Star date Saturday, Sept. 2nd, 2023… San Diego, California. Nitzer Ebb is the band. Modern.wav and Lethal Amounts are the pilots and The Music Box became the vessel for the only U.S. show scheduled this year for the British EBM/Industrial pioneers. It was perfect timing for Venus to come out of retrograde as the stars aligned to bring lost loves back into our lives.
Last time I saw Nitzer Ebb was at Substance 2021 and as fun as that set was, it was missing front man Douglas McCarthey with composer and energizer bunny Bon Harris insuring the show went on. This show was a collaboration between Lethal Amounts and San Diego goth scene impresarios, Modern.wav, whose line-ups, clubs and vibes have been drawing me down to San Diego on a more regular basis over the last year. As one might imagine, Nitzer Ebb drew Angelenos down to the southern most part of California so the crowd was filled with familiar and friendly faces.
The lineup was stacked with quality, dark music acts, bondage exhibitions and DJ’s between bands.
Opening the show was synth pop group, Normal Bias. Normal Bias have a distinct, Depeche Mode influence. Matt Bias does his best Dave Gahan impression while putting his own spin on the vocals while Chris Normal laces his synth pop/ebm/industrial influences throughout the high tech arrangements.
Next up was San Diego natives and Modern.wav collaborators, Matte Blvck. This is the second time I’ve seen Matte Blvck open a big Modern.wav show at the Music Box. The first time was for HEALTH/Author and Punisher in April. Their dark electronic sounds are always the perfect appetizer for a big show.
The Music Box was packed with goths from all over Southern California who made the trip to see an increasingly rare performance from Nitzer Ebb. The background visuals lit up for the first song, “Control I’m Here” and the Music Box started bouncing and writhing at the stroke of midnight. Over the next hour, Nitzer Ebb mashed the Music Box into a chunky pulp with classics like “Blood Money”, “Lightning Man”, “Shame” , “Murderous”, “Let Your Body Learn” and of course, “Join in the Chant”. Douglas McCarthey was perfectly stoic and precise. Bon Harris was kinetic. As fun as the last Nitzer Ebb set I experienced was, it was a bit empty without McCarthey and made my 2nd time seeing Nitzer Ebb more like the 1st time.
I look forward to the future of the San Diego music scene. It flies under the radar for most of the country but much of Southern California already knows what the rest of the country may or may not discover- San Diego is a hot bed of both new bands and tour stops for most top tier acts.
Words: Danny Baraz
Photos: Sarah Dinse