Those who know me, know that Godflesh was a musical game changer for me. The first time I heard the album Streetcleaner in good old 1989 (yes I am aware of how that dates me), I was completely floored by it and I haven’t been the same since. Unfortunately I was never able to see them live until they played the Maryland Deathfest in 2012 (photos here) and needless to say, it was one of the best experiences of my life, so when this show was originally announced (rescheduled from October), there was no way in hell that I was going to miss it.
Pharmakon, a one woman power electronic/industrial incursion from New York, was first up for the night and wasted no time in proving her place on this bill. It quickly became an in your face kind of primal explosion of anger and emotion as she jumped off the stage with a microphone, prowled through the crowd as if looking for a victim, and screamed in the faces of the audience. Although her set was sadly cut short due to some technical difficulties, she left her mark on the crowd and after she completed her attack. I heard people describe it as “terrifying, but in a good way,” “truly emotional,” and “very confrontational.” A friend of mine said that she put most metal bands to shame with the intensity of her performance. I would have to agree with that statement.
Cut Hands is William Bennett, originator and noise legend from Whitehouse, a band formed in 1980 known for its controversial lyrics and imagery. Cut Hands is a mix of electronics, tribal beats and blindingly fast paced visuals all of which combine to create a sort of dance-like or trance inducing state. The performance seemed to be highly polarizing amongst the crowd with some screaming for more and bopping around the floor, while others were audibly annoyed after 15 minutes of the onslaught of erratic visuals and repetitive beats. For those only there to see the headliner, it may have been a 45 minute endurance test but there were many that absolutely loved every second of it.
The anticipation was palpable and after a slightly longer than expected changeover, Justin and Ben walked onto the stage, picked up their instruments and checked the tuning. When Justin turned on his laptop, I saw the setlist, which only differed slightly from the Maryland Deathfest one (no problems there), although at the top was Love is a Dog from Hell which ended up being the encore and not the first song. Waiting, waiting… It was only maybe 10 seconds from there that Justin went to the microphone and said to the powers that be, “video,” but for me it seemed like 10 minutes. And then, boom, first song of the night was Like Rats and the entire place threw their fists in the air to scream along “You breed, Like Rats!” The place went nuts. Many people in attendance had never gotten to see them previous to this night and I can imagine they felt much as I did at MDF. There just isn’t much better than that. The sound for them was nothing short of impeccable and they were not plagued with the video and technical issues they had at MDF. Every single song was absolutely crushing and dead on. 4 years ago if you were to tell me I was going to be able to see and photograph Godflesh, I would have told you only in my dreams. Now I just feel fortunate I could do it twice. Nothing really compares to seeing them live. And if you were there, you know exactly what I am talking about.