The Rathskeller, German Beer & KMFDM: Aug. 27, 2011

Victoria, British Columbia, is on an island, and as a result gets skipped by 9 out of 10 touring bands. Other than, say, Anchorage, Alaska, this is probably the most inconvenient city of any size on the West Coast to get to. It’s the capital of BC, but it’s distinctly removed from the rest of the province, both literally and figuratively. Bands willing to take the ferry trip from the mainland, however, are generally rewarded by enthusiastic crowds.
German industrial metal band, KMFDM, chose to end their recent North American tour in Victoria, and for this the assembled goth-misfit-metalhead-unclassifiable freaks were most appreciative. They heaped on every stitch of black clothing they owned, donned ridiculous footwear and made up their faces and hair appropriately garishly. This was their (summer) prom.

Our personal m.o. for the evening’s entertainment featured a slightly different trajectory and, uh, outfit. We, as it turned out, were the only patron in Sugar Nightclub wearing a light-blue Western-style plaid collared shirt (German-made, we might add). We did receive a high-five for our sartorial choice, but we can’t help but feel that it may have been offered sarcastically. Regardless, we’d previously enjoyed some German brewskis at Victoria’s finest schnitzel house, The Rathskeller, so we weren’t feeling particularly conscientious about how we were dressed, even though we seemed to glow in the dark amidst all the black.

We were a little surprised more KMFDM fans hadn’t been present at the Rathskeller for some pre-show beers (or shots of Jaegermeister), considering its close proximity to Sugar. But, alas, it was the usual gatherings of family types celebrating some special event or another. The black-clad minions apparently didn’t know (or care) that Das Rathskeller was serving Weihenstephaner Dunkelweizen and Spaten Oktoberfest (among others). We drank our beer and munched fresh-baked pretzels at a gingham-covered table while being entertained by an accordion-playing fellow whose setlist included distinctly non-traditional tunes by Creedence Clearwater Revival and Van Morrison. By the time he played (by request) “That’s Amore,” for fucks sake, we knew it was time to leave.

The beer selection at Sugar was abysmal, so our evening’s imbibing ended at Rathskeller. We caught the last half of Army of the Universe’s set, but it seemed to us that even though there were two musicians on stage accompanying a vocalist, nothing was actually being “played” live. Said shirtless vocalist gave a lot of shout-outs to Sascha Konietzko and KMFDM, and occasionally sang a bit behind the pulsing industrial backing music, but he couldn’t really muster much enthusiasm from the crowd.

KMFDM, on the other hand, got things churning straight away with a volley of new songs from their latest album, WTF?. Konietzko traded off lead vocals from song to song with his wife/bandmate Lucia Cifarelli, providing an effective good cop/bad Polizei dynamic. Though there was obviously a backing track playing, two guitarists and a drummer provided a metallic crunch to the industrial/techno throb. Strobes flashed, fog machines poured forth a wall of curling “smoke” and the floor of Sugar pulsed along with every bpm.

KMFDM definitely highlighted their newest release, but also pulled a song or two from albums spanning the last 20 years. Suddenly it didn’t matter that we were dressed more appropriately for a rodeo than a rave. We were just a fan, happy as hell that KMFDM had come to Victoria, and hopeful that they would return in the future.