You'll suffer for Throbbing Gristle's art
By Noah Michelson
The first half of the evening was a performance of their new soundtrack to Derek Jarman’s In The Shadow Of The Sun, a sixty-minute film from 1974 comprised of super grainy Super-8 footage, and very reminiscent of Kenneth Anger’s work. While figures on-screen performed shadowy rituals by candlelight, rattling keys and leering ominously in stovepipe hats, TG’s soundtrack was an unyielding study in murk, and yet completely immersive: a plinking piano arpeggio ebbed over what sounded like the squall of steel gates fighting against their hinges, while a yearning female voice was diced into burbling nonsense.
After an intermission of sorts, where the four players sat behind a desk and signed memorabilia, a fellow named Bruce McClure performed a comparatively brief set. Flanked by four film projectors and at least six delay petals, he created an unbearably abrasive cacophony; the sound of a garbage disposal while you’re being torn to ribbons between its blades. Meanwhile, an erratically whirring symbol flashed across the screen at ever-increasing speeds. While it was admittedly hard to know what to make of the performance, it was definitely entertaining to watch some members of the crowd attempt to dance.
At the beginning of the second set, Genesis P-Orridge -- who wasn’t onstage during the Jarman screening -- finally took the stage amid a thunder of applause. S/he was wrapped in a wild fuscia dress, in stark contrast to the crowd, the majority of whom were clad in black leather jackets, studded gloves, hair extensions and steel-toed murderer boots they’ve presumably worn since 1983. (Sleazy was dressed in what appeared to be a flaring multi-colored kimono, a far cry from black-clad ‘80s miserablism). From the churning “Hamburger Lady” to the maniacal tirade “Discipline,” the songs blurred and blended into one another, with even some tribal percussion and discernable dance-beats rising from the mire of buzzing jackhammers, bleeping life-support machines, murdered violin strums and P-Orridge’s delayed, shrilly ping-ponging vocals. Strangely, the house lights were up the entire time, and when some displeased audience members screamed for them to be turned off, they abruptly turned the lights off onstage instead.
Five hours after I arrived, the event was over, and leaving the theater, I felt completely drained, slightly battered and completely satisfied. If only there were more shows like this.
For more on Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, check out our interview with her at Out.com
-- DEREK DE KOFF
Previously > Chloe Sevigny remembers her St. Mark's days