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Combichrist Live @ The Hifi Bar, Melbourne, Australia

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Review by Nicole Yakimov

Before I knew what it was called, I called Industrial Music, Dance Metal- heavy music with a beat that you could really dance to- not headbang. Bands like Rob Zombie, Static X and Rammstein were the extent of my “Dance Metal” knowledge.

It was about 5 or 6 years ago that I first heard Combichrist. Dancing to tunes pumped through speakers at decibels which are surely going to be the cause of some hearing loss later in life. “Get your Body Beat” was the track and I was doing what the lyrics told me to do: “Let your blood flow, Get your body beats!”

Combichrist are an Aggrotech/Industrial/EBM (Electronic Body Music) band and the brain child of Norwegian born Andy LaPlegua. On Thursday the 12th of January at Melbourne’s HIFI Bar, I FINALLY got to see them live!

I made my way down the stairs into the concrete bunker and was greeted by the sounds of the opener band “Cold Divide”, with 20 or so (of their?) loyal fans standing front and center. I took my phone out to take notes and was pleasantly surprised to find that I had full 3G reception which meant I could keep tabs on my eBay auctions. In between making sure I was still the highest bidder, I noticed what I thought was the house music still on. It was in fact a DJ playing in the upstairs room and in quieter moments in Cold Divide’s set, the overflow sound was extremely noticeable. Throughout the set I heard NIN, VAST, KMFDM (pick a goth band, any goth band) influences and they had some interesting ideas but could perhaps polish up the execution.

Given the electronic styles of music on offer for the night, I thought Meshuggah’s Obzen blaring through the speakers during change over was a strange choice, but I didn’t complain!

There were more surprises when A+D+A+M of LAB 4 took to the stage. A pumping dark electro/industrial DJ set…uh, it’s 9pm on a Thursday night! If the crowd were interested they weren’t showing it despite A+D+A+M’s efforts to engage the crowd.  A light show may have helped his cause. The fixed green stage lights helped none in creating any sort of atmosphere. An extremely talented DJ, his beat mixing was flawless and his dark industrial beats would have been awesome in the early hours of the weekend. By the end of his set, I’d won 2 of my 3 eBay bidding wars and the room was filling up, but by no means full.

A+D+A+M left the stage and made way for Zoog Von Rock of Angelspit (Syd). I can only describe his set as pop electro and it failed to meet the benchmark that A+D+A+M had set.

Drink in hand, the crowd at the bar getting deeper, I wove my way through the sea of black to find a spot that would allow me the best vantage point. Being all of 5ft 2″, I like venues that have stairs…it means I wouldn’t be smelling some guys arm pit for the next hour and a half.

11.11pm and the house lights are down, a smoke machine spews smoke across the stage which is now flooded with soft red light. The sound of an air raid siren seeps hauntingly through the room. Slowly through the smoke, Combichrist made their way on stage and took their places. Andy (vox) greets the crowd with a menacing “How the f*%k are you?!”, to which the crowd erupted in response. Apart from a little bit of makeup and a lot of tattoos, the band aren’t wearing any crazy latex outfits like I’ve seen in live videos. They open with “All Pain is Gone”. The crowd are loving it and you could see Andy was loving it too. He prowled the stage like a caged cat. His sex appeal could be felt from the stage and swooning fans lap up his antics. For half an hour they pull out song after song with an energy and aggression that would be hard to sustain. Just when you think it can’t get any crazier, they open the flood gates and “Get Your Body Beat” and its unmistakable intro blaze into being! For another half an hour they played a number of my favorites including Blut Royal, F*%kmachine and Deathbed. They indulged us for 11 songs then announce that the next one will be their last. To the crowds delight, Andy jumped down off stage and walked through the crowd during the song, security guards watching with eagle eyes to make sure he makes it to the other side and back onto stage. His stage tech is standing side stage waiting with mic in hand for him to get back on stage to finish the song. After a big thank you and goodbyes, they made their way off stage. I noticed a couple of people making their way to the door- didn’t they know anything? The house lights are still down, that means ENCORE!

Those of us in the know waited in anticipation for their return. They didn’t make us wait too long and again didn’t disappoint with hard hitting renditions of “F*%k That Shit”, “Never Surrrender” and finally “WTF is Wrong With You”. They said their final goodbyes, followed by the ceremonial throwing of the drum sticks.

Compared to their recorded sound, their live sound is a lot heavier. They definitely leave you feeling exhilarated and wanting more. A friend who saw them last year, said tonight’s show was awesome, but about 50% less awesome than last time. I quote “Last time I saw them, it was full on, Andy was on stage wearing a full latex outfit and he made you feel like he wanted to kill you”. End quote.  If tonight was Combichrist running at less than 100%, I fear for my life if I ever have the opportunity to see the Combichrist my friend was referring to…

Photos by John Raptis

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