Text and Photos: Milton Stille
As is often sadly the case, the venue was sparsely populated upon my arrival. It’s almost anomalous for shows of this nature to happen on Granville Street, which has disgracefully been dubbed the “party district,” consequently rendering it a cesspool of the type of human beings one might readily describe as the lowest common denominator. Kudos to Blueprint and Venue for consciously going against the status quo and defying convention by hosting concerts like this in the part of town where you wouldn’t really expect it.
Attendance had picked up mildly by the time Prurient’s set began, but only enough that the empty space on the floor wasn’t quite a reflection of that on the stage for Dominic Fernow’s one-man project. He eased the crowd into the mood gently, with a buildup of raw noise and cacophonous sound effects that gradually gained momentum over the course of several minutes. If I were to be asked for my impression of the audience’s take, I’d say that the majority simply didn’t know what to make of the performance, as eventually the dissonant ambient noises gave way to an explosion of vocal fury as Dominic grabbed the mic and shrieked in a way I can only consider primal. Like myself, a portion of concertgoers found this enrapturing. There’s a strange beauty to be found in playing with soft-loud dynamics this ugly. Setting the stage for legends like Godflesh is no small feat, and this guy certainly delivered. Some just didn’t get it, but that’s the price for unapologetically doing your own thing without regard for how it’s ultimately interpreted.
The room had essentially filled up by the time Godflesh’s set began, with their performance starting just a little bit later than was initially intended. I can only imagine that the late arrivals were thankful for this. I’ll admit, having never seen Godflesh before, I was mildly concerned how captivating a two-piece metal band without a drummer would be live. As it turns out, these concerns were entirely unfounded. While Justin Broadrick’s stage presence actively engaged the audience, even bassist G.C. Green’s more subtle approach didn’t seem out of place, with nothing behind the two but visuals displayed via projector.
As pioneers of industrial metal, Godflesh have effectively mastered the art of being crushingly heavy yet somehow remaining so collected and controlled. It’s no wonder that they continue to be influential and at the top of their game today. Based on their response, it was pretty clear that everyone else in the audience felt the same way.