NITZER EBB, ALTER DER RUINE
Tuesday, Dec. 15
Industrial music can be a complicated thing to pull off for a live audience. Any number of elements can be preprogrammed, including drums, keyboard melodies, effects and vocals, and it may leave people questioning the authenticity of what's happening on stage. I'm thrilled to report on two bands that blow this stereotype out of the water.
Alter Der Ruine is based in Tucson, and anyone who enjoys well-crafted songs and killer musicianship needs to see them play. The quality of their music far surpasses most other bands in the genre. Jacob Rouse and Mike Jenney played elaborate-looking keyboards strapped around their shoulders using what appeared to be fighter-pilot seatbelts. Kevin Tolman issued otherworldly spastic and ambient effects. They moved around the stage with so much enthusiasm that it was positively infectious. At one point, Jenney followed my photographer and me to the bar while striking a cowbell—quite the fun interactive moment, and far from what you'd expect from this brand of music.
The foundation upon which all the layers of sound rested was Michael Treveloni and his electronic drums. There are few drummers who can match his precision, consistency and speed. ADR invited the audience to join them onstage to dance during their last song, the perfect way to cap off a brilliant set.
Nitzer Ebb has been around since the dawn of the industrial-music age, and if you're a fan of the genre, chances are, you've danced to many of their club hits over the years. Playing together since 1982, singer Douglas McCarthy and keyboardist/programmer Bon Harris, who were joined by drummer Jason Payne, made the old hits sound incredibly fresh and polished.
The set included "Join in the Chant," "Lightning Man" and "Let Your Body Learn," all from the late 1980s and early '90s. McCarthy looked 20 years younger than he is, donning a smart black suit, a matching skinny black tie, aviator shades and slicked-back dirty-blond hair. Fun fact: He can't resist the urge to stick his hand down his pants at every show, and this night was no exception.