Punk-rap provocateurs Ho99o9 have made this column pretty often in the past year and a half, and for good reason. Crystallizing into a juggernaut that hits somewhere between Gravediggaz and Body Count, they’re certifiably exciting, on the rise and have been playing Orlando like honorary citizens since their manager is a local guy. And now seeing their production in a fully functional Blackstar is a real spectacle to behold.
But this lineup is interesting in a very particular way. Ho99o9’s support on this current coast-to-coast tour is comprised entirely of new industrial bands, specifically L.A.’s 3Teeth and Austin’s Street Sects. It makes a certain sense considering some of the industrial veins in Ho99o9’s noise. This bill, however, permanently welds that connection.
In fact, industrial music is mounting a bit of a comeback right now. Don’t go looking for the next Front 242 just yet though. The young breed that’s making waves is less club-minded and more intent on diving back into the genre’s primal viscera, which is a relief considering the wave of cheese that took over once the ideas started running thin back in the ‘90s. And this event was very much an industrial show with a distinctly industrial crowd (from what dystopian waiting room did you all spring?), almost a little slice of Visage.
Right before the music began, fog machines got cranking hard enough to turn the club into London in a box. Then, under the cover of haze thick enough to blot out all stage light, Street Sects dropped in with such suddenness and violence that the floor audience jumped like at a horror movie. From there, a full frontal attack of strobe lights – possibly the most extreme I’ve ever seen – came harsh and disorienting enough to actually make someone in the front collapse and be carried out. More than just effect, this was meant to be an assault.
The entire performance was conducted in this smothering murk of smoke and light with singer Leo Ashline prowling the floor among the crowd, seeming to appear from out of nowhere at all angles and usually with a scream to the face. It’s a thrill that verges on discomfort, which naturally only compounds the thrill.
Live, Street Sects’ terror-punk is raw onslaught, like a guerrilla Skinny Puppy. And with the sheer effect of their intense atmosphere and sonics, I think I just fell back in love with industrial music. As a needed reclamation that looks past the genre’s more schlocky sensibilities in favor of a return to its original essence, Street Sects are as cogent a case as they come for industrial’s new relevance in the underground.
3Teeth were much more polished and straight revivalist. Although nothing this night quite matched the sensory shock of Street Sects, 3Teeth’s show flexed the club’s state-of-the-art technology and production, using its 180-degree wall-to-wall video screens for their visuals.
Musically, their bleak electro-metal is all very Wax Trax, like a direct transmission from industrial’s golden era. Fans of Front Line Assembly, Ministry, Skinny Puppy, KMFDM and the like, this will get those boots kicking high again.
With the rise of adventurous hybrid acts like Ho99o9, Death Grips, Clipping, Dälek and Moodie Black, rap may just be the savior of industrial music after all. And this is the face of the new industrial wave, just in time for today’s winter of discontent.