Last Friday night I threw and event in Brooklyn at the Cameo Gallery. I (The Horrorist) performed and I also booked the Belgian EBM band Vomito Negro, pioneering LA Synthpunk band Nervous Gender and local band Love Pig. I also had DJs Andi, Blackwidow and Reade Truth. Lastly, I had a merchandise and vinyl collectable’s table set up and run by Athan Maroulis. Athan was in the bands Executive Slacks, Spahn Ranch and currently Nior. He also worked at Metropolis Records and has the best record booth at the Brooklyn Record Flea each year so he knew what to bring!
While I perform live and DJ myself all the time this is only the 4th event I have ever done myself. The first two were in the early 2000s. One at CBGBs which got a lot of press for being one of the first techno parties at the legendary spot. The other was at a venue called Club Fun in Chinatown. The event at Fun was amazing because all 4 walls were full video screens. The third event was just this summer in Berlin. It was an EBM DJ event called Blitzlicht. The event last week was the biggest and most ambitious I’ve done.
I wanted a small interesting venue with a good stage in Brooklyn. I live in Brooklyn now and it’s more interesting these days as far as nightlife than Manhattan. Cameo Gallery was perfect and Jify the owner was easy to work with. The size, stage, sound and backstage all met my needs. They are used to hosting many bands in a night. They had a great sound guy Brendan who helped us set up Vomito’s electronic drum kit, find Euro power adapters (last minute!) and batteries for my cordless mic. They also have a small restaurant attached to the venue and since it was raining it was easy for the bands to grab a bite without getting wet and disappearing. The cherry on top is that Cameo currently has a wonderful art installation on it’s ceiling. It’s a thousand white “spikes” hanging from above the stage and over the crowd. When they light it up either with a moving wave pattern or solid color it’s really over the top.
I’ve known DJ Blackwidow since the 90s. When I met her she was dating a friend of mine Eddie who worked for TVT Records. TVT distributed a techno label I did a few releases for (Mokum) and they also had recently purchased Wax Trax. Blackwidow threw her own events in Brooklyn and when I had a music studio on N. 4th & Berry she did a small goth/EBM event at Teddy’s Bar & Grill on the same block. At the time she asked me if I would DJ but back then I was purely just making music. Year’s later I performed a small show for her in Philadelphia. A friend who throws events here brought her up in conversation as someone to spin for this and it seemed perfect to give back a gig to her. She’s been to Wave Gotik Treffen more than once and dresses the part (let’s just say she looks goth!). I knew she would set the stage for the night esthetically. Incredibly she brought a purple laser with her and set it up! She played two great sets of classic EBM.
Bossa Nova Civic Club is a tiny bar and dancefloor in Bushwick, Brooklyn. It probably is the single reason people even started going to Bushwick for fun and making the area “cool”. It’s a mix of dealers, hipsters and good music. It has an 80s alphabet city bar vibe to it. One night I was there and a guy named Rogelio Ramos was performing live. There was only a few people in the club. He set up right on the dancefloor. A few synths and drum machines right directly on the on the floor. With a strobe light, microphone he sat on his knees and belted out a weird and amazing set. It was kinda like Soft Cell but not. I had to meet him and after a quick chat I discovered he called his music Love Pig. He had another band FBI Warning and with that band member they took the stage at Cameo. They had a Roland Juno-60, Roland SH-101 and MFB Tanzbar drum computer. Who brings such amazing equipment to a live show? Rogelio’s head was wrapped like a terrorist and FBI Warning played and amazing set of melodies and drum sequences. Rogelio belted out some hyper sexual lyrics and swayed back and forth in the same vein. They were amazing and I was so glad to put them in front of a packed crowd.
There is a movie from 1979 called Breaking Away. It’s about a young man in a small mid-west town so obsessed Italian bicycle racing that he speaks and pretends to be Italian. DJ Andi is like that but replace Italian bicycle racing with Belgian New Beat. She knows every record, every producer and practices DJing all day long. Not only is she obsessed with the genre and loves anything Belgian but inside this tiny genre she chooses specifically the New Beat with Egyptian melodies to go on and on about. Therefore, to know her you know the term “Begyptian”. This is all coming from a person who is so young she was listening to Hanson when the New Beat scene was alive in the 80s. She performed two meticulously perfect sets.
It was my turn. I won’t review myself but I will tell you I had so much fun on stage. I’ve made a lot of new friends in NY since I performed last here so it was great to let them see what I actually do. My current show is set up with a Roland TR-8 and Arturia Minibrute controlled by long time friend (and fellow Depeche 101 kid) Jay Serken. I control Ableton and of course vocal duties. The highlight of the show was when Matt Moran (Satronica) came on stage and sang Metal Man with me. I use a 500W light as a “prop” along with video in sync with the sequences. I’ve been working on a new album for a long time now. I feel like I’ve done 2-3 new albums already and have thrown them away. I want the new album to be very “EBM” but as an American it’s not an easy task so lots of finished songs are going into the garbage bin. I was pleased to here cheers after I did a live version of DAF’s Der Mussolini. In fact the main reason for perform it was to test the sounds in the track!
Speaking of EBM let’s talk about the band who performed who helped create the genre! Vomito Negro took the stage around midnight. They had never performed in NYC before. Gin Devo on vocals. Sven Kadanza on electronic drums. I whole heartedly believe we are on the cusp of a lot of new genre specific music that is as good or better than the 80s stuff it tries to be. Vomito Negro has already started that trend. Earlier this year I was listening to a DJ set on Mixcloud and a song played. It sounded familiar yet new. I had to know what it was. After some research I discovered it was a new song from Vomito Negro called Obsession. I couldn’t believe it. Soon I found another new track by Vomito called Enemy of the State. And there it was: A new EBM song as good as or better than any old one. It’s been a long time waiting for something like that. There show was dark. Gin belted out track after track while Sven stood aggressively pounding the kit. They rarely looked at each other. True EBM in NYC.
Let’s re-write history. We need to change the record books. Nervous Gender should be known as large a pioneering band such as Kraftwerk or Throbbing Gristle. They were making and performing with synthesizers synthpunk music starting in 1978! Not only were they first they were wicked. Like most new music I find I found them on Youtube. I was doing my usual playing and clicking and a song came on called Cardinal Newman. Since that day I must have played that song a thousand times. They never once performed live outside of California… until last Friday. This is a true punk band yet they all love all the same pure electronic music as I do. In the hotel they were playing DAF and using Moog iPad synth apps. The band had a member die and one member Michael had a stroke and has to sit on stage during the performance. Yet being around for a while for this band didn’t mean they needed special treatment. In fact their kind demeanors hid that once they got on stage they were there to blow everyone away (and they did). Edward Stapleton’s vocals are truly punk. He’s Irish and was raised in a strict religious school full with god and beatings and oh boy can you hear it. Joe Zinnato on synth and vocals backs up Edwards screams and at one point switched places with Edward as lead singer. Tammy Fraser stood on synth actually reading musical notes on paper! Michael who I afore mentioned sat at a small table controlling the computer. At the soundcheck I joked to a friend that he looked like he was going to do all our accounting. I ate my words because on stage the accountant look turned to full on super villain. Hunched over the table Michael sat with one eye partially closed, a light coming up from below surrounding my three other punk maniacs screaming. Everyone at Cameo was seriously blown away.
To close out the night Reade Truth DJed. Having Reade DJ and end the show brought things full circle for me. Around 1987 my parents got divorced and my mother got a new boyfriend Doug. Every Friday Doug would give me $100 so my brother and I could go record shopping. I never thought about it until recently but now I realize it was to get us out of the house so they could get it on! I guess they did get it on quite a bit because by the time I stopped collecting records around 1992 I had over 5,000. A good portion of those records I bought at Vinylmania, Record Runner, Discorama, St. Mark’s Sounds, Tower and Groove. Reade worked at Groove and recommended a lot of what I bought. His own vinyl collection is around 10,000. He still plays music from back then that I have to run up to the DJ booth to ask what it was. In fact even on Friday I did just that. No one else could have had that last slot of the night.
I will say it was a lot of work. Everyone including myself, Cameo, the bands and hotel gave a discount and worked extra hard to make the event free. The love of music. To see the full set of photos including some press about the show: click here
“Chesler performed as The Horrorist during the December 5th show, delivering a blistering set of pounding, aggro industrial.” – The Brad Lebeau Company Inc
For more info: facebook.com/events/640798396029276