MACABRE MUSIC: COMBICHRIST LIVE IN TORONTO

Combichrist's Andy LaPlegua

Is Combichrist’s Andy LaPlegua the new Trent Reznor? With the Nine Inch Nails mastermind busy scoring A-list Hollywood films (The Social Network) and making music with his (now pregnant) wife (How To Destroy Angels) instead of packing stadiums full of freaks and rivetheads, there’s a space in the underground marketplace for a charismatic and energetic performer like LaPlegua.

Not that Combichrist is NIN. Where Reznor took the tropes of industrial and evolved them via classical training and a knack for pop melody, the Norwegian-born LaPlegua has remained firmly entrenched in the electro-industrial scene, continuing to make aggressive music aimed at the dance floor. It’s a strategy which has served him well, as last night’s brilliant show at Toronto’s Phoenix Concert Theatre demonstrated.

LaPlegua was in town to support Combichrist’s fifth studio album, Making Monsters. Backed by two drummers and a keyboardist, the black-gloved singer made up for his bandmates’ relative immobility by stalking the stage, exhorting the assembled to ever greater acts of devotion. Indeed, I’ve rarely attended a Toronto show where people actually danced. Credit that to LaPlegua’s keen sense of beat (two drummers, remember) and talent for a memorable chorus.

The band’s hour-long set did not skimp on new material, with Monsters’ “Just Like Me,” “Fuckmachine,” “Slave to Machine” and “Never Surrender” featured prominently. But LaPlegua made sure to play the dance floor fillers industrial DJs everywhere rely on every weekend to get the pity party started. Hence the fist pumping and slam dancing which greeted the likes of “Electrohead,” “Get Your Body Beat,” “Blut Royale” (played mid-set, it was during this song that the crowd’s B.O. became noticeable), and the one-two punch of encores “Fuck That Shit” and “This Shit Will Fuck You Up.”

Having honed their act during four months of European touring with Rammstein, LaPlegua is obviously grooming his band for larger stages. Buff, blonde and in good voice, the heavily tattooed frontman displayed enough charisma and, oddly, charm to fill stadiums. Whether or not he can come up with a crossover hit like NIN’s “Closer,” which expanded that band’s audience from Goths and freaks to strippers and co-eds, remains to be seen. LaPlegua’s music remains obscene by radio standards (ahem, “Fuckmachine”). but the obvious techno influences could mean Combichrist is just a remix away from NIN-level stardom.

Andy LaPlegua will no doubt be ready when called.

Rating: 5/5

One Response to “MACABRE MUSIC: COMBICHRIST LIVE IN TORONTO”

  1. Excellent work, thanks for the report. Andy has major style, a necessity in this biz, though I agree the music would have to be toned down for the mainstream, and I don’t know if thats in his program. Everyone wants more money, but Laplegua (The Plague?) has always held the music closer than most, its what he lives for, I don’t know if mainstream stardom is what he is after. In fact, I hope not, I hope he holds out and makes independent promotion work for himself and his band, because whoever taps that initially, really taps it, will blast way beyond the so-called mainstream and there will be large chunks of all media available, there will be new leaders and movers and shakers, very quickly too, a tsunami if you will, as the status quo unravels. I can’t wait. Making fucking monsters indeed. I see this possibility with Combichrist and the bands they promote and play with. Check my blog out over at combichrist.com if you get a chance, lets work together…..b

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