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Middle East Show Review

October 1, 2002

Stromkern Live at the Middle East, October 1, 2002
with special guests Project Sphere and Battery Cage.

Review by Tomorrow's Man

10/2: 10:59 AM: They really should have a morning-after a drinking binge cereal for hangovers.Load it with vitamins and aspirin.Call them "Regretios."Or maybe just "Regrets."

Let's get to the story.

Once upon a time (October 1st, 2002, to be precise), in a sprawling burg known as Cambridge, Massachusetts (okay, so it kinda just sits there and festers more than sprawls, but lets not dawdle over it), a group of young minstrels known as Stromkern played a set of some hip numbers for their gathered fans at the Middle East night club. By the end of the evening, it could be said, well, DEY TO DAT SHIT UP!

Ahem.

Let me begin earlier in the evening, before Cambridge was, indeed, "tore up" by Ned and the gang.

Long before my bloodstream turned into a swirling gtterdmmerung of beerness and my equilibrium went the way of the dodo, the evening was opened by the band Project Sphere, led by the stunning Eartha Harris on lead vox. Skot Kremen and Raziel Panic, her backing mates, slashed out their rhythm-heavy original music in grand fashion, electrifying the large crowd, but it was Eartha who grabbed attention like Gaia at Mardi Gras as she belted, crooned, and caressed her audience with her versatile vox. Ah, she took to the stage like a serpent and wrapped us in coils of enchantment...did I mention yet that she was stunning? Ah, yes. Well.

Talking to her after the performance, Eartha said that the band was looking for a label, before briefly mentioning the Peloponesians and how Tissaphernes of Lydia and Pharnabazus of Hellespont solicited them to make war on Athens (though I may have misheard her; it was quite loud in the club). Governors of Darius aside, Project Sphere provided a knockout opening set for the evening.

Next up was more beer. Then a nice long talk with the man himself, Ned Kirby, and his beard. Okay, the fact that Ned's chin has gone all a-scruff wasn't as surprising as, say, finding a giraffe in your helmet, but the newly-haired Chin of Ned (which also happens to be an island in the Bering Strait) definitely added an edge to Ned's nice guyness.

I think it was at this time -- though I'm not sure and would have to consult my stock in Sam Adams Octoberfest to be positive (hm, up a quarter...must'a dranked me a gallon or three) -- that my ilk and I cajoled Ned into officializing his rock star status; i.e., we made him sign his very first breast. He liked it. He knows he liked it.

Next up was heavy-hitting Battery Cage who performed a throttling lineup of tracks, including some from their forthcoming disc "World Wide Wasteland." These guys...these are the guys you want to have play your bar mitzvah. They're the kind of band that stuns cattle (thanks, Dave Barry). Fact one: their lineup was tighter than a young nun in Memphis. Fact two: they had a great video display for their backdrop, featuring some wonderfully lurid imagery that has now caused me to fear sheep (not that this is directly related to what was on the screen). Fact three: just to make sure the audience's collective ass would be most assuredly, absolutely, entirely, utterly, without question and beyond a shadow of a doubt kicked from Cambridge to the middle of next Tuesday, Ned himself joined Battery Cage on stage for co-lead vocals on the song "Statemachine." After their show I asked their lead singer, Tyler, what he thought of Tissaphernes trying to capture a bastard son of Pissuthnes for Amorges, to which he replied, "Oh, man, don't get me started on the Peloponesians again...." (I should reiterate, it was quite loud in there, so the exact conversation has been lost to noise and beer. I'm pretty sure this is close, though.)

At last, the haired Chin of Ned took the stage, followed by the rest of Ned, then Kelly, Rob, and Matt, all looking ready to do some serious bi'ness. Let me say as an aside, it is a lucky stage down in that basement of the Middle East. One of the previous times I was there was to see The Dismemberment Plan pre-touring for their album "Change," and it proved to be one of the best shows I'd ever attended. Now Stromkern had come to rock, in the place where cattle-stunning sound is king.

Although it was the first show of the new tour, any evidence of opening night jitters was unseen. Ned was in great form while the band belted out Stromkern classics and favorites (with "Night Riders" of course working the crowd into a froth), and he even displayed his latest talent, playing guitar on six of the songs. This latest brand of Stromkern live is meatier than before, sounding like they've matured as a team and tightened their hooks while beefing their energy and muscle. This is not a flash-in-the-pan electro band, this Stromkern. This is power. As they hammered out swirling hooks and crunches a-bristle with gristle and bone they seemed to grow larger on the stage, taking over the room with a presence usually reserved for the likes of Reznor, Manson, Spears. (Okay, maybe not that last one. Well, maybe her breasts.) These guys are serious, visionary, and getting more talented with every set. Anyone who has seen them live, you know what I am talking about. Anyone who has not, do so. It is not going to be long before you will be paying a hell of a lot more than a ten-spot for a ticket to see Stromkern. Catch them on this tour and you will be as happy as a stunned cow.

Original Link: http://magicangrymouse.com/skern/skern1002.htm