Combichrist Still Doesn't Give a Damn

Combichrist played Club Red last night.
Combichrist played Club Red last night.
Warren Whitmore

No fucks were given at last night's Combichrist show -- but none were needed.

The self-described "aggrotech" band Combichrist stopped in Mesa last night, performing at Club Red with opening acts Davey Suicide, William Control, and Darksiderz.

About 300 black-shirted fans filled the venue's east stage area.

I hadn't really listened to Combichrist since their 2007 album Everybody Hates You in high school, and ironically, I came back to them as part of their "The We Love You Tour," which is in support of their 2014 album We Love You.

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Their music makes me think of what I assume is playing in the background at some German BDSM club, but maybe that's just me.

I entered as the last opener, Darksiderz took to the stage, opening with a mash-up of AFI's "Miss Murder" and "Personal Jesus" -- I dug it. The first 20 minutes or so of his set was pretty rock-heavy, with a subliminal electronic groove maintaining the tempo and bridging the mash-ups together. With a red strip of make-up painted across his eyes, and long black hair hanging down over the turntables, Darksiderz would frequently stand up on his tables and put his hands up in attempt to get the somewhat aloof crowd motivated to move. Darksiderz's rock-heavy set didn't last long, as he dove into a full-on electronic hardcore sound for the remainder of the set.

When he was finished, almost immediately the stage went dark, as haunted-house sounding music and vocals anticipated the start of their set. The clank of chains on clothes could be heard by a trotting passerby, trying to get into the pit before they came on.

Out of nowhere, the stage went from black, to colored red and filled with fog, as lead singer Andy LaPlegua (who was also the lead singer of Icon of Coil) bursted out from the dark in a sleeveless hoodie and face paint (reminiscent of Heath Ledger's rendition of the Joker) with a metal shriek.

Live shows are always better when the entire band commits 110 percent, and goes balls-out -- and Combichrist definitely delivered.

Bassist Abbey Nex came out shredding in over-the-knee ripped stockings, adding femininity to the performance.

The drummer, Joe Letz, came out wearing a tutu, pouring his water bottle on his drum set.

Guitarist Eric 13 wore full white face make-up with black designs.

Keyboardist Z. Marr came out headbanging to the point that I was concerned about whiplash.

The band put on a theatrical performance. The drummer attempted to throw his drum sticks at one point, dropped them, then kicked his drum set over (not once, but twice). The lead singer would laugh to the crowd, make maniacal facial expressions, and pour water over the stage, some of the band members were chugging beers, the guitarist was playing with a drum stick instead of a pick at one point -- this all over a loud distinct Combichrist industrial beat, screaming vocals and flashing lights.

The theatrics had me wondering, "Are these people legitimately crazy, or is this a show?" Perhaps a bit of both. While I think their image is 100 percent honest, and who they are, they are professionals who know how to entertain a crowd.

Regardless of how crazy things got on stage, the sound quality of the vocals and instruments was up to par -- with the exception of losing the lead mic sound for about five minutes during the show -- it's one of the few shows I've been to where I think their live sound is better than their recorded sound. Listening to Combichrist at home does not do this band justice -- you've got to see them live.

Combichrist played most of the crowd favorites from their new album like "Maggots at the Party" and older favorites like "Shut Up And Swallow." When the mic cut out for a few minutes during the set, it came back on right as LaPlegua was screaming "Shut Up And Swallow" -- classic.

The crowd had somewhat of a low energy at first, but by halfway through the set people were fist-pumping, cheering and banging their heads around like bobble-heads.

Sometimes bands don't give fucks, when fucks are needed, but this band proved that they can do basically whatever they want, and not have to sacrifice a good show for it.

Visit the next page for Critic's Notebook.  

Critic's Notebook Last Night: Combichrist at Club Red

The Crowd: Black clothes and tattoos, with the occasional "normal looking" closet freak.

Overheard in the Crowd: " I used to rip my tongue all the time" -- in a conversation about piercings.

Personal Bias: Their music is somewhat nostalgic to me. I hadn't listened to them in along time prior to doing research for this article. I was surprisingly really into their whole performance. While I tend to stick to more bubbly, dirty dance music -- I really dug the freak-factor of this.

Kudos: I want to give a shout out to the staff; everyone I encountered was helpful and personable.

Correction: This article originally listed incorrect bands opening for Combichrist. This article also misidentified Darksiderz in the sixth paragraph of the story, and it has been fixed.

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Club Red

1308 W. University Dr.
Mesa, AZ 85201


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