LIVE REVIEW: My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult in Somerville, MA
When My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult performed “The Days of Swine and Roses” five songs into their set, I was dancing, completely enraptured, and thought to myself: “I think I’ve joined the kult.” Or as the band refers to itself: “the world’s most dangerous kult.” It was a loud, fun, dark and sexy sold-out show at Crystal Ballroom. Before the show, I saw a few people in CVS buying ear plugs—knew they’d be going to the show. I had a feeling it would be a late night, particularly for a Sunday night.
They went on at 10 and performed for about 90 minutes including encore. There was very little chit-chat.
The Evil Eye tour focuses on music from 1987-1997 and celebrates 36 years of music. The industrial electronic band has released 12 albums; six during that decade. They recently released Sinister Whispherz IV: The Bedroom Tapes featuring rare recordings of early songs before TKK released its first album.. Many of their songs run five to seven minutes, making them very much club songs. The crowd danced and sang along the entire time. I felt somewhat underdressed in minimal make-up and wearing one of my favorite going-out outfits— a long sheer burgundy tapestry skirt and black jacket. I got underground club vibes and spotted concert-goers in NIN, Skinny Puppy, Ministry and Black Flag t-shirts. A nearby couple wore matching black kilts, leather jackets and black hats with horns. I would’ve liked more mood lighting to add to the overall club vibes. The stage featured a lit backdrop with their logo.
I wasn’t that familiar with Thrill Kill Kult but was definitely curious and eager to check out the show. The band formed in Chicago in the late 80s when Frankie Nardiello (Groovie Mann) and Marston Daley (Buzz McCoy) wanted to make a film called My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult, a name Groovie got from a London tabloid. Although the film never happened, many of their songs have a cinematic vibe. They sing about the occult, drugs, sex, kitchy horror and other dark elements, often in a sarcastic, amusing manner. They showcase enough deviance to have been considered dangerous by the far right (church groups used to protest outside their shows) and mostly rebellious and counter-cultural for the young people in the 80s and 90s. Something for the outcasts and the misunderstood to bond over. They were initially on Wax Trax! along with other post-punk/new wave/electronic/industrial bands like Meat Beat Manifesto, KMFDM and Front 242.
The entire evening featured deep beats and bass and supercharged energy– Groovie on vocals, Buzz on keys and backing tracks/samples, Justin Bennett on drums and Mimi Star on bass. They opened with “Burning Dirt” from Confessions of a Knife (1990) and closed with an exuberant “Kooler than Jesus.” The familiar hit “Sex on Wheelz” from Sexplosion! (1991) and featured in the David Duchovny series Californication– kicked in with that uber cool motorcycle-infused intro and moved the crowd with its dance trance energy. They think of fantastic song and album titles. Some other stand-outs for me were the tongue-in-cheek, very B-movie “Blondes with Lobotomy Eyes” from A Crime for All Seasons (1997), “A Daisy Chain 4 Satan” about sexy, naughty girls doing drugs with the classic repeating line, “I live for drugs” and the haunting, creepy, mesmerizing “And This is What the Devil Does” from their debut album I See Good Spirits and I See Bad Spirits (1988). I’d definitely recommend seeing them live. It’s a darkly entertaining evening.