Throbbing Gristle
Brooklyn Masonic Temple, Brooklyn, April 16
by Stephen Slaybaugh

How much one enjoyed, or at least took from, industrial pioneers Throbbing Gristle’s first live appearance in the U.S. in 28 years probably had a lot to do with what expectations one brought with them to the Masonic Temple in Brooklyn. It would be nice to think (if “nice” is the right word) that the band would bring the same militaristic fury with which it once combatted its audiences three decades ago. But 30 years is a long time, and chances were that all that piss and vinegar had long since evaporated.

Having spent some time with vocalist Genesis P. Orridge, I at least knew better than to expect that sort of antagonism. But given some off-the-record remarks s/he made about previous TG shows, I was also curious if this night would go off without a hitch. Getting to the Temple too late for an initial TG soundtrack set and autograph session, I arrived to find only a member of security on the darkened stage, electronic pulsations bellowing out in time to light projections, with only slight variations. It seemed a perfect combination of volume and monotony to serve as introduction and a good way for TG to begin challenging the crowd. I anticipated it to segue to their appearance onstage. Instead, it turned out to be Bruce McClure’s opening set.

Once McClure (who never showed his face) was finished and some quiet time elapsed, the wreckers of civilization finally appeared. It seems the venue had their expectations too, deciding to leave all the house lights on in anticipation of the mayhem that once followed TG. As far as I could tell, the crowd, though a little odder, was fairly sedate. As for Throbbing Gristle, they didn’t appear too threatening either; Peter Christopherson didn’t look too “sleazy” in his cow print bathrobe, and Genesis was dressed in day-glo colored silks. Having the house lights on was a bit disconcerting, with some members of the audience continuing to shout for them to be turned down. (The band’s response to this was to momentarily turn down just the lights onstage.) But it was probably better than some strobed light show. As it was, this was a band simply presenting their work. It was odd to see Christopherson and Chris Carter seated behind a couple of laptops; I guess my only real expectation was to see some semblance of how TG originally conjured their noise.

Whatever the means, the sound TG emitted showed no lack of piquancy. Building slowly from “Very Friendly,” they erected a dense wave of sonic mutation. Far less sparse than in their original incarnations, songs like “What a Day,” turned into something suitable of the band’s moniker, full of throb and gristle, with the immense volume adding to their heft. Though the set acknowledged the band’s recent past, with “Almost a Kiss” and the title track from 2007’s Endless Not, it was the songs resurrected from the band’s deep catalog that made the night. “Hamburger Lady” still sounded indignant as ever and “Discipline” ended the show with pounding resolve. It was 60-some minutes that couldn’t have been better spent, both as a matter of historical curiosity and as pure enjoyment. However vague my expectations might have been, Throbbing Gristle definitely destroyed them.

Skully’s Music Diner, Columbus, April 17
by Dorian S. Ham

Diplo is the reason a lot of DJs are eating these days. As half of the DJ production team Hollertronix, he and his partner Low Budget helped introduce the mash-up to indie rock kids and made it okay for white people to lose their minds dancing in sweaty clubs. You can also thank Diplo for helping to popularize Baltimore Club, introducing the rest of the world to Baile Funk, and being an early supporter of and producer for M.I.A.

Over the past few years Diplo has become a tastemaker and much imitated gold standard. So when the opportunity comes to actually see the man at work, it’s pretty much a no-brainer. Having someone as respected as Diplo play a show pretty much ensures that every DJ playing before him is forced to step their game up. As a result, everyone from New York’s DDPesh to Columbus’ own Adulture went hard. It’s like having LeBron James in a playground game: no one wants to get outshined.

By the time Diplo hit the stage, the capacity crowd was rabid. It wasn’t just excitement to see the headliner; it was more like waiting for a bomb to go off. With anticipation this high, it was almost a safe bet that it wouldn’t live up to the hype. But then Diplo hit the fuse. It would have been a pretty easy thing to just phone it in, after all, why should Ohio get the A-game? Clearly that thought never crossed his mind.

While essentially steering clear of the genre-crossing mash-ups that helped define his early career, Diplo still gave the people plenty of things to swoon over. Snatches of Baltimore club, hip-hop, dubstep, chopped up rock riffs—you name it, Diplo threw it into the mix. And he wasn’t shy about tossing in his own compositions, including the Grammy-nominated “Paper Planes.”

The tragedy of being so imitated is that it’s easy to dismiss the set as nothing special. While there weren’t any true face melting moments, you can’t deny that Diplo is pretty damn good at his job. Ultimately a DJ only succeeds if he moves the crowd and that what he did. Over the course of the night everyone from the over-refreshed meathead to the American Apparel hipster squad were united in sweaty communion.