Corner Hotel, June 2, 2012
‘Nice gloves,’ said the bouncer when I handed over my ID for him to check.
I thanked him, and realised he was wearing gloves in the same style: a black, fingerless affair, decorated with prints of skeletal knuckles. A few paces later and I noticed that it must have been a sentiment the bouncer had to echo throughout the night: Over half of the small crowd were wearing the same gloved, and so too were all but one member of the opening act, Attack Of The Mannequins.
Looking decidedly horrorPunk, Attack Of The Mannequins played an excitingly synth-heavy mix of pub-rock and glam that worked incredibly well. Despite being the opener and playing onto to a sparse crowd, they achieved that most difficult of accomplishments in prompting patrons to dancing at the front of the stage. It was also satisfying to see one of those keyboard axes on stage for the first time in a while.
The venue only filled a little more, but already a percentage of the audience were complaining about how late the headliners would be taking the stage, and asking loudly over the bar ‘Who are Insurge anyway?’ It was clear that many in the audience had come just to check out celebrity witch and late-night television personality Fiona Horne, and were being very vocal about it. Luckily their complaints were drowned out once Insurge did take to the stage.
I was never a huge fan of Insurge. I’m only really familiar with two of their singles, I Hate Stupid People and AK47, and remembered maybe seeing them at some all-ages thing years ago. All the memories came flooding back though when I saw the stage being set up with guitars, drums, a laptop and MIDI keyboard, and an assortment of still objects representing the band’s trademark percussion section. It was evident that many in the audience had come specifically to see Insurge, and their performance was strong enough to have justified this being a double-headline bill.
When Insurge finished, the Corner’s curtain was drawn around the stage, suggesting that something big was being planned underneath. DJs – apparently members of Caligula – played the kind of music I used to stay up late to see on Rage, which seemed to entertain the still-thin crowd. As well as Fiona’s fans, it seemed there was a lot of reminiscing going on about the Def FX regional shows of old. I remembered reading about their wild shows at University O-Weeks while I was in high school, but had never seen the band live before, so I staked out a position at the front of the stage.
The curtains opened to a surprisingly sparse stage, even by Corner standards, but it was immediately enlivened by a mass of blonde braids bouncing on stage, from under which Fiona Horne could be seen, looking no different than I remembered her in the video clips. Liquidy synth sounds oozed from the speakers before gradually forming into the familiar strains of each song, before being joined by guitar riffs and a polite blend of dancing – not moshing – from the slightly more mature audience. I’ll Be Your Majick shook things up by making an early appearance, with Crystalise and Psychoactive Summer playing particularly well live.
Def FX introduced me to a style of music I hadn’t heard. At the time I think we just called it rock with techno beats, but even now that such feats are commonplace, seeing Def FX live was a welcome surprise to the year’s live music radar.