KMFDM Live Show Review: A Trip Report

The bathroom is cramped at the Star Theater, and it’s very hard to find a decent space to snort ketamine properly. I have to put my foot in front of the door because you can’t lock it. Managing to get a pinky or two up there, my experiment has begun. KMFDM, on ketamine. Their laser light show helped lull me into the warm disconnect of the substance immediately, and coming up, it was easier to enjoy the show. Separations occurred within the walls of distortion; I could begin to make out the synths, pre-programmed sequenced data filling all the nooks and crannies. It pulsed and distorted in tandem with fist after fist pumping into the air. The refracting laser lights bouncing off all the heads, creating cathedrals of hair dye.

KMFDM does not stand for Kill Motherfucking Depeche Mode. I’m not going to tell you what it does stand for; it’s in German and you have Google. As a part of the first Chicago Wax Trax! industrial bands that included Front 242, Ministry, My Life with the Thrill Kill Cult, KMFDM have a place in electronic music history. They have been a band for nearly 30 years, always touring the states heavily. They have great militant imagery based on the artwork of Aidan Hughes. Their sound is classic. Like Van Halen.

March 8th, 2013 @ Star Theatre – Portland, Oregon


Year after year, KMFDM have come through Portland, even back when we were a optional stop on the way to or from Seattle. This year, they started their North American tour at the Star Theater. KMFDM are now 17 albums into their nearly 30-year career with this year’s Kunst. The only constant member is founder Sascha Konietzko. He looks good, still sporting his Joe Strummer mohawk and grumbling with sneering vigor into the distorted mic. He calls his band’s sound “The Ultra-Heavy Beat”.

Horns and fists and even a few peace signs in the air, the fans chant “KMFDM SUCKS!” before the band comes back for their first encore. Large-heeled combat boots stomp heavily on the ballroom floor. Cascading through my mind: a stampede of Victorian-dressed militants. The odor heightened by the ketamine was distinct – a mixture of hair dye, clove cigarettes and incense that was decidedly not nag champa. I had forgotten the way a good goth crowd smells.

The band obliges and come running back to their instruments, going right into the song “KMFDM Sucks” from Angst, their fan favorite record that shot them into MTV’s 120 Minutes mainstream of 1992. The song was great and a lovely voyage into a sensory-driven time machine. It was a nice way to travel. Where is Matt Pinfield? I always liked that guy.

Outside, the disappointed consensus of the more ardent fans was that there were only two encores; apparently KMFDM often do five or six. But it was the first of show of tour.




Prior to the show, I had been invited to a nearby penthouse party and went there following KMDFM. Another strange thing to do on ketamine!

The penthouse was so high the Broadway bridge looked like it was from the set of Mr. Rogers. Eight or so people were left at the party, and I had ventured onto the deck to say hello. A very long skinny sherlock glass pipe was handed to me, and I took one hit. What a terrible decision. As soon as it hit my lungs, I knew it was a mistake. I looked closer to the people…. these were hippies, the anti-goths. Another blast from the past. I had smoked their weed. Dumb, dumb, dumb. They called it a heady indica, which is code for “turns non-hippies into Pookie from New Jack City.”

I was trapped here now. Set and setting are the rules. Mindset and environment. I was so fucked on both. Mixing psychedelics at penthouses and, oh no…. acoustic guitars. Three of em… So, so not able to drive.

After unsuccessfully going through the medicine cabinet for some Niacin, I accidentally caught myself mentally voyaging to a precipice of panic and had to lay on a bed. I looked up and saw two creepy oil paintings of lifeless children staring back at of me. Someone informed me that they cost 7k apiece as the rest of the party filtered in from the deck.

That penthouse was to be my personal Guantanamo. An aural waterboarding for the next hour. But considering the combined effects of the cannabis and ketamine, it felt like it could go on for days. I had been surrounded by three mellow acoustic guys with a lot of confidence. There was beatboxing and earnestness and explanations of lyrical content and all the things that make up my version of torture.

Song after song, pentatonic soloing aimlessly around their leader. The daddy torturer. A John Mayer type with socially conscious lyrics. Eww. How am I gonna make it through this without descending deeper? Oh dear unjust Gods of music, please let me go back to the KMFDM show; I just wants to go back to the show, to the loud monotonous drones of synths and distortion and unintelligible growling. I just wanna go back and scream with all the beautiful people, “KMFDM SUCKS!”


Written by
View all articles
Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Error validating access token: The session has been invalidated because the user changed their password or Facebook has changed the session for security reasons.
Written by
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x