noisex/tunnel/hypnoskull show in washington, dc took place at odd's bar on july 26 as a part of us-wide tour. the crowd was not as big as the one for ant-zen festival earlier in march, but equally dedicated and knowledgeable. it was nice to see that the atmosphere of the sports bar was in no way restricting to the music played by the bands.
while waiting for the hypnoskull to play, I enjoyed a nice dj set and chatted with few very friendly and knowledgeable audience members.
finally patrick appeared on stage and the crowd surrounded an area of the club that appeared to be the stage. i have always wondered why hypnoskull was so popular in europe, constantly playing shows and getting incredible crowds. granted, it had distinct approach to music and well-polished sound, but monotony and repetitiveness still was something I could not endure for a long time.
from the first moments when patrick started playing, it all came together. i was astonished and completely swept away by the sheer intensity of sound; wall of crushing rolling beats ripping through listeners' ears, ricocheting from the walls and exploding in the dense atmosphere of the venue. aggressive and sharp, violent and relentless mechanized percussion that at times literally hurt the listeners created a completely different perspective on band's sound.
the power of hypnoskull was clearly beyond the boundaries imposed by the venue, and i could easily see crowd of 2,000 people moving with every beat, just like it was during their shows in europe. the same kind of transformation i have experienced seeing synapscape live, but with hypnoskull the contrast between listening to it at home vs. seeing and hearing patrick on stage live was striking, to say the least. it appeared that the crowd felt the same - there were very few people that did not respond to the music in some way. interestingly enough, raoul rotation and ian hall were among the most active people in the crowd spreading their energy to those close to them.
with every new track walls of crunchy explosive beats were unleashed onto the public, establishing constant rhythm that patrick overlaid with distorted feedback outbursts, tweaked frequencies and shrill abrasive attacks. it appeared that the sound of live hypnoskull was a lot crunchier and more dense as opposed to more "bouncy" and lightweight material of original releases.
after pleasantly long set, mieke has joined patrick on stage. she created a missing visual element contrasting patrick, that was hunched over his equipment at all times turning and twisting knobs. elegant mieke accentuated harshenss of music with her beauty at the same time throwing into the crowd words full of rage and anger. the contrast between her appearance and the music was probably one of the most striking i have experienced.
as far as the material played goes, tunnel performed four tracks off "darkbeat planet" and hypnoskull played his material off both "rhythmusmaschine eins, zwei" (interestingly enough, he played two different versions of title track) and "ffwd > burnout." all material was modified by patrick, overlaying barrage of feedback, cut-up twisted frequencies and piercing noises on top of fast-paced crunchy percussion.
dj set played between the live appearances deserves to be mentioned as well. this is the first time i have heard monolith at the club together with well-balanced combination of rhythm'n'noise and heavy dark electro.
finally noisex duo emerged on stage accompanied by "intronisation". the transformation from friendly audience members to the band that has achieved a cult status over a period of one decade was surprisingly instantaneous. noisex stage presence was simply amazing delivering the same intensity as hypnoskull before, but enhancing it with erratic stage behavior that was incredibly contagious; before long the audience was completely captivated by the performance.
since roughly half of the set was material off the new single, it was interesting to listen to it for the first time. i was pleasantly surprised with heavy technoid rhythms ranging from digital speedcore to abrasive drum'n'bass spiced up with explosive percussion and overloaded noisy outbursts. stretched out passages of relentless rhythmic beats were interrupted by raoul twisting and spinning knobs, assaulting the audience with noisy outbursts.
I have always suspected that noisex had a strong stage presence, especially after watching some videos of the band perform, but the intensity of the real set was simply unbelievable.
at the end of the evening after noisex's encore, the host repeatedly embarrassed not only himself but the bands and the audience by awkwardly repeating himself over and over again, promoting his next show and displaying poor public speaking skills.
both bands had something unique and exclusive to treat fans with - patrick brought in cdr of one of his early tapes, reset cd and hyphoskull shirt while noisex presented their new ep "serious killer". i only wish raoul and patrick would've brought some of their side projects, but it seemed that majority of the audience was quite satisfied by the selection.
it was strange to see the band members standing alone for a while after the show, when no one from the audience (that was just dancing and getting into the music) spoke to them; it was definitely a rough contrast to europe where both bands enjoyed a well-deserved popularity.
overall, this show was definitely worth 7 hour drive and was simply incredible experience. this live performance has changed my opinion about hypnoskull and noisex and helped me to gain a different perspective on this type of music. and after all it was so nice chatting with the bands and seeing some of the people that I have known for a long time on the internet, but have never met in person. I constantly remind myself that seeing artists of that scale in small local venues (that makes it so "personal") is an incredible luxury that majority of european public never experienced. this show was definitely a highlight of the summer and one of the best concerts I have attended so far this year.