Sunday, September 27, 2015

Front-242/Youth Code/High-Functioning Flesh, September 27, 2015 at Avalon

My social life during college almost completely revolved around a night or two a week at Club Metro in Rubidoux, just outside of Riverside, rarely meeting girls, having our first drinks, and discovering a lot of music. We never went on the heavy goth/industrial nights, not as much as Corey did, but the usual KROQ nights early in the week would mix in the dark but  more accessible stuff that didn't get on the radio and that was my first exposure to a lot of that stuff. I felt a kinship with the goth scene, even if I didn't dress the part (though my concert shirts and Converses made me stand out from them just as they tried to stand out from normal folk, so maybe we were just understood each other). For the industrial stuff I usually didn't go past Nine Inch Nails but I gained a familiarity with some of the rest and while I came to like a lot of it, some I just didn't come around on. And when we didn't completely dig something it became a mark and Corey, who was immersed in the scene and everything in it, became the easiest one. The track we ridiculed most was the one with "FIRST YOU LOCK THE TARGET", which was ridiculous to us that someone would put those words to coarse, pre-programmed Euro-junk. I don't recall dancing (or what one might charitably call "dancing") to it, but maybe. Maybe I would have come around to it by being around it longer (or getting with a girl who was into it) but I let it stand knowing it was Front-242 and that it was Corey's thing. Years later, long after Metro had closed (which was also years after I'd been there), Front-242 were (still?) a touring entity (or making for a reunion) and they came to the States. As if anyone had to ask, Corey was in, even coming up from San Diego for it. As this was in a line of Corey's high hopes with an extra ticket, I said I'd take it, mostly for an evening to hang out with Corey. I'd also only been to what was once the Palace a scant few times since it had morphed into Avalon, if there was even a reason for that. It wasn't a concert venue like it used to be (or at all), as they probably discovered they pulled more cash by being a dance club, though not for any scene I would go anywhere near (and maybe still not even if I were in that age-range). Apparently they would accommodate the occasional band, though it probably didn't hurt that they could be considered a dance thing (in some world, if not this one) and that it was on a Sunday, which is probably usually dead for a club. I hadn't been near a goth scene in years -- the last was maybe Club Perversion those few times (and however long ago that was) -- and had rarely of late been out for a night in Hollywood save for straight to the Fonda, but it wasn't too dissimilar than it used to be, if the crowd was considerably older, and wider, and daddier or mommier, and their make-up choices were even more ill-advised than they were 20 years ago. I had covered my bets and dressed in black anyway. Corey doesn't go to a lot of shows so he tries to get there in the time it says on the ticket, as if the headliners would deign to go on anywhere near that time (says the guy who thought he could time Morrissey). But it gave us plenty of time to hang out and catch up, and for Corey to search for former Metro-rats and for me to people-watch (since every once in a while the look actually works). Youth Code and High-Functioning Flesh opened, and we heard a snippet enough to catch the one that was only a few generations away from a Euro-goth/industrial band that I didn't know in the first place and the other sounded like NIN (as if any of them wouldn't). Seeing them could have been adventurous but Corey, being unfamiliar with them (they were never played at Mero), was content to hang outside (there's a joke there about vampires but I'll skip it). Closer to midnight it was time for Front-242, bringing the same electronica that seems as ridiculous as DJs passing off canned beats that could have been programmed weeks ago and the show performed by hitting PLAY. The music actually wasn't bad -- there's a reason these guys are respected as pioneers in their field -- though if anything was a facsimile of an original or echoes of remixes, it was lost to me. Also nothing I would dance to anymore (as if I could pick it up back in the day anyway) but I was cool to be part of the crowd that were actually there for the performance. The stage could have used more of a visual component, except for some abstract image shot up on a screen, since the focus -- the two guys in front singing/growling/barking -- were old enough to not only be parents like most of the audience but probably more like grandparents (and perhaps beyond). Paunches, jowls, and all, they at least made the effort. If they were going to be out on stage, they couldn't hide it (especially since they hadn't established the use of helmets from the beginning). Maybe it's not even important how they look, and it was enough respect for them to not care how they'd aged, but there was a time when guys that old playing some version of rock music -- and not even playing live instruments at that -- would have been laughed if not forced off a stage (much less trusted). But as it was, it was about the music and the respect and, presumably, saying that had seem them, nowhere near their height but before they became dust. It was also enough to know I wasn't carrying any lingering remnants of Metro, outside of the music I picked up and followed, wine coolers and Midori sours, and friends that would have worn eye-liner so you could have on a comfortable Offspring T-shirt (since it was 1993).

Front-242's set-list:
"Body to Body"
"Take One"
"W.Y.H.I.W.Y.G." (no break before next)
"Master Hit"
"Triple X Girlfriend"
"Quite Unusual"
"No Shuffle"
"Commando Mix"
"Im Rhythmus bleiben"
"Welcome to Paradise"

"Tragedy >For You<"
"Punish Your Machine"