Pig - Numbers, Houston, Texas

by Joseph Majsterski Rating: Release Date:

For those out of the loop, the current incarnation of industrial/rock/grab bag musical group Pig (stylized as <PIG>) is most of the original incarnation of KMFDM. Raymond Watts, En Esch, and Günter Schulz, all alumni of that august institution, have been working together in the studio and on the road for a couple of years now under the banner of Watts' long-time solo project. So for old-school KMFDM fans, their collaboration is a real treat. They, along with Z. Marr and Galen Waling, are touring for the second time in less than a year, and came to Houston's storied Numbers club on Saturday.

Opening act Ghostfeeder played a solid little set of darkwave-flavored post-industrial, and second act Julien K did more of the same, but with a slightly denser sound thanks to more live musicians. They closed out their set with a powerful rendition of New Order's classic 'Blue Monday', with a nod towards the Orgy cover more than the original. The crowd was tiny during these opening acts, and I kept wondering when everyone was going to show up. People continued to filter in, but by the time Pig came on, the crowd was still short of Numbers' capacity of around eight hundred.

Still, when they crunched into the opening song, slow-burner 'The Diamond Sinners' off the new album, The Gospel, what crowd there was loved it. There was something pretty special about seeing Watts and Esch on stage together after so many years. After the slow opening, they began to pick up steam and energy. I did notice almost immediately, though, that Schulz was not present. I asked Watts about his absence after the show, and found out there had been a family emergency that had forced Schulz to leave the tour. Luckily for fans, he spent a couple days giving a crash course to Luke Dangler, the guitarist for Ghostfeeder, and Dangler performed admirably. Of course, no one can truly match Schulz, perhaps the top player in the genre, and a bit of the magic was lost by not having all three of the ex-KMFDM gang sharing the stage.

The show bounced back and forth between brand new tracks and songs as old as thirty years, yet somehow it all felt cohesive and fresh when played as a live set. The performance really picked up energy when they started in on the KMFDM covers, of which four were played in total. The three tracks from KMFDM's 1995 zenith, Nihil, in particular blew the crowd away: 'Disobedience' (complete with bullhorn), 'Flesh', and the band's all-time biggest hit, 'Juke Joint Jezebel', blasted out with maximum power, and it was like a trip back in time. As was the case on that album, Watts' and Esch's vocals complemented each other well, providing more sonic texture than either can manage alone.

It got me wondering about the future of the two bands whose histories are so intimately linked. I asked Esch the big question after the show, and he said the three former KMFDM members were interested in reuniting with the old group. On that note, erstwhile Pig member and current KMFDM guitarist Steve White had played some songs live with the former in Seattle earlier in the tour, and I asked about his status. Watts informed me that he had only been able to appear for the one show in his hometown, and that he was preparing to tour with KMFDM in the fall. There had been some questions about who would be touring with the group, so that was one mystery solved.

The set closed with 'Viva Evil', a sexy, swiveling track off the new album, and it left the crowd wanting more more more. Unfortunately, the band did not come out for an encore. I could understand this, considering the crowd's small size compared to my own expectations. Watts' actually asked if something had happened in Houston, perhaps a nuclear holocaust or similar. I couldn't explain it, but it was clear that those who had attended had brought all the passion they could muster. Pig is still touring up the east coast of the U.S. and into Canada for the next couple weeks, and this is a must-see show for all industrial music fans.

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