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Combichrist, Black Light Burns, Dommin @ DNA Lounge, 1/25/09

January 26, 2009

Meow. Tonight was my night- one of those shows that makes me wish I had a rewind button so I could do it all again because it made me feel really good.

“It’s apparent he’s the industrial Elvis.”

I walked into DNA shortly after Dommin’s set had started. Girls are screeching. Roses are being strewn around the room. And this guy is up there, tendrils of hair in his face, singing really dark romantic stuff. It’s apparent he’s the industrial Elvis. The sound is Depeche Mode meets Type O Negative- but definitely in a realm of its own. They do a fantastic cover of “What’s On Your Mind” by Information Society, which fits with their ’80s slant. How did I not already know of this band? I think Dommin and I will become good friends.

‘My Heart, Your Hands’ video

I walked up and stole a spot at the corner of the stage so I could be nice and close to Black Light Burns. I’d been waiting for this for too long. Wes Borland made it into my Top 10 Modern Day Guitarists list, and I’ve been excited about BLB since the beginning. This is also one of the only bands I’ve felt gets close to NIN in tone and manner.

The guys come out and set up their own equipment. And quickly, too- there wasn’t much of a break between sets. They essentially finished setting up, turned around, and started playing. They each have variations of what can best be described as vaudeville gone mad makeup. The bassist, Dennis ‘Jr.’ Sanders- a definite John 5/Jeordie White protege- has on an officer’s cap and some Elvis glasses, which he almost immediately headbangs off. The guitarist, Nick Annis- his hair was enough of a costume alone. The drummer, Marshall Kilpatrick, was one black and white blur- he never stopped moving. And Wes was their demented ringleader, conjuring up vocals from his toes as he twisted and forced them out upon the audience.

The crowd reception was a little on the quiet side. I don’t think they liked this. The bassist especially seemed to taunt San Francisco, taking every break between songs to say the name, with it becoming increasingly more ‘gay’ sounding. However, Wes mentioned having eaten across the street somewhere that was making him “throw up in his mouth on stage”. By the end, they seemed to come to grips with us, pointing out girls in the crowd and going “you’re cute, you’re cute…”

“They are ferocious live.”

They are ferocious live. Especially the new song “I Want You To“. But “Lie”, “Mesopotamia”, and their cover of “Lucretia My Reflection” were really hot as well. OK, they were all pretty hot. So hot that they kept dousing themselves with water, and thowing it on the crowd. Luckily I was just out of the wet zone.

‘Lie’ video

After that, I needed a drink, and I was pretty surprised when I was able to come right back to my spot by the stage as the Combichrist crowd was encroaching. Also to my surprise was that Wes spent about 10 minutes standing right next to me coiling up cords for all the equipment. A couple of guys came over and said “nice job” and “when’s the new record coming out” and stuff like that. I started thinking of something to say, and here were my choices:

A: “Awesome show tonight, Wes”. Lame- others already said that.
B: “Wow aren’t we all glad you aren’t in Limp Bizkit anymore” No- that’s kinda rude and I was actually a Limp Bizkit fan for a bit.
C: “So where did you eat that made you sick”. Hmm, probably don’t want to bring that up.
D: None of the above.

I chose D. I’m shy when it comes to rock stars.

Next up, Combichrist. The stage filled with smoke, slithering around the synths and both sets of drums. SF is really into Combichrist. The floor erupted when they hit the stage, and from then on it was a sweaty, writhing mess.

While I think Andy LaPlegua has a great voice- the kind where he really just talk sings, and is sounds all evil and demented. Kinda like Nivek Ogre. However, I do not like his stage presence. I don’t like his choice in clothing, the makeup is kinda meh, and I feel like his energy, while present, doesn’t go anywhere towards amping me up. It’s really all about the dirty synths. He’s also a really big ham for the camera.

“He’s not a man, he’s a machine.”

Their drummer, Joe Letz, is sick, though. He’s not a man, he’s a machine. It was one of those ‘watch for falling drumsticks’ sets- and the fact that he was elevated made the sticks gain a rather ferocious velocity before hitting the crowd, like arrows. He also spins and throws the sticks around nonchalantly, but it’s quite the spectacle.

Combichrist’s music essentially incites gothic stripper moves from girls and turns the guys into fist-pounding screaming madmen. What more could you ask for? The crowd’s emphatic shouting of song titles- ‘Get Your Body Beat!’, ‘This Shit Will Fuck You Up!’- brought them back out for two encores. LaPlegua claimed it was their best SF show.

‘This Shit Will Fuck You Up’ video:

2009 for HRC has officially begun.

OVERALL: 9.5/10
Combichrist performance: 8.75/10
Black Light Burns performance: 9.25/10
Dommin performance: 8.75/10
venue (DNA Lounge): 8/10
crowd/scene: 8.5/10
value ($13.00/ticket): 10/10
memorable: 9.5/10


  1. Combichrist reminds me a lot of when NIN first came out, and people really criticized the Reznor (my personal favorite jab was one critic who called him “the Billy Squier of industrial”). From what I've heard of Combichrist, LaPlegua (or as I like to call him, the Redneck Reznor) has about 1/10th the talent of Reznor. But sadly, he has about 10 times the hype. The music is really not that good, and NIN, Ministry and KMFDM (not to mention Static X) all did it so much better anywhere from 10 to 20 years ago.

    My friends Stolen Babies are opening a few shows for Combichrist in the midwest next week, and they'll blow Combichrist right off the stage.

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