Nachtmahr & Alter Der Ruine-Factory @ Edge 17

by Ora “Tre” Brasel
Tonight was a journey back into the past on so many levels. First it had been nearly a decade since I had ventured out into the realms of a gothic/industrial club night. One of my closest friends had been requesting for some time for me to take him out to experience one of the clubs we had in the city catering to this genre of music. So since I had heard very good things about FACTORY and the events they do I decided to look up where they were currently located, as they have been at several different locations over their nearly seven years in existence. To my great surprise they were now located at Edge 17 on 1187 Edgewood Ave South, which has had many names over it’s life including 17 South, The Underground, Fat Kat, Chapel of Tears, and many others. It just so happens this venue was where, way back in the day, I cut my fangs, draped myself in black clothing, and wore make-up to express my dedication to the culture of being “Goth”.
After finding out it was being held at place of such historical value to my life it was a forgone conclusion that we had to go see just what things were like after all these years away from this scene. So we all threw on our black attire, and my friends decked themselves out to other extremes that I wasn’t as bold to attempt that this evening. The evening not only included just the usual DJ playing tunes, but also two live bands to further whet our appetite for gothic/industrial music.
We got to the club slightly after midnight, and thankfully being a gothic night in the truest nature, we hadn’t missed either band. With a bit of time to spare still we grabbed some refreshments as we soaked in our surroundings. It was so interesting to be back in this world again, and it elated me to see that the number of people attending such an event had grown in numbers fairly substantially over all this time.
Through the dark corridors we made our way to the back room where the performances are held, and right about that time the three individuals that make up Alter Der Ruine came onto the stage hailing from Tucson, AZ and I got the feeling that not many of the people there in the room knew of them as their faces looked to be trying to figure out what to expect on stage.
Equipped with a Roland electronic v-drum set and two homemade keyboard-guitar instruments with special capabilities to distort and control sounds by way of touch, they immediately started with a barrage of high BPM noise, samples and bass kicks. I warmed up to it fairly quickly myself, being that I have always had a great love of gabber and speed core techno music, but it was clear it wasn’t for everyone as about half the floor moved out after two violently chaotic songs shook their foundations. At times in their slowest moments (and that wasn’t very slow at all) it almost resembled IDM (intelligent dance music) artists such as Aphex Twin, Autechre and Squarepusher. They all went at each song in their set with an unbridled intensity bordering on insanity, at various points leaving the stage to prance around with a cowbell or one of their keyboard/guitar instruments through each of the various rooms in the building. The drummer at one point even asked the audience “Is this the dumbest show ever?” and it was met with a shrugged shoulders type of response, as if they weren’t really sure. By the end of their show a lot of people had moved back in to watch as they were letting audience members play the cowbell on the last few songs they played, and regardless of their ability to keep a beat to the music it still seemed to blend in well somehow with the overall abstract structure of this band. Probably not something you want to see every night, but it was certainly different.
Close to thirty minutes later Nachtmahr out of Vienna, Austria took to the stage alongside two Mac books with keyboard workstations placed underneath. Thomas Rainer is the exposed face of the band, and Victor his counterpart hides behind a white facial mask similar to those that the Jabbawockeez on America’s Best Dance Crew wear. Many might already unknowingly be aware of this band’s sound from their dance floor hit ‘BoomBoomBoom’, which was featured on the Saw 4 soundtrack.
These guys come out and immediately hit you in the gut right at the top of their set with very firm 909 beats drilling out from the speakers directly at you. The vocals, although in German, have a resemblance of the nastiness and grittiness found in other industrial bands such as Skinny Puppy, Laibach, Ministry and Front 242, which certainly helps sell them to industrial fans even if they don’t know what they are saying. Rainer has the presence of some sort of bizarre anti-Hitler with his spastic marching on stage, arms extended into the air and wildly flailing amidst simulated marching, an N armband on his camouflage jacket, and the images on a screen to the side of the band displaying such quotes as “war is not the answer” and other comments further condemning war consistently displayed throughout the performance. So when combined all together these elements make up a pretty interesting and impressive presentation on stage that is very hard to ignore if you appreciate this genre of music at all to begin with. The relentless hard techno mixed in with the traditional qualities one usually expects from good industrial music bridges the two worlds together seamlessly. The strength of this band is that you could easily see them playing at any electronic dance event or any goth/industrial night with people losing their minds to it easily either place. It was a very nice surprise indeed to come back to where many of my memories from both of those worlds were originally created, and have a band offer up both of them to me in just a single hard-hitting performance.
It is nice to know that there is still someplace around town that caters to this style of music, and also does it with more flare than I remember it having many years ago when I was someone regularly seeking out something of it’s kind. With the addition of live bands and themed nights requesting you to dress up as zombies, witches, vampires, evil clowns or various other creatures of the night, it goes the extra mile in encouraging creative participation. Edge 17 also does other nights with varieties of music, and seems to be much better equipped with the current way the building is laid out than it was in previous incantations I had visited. So whether the inner goth in you is seeking to be let out to play for a night, or you just are looking for a good place to go out and unwind for an evening, I would highly suggest going out and seeing for yourself what the folks from Factory and Edge 17are doing these days. I think if you do you will be most pleasantly surprised with what you find when you get there.