I first came to Cleveland in 2008, I didnt make it but a year and never thought I would call it home. Flashforward to now and I have lived here six years and it has become my home. I can honestly say that I love this town and many people often ask why. The food scene in this town is pretty amazing. In all the places I have been, Cleveland makes being a vegetarian easy and that isnt even counting the vast assortment of vegetarian restaurants that are here. That is a topic for another blog.
I have, previously, written about one of my favorite bands, The Birthday Massacre, coming to Cleveland and following their tour. They are not the only concerts to book venues at Cleveland. Just before Covid closed everything down, the Genitorturers were slated to perform here. Due to issues with the host venue, Genitorturers arrived in town to see that they had no place to play.
Cleveland is also an amazing place for music and live performances. Cleveland has turned out some pretty influential bands, throughout the various music genres. Punk bands like Devo and The Cramps to industrial groups like Nine Inch Nail, Filter, and Mushroomhead have called Cleveland home. Groups like Social Distortion and the Dropkick Murphys always pack the venues they play. So it should be no real shock that so many big name, influential, and amazing groups stop here for a performance or two. In this post, we will cover three recent concerts that have been here and the bands that played them. Join me to discuss Psyclon Nine, KMFDM, and Aesthetic Perfection.
In 2009 in San Francisco, Psyclon Nine was born. They were known for their unique blending of electronic and industrial metal themes that classified them as Terror EBM. Terror EBM is known for melancholic atmospheres and a music style more akin to black metal. Today, Psyclon Nine is closer in style and lyrics to industrial metal but you can still hear a lot of their black metal stylings throughout their tracks.
Their beginnings started from two roommate, Marshall Goppert and Josef Heresy both heavily influenced by groups like KMFDM and Ministry, decided to create a band called Defkon Sodomy. The name didnt stick and they transitioned to the current name – Psyclon Nine. The story goes that the name PSYCLON NINE is an amalgamation of a gas called Zyklon b, hydrogen cyanide, and the number 9’s significance to Alester Crowley’s numerological writings. During this transition, the founding members became Heresy (Josef Heresy) Nero Bellum (Marshall Goppert). In 2003, Nero Bellum persuaded Marco Gruhn from NoiTekk records to sign Psyclon Nine to their label and shortly after they recorded their first album, Divine Infekt. In 2004, Bellum and Psyclon Nine left NoiTekk due to creative differences and signed with Metropolis. At that time they released the album I.N.R.I which featured what is now known as a more aggro-tech style.
For most of their career, Psyclon Nine has remained a band for the underground enthusiasts. That changed when they released We The Fallen, the bands first and only Billboard topping album. The band has seen many growing pains and changes to the roster. At present, Psyclon Nine consists of Nero Bellum – vocals, Rotny Ford – bass, Dante Phoenix – guitar, and Jon Siren – Drums. Earlier this year, Psyclon Nine returned to Cleveland for a show at Maple Grove Tavern. This tour heavily promoted their newest album, Less to Heaven, but had plenty from previous albums, Crwn Thy Frnicatr, Order of the Shadow: Act 1, and We the Fallen.
This was the first time that I had ever seen them live and usually seeing a band live, especially ones from electronic origins usually do not translate well to a touring band. With John SIren on drums, Dante Phoenix on guitar, and Rotny Ford on bass their sound was as amazing as it is on their albums. If you are a fan of black metal, industrial rock, aggrotech, or EBM then I highly suggest checking out Psyclon Nine on Spotify.
I first listened to KMFDM around 1995 which was eleven years after the band formed and had released seven albums. To date they have released 22 albums and have been a touring band since 1984 (that’s 34 years since math is hard).There are not many bands out there with that kind of stamina and no sign of slowing.
KMFDM found its start in Paris, France on February 1984 as a performance art project between Sascha Konietzko and the German painter Udo Sturm. Their first show was Sturm on synthesizer, Sascha on bass, and four Pois coal miners, found at a bordello, pounding on the foundations of the building they were playing in. If you are wondering, KMFDM stands for Kein Mehrheit Fur Die Mitlied and roughly translates to “no pity for the majority.” The founding member of Pig advised Sascha to just go with KMFDM, as the whole name was too hard to pronounce. Many has suggested, over the years, that the name actually stands for ” Kill Mother-Fucking Depeche Mode,” mainly due to the band using that line in many of their songs and as recently as the album Kunst.
KMFDM came to America from the urgings of the Wax Trax! Founders, Jim Nash and Dannie Flesher. They signed KMFDM to release their album Naive. That album featured a remixed track Naive that landed at #21 on Billboard’s Dance/Club chart in March 1991. At the time Sascha moved to Chicago and was quoted saying “We came from Germany and we all had to have day jobs and work our asses off to afford to be KMFDM and all of a sudden we’re in the states and we’re selling thousands of thousands of fucking records.” To say the least, American helped them reach the acclaim they now have. A huge thanks goes out to Nash and Flesher for urging them to come to America and be a part of our music scene.
KMFDM’s music as been described as industrial, electro-industrial, techno-industrial and more. Combined with Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, Revolting Cocks, and Skinny Puppy, they became the pioneers of industrial music in America. Sascha, himself, has described the band as industrial-alternative-electronic-crossover-rocke and danceabilly. The band is known for drawing a heavy influence to bucking the system. Many of their songs talk about resistance to terrorism, violence, oppression, censorship, and war. Many of their more recent songs have included samples of former presidents like George W, Bush and Donald Trump. If KMFDM wants to leave you with one message, it would be this… Think for Yourself and Don’t Believe the Bullshit.
Seeing KMFDM live was a bucket list item for me and in October of this year (2022) I was able to see them at the Agora. Give them a listen on Spotify and if you have a chance to see them live, don’t hesitate, get those tickets!!!
There are few bands that exist without a record label, Aesthetic Perfection is one of those bands that is 100% independent. Originally, you could have found Aesthetic Perfection on Metropolis or Out of Line records, in 2019 Daniel Graves, man behind Aesthetic Perfection, decided to take the band independent and released their sixth album Into the Black.Graves felt this was a natural progression for his band as the record label industry model was becoming stagnant and dying.
For most of their career, the band has flown under mainstream notice but has countless sold out shows under their belts. Their popularity has grown and their flying under the radar hasnt seemed to hurt them. They have gone to open for Rammstein’s Till Lindemann’s side project. They have worked with industry leaders like Rammstein, Celldweller, Frontline Assembly and Fear Factory. Their music has been used in Netflix programming and see on the soundtrack for Underworld:Awakening.
I only learned of Aesthetic Perfection, through my boyfriend Karl, about three years ago. They are one of his favorite bands but my initial thoughts werent as excited. That was until I started listening to some of his songs, The Ones, Spit It Out, and American Psycho started to change my viewpoint. I was excited to see they were coming to Cleveland and told Karl we needed to go. He was equally as excited for me to see their drummer, knowing that amazing drummers are a weakness for me.
From the moment that Daniel, Blowup Betty (Joe Letz), and Constance Antoinette Day walked out on stage I was mesmerized. I mentioned above that it is rare for a band to sound as good live as they do on recordings, that is not the case for Aesthetic Perfection. I daresay that with a live drummer and guitarist/keyboardist, they are as equally as impressive as the mixing/sampling that Graves does in the studio. Their beats are mesmerizing, lyrics intoxicating, and their onstage performance just reaches into your chest and pulls your soul out on stage with them. There are few concerts that have left me wanting so much more of a performance that they did at the end of their set. Not to take away from Daniel Graves in any part, but the way Joe Letz takes the drum beats of the electronic versions and adds his aggressive and explosive stylings to takes the songs to levels that you just cant seem to get from a sampler and electronic recordings. Since this was the last concert we were going to see this year, there could not have been a better close out.
Stop reading at this point and check out Aesthetic Perfection on Spotify. You will not be disappointed.
Cleveland’s Music Scene
Cleveland has so many great things going for it and these three concerts are prime examples. There is never a shortage of live music to see or big name acts coming through. If you are not out there catching these shows as they come up, then you are missing an amazing side to this town. Get out there and take in some of the live music offerings we have here.
If you have listened to any of the bands I mentioned above, leave me a comment telling which or all of them and what your thoughts were. Music has such an impression on me that sharing it with others is like giving the best gift you can. Share your tastes and let others know what you listen to. You never know, you may have just created a new fan, like Karl has done to me with so much music.