Aftermath was running late on Saturday night after trying to get a teething baby to sleep. We drove our little Toyota as fast as we dared through a fog that on television would have contained dead pirates, eldritch horrors or Michael Jackson, making it to Meridian just after 10:30 p.m. In my rush, it hit us we'd forgotten cash for the parking lot. Panic set in until we realized the lot attendant was local comedian extraordinaire-ly offensive Danny Rios.
Aftermath and Danny portrayed a couple of mentally handicapped housemates in a play some years back, and he was happy to wave us in after a few moments catching up and talking about his recent tour.
Unfortunately, Aftermath missed Vertigo Blue's opening set, something we deeply lamented as everyone outside stopped talking about its awesomeness only long enough to take a drag on their cigarettes. We caught up with Mike Naus (the sole member of Vertigo Blue) later that evening, and was quite proud of the old boy when he told us that he'd been on the advanced nomination list for the "Dance" category of the Grammys. Apparently, a more vocal-centric album of his is currently percolating, and we who keep the Goth beat wait impatiently for its release.
Inside the club was a perfect sized crowd. Enough to say the show was well-attended, but not enough that the press of people sucks all of the air out of the place. Aftermath had just finished my "Hi! How are you?"s when Nitzer Ebb took the stage.
There's more than a little hip-hop swagger to the modern Nitzer Ebb performance. Though Aftermath feels that the finest front men in music today are fronting EBM bands, Douglas McCarthy is something even by the lofty standards of his genre; his whole approach veers him way off from his peers.
For instance, every electronica singer seems to get a black stormtrooper outfit free with the purchase of a Korg keyboard. Not Douglas McCarthy! Though the resemblance to Anthony Michael Hall in Sixteen Candles
is striking sometimes, there can be no denying that he was wearing
that suit. Not to mention the fact that seeing the fevered mass of an excited mob reflected in a pair of mirror sunglasses is a great effect.
Now, all EBM bands preach. It's the nature of the genre. But most of them maintain a distance and aloofness. Not disdain exactly, but something like an aesthetic detachment from the gyrations that are the result of their endeavors. With Nitzer Ebb, the approach is more primal, and McCarthy sells every bit of sex he can.
The result is something like an erotic Hitler or Joel Osteen with a trouserload of funky cold medina. It holds the audience is an ecstatic thrall. It was strange to watch people simply sway to music they normally let loose to when it's playing in the club, stranger still to watch how the power of Nitzer Ebb's music unites the somewhat cliquish and fragmented Goth scene in to something like community.
Hands were in the air, both clenched in fists of rage and open to receive bounty from the gods of spooky music. There was no shortage of complete abandon. The music was, by necessity, rigidly controlled, but the live drums and vocoded pillow talk gave the music spontaneity. And as the night progressed, Aftermath watched the crowd let fall the shackles of an audience, and take up the banner of free dancers.
Chaos reigned, and God bless every minute of it.