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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Alter Der Ruine + Nachtmahr Live 11/21/08

This review really needs no lengthy introduction. ADR is an incredible industrial/ noise band from Arizona and Nachtmahr is the popular side project of Thomas Rainer of L'Ame Immortelle. The two have teamed up for an American tour this fall and Nachtmahr's (local to Denver) label Vendetta Music has brought them to Benders'. This show was incidentally professionally filmed and Vendetta may release a live DVD of it at some point, so keep a look out.

The first two openers were Reaxion Guerilla, a sort of Hocico like thing with a singer who looked weird and moved around a lot, something called Sunray Breaker whose show is basically a guy hitting on a keyboard when drums happen, yet there's no midi controller coming out of the keyboard, nor a power cable, (just a 1/4 inch), and it is dubious that he is actually playing anything. Black Cell then went on, which is a pretty cool older school sounding project that has been around Denver for a while, and was definitely the best sounding and most well received of the openers.

Then the moment I had been waiting for. ADR has three people. One is banging on an electronic drum kit very energetically. The other has a keytar and the third has something strange with a touch pad that makes sounds and is held together in do it your self fashion and has a carabiner keeping it to a strap draped around the guy. These people rock. They're getting super into it- all sweaty and crazy and banging on stuff, and unlike most "live" laptop acts in this genre you can tell they are actually playing their instruments and thus possess at least some modicum of talent and skill. Music was good powernoise, with real feeling, distorted kick drums, the requisite absurd samples, and enough synth work to keep your interest.

Approximately three songs into the set a mosh pit was started. This pit continued for about three or four songs until it was communicated that further moshing would get moshers ejected from the club. The moshers were definitely in the minority, with only about 10 of them existing, out of a crowd of 80-100, and they were thus unable to do much about this policy and they sadly ceased to mosh. Yet in breaking up their enthusiasm perhaps even higher tribute to ADR was paid than even moshing could provide. Simply put, this band was more hardcore than their audience could handle. Not even this writers' mohawk could stand up the energy this show released... it was half flopped over when the set ended and a decision was made to just wash the whole thing out in the sink.

This was probably about the best, most energetic live "industrial" show I have seen since I can remember. Everything they are strongest at- presence, actually playing their instruments, BANGING on shit- is what in this scene bands are the weakest at. I don't recall having that much fun at any show since perhaps FLA at Nation in DC in 2004 (or was it 2005?)- where a mosh pit was also broken up by security.

Nachtmahr was of course next and they sure had a tough act to follow. Singer Thomas had stage presence, was entertaining to watch the machinations of, and was able to keep the audience's attention and get them to dance. The songs were what people seemed to like listening too, and his backing video was cool static mixed in with old WWII war footage, with occasional witty quotes from famous people denouncing militarism thrown across the projector.

This is a photo from 2007 but it's pretty much what we saw too:

If this was 2000-2002, I might have really been impressed by this show. Unfortunately, there are some negative criticisms I do have of it. In a nutshell, it felt like the kind of show I have already seen before many times. Two laptops on a stage with camo netting on them, with USB keyboards hooked up to them in a way that it's impossible to tell whether or not they are actually being played. Scary Germanic Europeans screaming about war with war footage... It has been done many many times before... Had groups like Funker Vogt or E-Craft never existed, this might have been fresher to my eyes and ears. Instead, while Nachtmahr may be effective dance music (EDM?), it does not have at the time of this writing a particularly innovative live show.

Musically the sound was great. Drums were very punchy and definately went over well with the crowd, and everything sounded mixed well. They get 10/10 on production. Yet, once again as it was impossible for audience members to determine whether or not anything was actually being played, this 10 comes with a pretty big qualifier. Also, anyone attending this show will also notice that in every song it sounded like all the same sounds were being used, though just arranged differently.

Another handicap I think was the time line. I do think it is great that the organizers of this show wanted to provide an opportunity for local bands to play, and I support that... but having five bands on one bill made for a pretty drawn out show. The Nachtmahr set ended around 1:20 am, and I had been there since before 9, and I hadn't eaten since 6... the time was defiantly felt and made it harder to enjoy the last band.

As a side note, despite being invited along to witness and document Nachtmahr's first ever visit to Casa Bonita, I never got a call about it the next day so I'm unsure whether this even happened. Keep an eye on ADR's tour updates though, where they might discuss it if it had. A second disappointment is that on way home for Thanksgiving my camera with all the show pics in it had a disagreement with the paved parking area of Brushy Lake State Park in Oklahoma. Thus until I get to a repair place all my live pics might be lost :(

There are two dates left on this tour. If you at all can, be sure to see these bands. If you can't make this tour, ADR at least has an active live schedule and you can bet you haven't missed your last chance to see them, while Nachtmahr seems to be rather popular in Europe at the moment and I don't suspect they'll allow him too long of a post- tour rest before demanding more live appearances.

-Review by Christian Wright

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