Review by: Eric McWhorter
Photos by: James Currie
“We felt great tonight. It was one of those nights where we all felt it.”
Jules Hodgson, quoted above, and Steve White shared their sentiments as they wound down at Neo’s interim home in the basement of Debonair Social Club following KMFDM’s tactical sonic assault on their one-time home town. One might expect some bands to phone it in with only five nights remaining on a month-long US tour, but that was far from the case this evening as Sascha Konietzko and his KMFDM crew fired on all cylinders at House of Blues, treating Chicago to a set spanning twenty-five of their thirty-plus year back catalogue.
Late arrivers found a full room for London Industrial EDM outfit Inertia (Reza Udhin of Killing Joke fame) and Austin tribal-Industrialists Chant, who provided energetic support on the evening. The excitement was palpable as eager fans cheered even the brief line checks as KMFDM was preparing to take the stage…fans who would soon find out that they weren’t to be disappointed.
KMFDM’s opening salvo was not a warning shot. Immediately out of the gate, they came with mainstays Money, Light, and Ultra from their early Wax Trax era. The crowd strapped themselves in for the ride as husband and wife team Sascha and Lucia Cifarelli ran the floor bringing the dynamic force of their voices to the entire room.
Next, with Rebels In Kontrol the spoken-word samples sliced the night air with surgical precision as Lucia owned the stage, cranking out her vocals with authority. Pulsing lights and heavy smoke provided the transition to the chaotic and intense Tohuvabohu, which invited the remaining stoic spectators to unleash themselves.
With the crowd properly primed, the band kept the drive high even as they slowed the tempo with Shake The Cage. Steve did not miss a beat as he shredded the lead heading into the song’s close, providing a proper segue into the ripping Son Of A Gun, which again brought the crowd into a frenzy. Andy Selway is a machine, and showed it here with his proven ability to quite properly massacre his set with uncanny ease.
Lucia again took the helm with Last Things, gradually pushing the energy higher in this poignant indictment of the tacit acceptance of the political will to war. A fine contextual follow up to Last Things, Brainwashed provided a rare moment for the crowd to catch their collective breath, bob their heads in time. Animal Out, which is recent but cut from the same cloth as the band’s ‘90s offerings, gave way to Terror, rounding out the first half of the evening nicely.
The party was in full effect with the pumping Salvation, and things really picked up with club favorite Megalomaniac. The crowd really got riled up and the crowd surfing metamorphosed into a proper pit as the thrashing WWIII got things a bit frothy as George W. Bush samples punctuated a pointed social commentary. Just when it seemed like we might get another break, Amnesia came out of its glassbow intro and opening verse into the heavy chorus ‘Urgency – Emergency – Insurgency.’
Before continuing with Hau Ruck, Sascha took a deep breath and addressed the crowd, “Yeah……Chicago,” drawing a hefty response from an obviously pleased crowd. Jules lay down a ridiculously sick lead which resolved to chunks of heavy guitar. Steve followed up with an absolutely brutal display of his own guitar skills, and as the song faded, the strobes took over. We got our first set break as the stage lights spelled out a rolling ‘KMFDM SUCKS,’ enticing the crowd to chant along.
As the band took their places for their encore, Sascha again took some time to say a few things, though the crowd was a bit noisy to hear him clearly. As sweeping white noise panned the room, the crowd went utterly ape-shit knowing that Drug Against War was about to begin. One of the band’s most fierce and well-known pieces, it was a perfect opening for the show’s denouement.
The heavy, pounding beats of Adios kept the intensity at peak levels, and its breakdown gave just enough time for the crowd to scream its appreciation before dropping back in with seemingly even higher punch-you-in-the-face ferocity. At this point, if there was anyone in the room who was not moving, they were in hiding.
Closing out the evening was early club favorite Godlike, an epic spoken-word piece with throbbing drums and a Paul Barker bassline, borne out of necessity during a tour where former member En Esch was hospitalized after a fire. The gift which keeps on giving, the song deliberately and forcefully wound its way through its several verses, with Andy once again showing his machine-like qualities behind the set.
The crowd was left awestruck and satiated, having witnessed a powerhouse band in rare form. Consummate professionals and intense rockers, KMFDM always deliver an outstanding performance. The energy stayed with the crowd as people wound their way into the Chicago night, and won’t soon be forgotten.
To see photos from the show, click here.
For more on the band, tour and music, click here.
Set List for House of Blues show: August 14th, 2015