Throbbing Gristle/Erika Andersson at The Grand Ballroom, 4/23/09

by Dakin Hardwick on April 24, 2009

Sleazy's cow robe is so magnificent, it's glowing!

Sleazy's cow robe is so magnificent, it's glowing!

Throbbing Gristle are an early industrial band that formed in the early 70’s. They were known for both electronic experimentalism, and blatant shock value. I probably have read more about this band than any other band that I have never heard before. In fact, this show at The Grand in San Francisco will in fact be the very first time I actually will get to hear this band that has followed me for years as nothing but academic text.

The opening act was Erika Andersson. I googled her before the show, and found many possibilities as to what this performance could be. I found a b-movie horror film actress. I found several porn actresses. I even found someone that is known as “the most popular asian female bodybuilder in the world”. Knowing what I know about TG, it seemed that any of these were a possibility. Sadly, it ended up just being a musician. (If I were a betting man, I would have put money on the bodybuilder)

Erika Andersson’s set was interesting. She played guitar, and had a bassist and someone else that alternated between guitar and drums. Her sound was slow, tribal, and incredibly thick. She reminded me PJ Harvey at her most abrasive, with a touch of My Bloody Valentine-esque noisescapes.

TG came out casually with the house lights still on. They jumped head first in to a song introduced as a piece about murdering a little girl. People cheered, and vocalist Genesis P-Orridge mockingly gasped, “How dare you cheer about such a vile act!”

The sound was much more beat heavy than I expected. Although their primary sound was still dark, minimalist soundscapes, but they kept the show uptempo and danceable. The only thing that prevented the night from feeling like a goth club was the fact that the houselights remained on throughout the duration of the set.

About halfway through the set, somebody launched a book of matches on the stage. Genesis picked it up, opened it and read the inscription, which was from a girl asking if they could get together after the show to work on art project. Her phone number was written on the book, so Genesis repeated the  phone number several times, also informing the crowd that she is a lovely brunette.

I was impressed. It the show flowed together quite nicely, and it takes a special type of group to keep a show interesting to the unfamiliar. The show ended at promptly 10:30, with the crowd begging for an encore, but Genesis returned to inform the crowd that the venue must close, and there was no time for more music.

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