with Ultraviolence, Cubanate at The Rat
by Scott Hefflon
Taking the stage first was solo performance artist Johnny Violent, playing material from the Ultraviolence release Psychodrama. Donning dark sunglasses and short, spiky hair, Johnny let the strobe light freeze-frame his manic figure as the techno-opera began to wind its twisted tale. Trapped behind a row of keyboards, Johnny shook and shuddered and beat the piss out of his equipment as the B.P.M.s revved like a “speed kills, but who’s dying” psycho driver.
Without a break, or 1-2-3-4 to break the slam marathon, the beats pulsed, the loops looped, and the pre-recorded vocals told of love, hate, emptiness, abuse, addiction and, unfortunately, salvation. Like the concept album, perhaps the first techno record to actually attempt a storyline, the show blasted the interaction of Jessica and Hitman, the scumbag, pimp, and God.
Truthfully, I have no fucking clue what Mr. Violent actually does on stage besides dance, hit things, and look intense. Perhaps I’m just mentally locked into the archaic paradigm of under-nourished musicians leaping around with electric guitars. Fuck it, it’s aggressive and loud and drew an impressive assortment of freaks. After sniffing out the teeny bop rave scene with its barely-pubescent culture club, I was thrilled to rub elbows with everyone from Pretentious Art Fuckers (or Fags, if you still haven’t realized that practically all hipsters at least claim to be bisexual by now) to punks to long-hairs to Goths to college alternadorks to suits to the usual club filth known (mostly to themselves) as scenesters. All dressed to impress in their genre-specific finery.
Cubanate is one band that’s hard to ignore. They orbit nearer the standard live rock arrangement: Two guitarists (Jackson/Charvel-style), percussionist, one singer. In theory, there must be a computerhead somewhere triggering the wild and wacky world of sound in the background, but it’s either automated, or the loop meister was in my barroom blind spot. Vocalist Marc Heal is similar to a psycho queen techno-Lemmy with a frog in his throat. That’s good, by the way. While his hoarse presentation is kinda limited in range, it is certainly effective, especially live. Cubanate’s tours with heavy bands such as Carcass have brought electronic mayhem to the attention of Deathheads all over Europe, whether they like it or not. Marc is, shall we say, confrontational, both in the songs and out. My favorite quote, screamed in a glorious I’m-taking-a-really-big-shit voice was, “I’m a commie, I’m a queer, I’m a fucking junkie – who the fuck are you?”
And then Zia played. I guess they went funk pop. I’m going to need more exposure to see if I like the new style. To be fair, it seems much of the crowd was totally into it. Many of us bailed to the upstairs bar to hear the Specials on the jukebox.