KMFDM at the House of Blues, September 26
Photos by Nellie Sweet
A swarm of KMFDM fans in
shin-swallowing boots, leather bondage kilts, and fishnets stream by as
my friend Andy and I loiter in the House of Blues lobby, killing time
until Andy’s concert buddies show up. When they do, the girls come
bearing gossip: they were at KMFDM's afterparty in NYC last night, and they report that the band mentioned being nervous about playing Boston.
unsettling news, but not too surprising. After all, we’re standing on
the grave of Axis, the site of a disastrous 2003 KMFDM show. That night
six years ago, the band members were all sick as dogs, and even though
they put on a more-than-decent show, the Axis audience
was legendarily awful. KMFDM hasn’t played Boston proper since (they
did swing by the Middle East for their 20th anniversary tour) and
skipped Massachusetts completely on their Hau Ruck tour.
crowd is the expected mix of grizzled old-school rivetheads and folks
like me who first jumped on KMFDM’s industrial wave of destruction as
high schoolers in the mid-'90s. Less expected is the horde of
dewy-faced young things. I suspect more than a few of them were lured
here by the openers, the Aussie electro-industrial duo Angelspit.
Angelspit come out dressed like mutant dungeon masters: lead singer
Destroyx is clad in her trademark corset and kabuki warpaint;
knob-twiddling synth wizard ZooG is sporting a black Pyramid Head-style
butcher's apron, a cyberpunk crest of plastic spikes woven into a
landing strip of hair, and no eyebrows. Their chilly future-stomp
ditties, which sounds a lot like ADULT. getting hacked apart by
chainsaws in the Thunderdome, successfully whip the crowd into the kind
of fist-pumping frenzy that failed to materialize for KMFDM's last two
warm-up acts (that'd be Bile in '03 and DJ? Acucrack
in '04). To our left, a lanky lad in a camo pants and a
military-dictator hat is a one-man mosh pit, throwing elbows and
shrieking, "Set this bitch on fire! Who's with me?" In response, a
fauxhawked kid in a "Govern Your Soul" cutoff wifebeater ambles over to
the General, rocks out silently in solidarity with him for a few
seconds, and then leaves the lone nutter to his own thing.
they close their set, Angelspit exhort us to give it up for "the
masters, the inventors of industrial rock and roll" and tromp offstage,
right before roadies hoist KMFDM's banner ("Kein Mitlied World Tour
2009: 25 Years of the Ultra-Heavy Beat") to rallying cries of "KMFDM
And then they're on: In his cap and aviator shades, lead
singer (and founding band member) Sascha Konietzko resembles a cross
between Maynard James Keenan and Hunter S. Thompson, sucking on a
cigarette. From the first song, it's an all-out sensory assault that
kicks off with the orchestral thrash of "D.I.Y.," the opening salvo to
a solid set of bombastic classics sprinkled with top-shelf new joints.
By song three, "Tohuvabahu," the mosh pit is in full swing, and it's a
refreshingly compassionate scrum: when the General wipes out, Fauxhawk
hauls him back on his feet. In a rare pocket of non-ruckus, someone
howls, "I'm so happy!"
After a 13-song blitzkrieg that ends with
a shred-tastic version of "A Drug Against War," the band file offstage.
A guy in front of me takes this brief pause as an opportunity to wipe
his face on his girlfriend's fluffy platinum-blonde mohawk.
hasn't addressed the audience much tonight, but when the band returns,
he's cooked up a special encore intro just for us: "Hello, Boston. It's
hard to start, but once you spark, you can't retard," he announces in
his gravelly nicotine rasp, not exactly nailing the local brogue. They
launch into the banjo hoedown that prefaces "WWIII," following it up
with a brain-melting version of "Adios." The final slug in their
double-barreled encore is "Godlike." Sure, KMFDM may have copped that
Slayer riff, but they're sure as hell owning it right now. A spooky
baby-voiced sample coos: "We bow down. We bow down." And we do,
hunching and thrashing until drummer Andy Selway hurls his sticks into
the crowd and Captain K throws us the goat as a farewell. Looks like
we've atoned for our past Lansdowne transgressions -- maybe KMFDM won't
take another five years to return.
Listen to the full set list:
KMFDM "Kein Mitleid" Tour 2009