By WILL KRISS
I’ve been a fan of Suicide Commando for years, but never thought I would have the chance to see them unless I happened to be in Belgium or Germany.The group is a Belgian electro-industrial music project founded by Johan Van Roy in 1986. Van Roy began experimenting with electronic music and self-releasing tapes at that time, and released his debut album “Critical Stage” on Off Beat Records in 1994.
Since then, he has released more than 10 studio albums and countless remix EP’s, with his most recent being “When Evil Speaks,” which was released last year.
Suicide Commando rarely tours the United States, and when it happens, there are never any Michigan shows. But all that changed April 29, when Suicide Commando played its very first Midwest date ever. They haven’t even played in Chicago at this point, where there is a bigger scene for this type of music. All of the other dates were very spread out, in places such as Los Angeles, New York and Toronto.
I knew about this show months ago when it was announced, but did not think I would be able to make it. As luck would have it, some friends of mine were already planning on going, and invited me to come with them. Suicide Commando was to play the Necto Nightclub in Ann Arbor, with two openers.
The Los Angeles date took place two nights before Ann Arbor, and during the LA show, Van Roy blew out his knee onstage, forcing a hospital trip and leaving many wondering whether he would still play in Ann Arbor. Against the orders of the doctor, Van Roy said he would still do the show, much to the delight of myself and everyone else who got to attend this very rare, if not once-in-a-lifetime show.
Heading up the stairs at Necto Nightclub, I felt completely at home among the crowd, many clad with black leather, latex, cyber dreads, and gas masks. I haven’t been in such a cool crowd since I saw Angelspit back in December 2012 at Reggie’s Chicago.
The actual Necto Nightclub is one of the coolest venues that I’ve ever been to. There are multiple layers with multiple areas, including the main dance floor with the stage at the head of it (with no barriers to speak of), plus an outdoor smoking area that included a separate roofed room for smokers. The music played in between bands was an excellent selection of some of the best industrial tunes, and concert-goers were constantly moving to the beat between sets.
The first opening band was a group called Terror Network. The stage was flanked by two small television sets that played their logo and some of their lyrics against a static background. The Detroit-based industrial act has performed alongside big-name industrial groups such as Combichrist, Angelspit, and God Module. Vocalist Jaysen Craves asked the crowd, by show of cheers, where everyone was from. Most people who came to the show were from Michigan, but as this was the very first Midwest Suicide Commando show, people had come from Chicago, Ohio, Indiana, and even Wisconsin, a testament to the popularity of this concert.
Terror Network gave a very high-energy act, with their keyboard player Glitch jumping up, onto, and full-force punching his keyboard. The band brought a great atmosphere to the club to match their music, a high-octane blend of aggrotech, industrial, and metal. It was a very enjoyable performance that was a great way to kick off the night.
Next up was the Cleveland-based band Filament 38. While Terror Network is more industrial metal, Filament 38 leans more toward straight up industrial, with more danceable beats and (in my opinion) a little closer to the sound of Suicide Commando. During their performance, the crowd started moving faster and harder. Despite the lack of mosh pits and crowd surfers that I usually deal with at concerts, the intensity could be felt, and it had definitely been turned up a notch.
Finally, after what seemed like forever, my three friends and I found ourselves up close to the stage, ready for the show to begin. The lights dimmed, and the opening beat to “Bind, Torture, Kill,” one of SC’s most famous songs, began. His keyboardist and drummer came out first. The screen behind the stage flashed the mug shots of different serial killers, along with their names, birthdates, methods and motives of operation, body count, and their alive or dead status. Every famous killer in history, from Ted Bundy to John Wayne Gacy were shown, finally ending on the titular BTK Killer (Real name Dennis Lader). At this point, Van Roy came out onstage with a crutch and was greeted with wild cheers from the audience. Once the song really kicked off, Van Roy ditched the crutch and started rocking the stage like nothing had even happened to his leg, a show of true dedication (as if playing the show wasn’t already enough proof).
Instead of moshing, I found myself dancing to the pounding beats, and was soaked by the end of the first song. As the show went on, Van Roy continued driving the crowd, playing many of his classic songs as well as some of his newer material, including “Unterwelt” and “Attention Whore.” Despite the fact that he was clearly in pain, he played “See you in Hell” for the encore. Every song had its own video background.
Suicide Commando rocked the show all night, and by the time he was done, everyone was in such high spirits that absolutely nothing could bring them down. Van Roy humbly thanked the crowd for coming out, and left the stage for good after “See You in Hell.” For the next two hours I found myself compelled to hit the dance floor, since there was still really good music playing, and I don’t know when I’d next be in a Goth-themed dance club.
On our way out, we saw Van Roy getting into his van. We thanked him for coming out to the show despite his injury, and he thanked us for coming. For a show that I never thought I’d get to see, I consider myself extremely lucky that I was able to witness this. I can honestly say that everything about Suicide Commando’s performance, even with the busted knee, was flawless.
I’d like to personally thank Van Roy for gracing Michigan with his presence despite his injury, as well as the Necto Nightclub for hosting.