this concert in cleveland has been impatiently awaited by a number of people and surprisingly enough, this time rmi managed to get together quite a few friendly people really dedicated to music that managed to stay this way throughout the whole weekend.
it is probably quite accurate to say that so far this was the biggest event this year for the electro-industrial scene in north america. anyone that has been following the scene for at least a little while (which, surprisingly enough, includes other sources of information besides rmi), would undoubtedly have heard of flesh field, that released their strong debut last year on inception records (that just got re-released in europe by trinity); assemblage23 got quite popular on the east coast after numerous concerts and a strong release on gashed!; newcomers dubok with their debut on tinman should bring this label back into spotlight. presence of local chews eye shop on the bill seemed to be merely a stunt of organizers, since this act was not a match for the ones mentioned above, clearly being in a genre of its own - the fact that quickly drove away the majority of the crowd during their set.
the most peculiar thing about the concert was that most of the public on the show were not from cleveland coming from all over east coast, including philadelphia, new jersey, columbus. quite a few people flew in from canada as well as san francisco and seattle. most of them knew each other prior to coming to the show, and that resulted in a warm and friendly atmosphere before and during the show. it was sad to see that local cleveland support was extremely limited; "phantasy" club was perceived by many merely as a neutral ground chosen for its convenient geographical location, rather than for the superior local scene. after all, it was the energy of "outsiders" that made this concert so much fun.
I have already seen dubok play couple of weeks before this show together with labelmates i, parasite and android lust. Both concerts were very impressive, and while I think that show at high 5 had better sound, this time at cleveland the band delivered a solid set with stronger stage presence (despite the absence of the light guy). I recommend listening to the cd before the show, because it seems like the range of sound that the band presents could not be replicated accurately enough by the venue hosting the concert. I wish warm clean strings were more prominent, and complex percussion that distinguishes the band was more obvious in the mix.
majority of the crowd unfamiliar with dubok took the act cautiously at first, but gradually the response was getting better and better to the point where it seemed like everyone was getting into the music.
chews eye shop was next, but unfortunately their performance failed to attract anyone but the few locals, while the rest of the crowd wandered off to merchandise tables and the bar.
flesh field was next; their usual set consisted of popular mix of well-known hits together with three new tracks. this performance was a lot more solid than their last cleveland appearance, and some of this success was undoubtedly due to the crowd that was incredibly friendly and warm, which did not prevent ian from repeatedly smashing a mic against his head. even the occasional goofiness and forgotten lyrics on one of the songs were well received and seemed to bring the band and the audience even closer to each other.
three new tracks sounded really promising; obviously the band has shed the remnants of similarities to old leaether strip and :w:. new material is quite a step from debut cd and shows how drastically the band has improved within one year. new tracks are using tight and unexpectedly abrasive and violent percussion (which might turn out to be a big surprise to some) together with multitude of very well-done synths. the tracks are nicely structured in a usual complex and unexpected flesh field manner and at times could be described as violent, fast aggro-trance with dense fluid passages mixing very nicely with rian and ian's vocals. from the very first song the crowd went ecstatic, and everyone expected an encore that should have followed the set.
by the time tom shear got on stage the crowd was pretty fired up (i'm sure that a great number of empty beer bottles scattered backstage had something to do with that) and ready to receive a 50-minute set that got almost everyone on the floor moving and moshing/dancing to the music. during the whole set tom was extremely energetic and basically had the whole crowd under control. not being a big a23 fan, I still could not resist most of the hits, and the positive energy coming from the crowd was simply overwhelming. the sound was clean and tom's energy on stage, considering how sparse the setup and the lights were (especially compared to flesh field's set), was something that you had to see for yourself to believe.
what made this show even more impressive was the dedication of label representatives that came along with the bands bringing additional support with loads of merchandise.
i have to say that this concert turned out to be a lot more than what I initially expected from it. the atmosphere and dedication of the crowd was simply unbelievable, something I have never seen before in cleveland. it was quite exciting to hear new flesh field material and see the progress of the band, as well as witness dubok establishing itself as a strong new act on the north american scene. despite some uneasiness with the show organizers, everyone thought that the show was a success, and there's already enough people talking about making it an annual event.