Headlining the opening night of a German music festival at Cargo, T.Raumschmiere, vehicle for German industrial electrorocker Marco Haas, sat incongruously at the head of a bill that also featured a wannabe psychedelic ambient faction as warm-up act.
Late-arriving Europeans managed to miss most of the interminable dirge that led up to Haas’s arrival on stage, but those of us there near the start of the evening had long since retreated to Cargo’s comfy leather couches just beyond the railway arch that is the main stage area. After what seemed like hours, finally our torturers left and we prepared for something more energetic.
Translating recent album Blitzkrieg Pop’s angry, demented and very electronic industrial sounds to the live stage, Haas spent much of his energy as vocalist, with two compadres forming a rhythm section behind him. But this left much of the electronics, the main component of T.Raumschmiere’s music, as backing tracks. Essentially the drummer and bassist were playing along to what seemed to be pre-recorded synth parts for much of the set – a live arrangement that necessarily limited the band’s propensity for variety.
Still, Haas is a visceral performer and front man. After just a couple of songs, his shirt was off to reveal a heavily tattooed torso that writhed about to the heavy beats. He certainly seemed to be enjoying himself, and any notion of anger and danger associated with the band and its hard edge image was dispelled.
Much of the set was made up of the new album, but earlier tracks also featured. Highlights included the borg dance All Systems Go! and the vocals-included Sick Like Me. The zoned out audience even began to show signs of life.
But only some of it. Reaction to T.Raumschmiere is particularly polarised – I’d seen the same at their set at the Cross Central Festival earlier in the year. Some were aggressively slamdancing for all they were worth, while others stood in silence as if transfixed – or wondering why they’d showed up; it was difficult to tell.
The grand thing about headlining is, of course, that one can return for an encore, and Haas and his robot boys received enough adulation to do just that. It proved the most enlivening part of the rather odd evening as Haas writhed around on his electronics, playing his synth with his body and making it produce all manner of screeches and high-decibel electrohowls as an assortment of entranced girls reached to grab at him. He didn’t seem to mind.