cruxshadows at the knitting factory

Last night, Paul and I went to the Knitting Factory to see the Cruxshadows. It was a cybergoth evening, with a couple of other power noise/synth bands opening. Specifically, Dancing Ferret artists Ego Likeness, and fellow Canadian Ayria.

However, although I don’t mind Ego Likeness, I’m not a huge fan, and I saw Ayria at Bats Day last summer, so we only just showed up in time for the headlining band. Who were supposed to go on at 10:30 and actually started on time. We walked into a venue that actually had breathing room (unlike the Covenant show in October, when it was packed solid) and I was confused. I heard Cruxshadows, but all I saw was a handful of hot cybergoth girls on stage, and I was wondering if Ayria had acquired a coterie. Then I realized that Ayria would never have a live violinist, and I spotted Rogue, in the audience, singing into a headset, and realized that this was indeed the band we had come to see.

Let me back up for those of you who are not familiar with the band in question. The Cruxshadows are a hybrid of romantigoth and cybergoth, a noise/EBM band with a live, Celtic influenced violinist, and lyrics that reference classical mythology. Hence, dark music, drum machines, and a layer of classical over it that makes them popular with a wide range of goths. The sound has been spun off and influential on other bands – I think of The Last Dance as being in the same family of goth music as the Cruxshadows. But it works, and it’s actually unique, and I like it a lot. It doesn’t stop me from mocking the live show, like when Rogue put on cyber goggles, and I turned to Paul and yelled, “ZE GOGGLES, ZEY DO NOZZING!”, but I love the overlay of fiddle over the cyber.

And it’s a good live show. The band has dancers, which I have actually never ever seen in a live goth band. They were singer-dancers, in headsets, which combined with the male lead singer’s, made it look like the antithesis of a stadium show. I associate those headsets with, say, a JT or a Britney, and this strange show, in a small dark club in Hollywood, was what I imagine fans of those shows would picture a concert in Hell as being like. It gave Rogue the freedom to leap in and out of the audience though, and to stomp on stage, and grab hands, and motion for the crowd to move. And he did a good job of it, and was obviously happy (if exhausted) to be singing. I can only imagine what it would be like to tour like that, in buses and on low budgets, for fifteen years, and to have to take strength from the devotion and enjoyment of the fans that come out to small dark clubs – but this band thrives on exactly that. And while I’m not big on goth cheerleader dancing at a show, the violinist was as active as the singer in showing off, in dramatizing her notes and playing, on emphasizing her parts in the music. They were into it.

A lot of the songs were off the new album, which I didn’t even know was coming out. I knew that the new single (“Sophia”) had made it to #7 on the Billboard Hot Singles, and actually made it to #1 on the Hot Dance Singles chart, but I didn’t really register that there was a whole new CD. There were a handful of classics, especially at the encore. After playing most of the new album, and a few tracks off “Ethernaut”, the encore was “Dragonfly”, and “Marilyn, My Bitterness”. And I admit, this was another part of the show I wasn’t crazy about, where Rogue started pulling fans onstage during the guitar solo. Suddenly, all these teenagers were up on stage, and at the end, they were dancing and singing along, and all I could think of was School of Rock or some other heartwarming show. Again, a heartwarming show set in someone’s idea of Hell, but seeing the lead singer with his arms around fans who clearly adored him, swaying back and forth and happily singing “MARILYN, MY BITTERNESS” at the top of their lungs, was just a little too surreal – and we left before the rush to get out was too bad.

So that was it – first concert of 2007. Here’s hoping there’s many more this year to follow.

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