Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Music as Identity - Part 2 - Industrial

Since writing the last post I have thought of a couple other points. First, it is the connection with others with the more rare musical tastes that really interest me. I get more excited when someone says they were fans of Front 242 than of The Cure. Actually, I can't recall ever actually meeting someone else who was a Front 242 fan, but I would be pretty excited if I did. For this reason, the list of music types will generally go from rare to more mainstream.

As I grow older, I seem to forget actual moments when things started or finished, but I believe I started listening to Industrial music around when I was 15 or 16. When I started high school at age 14, I became friends (who I have kept to this day) with fellow cross-country runners who introduced me to New Wave which included The Cure, Siouxsie & the Banshees, Depeche Mode, New Order, and Nitzerebb. That music will be covered in the next post.

As we got older, there was a juice bar dance club called Medusa's where they played our music. We went a few times, and later I went often by myself. The crowd was fairly diverse. Whites, blacks, hispanics, asians, goths, preppies, new wavers, city kids, suburbanites, straight, gay. It was one of the few if not the only dance club for those under-age. The club was split into three levels. The lowest level was the large dance floor with two to six foot tall boxes scattered on the floors and near the walls. The music always had a beat for dancing. It was where people showed off their moves or just stood by and took it all in. We preferred dancing on the boxes just for the playful back and forth. Easier to see and be seen. The middle level was basically a series of rooms set up like lounges. A place to get away, but oddly enough, not a make-out haven. The top level was the video room. A fairly large space with a screen at each end and some boxes in the middle. This is where I could actually connect visuals to the songs. It was usually more melodic songs with less of a heavy beat. Or at least songs they had videos for.

On the large dance floor is where I grew to love Front 242 and Ministry. Front 242's Headhunter was THE song. Everyday is Halloween by Ministry was the other. Though not industial, there were also any number of dance songs by the New Wave artists listed above being played along with some early house and hip-hop. In the video room, I came to learn of the less popular musicians along with some of the more popular alternative musicians. It is where I heard How Soon is Now by the Smiths and Kooler than Jesus by My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult. There was also Birthday by the Sugarcubes and older videos by The Cure (Pre-Standing on the Beach).

This exposure to Industrial Music lead to Wax Trax! Records when it was still on Lincoln Ave near where John Dilinger got shot. Wax Trax! was the distributors of Front 242, Ministry, Thrill Kill Cult, the Revolting Cocks, Die Warsau, and KMFDM. This interest in Industrial also lead to seeing Pigface in concert at the Metro. Pigface was composed of members of the other bands on Wax Trax. Another band I enjoyed from this style included Meat Beat Manifesto. OK, now I'm just name-dropping, so I'll stop.

I guess one of the reasons these memories of industrial music rushed back is because most of that music was on records and tapes. The records have since gone their own way and the tapes are stashed away in some box. So when I thought of the music recently, it had been a long time since it crossed my mind. After a bit of web surfing, a few pages suggest that Chicago was the center of Industrial music. I wonder if this is true and how popular it was elsewhere. So please let me know if you had heard of these bands outside of Chitown. I'm gonna hafta get my hands on those CD's so I can blast the pants off these south shore suburbanites next summer.

Next stop: New Wave.


Unknown said...

I should have done this earlier. I just did a blog search for Front 242 and found that they had played here in Montreal last week. I guess that answers my question of whether there is a fan base here.

Alex said...

Feel free to download my old mix In Memoriam: Medusa's off my site.

(2 mixes because I originally made it for audio cassettes!)

The Main Room
The Video Room