Cold Waves Festival

Live at The Regent Theatre

Los Angeles, CA

September 13th, 2019

Review and photos by Travis Baumann

Cold Waves Festival returns to Los Angeles. The industrial-centric music festival started in 2012 as a memorial to the fallen Jamie Duffy and has continued its annual endeavor, spreading to more cities across the Unites States with every year. 2019 sees its return to The Regent Theatre, pairing down the event to just a single night but with quite a roster of musical pioneers both new and old.

Legendary avant guard musicians such as Test Dept. and Severed Heads headline the event while newcomers like Kaelan Mikla and Inva//id bring their own unique takes on dark music for the evening. Paul Barker of Ministry fame acts as a pivot point between the generations with his Mind Dub Sound System, providing live remixes with accompanying video feeds of some of Ministry's biggest hits while he was with the band.

The international crisis raises its head of course, with Pop Will Eat Itself having to withdraw from the event due to visa issues, which is truly unfortunate but the show must go on and it certainly did not deter the bands that did make it from giving a great performance as detailed below...

Inva//id are a Los Angeles EBM industrial hellectro band that are fairly new to the scene. They play an aggressive and dark form of danceable industrial that would be right at home in the German Darkwave/Aggrotech environment. Formed around front man Chris Rivera with electronics and percussion from Krz Souls and Brendin Ross, they also enlisted the help of a live guitarist for the show. They kicked off the festival with a solid basis for the rest of the night to unfold, pounding out the beats and layering the synths while Chris sang and screeched across the Regent's stage.

Kaelan Mikla are a dark wave post-punk trio from Iceland. The three women play with atmospheric ethereal compositions that at times get edgier and danceable, weaving back and forth from Dead Can Dance style material with vistas of landscapes projected, to heavier material where the accompanying images were abstract smoky silhouettes of virgin mary-esque veiled maidens with creepy hands pulling back the veil - the imagery inverting to the negative for sinister effect.

They recently gained some notoriety here in the States with Robert Smith personally choosing them to be part of the Cure's Daydream Festival earlier this summer in Pasadena.

The women involved with the project are Sólveig Matthildur, Margrét Rósa, and Laufey Soffía, each taking turns at vocal duties at some point with bass guitar and synthesizers being the only live instruments. I can see this group catching on with a wider audience, as their sound goes beyond the goth industrial underground scene, but they were certainly not out of place in the Cold Waves lineup.

Mind Dub Sound System is one of many projects that the industrial icon, Paul Ion Barker adds to his legendary resume. Last year he performed at Cold Waves with his legacy industrial project from the infamous Wax Trax days, Lead Into Gold. This year he appeared in a much more peeled back performance with his retrospective remix project MDSS.

This performance centered entirely around his time in Ministry and involved live remixes with accompanying video projections that showed a rapid, well-cut combination of official music video elements, behind the scenes, and live concert footage (along with a bunch of layered trippy effects stuff going on too). Paul moved through the classic albums starting with "Land of Rape and Honey" moving to a really cool version of "Burning Inside" from "TMIATTTT" , "New World Order" from "Psalm69", all the way up through the last albums he was involved in.

It was a nice walk down memory lane - especially with the more intimate footage mixed in, but it had a nice new touch as well. I was hoping he was going to break out a mic and sing "Scarecrow". Even Karaoke style, it would have been awesome to see that song performed.

Severed Heads are a highly regarded avant guard band from Australia. Founded in 1979 and going through some soaring highs with Billboard charting dance songs, as well as dredging the darkest psyche's nightmares with their industrial minded material. Tom Ellard has kept the band alive through out its dissolutions and subsequent resurrections, and for the last two decades he has been joined by Stewart Lawler working the synthesizers.

They sport a very minimalistic stage presence with a table full of gear and a large focus on their extremely well rendered, psychotic mood-board projections. Anatomical dissections start moving and then twist and distort in horrible acid-trip fashion. Insects attack one another in vivid detail under macro lens recording, weird popsicle stick puppets proliferate a strangely happy old west apocalypse. Demented to say the least.

They kept their set primarily on the more industrial type material with some of their larger hits creeping in through out the show. I have to say, they are without a doubt, super weird.  Their vocal delivery is definitely on the lighter side of industrial and at times silly and whimsical. Their videos are disturbingly dark, with an introspective examination of the human condition; greed, bodily functions, the reality of death, and many more deep thinking topics.

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