Youth Code at Mango's, 1/16/2014
No doubt, Youth Code borrows quite heavily from Chicago's fabled Wax Trax! Records (Front 242, KMFDM, Revolting Cocks) roster, the epicenter of seething industrial music in the 1980s and 1990s, when the city rose from the frozen plains and became a beacon of aberrant noise, cluttered and chaotic dancescapes, and post-human poetry.
Other labels like Rough Trade (Cabaret Voltaire) and Mute (D.A.F.) also kicked in their share of forceful bands attempting to deconstruct music similar to the cut and paste assemblage style of William Burroughs novels. Youth Code, the mixed-gender unit Sara Taylor and Ryan George, forcefully revisit the modus operandi of such acts with acrid, atavistic, and artful ear-pummeling.
Detractors often consider electro-industrial and Electronic Body Music no more than menacing, dreary, and robotic drones of a generation trying to upend rock and roll traditions; those inside the subculture, though, feel cocooned in a cultural zeitgeist in which people like Jack Dangers of Meat Beat Manifesto and Genesis P-Orridge of Psychic TV hold court. Moreover, as a testament to kindred spirits, PTV's label Angry Love Productions released Youth Crew's limited edition"Keep Falling Apart" 7-inch single, though the B-side "Tiger's Remorse," played with total abandon at Mango's, seemed to rouse the crowd most into sweat-thronged dance-slam contortions.
The unruly DNA of Youth Code embodies not just the cataclysmic tenor and agitated spectacle of their forebearers but their sonic matrix too. Endless echoes of Front 242 and Nitzer Ebb reverberate in the band's catalog, as well as earlier proto-industrial heroes like Kraftwerk and younger agit-prop front-liners Atari Teenage Riot. Like those before them, the pulsing, programmed, and prolific beats of Youth Code also belong to the here and now -- today's digitized mash-up paradigms and clusterfuck reality, in which an omnipresent feed of disparate information swarms like pixelated locusts into people's lives.
Armed with an Earth Crisis T-shirt and a voice box scorched by screams, Taylor is a seething, daunting figure that ping-pongs across the stage. Anarchic and athletic, imposing and cathartic, she resembles American first-wave punk icon Penelope Houston of The Avengers in both demeanor and style, though with tattoos like "Live to Win" and "Strange Love" canvassing her body. Her hoarse rasps and flared eyes constitute an intoxicating physicality.
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