Venue: Village Underground Support Bands: None Date: 23/10/10 Throbbing Gristle are, and always will be, about the performance. From the COUM days, through Prostitution at the ICA, through Psychic TV and through every modicum of their existence, the idea has always been about the performance and the lasting effect on the audience. Their shows are designed to shock and to be memorable – there’s not many of them, to say the least – and their performance at The Village Underground was no exception. Showcasing a range of new electronics and sounds alongside the occasional known song, in a set that lasted just under 2 hours, is a set very few artists can pull off. But what are Throbbing Gristle if not exciting and creative? There was not a boring moment of the set – almost every moment filled with noise or deliberate silence, and their set encompassed the best use of sound as a tool for psychological manipulation I’ve heard. There was the usual dissonance and cacophony that you’d come to expect from them, as well as the metallic and cold sounds of their krautrock orientated movements, the occasional warped motorik beat pushing through, the almost psychadelic wandering of their glutinous liquid sound at times forcing itself into the mould of a predictable song before melting and dripping away to form that amorphous sludge again. In their 2 hours on stage, they filled the Victorian warehouse that calls itself the Village Underground with their wall of sound and their somewhat subdued presence (up until Discipline, their encore at least) and experimented, as promised, with all their new equipment. While also plugging their Throbbing Gristle branded Buddha Machines (as well as using one each), there was the debut performance of the ‘Tutti Box‘, Cosey Fanni Tutti’s “experimental sound generator” made by mechanical genius and fellow Throbbing Gristle/Carter Tutti member Chris Carter. The link below shows a little of what this beautiful machine can do.

Tutti Box v1.0 from .

And while it was all a sound experiment, it was engaging. Despite most people not knowing a lot – if any – of what was being played in front of them, they still got hooked. It’s the mix of the crowd that strikes, especially when you see how engaged each person was. I’m 18 and I wasn’t the youngest there, and there were people going up to 60, if not older. Throbbing Gristle, with all their noise mongering, are still as relevant today as they were 34 years ago. And finally, the encore that was “Discipline”. Well, it stretched for an engaging 7 minutes, and got Genesis up and engaged. She’d sung a few songs before, but never took the mic from its stand, and so it was to rapturous applause that she took the mic away to the opening thuds to Discipline. While it wasn’t her most engaged of performances – she is still far from the energy of early Throbbing Gristle performances – it was pretty special to see her in full swing, complete with the theatrics (and someone stripping on stage and trying to crowd surf) and the passion that still hasn’t been lost. (NSFW) This was less a gig, more a performance; this is where music and art cross. Whatever way you look at it, the experience of seeing Throbbing Gristle live is one that is never forgotten. If Hackney Dissenting Group can put on such a show for their debut, where they go next will be exciting. And I will be there.