/Memory of a Festival /037 /Cold Waves X

That what started out as a hastily-scheduled event to celebrate the life of Jamie Duffy has turned into a large, multi-day, multi-city festival over the past decade is something of wonder: but what is also great is how it has fostered a wider family of sorts, one of multiple groups that come together from all over North America and far beyond, to celebrate the scene we are part of (and to raise money for charity too).

/Memory of a Festival /037 /Cold Waves X

/Dates /22-25 Sep 2022
/Venues /Metro /Smart Bar /The Riviera /Le Nocturne
/City /Chicago, IL
/Links /Cold Waves Online /Cold Waves Facebook
/Photos /Flickr /Bands
/History /CW III/2014 /CW IV/2015 /CW V/2016

I first went out to Chicago for Cold Waves in 2014 – and with so much having happened personally and in the wider world since it feels like a totally different time. But I established friendships then that I’ve been able to retain over the internet, as well as visits back to Chicago in subsequent years, as well as various of the North American contingent coming over for Infest and Resistanz festivals in the meantime.

But with COVID having put a rupture in so much, this return to Chicago and Cold Waves felt like a strengthening of bonds, of picking up friendships where we left off, and of course enjoying a lot of good music.

The festival this year was structured a little differently, with the final night at the bigger Riviera Theatre in Uptown, a mile and a half or so north of Metro, but also was spread across four nights, which turned into a pretty tiring marathon of a festival – but no less enjoyable.

Anyway, onto the bands. As is usual when I’m covering festivals, I do my best to cover every band, but things occasionally don’t quite work out. Obviously, I’m unlikely to like every band, either, but I try my best to remain positive these days, rather than outright shredding a band (unless they are really bad, at which point all bets are off. That said, I don’t think any band came near that in this case).

Either way, these are my opinions alone, but if you don’t agree, feel free to comment. Photos were taken from me, with photo pass authorisation, and with grateful thanks to Cyanotic and Caustic for confirming their setlists. Full-size versions of the photos are on Flickr.

/Cold Waves X /Thursday

/Metro /TR/ST /The KVB /ACTORS /Kontravoid /LEATHERS /New Canyons

/Smart Bar /Plack Blague /RITUALZ

One of the really intriguing ways things fell – and it felt particularly pronounced once changes were made to the line-up – was that Cold Waves X felt like a festival of two halves. Split crudely, the first two nights appeared to be newer bands that might appeal more to a new generation of fans, while the later two nights felt like the line-up that would appeal to the Rivethead lifers, those that may well have been to all or many of the previous events.

The noticeably younger crowd, particularly on Thursday night, seemed to bear this out.

The weekend was opened by a newer band, though, who have what could be called older tastes. New Canyons were gloomy, melodic goth, to put no finer point on it, with basslines and vocals that betrayed a deep love of The Cure (not that this is a bad thing at all). Certainly one I want to hear more of.

/Setlist /LEATHERS

Reckless / Runaway / Ultraviolet / Fascination / High Rise / Day for Night / Phantom Heart

An early highlight and “must see” marked on the bill was an early show from Shannon Hemmett’s LEATHERS, her own project away from ACTORS, even if her backing band was other members of that band too. Despite being one of her first live shows under the name, it was a performance that oozed confidence and style, and indeed made clear the different direction that LEATHERS takes. Rather than catchy post-punk, this is sleek, romantic synthpop with a futuristic edge, and with a number of new songs (to me, at least) played alongside the singles so far, the future looks very bright indeed for Shannon’s work.

I’ve seen Kontravoid before in the UK at least once, and here they delivered what I expected – punchy, energetic industrial music that dared your feet and body not to move, although the lingering effects of jetlag meant mine defied the instruction for the latter half of the set, as much as I enjoyed it.

It was notable across the evening just how many ACTORS T-shirts were in evidence in the venue, a sign of how this Vancouver band has risen the ranks in the past few years. They repaid that fandom in spades, too, with a sharp, fat-free set that tore through ten of their best songs, displaying their deep love of New Wave, Post-Punk and Goth by way of short, catchy tracks where they have refashioned their influences into a sound that is now absolutely their own.

The steady way that they have done this, though, has meant that long-time crowd favourite (and their now near-decade old debut single) PTL (Post Traumatic Love) doesn’t feel out of place or of a different time, while the newest songs (from the outstanding recent album Acts Of Worship) feel so very now – but the upshot was that this felt like a cohesive statement of intent from a band very much still on the up.

/Setlist /ACTORS

Love U More / Like Suicide / Only Lonely / L’appel Du Vide / Slaves / PTL (Post Traumatic Love) / Strangers / Cold Eyes / We Don’t Have To Dance / Face Meets Glass

In addition, such is their bounty of great songs now that there could have been another ten song set made up of the tracks they didn’t play and no-one would have complained – I would have loved to have heard my track of 2021, Killing Time (Is Over), but it wasn’t to be, and the set was no weaker without it. An utter triumph.

I’d heard of The KVB before, but never clocked – until Kat Day’s introduction gave it away – that they were from Manchester. I should perhaps have known: gloomy songs whose chilly synths and treated guitars give away a love of classic shoegaze and Northern Post-Punk, and faux-disinterested vocals that only add to the effect. It was almost enough to make me feel like I was back home in the UK for just a few moments…

I was rather surprised to see TR/ST as the Thursday headliner, but checking back I was reminded that they were a replacement for the originally intended Drab Majesty (who, weirdly enough, was on tour in the UK with their other project VR SEX at the same time instead!).

I’ve not really paid much attention to TR/ST before, but judging on the reception from the crowd when Robert Alfons took to the bare stage, an awful lot of the crowd was hanging on his every move. There wasn’t a lot to look at: it was just Alfons and his microphone (and with little light to speak of, so I got no usable photographs) prowling the stage, and musically, it simply wasn’t my bag.

Interestingly, Ian Brown’s much-derided “karaoke” show in Glasgow that weekend made the mainstream press in the UK, as if this is a new thing. Certainly in the industrial, goth, minimal wave scene, one person onstage with mostly backing tracks is nothing new under the sun, and indeed as touring gets ever more expensive, what price we see more of this? With such minimal staging as TR/ST had, I’m not convinced I’m so keen on too much more of that.

That pesky jetlag wiped me out around this point, so I had to admit defeat and head to bed. A real shame, as I was particularly keen on seeing Plack Blague live at last, not to mention RITUALZ. There will, hopefully, be a next time somewhere that I can see them both.

/Cold Waves X /Friday

/Metro /Cold Cave /Kite /Spike Hellis /Choke Chain /Ghostfeeder /Rare DM

/Smart Bar /Orphx

I’ve been doing festivals a long, long time, and with my regular gig-going generally, it’s a pretty unusual day at a festival where I’ve not seen any of the bands on the bill – but with both Covenant and Empathy Test having to drop out for various reasons, Cold Waves Friday turned out to be that rare day: with some bands I’d never even heard of, and others I’d been meaning to see live for a while.

The intriguing Rare DM opened the day, a solo artist from NYC that on record, at least, is often rather subdued, downbeat minimal electronics. Onstage, mind, there was that bit more baring of teeth, and a harsher sound, but no less interesting for it.

A number of friends thought Ghostfeeder were great, but I’m afraid I wasn’t one of them. For me, a jarring hybrid of synthwave and industrial-rock that seemed to be midway through an identity crisis, for others, it was a thrilling show from start to finish. Huh.

There was no arguing about the unhinged brilliance of Choke Chain. A late announcement – literally while the festival was already up and running – to replace Empathy Test, Mark Trueman’s solo project was seemingly a popular addition to the bill before he played, and was most likely even more so after he’d laid waste to the stage for thirty minutes.

He casually took to the stage to get his electronics rolling, and everything seemed nice and calm for just a few minutes, before he flicked a switch and suddenly turned into something resembling the Tasmanian Devil as he paced the stage and roared his heart out to punk-EBM sounds. An “exorcism as EBM show”, basically, and it was a phenomenal, bracing half-hour.

Needless to say, we’ve already started the campaign to get Mark to Infest.

Equally sharp and nasty-sounding were LA duo Spike Hellis. From my view in the photo pit as they came onstage, they clearly had some tech issues (swiftly resolved) that irked them, but they wisely channeled that rage into their performance, one of bruising EBM grooves and snarling, punk delivery, but in a very, very different way to that of Choke Chain that preceded them (go check out Slices to give you an idea of what they sound like, then you can come back. I’ll wait). One thing became clear watching some of these earlier bands – the future direction of American EBM is in safe hands.

The last pair of bands on the main Metro stage on Friday night were both bands I’ve long been curious about, but never really got into on record. Watching Kite live, at long last, changed my opinion for good.

/Setlist /Kite

Bocelli / Changing / Hand Out the Drugs / I Can’t Stand / True Colours / Dance Again / Panic Music

A remarkable, grandiose setting and performance from a duo onstage, who made their emotional songs a bottomless well of gravitas and power for the entire set. I’d long heard gushing praise about their live shows without quite ever believing it, surely it couldn’t possibly be that good?

By the time a swooning, glorious Dance Again dropped to audible gasps of joy from the crowd, I was fully converted like everyone else, and my only question was how it had taken me so long, and how long before I get to see them again?

I kinda felt sorry for Cold Cave following that, as frankly it would be tough for many bands to do so. They put on a solid show, though, and I couldn’t help but feel that they sounded all the better for having a full band onstage (including drummer). I’m not that familiar with their songs, mind, but I did enjoy what I heard. What I did miss, thanks to being downstairs, was their take on Psychic TV‘s Godstar, complete with one of Wesley Eisold’s kids doing the chorus vocals!

Unlike the previous night, I at least attempted to catch part of Orphx‘s brutal industrial techno set downstairs, but Smart Bar was so packed I was only able to watch and listen from afar.

I think even by Saturday, many of us were flagging a tiny bit, but there was no way that the stacked Saturday line-up was going to stop me, although it might have had something to do with a much slower Sunday and Monday daytime, as I neared the end of the trip.

/Cold Waves X /Saturday

/Metro /The Revolting Corpse /Stromkern /REIN /HAEX /Haloblack /Cyanotic

/Smart Bar /Caustic

Locals Cyanotic opened the day, and this was my first time seeing them live in seven years (I saw them three times in the space of a year or so in 2014/15, at Infest and Cold Waves). Sean Payne and his collaborators have been busy since then, with two (or three, depending on how you look at T2) albums and a number of singles and remixes since, and it was instructive here to see how much they’ve evolved.

/Setlist /Cyanotic

Stages of Grief (intro) / Deadweight / Signal the Machines / Cyberdyne Systems Model 101 / “Keep on Keepin’ On” / Structural Hostility / Pressure / Sound the Alarm

Or maybe upgraded is a better word, such is their commitment to the links between man and machine. This latest live upgrade of Cyanotic – as a five-piece – was the best they’ve ever sounded, with an awful lot of low-end and a sharp buzz to the guitars and synths, not to mention an awful lot of volume too. It was also notable that old favourites from the earlier material (dancefloor stompers like Alt.Machine, for example) were all jettisoned from the set, instead concentrating on newer material, and it all sounded great. Especially the closing Sound The Alarm, a groovy, tech-industrial monster (released on the new Glitch Mode comp This Is Glitch Mode just in time for the weekend) that surely bodes well for a promised new album at some point.

One of the most unexpected performances of the weekend came from Haloblack, Bryan Black’s old machine rock project from the mid-90s. Black is better known for his work under the MOTOR and Black Asteroid names, so a return to this somewhat obscure project was surprising to say the least. Alloted just twenty minutes or so, the curious, downbeat sound certainly divided opinion, although props to getting Jim Marcus to hammer out rhythms on a disassembled metal bedframe – probably about as industrial as it gets.

One of the most anticipated bands of the weekend, it seemed, was HAEX. Another LA-based industrial duo, they have very much steered away from what has become one of the LA “styles” of industrial (punk-edged EBM/minimal synth) in recent years, instead going for a slower, esoteric ritual themed industrial sound.

/Setlist /HAEX

Cvrtain / Bloodtoll / Daggers / Feast for Death / Erebus / Divine Masculine / Cursebreaker / Leviathan

It was already clear that they could deliver on record (recent debut album Aethyr Abyss Void is very, very good), but as is often the way with albums with a heavy emphasis on production and studio work, could they do it live?

The answer was an emphatic yes. Adam Jones prowls the stage on vocals and synths, while his bandmate Sarah Graves alternated between synths and Metal guitar shredding to impressive effect, and indeed the result was a much more “industrial metal” sounding performance than the album even hinted at. That list of band requests for Infest is getting ever longer.

The set by REIN that followed has had me thinking about it for over a week. Last time I saw REIN, it was in Belgium, at BIMFest 2019 (the last multi-day festival I did before COVID swept everything away for a time), and there, there was at least a drummer with her, if not a synth player too – and the result was a punchy, energetic set that was a lot of fun.

For reasons that I don’t know – it could have been to cut costs of travelling and touring the US, who knows – here, REIN was solo, and for me it rather lost a bit of the impact. Sure, BODYHAMMER and REINCARNATE in particular are shit-kicking EBM anthems of the future, and REACTIVITY has dance grooves quite unlike anyone else on the Cold Waves bill this year, but away from the familiar dancefloor hits, I was struggling to stay engaged.

There is doubtless an awful lot of potential with what REIN can do – god knows we need more women being successful in industrial music – and she brings in some unusual influences too (there was something of Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814 period in her delivery and dance moves, that’s for sure), but this set for me just didn’t click, and I’m aware I may be in the minority with this.

The unexpected – and most welcome – announcement of the return of Stromkern for Cold Waves this year, after over a decade of relative silence, was pretty much the reason over everything else that I was even at Cold Waves X. I only had the one chance to see them live previously, back at Infest 2006, and this time around, much like then, Stromkern was easily the highlight of the day.

/Setlist /Stromkern

Terrorist / Ruin / Stand Up / Reminders / Perfect Sunrise / Delete / Armageddon / Night Riders

Murmurs from the other three shows on this short run had suggested we were in for a treat, and while this set was certainly shorter than the Madison headling show in particular, it was distilled down to probably the setlist we’d all hoped for. Interestingly, too, it was split exactly between songs from Armageddon and Light It Up, with no room for older songs, or indeed the handful of later songs either (both of which featured on other shows).

Genuinely, though, the lack of those songs didn’t matter, as this was a forceful reminder of how Stromkern’s unusual style (hip-hop delivery meets industrial electronics) within the wider scene translates so brilliantly to the live arena. I’d secretly hoped for Terrorist as the live opener, as it often was before. There was the crackle of energy across the room as the opening synths to the song unfurled, and Ned took the stage to join his band, and that only increased as they tore through this furious indictment of the titular protagonist’s mind.

That shadow of war and devastation – something Light It Up was perhaps understandably preoccupied with during the George W. Bush administration years – also hung over Reminders, a song that reminds that Ned Kirby moving overseas (as he did) was perhaps no great surprise, such is the disgust with the actions of his home country back then.

Elsewhere, Stand Up and – particularly – Perfect Sunrise injected searing energy into the set, while Armageddon‘s furious nihilism turned here into a crowd-pleasing anthem, as did a thundering Delete. Naturally, though, an all-too-short set ended with band and crowd as one, roaring along to Night Riders, a song that brings a groovy, funk edge to industrial and has a monstrous, sing-a-long chorus that felt like the right way to end this.

A few months back, on Cold Waves Soundcheck Podcast 1008, Ned Kirby had suggested that despite all the time that it took to be convinced to resume live shows for Cold Waves, these four shows that ended in Chicago would be it, and he had no plans for anything more. On the evidence of this outstanding, energetic show – and the ecstatic reaction to it, as many people spoke of little else for the rest of the night – I can only hope he reconsiders, as it is clear that Stromkern still matters, a lot.

/Setlist /The Revolting Corpse

Cattle Grind / Stainless Steel Providers / (Let’s Get) Physical / Crackin’ Up / 38 / Attack Ships on Fire / No Devotion / Something Wonderful / Beers, Steers & Queers / Encore: Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?

It had been trailed across the year, pretty much since the original line-up announcement, that this was going to be the last show from RevCo, under the name this time of The Revolting Corpse. Luc van Acker was unavailable this time (apparently he became a grandfather over the weekend, back in Belgium), so hilariously Chris Connelly appeared onstage looking suspiciously like the van Acker of old – particularly around the time of Live! You Goddamned Son of a Bitch, which, it was pointed out, was recorded almost exactly thirty-five years before on the same stage.

Joined by Paul Barker, Dan Brill and Jason Novak – with Richard 23 dropping in for a raging 38 (one of a number of darker songs by the band that reference events of the time – this nods to the horror of the Heysel Stadium Disaster) – this was, to put it mildly, something of a demob-happy performance, where the band were able to relax in the knowledge that they were in the home straight, and their demeanour fed into the crowd, who were also simply there to have a good time.

And a good time we all had, as RevCo made no attempt to update anything, instead doing a set almost entirely taken from their first two albums, and even only getting a pulsating Attack Ships On Fire going properly at the fourth attempt (tech issues having nixed it the first three times) didn’t seem to faze them whatsoever.

A selection of cowboy hats (presumably a variety of previous stage-props) tossed into the crowd heralded a chaotic, loopy final take on Beers, Steers and Queers that provoked the usual whoops and squeals from the crowd. There was, of course, time for one more song and Richard 23 rejoined the band, along with previous touring synth player Duane Buford, for a messy, joyous singalong to Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?, whose grimy, salacious and (deliberately) shambolic feel was exactly the finish to the long history of RevCo that it deserved.

/Setlist /Caustic

*INTRO Warped Record/Get The F—k Up* / Rhythm is a Cancer / White Knuckle Head Fuck / Bigger Better Faster Now!!! / The Bible, The Bottle, The Bomb (EGC Version) / Bleed You Out (feat. Alizeh Winters) / 666 on the Crucifix / Headhumper (Heads Down Face Up/The Humpty Dance) / Booze Up and Riot / Demonomicon / *All The Dicks (interlude)* / Lady Business / Fuck That Fascist Beat (feat. Sarah Elizabeth Graves) / Bury You Alive / “Stalling” / The Hustle

A band that never took themselves seriously – and indeed got a number of artists involved that would never normally perform such humourous material – ended up having a remarkably long career, and despite the international origins of the band, this was always a Chicago thing, so to see them end it at their spiritual home was the right thing to do.

Once RevCo had taken their bow, it was time to head downstairs to hear what Matt Fanale was cooking up with his Caustic show. Of course, after some years gap, I’d only seen him perform just a few weeks back at Infest (/Memory of a Festival /036 refers), but this was a longer set, with a (partially) different song selection and a distinctly different feel.

For a start, it was brutally loud, and thanks to Smart Bar being packed, it was also difficult to see a damned thing, as there was a lot of bright lights and dry ice (naturally). So I could simply rely on my ears to get what was going on. A selection of guests joined the fray for certain songs, Matt rolled out the industrial-punk bangers, and by the time that Eric Gottesman joined in for a note-perfect roll through Digital Underground‘s The Humpty Dance (a Caustic live track I’d heard about for years but never had the chance to hear), it was hilarious to watch the drunk students faces in front of us, as Matt blew their minds and left them thoroughly baffled.

/Cold Waves X /Sunday

/The Riviera /Front 242 /Nitzer Ebb /Portion Control /LIGHT ASYLUM /The Foreign Resort /HAPAX

/Le Nocturne /Black Asteroid feat. Panterah

After all that, Sunday was a mostly downtime day, aside from some leisurely (and sober!) catching up with some of the Sounds and Shadows people, before preparing to head Uptown to a new venue for me, the much larger Riviera Theatre. An impressive old theatre, kinda like The Forum or Brixton in London, although in need of some renovation perhaps, but it certainly delivered on sound and sightlines, as the stage was enormous.

/Setlist /The Foreign Resort

Dead End Roads / Overturn / Obsessing / Flushed / Hearts Fade Out / Landslide

A late need for food meant that I totally missed HAPAX, but I made sure I was there in time for The Foreign Resort, a Danish post-punk band that I interviewed for Stay-In-Fest in 2020 (/Talk Show Host /069).

Their melodic, electronic-goth sound – all heavy basslines, chiming guitars and yearning vocals – came across brilliantly live, a fizzing energy that meant they never stood still, and made the most of their short, alloted time. Older singles, like the fantastic, propulsive Obsessing, were coupled with a new song, Overturn, which is a little more comtemplative, but happily doesn’t deviate too far from what they already do so well. I look forward to the new album, when it comes.

I’ve seen LIGHT ASYLUM a few times now in recent years, and Shannon Funchess once again put on a pulsating show that you couldn’t take your eyes and ears off. The old songs still sound as searing as ever, but the big takeaway from this set was the teasing of at least one, maybe two new songs. Could that second album finally be coming?

It’s been a while since I last saw Portion Control live – a decade, in fact – and in that time they’ve continued their occasional releases, most notably the SEED releases – and made absolutely no compromises whatsoever. Which is fine, as I wouldn’t want Portion Control any other way.

John Whybrew spent the set behind his electronics, while Dean Piavanni, as ever, stalked the stage like he was spoiling for a fight, staring down the front few rows, and musically the sound reflected that aggression. Portion Control have never been a subtle band, with a monstrous, mid-paced electro-industrial attack that could level buildings, and by the time of the closing bout of Amnesia, it was definitely time for a bit of a break.

/Setlist /Nitzer Ebb

Blood Money / For Fun / Captivate / Hearts & Minds / Getting Closer / Lightning Man / Once You Say / Come Alive / Shame / Join In The Chant / Control, I’m Here / Let Your Body Learn / Murderous

If nothing else, to give me a breather before Nitzer Ebb. Back in 2019, the last time I saw NE, it was at the hottest day at Infest ever, we somehow saw through the whole set but then pretty much collapsed needing a whole lot of water. So perhaps, it was understandable that the crowd reaction to that show was a little muted.

At least in comparison to here, where Doug McCarthy returned to the stage (as I understand it he’d missed a number of NE shows in recent months while dealing with illness), and alongside Bon Harris, it was like he’d never been away.

The set was an abbreviated version of the live set they’ve been playing for a while now, but trimming it only increased the impact. It’s structured now that a few slower songs let them ease into things, before exploding into life with Getting Closer, and while there are other more restrained songs (Come Alive, mind, remains Doug’s vocal highpoint), it was all about the final gallop to the finish.

In particular, Join In The Chant was a session in group catharsis as the whole venue, it seemed, joined in for the whole damned song, a reminder of how near-untouchable Nitzer Ebb can be live. It also felt a little like a celebration of life, as if Doug was doing his best to enjoy every moment, and that absolutely transmitted to the crowd.

In some respects, it was something of a theme for the night. None of the three bands at the top of Sunday’s bill are getting any younger: Portion Control and Front 242 were both formed around 1980/1981, while Nitzer Ebb are a few years younger, but the reality is, how much longer are some of these bands willing to continue for?

As it happens, Front 242 have already given us that answer, with the current “Black to Square One” tour of North America being made clear that it will be their last, and so I can only imagine that the final shows ever will follow in 2023. With a variety of dates earlier in the year postponed and cancelled due to Jean-Luc de Meyer suffering some form of (presumably serious) illness, this is perhaps understandable that it is time to hang up the microphones.

This show proved that they have no intention of going quietly, though. From the striking introduction, Richard 23 and Jean-Luc coming onstage carrying torches to illuminate themselves as a scintillating Moldavia achieved lift-off (complete with the Re:Boot style vocal fills from Neurobashing for the first time in a while), to digging deep into their past (a ripping Take One and even Don’t Crash), and even tracks they’ve not played live in years and years (the stark, anthemic political digs of Red Team).

/Setlist /Front 242

Moldavia / Take One / Don’t Crash / Funkahdafi / Generator / Quite Unusual / Soul Manager / Commando Mix / Red Team / Deeply Asleep / Operating Tracks / Tyranny >For You< / Fix It / U-men / Headhunter v1.0 / Encore: Aggressiva / Body to Body / Welcome to Paradise

Elsewhere, they nearly blinded and deafened everyone with a bruising rebuild of Commando Mix, full of white light and dry ice with that iconic synth hook strafing the venue and nearly shaking it to the ground, while something of a surprise – particularly with the likely end of the band as a touring entity soon – was the airing of no less than three new songs. The pick of them was the charging, Richard 23-led Fix It, which was easily the equal of some of the old classics aired.

Taking us back to their origins, U-Men (complete with elements from W.Y.H.I.W.Y.G.) seemed supercharged, and even better was the closing Headhunter, which for once was left “as is” and played in the original, classic v1.0 version that has slayed dancefloors for nearly thirty-five (!) years, and the crowd responded in exactly the way you’d expect.

Things closed out in the encore as it always has done – the sampled howl of “Hey Poor!, and one final, joyous run through Welcome To Paradise that felt like the appropriate way for Front 242 to bow out from the city that clearly means so much to the band.

After all, their first US show was in Chicago in 1984, and around the same time they signed for North America to Wax Trax!, so without their contacts and fans in Chicago, it’s perhaps debatable whether they would have been able to have any success in the region at the time. The heartfelt comments from Richard 23 in particular as they took their final bow felt like they were genuinely sad to be saying goodbye.

If there are more European shows, I fully intend to be at one of them, as this show was frankly amazing, probably the best I’ve ever seen them, and as a result I absolutely want to be able to do this one more time. No-one else does EBM better than Front 242, and perhaps ever will.

I was part of the exhausted but happy crowd that decided the after-party over the road at Le Nocturne was a good idea, but as the weekend wound down, and a number of us spent time catching up just one last time before we all went our separate ways, I didn’t see as much of the Black Asteroid show in the back of the venue (which featured Panterah on a couple of songs) as I might have liked.

That was a lot to say about four days of music, perhaps, but it was four days well spent. As ever, it was run as a tight ship, with few delays and few issues, the sound was great (at all venues) and almost all the bands delivered their A-game or even better. As well, it was a joy to see a host of old favourites, perhaps even more new bands (not to mention a number of exceptional discoveries), but most of all, be back among this wide community that Cold Waves and other festivals have fostered.

It was a pleasure and a privilege to be back.

2 thoughts on “/Memory of a Festival /037 /Cold Waves X

  1. REIN was amazing. Best show of the festival if you ask me who prefers future sounding electronic music rather than traditional EBM. In addition to the powerful show with mind blowing visuals she took time to meet her fans at the merch stand after the show. Big ups for that.

    The line was long but worth the wait. She signed record, took photos and took time to talk with me and other fans. She was so sweet and humble.
    I expected a drummer too after watching a video from Roskilde Festival earlier this summer. When I asked her about it she told me that her drummer had to do a late cancellation because of mental health issues / exhaustion syndrome.
    I don’t like music journalists who speculate instead of getting the facts.

    I read in a previous article that Rein had to cancel her headline show at Infest this year. In this article you mention you are in talk with an other artist to book him to Infest. This makes me question your motives to write negative stuff. The vibe at her concert was ecstatic. The venue was packed with people and the majority seemed to absolutely love her show.

    90 procent of the EBM band has most of their live sets pre preparerad / recorded and I rather see a girl on stage doing a great show with flawless vocals and awesome visuals then looking at old men pretending to play synthesizers. That is just me..

    My top six at Coldwaves.

    1. REIN
    2. HAEX (wow!)
    3. NEP / Front 242 (they still got it)
    4. Kite
    5. Light Asylum
    6. Spike Hellis

    1. Pieter, thanks for your comments (and apologies for the delay in approving your comment – I don’t always get the notifications as quickly as I’d like!).

      REIN: different strokes, different folks. I simply didn’t enjoy that set as much as the first time I saw her, and I call things as I see them. There was no explanation in the public domain that I was aware of (and I looked), while in terms of Infest – REIN was clear that it was US visa issues (a common issue of late, and the reason Empathy Test had to cancel at Cold Waves and indeed the rest of their US dates) that caused the Infest cancellation. One of those things.

      Infest is a festival dear to the UK scene hearts, and we often feed back from overseas festivals bands we’d potentially like to see (from the US, Canada, Europe), as not everyone can be everywhere to see smaller bands.

      I completely agree about the pre-prepared elements, and indeed I comment on this under TR/ST, as I’m beginning to get tired of it as well. That said it’s so common in our scene, will it ever stop? I suspect not.

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