A year and a half ago, I saw Spike Hellis for the first time at Das Bunker. I was there to see Pixel Grip but I had been hearing a buzz about this transcendental ebm outfit that had been playing a bunch of gigs that I kept missing. I went into Catch One with some expectations and Spike Hellis lived up to them all. Two prodigious partners dancing in a dystopian wasteland to a soundtrack they orchestrated. Hard ass beats laced with round synths and compelling vocals. They were mesmerizing and hypnotic and that was just my first taste.
Flash forward to June 30th, 2023. Spike Hellis have played 701,432 shows since then and have just returned from a 40 date tour, their first. Their 2022 self titled album was number 1 on my list of best albums for the year. I’ve seen them open for Twin Tribes and be the first band on a Sound and Fury side show lineup, of all things and may other gigs. Spike Hellis have delivered every time. They might be the hardest working band in independent music, right now.
There was no better place for me to witness their first headlining gig in L.A. than a show at Catch One brought to us by Das Bunker. It wasn’t a Das Bunker club night, though. It was one room, three bands- Spike Hellis, the return of Gatekeeper and a fun set by opener, Fuedal.
Spike Hellis entered “the arena” with their signature control center towers, one on each side of the stage. Illuminated in neon and hung on Elaine Chang’s platform stage right was the now signature “contact us” sign that read 1-888-FKN-Weak- presumably created for those that would wish to confess to all humanity what a bitter disappointment they have been. I was half expecting to hear a set with some of the newer, heavy guitar tracks I’ve heard them perform at some of the more recent shows. And while I eagerly await the release of those that I’ve heard, tonight was the night for just the club bangers that the most in the know DJ’s all across the world have already made a regular part of their rotations- “Teardrops (Kisses)”, “Slices”, “Feed”…
It’s clear the 40 date tour Spike Hellis just completed helped them dial in their performance. Chang, who is always frenetic and somewhat mysterious brought more of the same. Cortland Gibson seemed to possess a new confidence, precision and maybe even a new dance step or two after coming back from this tour. I am excited to hear some of the new Spike Hellis material in the studio and to see the continued trajectory of this innovative duo.
Das Bunker returns this Saturday Aug 12th with Summer Massive at Catch One. 7 rooms of goth glory all in one building.
Words: Danny Baraz
Photos: Juan Perez