Live at Cold Waves LA Festival
Downtown Los Angeles, CA
November 10th, 2017
Review and photos by Travis Baumann
Cubanate are an English industrial band that put out a series of high-impact albums in the 1990's culminating in 1998's "Interference".
Featuring blistering vocals with a heavy political slant by Marc Heal, combined with a fusion of techno influenced beats and heavily processed guitar riffs (the latter from coconspirator Phil Barry) Cubanate blasted onto the world-wide industrial scene with their debut, "Anitmatter" and came on even stronger with the follow up, "Cyberia".
Nearly twenty years later, the duo return with the addition of live drummer Vince McAley, to give us a full set of their unparalleled imprint on us all which has also been physically realized in their re-mastered "best-of" release titled, "Brutalism".
I was, and still am, a huge fan of Cubanate so they were the most anticipated band for me out of the Cold Waves Los Angeles festival. Marc and company did not disappoint. A spastic, frontman on a bad trip at points, a poignant growl of social commentary throughout, and a moving vocalist to say the least, Heal was as impressive leading the charge as the music is intense, and the combination of both marked a great performance.
They kicked off the show with "Lord Of The Flies" from 1996's "Barbarossa". Heal often goes by "MC Lord of the Flies" when working with other artists so it was an appropriate introduction.
Staying with that album for the title track, "Barbarossa", they played a powerful anthem that illustrates how individuals, and subsequently countries, can be swept up in "Manifest Destiny" and feel empowered to wage war. "We hear the voice of god, calling... calling. We hear the fatherland, calling... calling. Let's go to war!".
Being part of a festival relegates the set list to an abbreviated selection of songs but they chose some of their stand out hits from throughout their four album career.
The synthesized guitar hook for "Hatesong" built into a moving lesson about channeling anger and hate built up from the world's injustices and forming it into a positive force within oneself to accomplish something. Remain defiant, and "never again let you call the shots".
"Autonomy" comes from their debut album and continues their aggressive assault of dance beats, distortion, samples, guitars, and Marc's threatening, gravelly voice.
"Kill Or Cure" illustrates that mind numbing monotony eventually leads to mental break down but all of us have a choice. We can either use our intellect or instinct. To kill or to cure. "I've made my choice, what's yours?"
From "Anitmatter" the song "Junky" gives us a realistic look at drug addiction and those that fuel it. "The Junky needs the Dealer, the Dealer needs the Junky".
One of their biggest hits came in the form of "Body Burn" from their debut. Easily one of the most in-your-face aggressive songs of the genre, this song makes you want to move; whether it be dancing, working out, or beating the shit out of someone, it is the perfect sound track.
At times Marc would stop moving and stare up into the air. He would point and shout things like "Yes. No. Yes. No. No. Who are you?!" He would spin around on stage, grab his head, hit himself in the head, and other crazy antics that enhanced the no-holds-barred intensity of Cubanate.
They moved on to the only song from the "Interference" release with "It". As the song says, they dont know what "it" is, but "it" is what we are all striving for. This song sounded even better live than on the album.
They finished up the set with the awesome, "Oxyacetylene" from the "Cyberia" release. This song exemplifies Cubanate both in musical intensity but also in their lyrical canon. Is it a love song? Is it the soundtrack to a sexual encounter or a murder? It really depends on how you interpret it: "Your beauty, on my skin.... like Oxyacetylene. Stain your soul.. for me!"
It was an awesome show and one I have been waiting for since I saw them last in 1996 in a small club in West Hollywood. This performance blew that one away as well as most of the other bands playing this festival. I highly recommend checking out Cubanate as well as Marc Heal's new solo album, "Hum" and Phil Barry's new project, "Be My Enemy". They are an outstanding pair of musicians.
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