Front Line Assembly at the Nile Theater, 6/7/11

Categories: Last Night

front line assembly_550.jpg
Photos by Maria Vassett
Front Line Assembly's Bill Leeb

Front Line Assembly 
The Nile Theater in Mesa 
June 7, 2011

It's not often that an old school industrial band comes through town and plays a venue that isn't a sports bar or some shady, swinger-filled fetish club, but Front Line Assembly did just that and rocked the house at the Nile Theater -- even if they didn't draw as large a crowd as I'd expected.

Although there probably weren't many more than a hundred people at the show, the sound was incredible and it almost seemed like the band was going extra hard on the people who did show up in order to make up for those who didn't. FLA's floor-shaking rhythms and crisp, expertly shredded guitar riffs on standout tracks like "Mindphaser," "Iceolate," and "Plasticity" were turned up to 11, and those in attendance likely still have ringing ears to prove it.

While the band sounded great and the brick walls of the Nile proved yet again that the venue is perfect for industrial, frontman Bill Leeb's backing musicians seemed tired and bored, or simply disappointed in the attendance. The keyboardist was nodding off (not nodding to the beat), and the guitarist had about as much stage presence as a stoned teenager playing Rock Band in his parents' basement.

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At times, even Leeb seemed like he was just going through the paces, closing his eyes so often and for so long that it looked like he was visualizing a larger crowd or wishing he were somewhere else. The fact that he scoffed after saying he hoped everyone had fun did little to sell the audience on his enthusiasm, so it came as no surprise when two middle-aged guys with glasses and beer bellies were the only ones who half-heartedly complied with Leeb's mumbled request for a mosh pit.

Although Leeb's bandmates are half his age and obviously just there to play music they didn't write, collect a check and (from the looks of their smooth, childlike faces) go back to the hotel room to watch the Oprah channel, they did excel at their core responsibility: playing their instruments.

The guitarist was particularly proficient, and despite his apparent boredom, did a great job pushing already aggressive electronic music over the edge and into a sonic realm so bad ass that it conjured visions of wrecking balls, exploding school buses, and tanks crushing all that is righteous.

One thing that really would have helped the band's stage presence is if they put some thought into the stuff they projected behind them during the show. Backing videos are pretty easy to put together. If bands like Depeche Mode can use them to tug at audiences' heart strings, and others like Skinny Puppy can compile clips that truly terrify, surely Front Line Assembly could put together something better than meaningless squiggles and an endless loop of variations on its logo.

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In the end, although the band has a great catalogue and all the necessary components in place to put on an amazing show and rise above the low turnout of a Tuesday night, it was clear their hearts just weren't in it.

Critic's Notebook

Last Night: Front Line Assembly at the Nile Theater

The Crowd: The largely 30-something core of Arizona's industrial scene. Shout out to Tucson's DJ Black Flagg from Club Sanctuary and the now-defunct Asylum.

Overheard In The Crowd: "This just confirms my belief that there's no point to seeing industrial bands live, except that it's louder and you get to see your friends."

Personal Bias: Front Line Assembly is one of the bands I've waited longest to see live, so maybe my expectations were too high, since I expected them to at least try to seem interested in their own music.

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18 comments
AbrahamLincoln
AbrahamLincoln

To Just Sum Guy aka Daniel. You are paid to have an opinion and congrats for being an individual.  However your statements seem somewhat biased.  I personally know nothing of you other than you have spoken to me very poorly anytime I have encountered you. Even intended on buying you a drink to make a friend.  In my book that just equates to you being a judgemental child mad at the world for his own actions.  Actions speak louder than words and your actions apparently got you ousted from the Fetish Community. That's saying a lot when it's pretty hard to accomplish it.  Your actions continue to slur a community that is keeping the Industrial scene alive in AZ.  Regardless of your accolades in journalism, perhaps being a little more open minded to the same community would show that you truly are a fan of the music and not just a whiney child fighting for attention.  I may not belong 100% to the Fetish Community but I appreciate it's help in supporting what I love.  It would do you well in your Journalistic efforts to report on one of the best events for the industrial scene for AZ.  In comparison to other Fetish Events globally www.azfetishball.com aka Horns and Halo's keeps a fun, safe and rather light encounter.  By all means speak your mind  because it further proves who you are.  If you don't like hearing it, well then just quit journalism and continue to bash people to make your self seem important.  

Britni
Britni

I have one question.

Why is someone who I have heard openly bad mouth industrial music, the clubs, and the people...writing reviews for bands such as Combichrist, and Front Line Assembly?

If we're such "shady swingers", STAY THE FUCK HOME.

Chill Pill
Chill Pill

The writer is a lifelong fan of industrial music and has been an industrial music critic for over 5 years for many respected publications. He is more than qualified to write on this topic.  Phoenix New Times encourages great freedom in their freelancer's creative choices.

He is correct about the Industrial music community and the Fetish community becoming intertangled over the past years. It is not solely his opinion that they should remain separate. It is an opinion shared by many industrial music fans. It is likely that a few of the posters above who spend more of their socialization time in Fetish communities don't believe this fact because they haven't spoken with the "Industrial-only" people. Many of the "Industrial-only" people no longer attend shows; for the exact reason being that they feel uncomfortable in environments with Sex being more of an environmental element as Music.

So now that we've established that the author:1) Is qualified about Industrial music2) Is outspoken and that Phoenix New Times welcomes well written opinions3) Has spent enough time in both Industrial and Fetish environments to have an educated opinion

Shouldn't we all get back to that whole "to each their own" thing that we, as subcultural people, preach about?

Peace and Love to you all

Britni
Britni

I have been part of the industrial music scene since I was thirteen years old. I didn't attend my first "Fetish Ball" until I was 18, and guess what, I went for the bands who were playing the event. The same reason I have attended every event since I began attending when I was 18. I've never been openly a part of the fetish community myself, however I have many friends who are part of that scene and have been for many years. All of these people are stand up individuals, with real life careers, real life ambitions, and most with real relationships that have more substance than this author has in his little finger.

I hate to break it to you, but there are fetishists at every industrial, industrial metal, and gothic concert. There always have been and there always will be. People can have an open lifestyle and an open idea about their sexuality, and also enjoy industrial music.

It also won't only be my opinion to say, if you're in it for the music, then you'll always be there to exerience it. Despite your preconceived opinions about some of the people who may or may not be in attendance that for some reason you can't bother yourself to be around. True fans of industrial artists, wouldn't miss a show because their scared someone who has a fetish and is open about it will be there. If that is the case, you should never go out...because people with fetishes...ARE EVERYWHERE YOU TURN. Their your neighbor, your co-worker, even your taxi driver.

I speak for not only myself when I say that when I go to a concert, I am there for the music. Social interaction falls second, and the last thing on my mind...is sex.

Wicked_Faerie
Wicked_Faerie

Also Daniel, if you are going to review a show that we all saw you in attendance at, it would benefit you to observe the concert you are reviewing sober. A music critic who staggers back and forth through a concert very obviously intoxicated and reeking of alcohol while greeting his many shady swinger "friends" would be wise to mind the fact that his own opinion was definitely skewed and certainly should not badmouth members of a community that you openly associate with on a first name basis.

Djdarkmark
Djdarkmark

I agree, why is on industrial shows Daniel you have to make a snide comment about the fetish scene... you did the same thing in the Combichrist review that from reading this, is obviously a personal statement...

"Overheard In The Crowd:  "I'm so glad I don't have to go to some creepy fetish event to see                 these guys."

Not cool man

Nakedlifecoach
Nakedlifecoach

I concur with Wicked Faerie. As a member of the fetish community, as well as a Naked Life Coach (can you say completely alternative lifestyle member?) I, as well as a majority of the members of the fetish community are probably more intelligent than your 'non-shady' night club goers, therefore more likely to have good honest fun with each other. That doesn't make us 'swingers' or 'shady'. In fact, since we are so honest in our relationships with each-other, we in general have far less drama among us than your average nightclub crowd. As Heinlein pointed out in Gulf, the more intelligent people are the less they will usually be to subscribe to commonly accepted sexual morals. In our community, anything that is consensual between adults is acceptable. The major rule: Ask first. The second rule: If the answer is no, desist peacefully and don't take it personally. The only trouble we ever have is when a 'tourist' comes in and sees our more open sexuality and just grabs somebody, without bothering to ask. Then we have to set him straight, which we do honestly and with direct communication, not a punch in the face as you might see at another nightclub. Maybe you should experience the fetish community first hand before you go calling us 'shady' or 'swingers'!

Go
Go

Quoting Heinlein? That's corroboration of validity? The problem is, Heinlein was SCIENCE FUCKING FICTION! I guess by this rationale I should get a talking donkey and shoot people that try to fuck my woman (like in Heinlein's Time Enough for Love), accept being raped as a hazard of my job (like in Heinlein's Friday), go to war against bugs in a hydraulic suit (like in Heinlein's Starship Troopers), or eat my friends when they die (like in Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land). I've read a lot of Heinlein: The only difference is I KNOW it is fiction. And fiction means fake, for anyone taking notes. And not fake like a bunch of perverts fisting each other and pretending it's normal, but something that is pure fantasy--like the statement that these people are normal and successful and anything other than ridiculous. Fetish people, please go back under your rock and die.

reality
reality

 Quoting Heinlein? That's corroboration of validity? The problem is, Heinlein was SCIENCE FUCKING FICTION! I guess by this rationale I should get a talking donkey and shoot people that try to fuck my woman (like in Heinlein's Time Enough forLove), accept being raped as a hazard of my job (like in Heinlein's Friday), go to war against bugs in a hydraulic suit (like in Heinlein's Starship Troopers), or eat my friends when they die (like in Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land). I've read a lot of Heinlein: The only difference is I KNOW it is fiction. And fiction means fake, for anyone taking notes. And not fake like a bunch of perverts fisting each other and pretending it's normal, but something that is pure fantasy--like the statement that these people are normal and successful and anything other than ridiculous. Fetish people, please go back under your rock and die.

Just sum guy
Just sum guy

Naked Life Coach A.K.A text book definition of Prostitution. 

Wicked_Faerie
Wicked_Faerie

My Letter to the Editor:

I do not like your comment "shady, swinger-filled fetish club".  First of all, what fetish club?  Scottsdale Venue?  And really? Fetish events are NOT full of shady swingers.  Seriously, my fiancée and I as well as a plethora of fetish community members are upstanding citizens who work real day jobs and have real, albeit exciting, relationships. 

Thank you very much for putting us down, but please contain your jealousy.   Kisses, the Wicked Faerie  

Gobby
Gobby

Well back years ago at the Silver Dollar Club. Playing out side with 110 temp out side. They gave it their all back then. When you get old and the tour is all most over. Yes! I would want to home too at age 50. The Chicago show was at a smaller venue to compare playing at a bigger venue in the past. At least Chicago had a bigger turn out. Eh no a sell out show. FLA should of taken the invite on playing at the Wax Trax Retrospect in April.

Jim Ballard
Jim Ballard

I would have to agree to some extent. I can't say I'm particularly thrilled with their current set list, it seems like they're playing to the younger goth electroclash crowd with the newer material. You mentioned "Iceolate" in the blog, but that song was not played, nor was "Provision" (two excellent singles that should be staples in their set list). It wasn't a bad variety from their catalogue, but I would have liked to hear more classics. A great album such as Gashed Senses & Crossfire shouldn't go untouched. When Bill is calling Tactical Neural Implant material "old school" (well, it has been almost 20 years, which is hard to believe!), I got the sense that he's still trying to shed his skin of the 'industrial' tag that FLA is associated with. I always enjoy FLA when they come to town ('92 and '96 were classic shows, the Nita's debacle in '99 was unfortunate), but something was 'missing' last night, maybe you pegged it with the band's body language. It's also a shame that they didn't take part in Wax Trax! Retrospectacle in Chicago in April; it makes me wonder if Bill wasn't interested in going down memory lane for a weekend.

Gobby
Gobby

I tell you my friend. The Damned is on tour. If you have a chance to see them play live. Do so. The band look and sound like back in the 80's. Nooo fooling.

Gobby
Gobby

Eh FLA was invited to the Wax Trax show.

Anastasia Beaverhausen
Anastasia Beaverhausen

I definitely agree about the other band members. They didn't seem thrilled in the slightest to be there.  I do however, think BIll Leeb was "satisfied" with the crowd's reactions but of course, disappointed in how small the crowd was.  I personally think they were 10 years too late in coming to Arizona but alas, I am glad I finally got to see them as well.

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