Concert Review: Cold Waves IV
An oasis of blistering industrial noise in the middle of an undiscovered circle of Hell: Wrigleyville.
A little background on the above statement. Cold Waves IV took place Friday, September 25th at Chicago’s Metro theater, located next door to Wrigley Field, where the Chicago Cubs were playing an afternoon game. For those unfamiliar with Chicago, a Cubs home game guarantees that the dozen or so city blocks surrounding Wrigley Field, “Wrigleyville,” will be overflowing with drunken, douchebag BDubs bro Cubs fans clad in blue shirts, khaki shorts and socks & sandals, meandering like confused sheep amidst the hundreds of nearby sports bars selling Bud Light by the truckload and blasting feel-good 90s alternative rock from their open windows. It’s a horrible place for even the steeliest of sports fans, and a wretched, contemptuous experience for everyone else.
Thankfully, beefy salvation in the form of Kuma’s Corner (who also sponsored the festival) was only a brief walk away, allowing me to fuel up on an amazing Darkthrone burger and robust IPAs in order to brave the oncoming flood of Cubs fans once the game let out. But let’s skip ahead past several hours of musical chairs with the 2 hour parking meters, and one strange experience with a screaming, clapping dad in an oyster bar and get to the bands.
Author & Punisher opened the night with a criminally brief playing time, but made up for it with a powerful performance. It’s truly impressive to see Tristan Shone maneuver inside his elaborate handmade stage setup, using both arms and legs to create percussion, trigger audio and visual effects, change filters, play keyboards, adjust his vocal mask and sing at the same time. Check out the video of Cauterize below where he’s rotating that big metal cylinder in the front center of his rig, speeding it up and slowing it down to create the primary bass drone in the track. How does that thing even work? How much does it fucking weigh?
Up next was Lead Into Gold, fronted by Ministry‘s Paul Barker. This was my first introduction to the band and my first time hearing their music, a blend of mid-to-late 80s pop/goth/industrial. Think Ministry + The Cure + early Front Line Assembly. Like Godflesh, a live drummer is eschewed in favor of a drum machine, a simple stage setup and a heavily filtered hall-of-mirrors video feed. Their performance earned an enthusiastic crowd response, even if the singer looked a little awkward moving back & forth between the mic and the engineer.
The highlight of the night for me, Lustmord, came next. The stage was stripped of everything except a black table and a laptop, and out walked Brian Williams (this one, not that one) to begin his unique pastiche of horrific sounds from across his entire career: a bit of Carbon/Core, a bit of Black Stars, a bit of Purifying Fire and more. He also used a set of power strip-like effect triggers to fire out deep pulses and bass detonations in key spots, while various low rumbles from the deep unknown flooded every skull in the venue. It was 45 minutes of pure, unbroken ambient blackness. The video below doesn’t quite capture the best parts of his video element, nor does the sound accurately represent what we were hearing live, but it should be enough to give you a taste of the master at work.
Finally, Godflesh closed out the night with their bare-bones stage and their signature sound. Both Justin Broadrick and G.C. Green acted as their own techs, carefully setting up their amps, guitars & pedals before kicking off with New Dark Ages (below). This is who most people came to see, and the mosh pit on the venue floor below began almost immediately. The combination of the 8 string’s low crunch and the filthy distorted Fender bass was sublime, punching out grinding waves of industrial ugliness atop the constant beat of a drum machine.
I’d highly recommend attending the fest if you’re in the area next year. In addition to a great lineup, there was a refreshing absence of technical problems, great venue sound, a brisk pace onstage and a minimum of dialogue from the fest organizers, who spoke to the audience only briefly to acknowledge the success of festivals in years past, their gratitude for spreading the word and the role of Chicago in the industrial scene.
And if it’s not for you, you can always wander over to Underground Lounge and talk about how much Wrigleyville sucks.