16 Volt/ Chemlab/ Left Spine Down @ Neu+ral, Toronto, ON, May 10, 2010


By Melissa Andrews

The logistics didn’t work out for me to attend Montreal’s Kinetik Festival happening from May 12-16th. It’s billed as Montreal’s Electro-Industrial-Noise-EBM Music Festival. A couple of the bands that are playing on the Old School Industrial night, 16 Volt, Chemlab and Left Spine Down did stop off in Toronto as part of their North American MIDI Ghetto Tour.

Luckily the weather had warmed up a tiny bit since the cold weekend, as due to sound check delays the doors did not open on time (this is a personal pet peeve of mine particularly on cold winter days). The few people who showed up at 7 pm milled about outside until they were let into the dingy basement that is Neu+ral.

It felt as if I was in someone’s home basement for local act Promonium Jesters set. It’s hard to play a high-energy show to a small crowd of 15-20 people. The four band members looked as if they were there for their Monday night practice session. From a sonic perspective I was reasonably impressed considering they were a local band. They also get a bonus for having a guitar emblazoned with a giant Hello Kitty head. With the exception of the dancing keyboardist the band could have moved around a bit more as they were a tad dull to watch.

The next act up Left Spine Down was definitely more interesting to watch with some mood lighting and video. The mohawked singer moved around not only on stage but also through the crowd while vocalizing through a bullhorn. I found the sound of this to be tiring after a while. Musically, I found them the weakest on the bill but that may be my bias towards more guitar centric sounds.

By the time that Chemlab played the club had reached crowd capacity. Thankfully during the set someone finally moved the extremely irritating light that was used to highlight the prices for the merchandise that was blinding people who strayed to far right of the stage. Smoke machines and flashing lights helped everything feel like a 90’s rock show. The accompanying video was rather intermittent. It was unclear if this was due to it being incomplete or malfunctions. In his own words platinum blond, front man Jared Louche who made me think of Iggy Pop bounced around the stage like a “fag in New Orleans” in a shiny silvery jacket. He had the perfect amount of bounciness to get the crowd moving along. After the bands set he joined the audience to watch headliners 16 Volt. The opening bands also mingled with the crowd and looked like the enjoyed watching the other bands performances too which was something that was nice to see.

16 Volt is the project of Eric Powell. The tour included KMFDM’s Steve White. For a group that included some borrowed musicians due to the inability for some of the regular players to cross the border, the sound was quite cohesive. While Powell may not be personable with the crowd as Louche he still knew how to engage the audience in what he was doing. It does help to be playing well written songs that people couldn’t help but start moving along too. We even got to hear a kazoo solo. The theatrical smoke machine kept dispersing it’s vapours making the air slightly thick. Including the 2 song encore the band played just over and hour which was too short but it was a Monday night.

Sean is the founder/publisher of Hellbound.ca; he has also written about metal for Exclaim!, Metal Maniacs, Roadburn, Unrestrained! and Vice.