Wreckers of Civilization
A few weeks ago Throbbing Gristle played the US for the first time since 1981. I went to two shows: April 16th at Brooklyn Masonic Temple, and April 25th at Logan Square Auditorium in Chicago. They didn’t disappoint. I liked the Brooklyn show a lot, despite the marginal sound of the Masonic Temple auditorium and the somewhat unrehearsed nature of the performance. TG are probably one of the few bands that still can sound great under those circumstances. In fact, in many ways, that is what their sound was built on in the early days. They were self-taught artists turned musicians. The Chicago performance was MUCH better. They clearly had several performances to get used to playing together again and it really came across.
The sound of the new TG has been swallowed whole by Peter ‘Sleazy’ Christopherson. So much so, that the new incarnation sounds a lot like late Coil (Christopherson’s band with Jhon Balance, RIP) with Genesis on vocals. I’m not sure what Chris & Cosey have been up to lately but musically it really seemed like Peter’s show (at least to my ears). That was fine by me since Coil is quite possibly my favorite group of all time. But still, I missed the raw sound from TG’s early days.
The most interesting aspect of both shows (and I suspect the others as well) was their decision to leave the house lights on. This really didn’t please a certain segment of the audience. Responses ranged from the well meaning “I think you forgot to turn the house lights off!” to the genuinely pissed off “turn the fucking house lights off!!!!” It’s amazing how a small thing like that can really subvert audience expectations. Though they’re much older today, TG can still challenge the audience, not by balls-out outrageous behavior but by subtle trickery. I really got a kick out of Genesis’ outfit. It was really amazing to see a whole audience rocking out to a matronly, new-age housewife… but that’s Gen for you.
Here are some drawings from both shows:
Genesis P-Orridge, Peter Christopherson
Genesis playing violin, Cosey Fanni Tutti on guitar
Chris Carter, Genesis
Emeralds opened in Chicago