Industrial is a tough genre for newer artists to emerge from and become truly successful in, but the potty-mouthed misogynists in Combichrist found the secret for doing just that: Go metal.
The towering brick walls of Nile Theater provided both excellent acoustics and a fitting environment to contain the aural assault of twin drum kits, throbbing bass, and the maniacal screams of frontman Andy LaPlegua.
While the band may have moved to a more conventional sound, this was the first time they came through the Valley and acted the part convincingly. Gone were the days of LaPlegua singing over samples in his music and relying entirely on silly grins and tongue wagging to sell the "craziness" of his on-stage persona.
Although he did utilize the latter of these techniques with some frequency, he wasn't as comically heavy handed with it as he has been in the past, and the rest of the band did a great job joining him in a relatively impressive display of seasoned showmanship.
In the past, the singer has seemed more enamored with himself than his fans are, and it was refreshing to see him display a little more maturity this time around. There is no doubt that touring with Rammstein in America and Europe for the last couple years has gone a long way towards teaching LaPlegua that being your own biggest groupie doesn't help your credibility.
One thing that did help their credibility was their choice to bring Abbey Nex (formerly of Psyclon Nine) along with them to play guitar. Taller than most professional basketball players and with the face of a goblin beauty queen, Nex looks like the kind of guy who could teach Freddy Krueger a thing or two about how to kill children in their nightmares.
It's promising to see LaPlegua's band in any way associated with Psyclon Nine, since that project lead the way in making a shift from industrial to metal and did so far more naturally than Combichrist, and for what appeared to be artistic rather than commercial reasons.
Although Combichrist have perfected their stage presence, it's unfortunate that their lyrics so frequently detract from any credibility created by their showmanship. While their most recent singles Never Surrender and Throat Full Of Glass are both mature, well-crafted songs that work really well live, the band's potential is seriously hindered by a cornucopia of cringe-worthy songs with titles like Shut Up And Swallow, Fuckmachine, and Give Head If You Got It.
I enjoy macho bullshit as much as the next guy (okay, maybe a little bit more than the next guy), but I can only watch a singer repeatedly scream "we need bitches like you" or "you are a filthy slut" at the same girls in the audience so many times before the awkwardness becomes overwhelming.
LaPlegua must be compensating for something.
In the end, I still have hope for Combichrist. Their 2005 release, Everybody Hates You, was a contemporary industrial masterpiece, and although that album was profane in its own ways, the vulgarity was largely fun, clever, and a compliment to musical compositions that were easily the best that Combichrist has produced.
Hopefully, LaPlegua recovers from whatever horrible trauma caused him to hate women so much, and when his band comes back to the Valley, he uses his newfound maturity to pick a better set list.
Last Night: Combichrist at Nile Theater
The Crowd: The ratio of slender, attractive young ladies to nerdy white guys wearing button- down shirts with dragons on them was better than usual. Shout out to the girl with the limp.
Overheard In The Crowd: "I'm so glad I don't have to go to some creepy fetish event to see these guys."
Personal Bias: I learned all I need to know about dating from Combichrist's song Without Emotions.