Concert Review: Boy Harsher Record Release Show Leaves Fans (Literally) In the Dark
Toronto-based goth/industrial trio, Odonis Odonis, provided a foreboding start to the evening as they played from their latest album, No Pop. Perhaps in keeping with the smartphone-dystopian themes of the record, the band maintained an aloofness from the crowd throughout their set. Lead vocalist Dean Tzenos, whose sonorous voice was processed through a vocoder, came off as very reserved during his performance, which isn’t to say Odonis Odonis was dull. No Pop’s minimalist instrumentation, comprised solely of synths and an electronic drumkit, were spellbinding live, punctuated by Tzenos’ sparse screams. The trio sonically made up for what they lacked in charisma, filling Saint Vitus’ intimate space with heady waves of synth and echoing vocals.
Following Odonis Odonis’ languid set, performance artists Monica Mirabile and Sigrid Lauren of FlucT writhed, wrestled, and spanked each other to a roughly 10-minute backing track blaring everything from dubstep to Fergie to the opening chords of Oops! I Did It Again. Mirabile and Lauren met in Baltimore’s thriving underground arts scene before moving to Brooklyn and opening their studio, Otion Front, in Bushwick. The high-energy performance revealed a similar preoccupation with mass communications to that of Odonis Odonis, but through a more feminist lens. In manically parodying the straight male gaze through hypersexualized performance (at one point, Lauren sucked Mirabile’s bare nipple), the duo physically processes and exorcises patriarchal messaging from their bodies. Of course, that is an awful lot to detox, but the performance may have been even more impactful if abridged by a few minutes.
After FlucT finished with the ominous voice-over, “Culture is not your friend,” Boy Harsher confidently sauntered out to play for their eager audience. Jae Matthews, the duo’s lead vocalist, immediately brought star power to the stage with her low, vampiric voice, intermingled with the heavy synths, bass line, and percussion produced by her (romantic and musical) partner, Gus Miller. The industrial/cold wave/dark wave/goth pop/synth punk (re: highly genre fluid) outfit met while in film school in Savannah, Georgia before relocating to Northampton, Massachusetts. Their sultry, sinister sound doesn’t exactly evoke small town New England, so it makes sense their provenance is an old Southern city with no open container laws.
Boy Harsher’s musical performance was very solid, but the show was doomed from the beginning when Matthews insisted that the lights be turned off. The darkness was pleasantly disorienting at times, and appropriate for Halloween, but inevitably grew boring. Despite their strong background in film, the duo completely surrendered the visual element of their performance, which is a huge part of a live concert experience. It was disappointing to only see shadows of Matthews’ blonde hair whipping in the dark and her stomping on stage. In the end, I just wanted to be at Good Room (98 Meserole Ave), where at least there would be space to dance to (if not see) Boy Harsher playing their exquisitely gritty new EP.