Skip to main content

four on the floor at kinetik

photography was really not my thing this weekend
yeah, i know it's stretching, because the expression is "four to the floor" when talking about a pumping dance beat, but somehow "kinetik energy" seemed kind of lame. so i'll go with the slightly less lame wordplay and hope you're still reading this.

if you're into ebm/ electro-industrial music, kinetik is a big deal. europeans have been all over this sort of thing for years, but unlike their predecessors, they'd never been able to conquer the gargantuan north american land mass. one of the artists declared that kinetik has put north america on the map for this sort of music, which leads me to two conclusions:

1. the organisers have accomplished a lot in five years.
2. fans of this sort of music must have really shitty maps.

no one knew what the hell i was wearing
in previous years, i've flitted in to see a few bands i really enjoyed, but have let most of it pass me by. i'm honestly not a fan of ebm/ electro-industrial music, aside from a handful of artists on the noisier end of the spectrum. because i was actually helping film the proceedings, this was the first time i've even had the full "kinetik experience", which is kind of like summer camp, if summer camp was filled with loud music, copious amounts of alcohol [and other substances, i'm sure] and lots of half-naked bodies with strategically placed strips of latex and lace, crowned with wildly overgrown bushes in all the colours of neon you can imagine.

[of course, i never went to summer camp, so maybe they are all like that.]

it sort of felt like the mothership arriving a lot
although it prevented me from getting too hedonistic, i did enjoy having "work" to do, since it forced me to really pay attention to bands i might otherwise have bailed on [some i had actually bailed on at previous kinetiks]. it also subtly affected how i perceived the performances. if i wasn't filming, my focus was almost entirely on what i was hearing. when i was operating the camera, the scales tipped more towards what i was seeing and, to a certain extent, the energy i could feel around me, since i was more in the thick of things when i was "on duty". it was sort of like being two different people, which normally isn't a good sign, but it did allow me to get more out of the fest than i might have otherwise.

dom went dressed as a sparkly vampire
here's my completely subjective view of things night-by-night [or phase-by-phase]...

phase i :: projekt f/ adversary/ nachtmar/ orphx/ combichrist/ e-craft
winterkalte, who had to cancel last minute, were originally to perform in the slot occupied by orphx, who were scheduled to follow adversary. the necessary changes did mean that the carefully planned flow was a little thrown for the first night.

musical high point :: orphx. no surprise for me there, but i love how they manage to shift their sound to suit any event they play while still always sounding like themselves.

me and the boss man
performance high point :: nachtmar. let's face it: after adversary's performance, i think most of us would have expected that no one would have even noticed the band who followed them. plus there was that awkward thing where the scheduling change meant that adversary were followed by one of the very bands they'd just called out. but nachtmar did take the stage and their fans did flock to them and thomas, a natural entertainer, really turned it on. the camera, blissfully unconcerned with issues of sexism and exploitation, loved him.

musical low point :: the easy answer would be e-craft, who sounded generic in a field not known for its breadth, but for me, i'd have to say combichrist. although he put on a good show, i couldn't get over the jock-rock-on-synthesizers vibe of most of his songs. i don't understand.


phase ii :: cenotype/ shiv-r/ klangstabil/ hypr/ haujobb/ grendel/ panzer ag/ heimataerde
with the shortened schedule and political upheaval of the night before, i think that a lot of people were wondering what the heck was going to happen next. it felt like this was the night when everything kind of got smoothed over and the "normal" vibe got going again.

noisex living up to their name
musical high point :: both klangstabil and haujobb were surprisingly good. klangstabil's groovy rhythms and intense vocals were a great contrast with the normal thump-and-growl of industrial bands. haujobb stood out as seasoned pros, particularly since some travel upheavals meant that it took them 36 hours to make it to montreal. bonus points for being one of the only bands to master the full potential of the lighting system.

performance high point :: although i have some of the same misgivings about grendel as i did about combichrist, they did have great energy. and it's really hard not to like a band doing a song called "stop sampling full metal jacket". [honourable mention: although less frenetic, haujobb scored high on this front too.]

musical low point :: i kind of hate to do this, but heimataerde. i hate to do it, because their set had me riveted. heavy set german men in medieval armour and monks' habits, electronic oboe, metal guitars... it had us all wondering what the staff had slipped in our drinks. just ridiculous. i hope they come back next year.

film cru represent
phase iii :: aliceffekt/ end.user/ c-lekktor/ fgfc820/ noisex/ hocico/ iszoloscope
for both my ears and eyes, this was clearly the best night of the fest.

musical high point :: i liked noisex when they were an ant-zen band about a hundred years ago, although even then, i had trouble distinguishing them from a lot of other bands on the label. then they got a bit more pop. then they got flat-out cheesy. i ended up taking off about halfway through their set the last time they played kinetik. so i was jolted almost off the balcony when this year's performance was a raging, thrashing, hammering, white-knuckled beast. i guess he changed prescriptions or something. best set of the festival.

who is this again?
performance high point :: a near dead-heat. hocico's high-energy, hooky, grimy sounds were more fun than i expected them to be, but what really brought them to life was the spectacle, at once enchantingly theatrical and hyper-kinetic [yeah, i went there]. on the other hand, you had fgfc820, who are kind of like what would happen if you threw agnostic front and frontline assembly in that machine from "the fly". [agnosticfrontlineassembly? -ed.] they look like a wwe tag team, but know more about canadian politics than a lot of the hometown crowd and their live set had a bite that would make al jourgensen jealous.

musical low point :: c-lekktor. they filled the floor after the much more interesting end.user departed and i'm still trying to figure out why. total meh.

phase iv :: nitronoise/ the gothsicles/ miss construction/ sitd/ beborn beton/ blutengel/ s.p.o.c.k.
the tone of this night was more "eletro-pop" than "industrial", so the overall sound was softer-edged and more melodic than the others. i understand the logic of having this come at the end, but after the night before, the decrease in energy seemed that much more pronounced.

my men at the door
musical high point :: there wasn't anything that i felt was a real musical stand out. i do kind of have a soft spot for some of beborn beton's depeche mode-esque pop jewels and they delivered on that front.

performance high point :: blutengel. that's probably the least controversial thing i'll ever say, but seriously, nothing was going to compete with the over-the-top camp that is the blutengel stage performance. every single element of the show was perfectly choreographed and lit. it would have been criminal not to film it.

musical low point :: it's bad enough that they covered eco's underwhelming 90s ebm club hit "hass und liebe" and that the lead singer must have said at least four bloody times that this was their last song, but miss construction were apparently the only electronic music fans on the planet who hadn't heard about the adversary performance on thursday and proudly called out that one of their songs was called "fuck you bitch" [it's exactly what you think it is]. ugh.

need some hot stuff?
of course, this kind of festival isn't merely the sum of its parts, so there are always highs and lows that are outside the confines of the stage. i'd actually say that the lows were very few. i did not like seeing a couple of female fans trying to get thomas from nachtmar's attention by repeatedly giving the nazi salute.

but i really did enjoy having the opportunity to talk to friends i only get to see once a year. and i personally think it's worth a trip to kinetik just to buy the delicious hot condiments from the folks. and loved meeting and talking to bob, the faithful guardian of the metropolis backdoor, overlooking the smoking staircase [i don't smoke, but dom does].

who needs to sleep?
i feel like i already blew my neon and latex wad, because i already blogged about adversary's set and presentation. by sundown on thursday night, i think everyone was aware that they'd already witnessed the apex of the festival. debate and discussion over both the subject and the action itself continue, but there is no doubt that it is the moment that will stand out in everyone's memory. one of the other performers, while emphasising that combichrist and nachtmar were friends of his, saluted the move as "ballsy", which is a good way of putting it.

personally, the writer part of me [who hasn't been out much lately] sort of likes the irony in the fact that a festival of music that is all about precision and programming, a festival that itself relies on an incredible level of organisation, was marked by a completely unexpected, un-programmed and very emotional moment. some people were annoyed. some were impressed. some teared up. a remarkably raw, non-synthetic moment.


as long as you're here, why not read more?


i keep seeing this ad for tictac candies:

am i the only one who finds the suicide bomber clown at the end a little unnerving? all the nice natural things like the bunny and the [extinct] woolly mammoth and the fruit get devoured by a trying-to-appear-nonthreatening-but-obviously-psychotic clown who then blows himself up. congratulations, tictac, i think this ad has landed you on about a dozen watch lists.

oh and by the way, showing me that your product will somehow cause my stomach to explode in a rainbow of wtf makes me believe that doing consuming tictacs would be a worse dietary decision than the time i ate two raw eggs and a half a bottle of hot sauce on a dare.

mental health mondays :: the war at home

what's worse than being sent off to war when you're barely old enough to order a drink in a bar? making it home only to get poisoned by the government that sent you there. 
although it's certainly not a secret, i don't find that the opiate/ opioid crisis happening in america gets nearly the attention it deserves. at least, what attention it gets just seems to repeat "thousands of people are dying, it's terrible", without ever explaining how things got to the state they are now. there's mention of heroin becoming cheaper, of shameful over-prescriptions and dumping of pills in poorly regulated states/ counties, etc. but too much of the media coverage seems content to say that there's a problem and leave it at that.

one of the things that might be hindering debate is that a very big problem likely has a lot of different causes, which means that it's important to break it down into smaller problems to deal with it. and one of those problems conne…

digging for [audio] treasure

my computer tells me that i need to cut down the amount of music stored on my overstuffed hard drive. my ears tell me that that would deprive me of some wonderful listening experiences. 
halifax, nova scotia was not the easiest place to find out about music with limited appeal. it was a very music-centred city, to be sure, but, being smaller, things like noise, industrial, and experimental music struggled to gain a foothold, even as the alternative rock scene exploded in the early nineties. i was lucky enough to have some friends who were happy to share music that they loved, but i knew that there were lots of things that i was missing out on.

with the dawn of the internet, and various types of music sharing, i found myself able to discover bands that i'd heard about, but never managed to track down, from the days of underground cassette culture. and, to my surprise and elation, many of them do very much live up to what i'd imagined from reading descriptions of them in catalo…