strong set leaning heavily upon more recent material, with a good chunk of the new album showcased (Void Malign and Remnants being the pick of the bunch), and of course recent club hits Soilbleed and their cover of Zombie Nation. Soilbleed, played early in the set as if they wanted rid of it, gained the predictable ecstatic reaction and inexplicably had four dancing girls joining the stage – in an apparently rehearsed move. If you are going to dance on stage with a band, it does help to be able to dance in rhythm, though. Zombie Nation was almost as rapturously received, unfortunately though I found it as dull as all the other versions of this. And as good as Grendel were live, it all seemed a bit clinical. Dancers aside, there wasn’t a huge amount of audience interaction, and with many of the songs based around a similar 4/4 beat (and indeed in the case of the new album’s tracks, all following the template set out by Soilbleed) it all seemed to bleed into one by the end.