Dreaming of an electronic Xmas

Scott Mick



I have been away from the local electronic music scene for a number of years, because, well, life happens. Marriage happened; Employment happened and priorities started to revolve more around being responsible rather than having fun.

But recently, I have been getting out alot more, often to those same bars and clubs I had once frequented every weekend.

One of my favorite kinds of music is electronic. I got started in the early 80's with Kraftwork, Wire, Depeche Mode, Gary Numan etc.

Electronic pop, synth pop, and Industrial as it is now referred to as, has made a definite dent in the music industry. There are many bands and artists that will never get a second of airplay but who are far better than most of the re-done re-hashed slop that fills our airwaves these days. The Pearl Jamming of the music industry is getting worse, but something new is on the horizon. Well maybe not so much as new, just underrated and under played.

There is a booming electronic movement here in Detroit. There are clubs to see outstanding national and local acts play, and also those where you can just dance and take in the visions and versions of Techno, electronic, gothic, industrial, cyber-punk and synth pop.

Having been away from the electronic music scene for a number of years, most of the local acts I was a devout follower of have since met their Spinal Tapish demises.

But there is one band in the industrial category which has lingered longer than most: the band now known as Firewerk. I've had the opportunity to see each incarnation and offspring from its different lives. In the mid 80's they were known as Nemesis, a Bauhaus like Goth band which showed great potential at the time and that evolved into Noc Barrage, a heavy industrial noise band, which then sprang into many different directions forming (Caelum Bliss) with the haunting vocals of Malissa Emily, (BatteryAcid) a stomp-ish industrial percussion driven band, and (DeathGirl.com) another Malissa Emily Tony Hamera project, all great under appreciated bands. Its core has now reunited to form Firewerk-- a really strong, tight industrial unit that forces you to pay absolute attention.

With energy and intensity that will leave the average fan screaming for more, or completely exhausted just watching John Cross, Al Bongiorno, and Tony Hamera tear it up on stage. They are a band destined for success and if anyone has paid their dues, they definitely have. If you get the chance to see them live, you won't be disappointed. Firewerk is a Detroit institution that music is just catching up to. John Cross is a natural on stage, both vocally and visually he gives it his all. And Firewerk guitarist/ programmer Tony Hamera is also a Detroit institution in his own right both producing and playing music just on the edge of something great.

Back in May I had the opportunity to take in a show at Labyrinth. On the bill was Assemblage 23, Back and to the Left, and Electrophile.

Located on Cass at the end of the infamous corridor is Labrynth, daunting and surrounded by several abandoned buildings. But once you enter, the atmosphere engulfs you. Down the dark stair case to the ticket booth, you are forced to the right where it opens to a small yet comfortable venue. All dark with lounging patrons, and all the different stereotypes of electronica lovers: Goth kids, Raver kids, industrial and electronic music fans. Then there was me: non-descript and having a good time. I felt right in my element.

It might seem odd but the smell of the smoke machine and the general smell of the venue turns on a switch in my head sparking memories of the good old days when I would go to catch a Skinhorse, or Lab Animals show or see Shock Therapy play. Yup, the good old days.

This night, the good old days were back.

The first band on stage was Electrophile. They shoved their stage presence at you, just daring you to watch. I came for for the headliner, but I couldn't tear myself away from them. The band and its front man really impressed me. They had something that other bands I had seen recently really didn't have, a strong stage presence.

Not only does this band deserve a serious look from a major label, they may well be what gives Detroit's electronica/goth/rock artists another attempt at breakthrough in the bogged down airwaves of what radio has become.

Opening for A-23 a premier force in Synth Pop was a real open door for Electrophile, and gave them exposure to a lot of people who normally wouldn't get the opportunity to experience them.

What they need now is a spot on a large scale festival of some sort to get the crowd they deserve.

Well that's just two acts out of many in this hot spot for real talent. To help out in the info department, check out this website--www.darqueproductions.com

It gives you what's happening and where to see it, and links to other sites for venues artists and labels. And please write in, letting me know of other electronic acts who deserve attention. I've been away far too long.

Send comments to DetroitRecord@yahoo.com.

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