Live Review: Combichrist Masquerade May 11, 2014

Photo credit: Warren Whitmore. Courtesy of Reybee Productions.

Photo credit: Warren Whitmore. Courtesy of Reybee Productions.

Combichrist Masquerade Atlanta May 11

 

By Alex Moore

A symphonic rendition of fan-favorite “What the Fuck is Wrong With You?” blared over the Masquerade’s PA system as hometown heroes and industrial legends Combichrist returned to the Masquerade stage for the final performance of the We Love You Tour on May 11. The epitaph of the tour felt fully realized in the midst of the group’s encore, as the band jumped into the crowd offering hugs, high-fives and even (temporarily) drummer Joe Letz’s tom-tom drums while front man Andy LaPlegua destroyed the drum kit for the fifth time. While you cannot accuse LaPlegua and company of being subtle with tracks like “Shut up and Swallow”, the outfit put on a truly stunning performance and played with well-mixed aggression and genuine appreciation for the crowd.

 

Opening with “We Were Made to Love You” from We Love You, which was released in March through Metropolis records, Combichrist’s set was a blurry mixture of surprisingly catchy electronic dance music and brash industrial metal. Much of the set focused on Love, which was written solely by Andy LaPlegua, though the record’s content is varied enough that no one minded. Whereas the album takes the traditionally techno-heavy sounds prevalent in much of Combichrist’s back catalog, the live mix is a different animal entirely. Though electronics still played a key element in the mix, Abby Nex’s guitar was far more audible than on the group’s studio work, resulting in a sound that seemed more in line with Ministry than Skrillex.

 

It seemed that the group spent more time on the barrier interacting with the audience than on the stage itself. LaPlegua’s first interactions on stage weren’t with his band, for instance, as the front man instead jumped straight onto the barrier, shaking hands with the eagerly awaiting crowd — a move that foreshadowed the remainder of the evening.

 

Those who stuck around after Combichrist’s initial set were rewarded with a strange but humorous encore, as the group was joined on stage by hip-hop group Turquoise Jeep to perform the rap outfit’s pirate track, “Treat me Like a Pirate.” Each band from The We Love You Tour joined the rappers on stage — complete with pirate attire — to offer their support and toss gifts into the crowd. Though the audience seemed stunned and confused at first, they ate up every second and jumped along.

 

After witnessing Combichrist at Masquerade’s elaborate and spectacular hometown set, there seems to be — at least initially — a disconnect of sorts between the aggressive music and upbeat personalities behind the brutality. While one would expect a man who penned such tracks as “Throat Full of Glass” and “Everyday is War” to be an angry individual, Andy LaPlegua is far from the rage-filled person his music suggests. In fact, by the end of the set, tears of gratitude were visible in LaPlegua’s eyes as he and his band thanked the crowd for their support. “I’m so very happy to call this my home,” exclaimed a beaming LaPlegua, referring to his home base of Atlanta. Eventually Combichrist concluded its special extended set with a reprise of “We Were Made to Love You,” and though the audience chanted along with the track’s refrain of, “Hate/Dishonor/Love/Destroy,” only the third element, love, seemed present.

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