Saturday, May 28, 2005

Free For All Tour / BB King’s / May 17, 2005

Reviewed by MH

This was an evening of mistakes. Mistake #1: Being in Times Square at BB King’s for the second time in two weeks. However, this time it’s for a (work-related) industrial show and Akiko and Donna are along for the night. Mistake #2 came quick. Within the first 10 minutes we start socializing with a couple in one of the leather booths surrounding the main floor of the club. At first things seem fine. Idle chitchat led to the woman talking in complete circles. Her spiel started with Elvis’s performance on the Ed Sullivan show and how that one moment changed everything and led to the “five genres of music we have today – rock, industrial, modern, hip hop, and modern.” (Yes, of the FIVE genres “modern” was mentioned twice.) She wanted to know why industrial music wasn’t played on the radio, why it wasn’t part of popular culture, and then started blaming me for not playing them on the radio. She also commented on how Blondie were the first to rap. I started thinking how I would much rather be in one of the Bile videos playing on the stage in front of me than in the hellish reality of that moment. There’s a few pokes and pinches under the table before we high tail it to the bar for a much needed drink.

Sheep On Drugs, two skinny I’m-pretty-but-tortured guys, a brunette and blonde, respectively, jump up on stage with pretty much just a CD. They sang moving lines like, “machine sex, its automatic” and “scarlet woman, laaady of the niiiight” over electro-clash. Akiko and I collectively agree that whoever’s into Fischerspooner should really be seeing these guys instead. The blonde came out in a bloody butcher’s coat, blood dripping down from his nose and mouth to the jacket. The blonde lost the butcher’s coat around the third song to sport a sleeveless black t-shirt instead. I don’t know what he was thinking, ‘cause he can really pull off bloody white clothes, which cannot be an easy feat. The other highlight was the live audience sample they included in their performance. I didn’t have to clap or yell at all! The desperate plea for merch purchases should also not be overlooked.

Pigface is a band that drummer Martin Atkins (PiL, Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, Killing Joke) has been running for years now. It’s always changing and this tour includes scary guys from KMFDM and My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult, as well as Hanin Elias of Atari Teenage Riot, the saving grace of the night. The testosterone level was extreme and Hanin, who opened the set performing some of her solo songs, seemed like she really had a lot to contend with. She was one of four women who wasn’t dressed overtly sexually or dancing/prancing around erotically (actually, the girl from Voodou wasn’t either). The songs Hanin performed with Pigface were as intense and solid as her solo performances or days in ATR, but it seemed like the crowd (99.9% male) didn’t really prefer her vocals to say, En Esch with his fishnets, giant boots, soccer shorts and tuxedo shirt. She’d be screaming her ass off and some heads would bob, but it was gutteral growls that dudes wanted to beat each other to.

The third and biggest mistake is “Th’ Enigma.” This is a giant jigsaw puzzle of a tattooed man, colored all shades of blue and green, with horns surgically implanted in his skull. Yes, pieces of coral (it’s the thing most common to bone) were attached to his cranium so he could look like Lucifer. This is also the same guy who was a part of the Jim Rose Circus, was on the X-Files, and is here tonight as a member of Pigface, playing keyboards, guitar, singing and doing sideshow antics during the show. At first you can dismiss it, but after about 30 minutes you really just want him to go away. All at once he’s annoying, pathetic and scary. Yet he continues to hammer nails up his nose, swallow crucifixes, chop cucumbers on the back of women’s necks while they rest their heads on a pitchfork, and then chases audiences members, myself and friends included, around with a chainsaw. Some would call this entertainment, but I found it frightening. The majority of the audience acted like this was normal behavior, but I’ve never had a man, a green-horned man no less, come at me with a power tool before. And at first you think it might just be tricks, that it’s probably just magic or something. But then you remember the coral that he’s willingly had fixed onto his skull and realize that is in fact A REAL FUCKING CHAINSAW THAT HE IS SWINGING AROUND BY YOUR LEGS.

So much for being open-minded. I could let the crazy lady talk from earlier in the evening slide – she could have been really drunk, or just crazy, or both – but chainsaw… NO WAY. Everyone came out at the end to play one final song together, and two of the four women on the tour happily danced around some more. Hanin thankfully lent a constructive hand, banging on a floor tom near the side of the stage. Half of the audience jumped on stage as well. I was waiting for a fire to start, for someone to lose a limb or at the very least get drilled in the eye with a nail, but it didn’t happen. Instead Curse Mackey (Grim Faeries, Evil Mothers) announced to the crowd, address and all, that they could all find him at Lit after the show. That was definitely mistake #4, but finally not one that included me!