Throbbing Gristle at Brooklyn Masonic

Filed under: Events,Live Music,Reviews — doktorjohn May 22, 2009 @ 2:40 am

This is THE seminal band that spawned the whole Industrial Music phenomenon back in the 70s. I had despaired of ever seeing these legendary characters live, so when they announced this resurrection, I jumped at the opportunity. My son Dan and I attended on a Thursday night and we ran into some die-hard fans and my editor, the estimable Patrick Slevin who requested me to pen the following report. We also rubbed elbows with some pretty interesting people in the “inner sanctum” of the all-African-American Brooklyn Masonic Temple. I can’t help wondering what THEY thought of Throbbing Gristle!

I heard one dude asking a tattooed, pierced and orange-haired punk chick: “So tell me, do you ever listen to jazz or blues?
The review below appears in the May 20 edition of The Aquarian Arts & Music Weekly.

Throbbing Gristle / Brooklyn Masonic Temple/ April 16, 2009
By Doktor John
Brooklyn, NY

This enigmatic, bizarre performance art and recording foursome has been revived several times since officially disbanding in 1981 following four years of iconoclastic activities and after spawning a whole new category of, not just music, but culture known as “Industrial.” Although senior citizens—side-projects and sex-changes behind them— having witnessed commercial bands take Industrial Music to fantastic heights of artistry, TG is still able to recreate the sound and fury if not the spark of radical subversion that made them the founders of this movement.

Prior to their stage performance this Thursday night they hosted a screening of their hour-long motion picture, “In the Shadow of the Sun” (1984) which, while somewhat dated, proved to be emblematic of both TG and the era from which they arose. The sound track they provided for this non-narrative, grainy, over-exposed, “artsy” film consisted mainly of loud, slowly evolving, rhythmic, electronic reverberations. Shadowy silhouetted figures moved in flickering slow motion against stark industrial backgrounds or poorly defined scenes of destruction. Double exposure allowed bright red images of flames or roaring fires to be layered over serene landscapes suggesting a hell-on-earth. Close-ups of an effeminate man grooming or a single finger pecking deliberately at a typewriter made repeated appearance between shots of grit and grime. Any number of dazzlingly bright backgrounds with dark figures in the foreground might have been the title images. An hour was about enough to get the idea and then some.

At 11 PM the musicians were welcomed on stage with loving enthusiasm by middle-aged industrial freaks and with bewildered admiration by youngsters who weren’t yet born when TG tried to overthrow the order of civilization and the music industry in the late 70s. Vocalist Genesis P- Orridge has by now become a glamorous but matronly transsexual, flaunting a platinum pageboy hairdo and collagen-enhanced feminine features, but with the rage and ferocity usually identified with a male frontman.
“Very Friendly,” the opener, consisted of a 15 minute narrative that turns gory, delivered in a bizarre manor over a repetitive rhythmic track of mainly electronic static produced by the efforts of bathrobe-clad “Sleazy” Christopherson and Chris Carter, and with the aid of Cosey Fanni Tutti abusing her guitar.

Other entries in the uninterrupted hour-long set included “Almost a Kiss” and “What a Day,” and other pieces with mesmerizing mechanical and, at times, tribal beats. The set ended with the chaotic, deranged “Discipline,” with no less a pounding, crashing yet hypnotic rhythm, over which P-Orridge repeatedly screamed the word “Discipline.”

Fans of Nine Inch Nails, Skinny Puppy, KMFDM, Front 242 and Frontline Assembly: Throbbing Gristle was the originator and creator before which all should bow down in worship!

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