When a national tour brought up-and-comers The Gothsicles, Caustic and local powernoisers Prometheus Burning to Pittsburgh yesterday, the event was billed under the title "It Ain't Dead Yet." And that's a reasonable claim for an industrial genre that has endured for 30 years. Far from dead, it's become a perpetually renewable club subculture in every major city -- evolving through the harsh noise and clanging metal of Throbbing Gristle and Einstürzende Neubauten, then via the "electronic body music" of Front 242 and KMFDM.
"Ain't dead yet" also aptly describes the imminent appearance by German electro-industrial icons Funker Vogt, who make their second-ever Pittsburgh appearance on Mon., April 13.
Funker Vogt was founded by Gerrit Thomas (music) and Jens Kästel (vocals in that classic gravelly Bill Leeb style) back in 1995 in Hameln, Lower Saxony, and named after a friend who was a radio operator in the German army. The band's live experience has since expanded to a quartet (a trio in the U.S.) with keyboards and guitars, but it retains a jackhammer beat that comes off like the sinister equivalent of a rave.
Originally staples of the seminal European industro-dance label Zoth Ommog, Funker Vogt is now established on SPV in its homeland, and on the dark-music giant Metropolis in the States. Its frequent use of military imagery (such as an orange-and-black stripe motif) in stage presentation and lyrics has stirred up interest among the enlisted. Meanwhile, Funker Vogt offers wry commentary on another portion of its audience in its newest single, "White Trash": "[T]here's so much more we can't control ... we are who we are, we're proud of our roots."
One could almost visualize a group of buzz-cut Forrest Gumps in overalls marching to the refrain of that song in front of your local Applebee's. But despite album titles such as We Came to Kill and Execution Tracks, Funker Vogt's members always emphasize that they stand against war and deplore social injustice. Their music, they say, is a vehicle to "present grotesque cruelties and tragedy" (another popular track is called "Fallen Hero").
Whether military-based rivetheads get this message is open to question. But one thing is certain: Funker Vogt won't cease its relentless barrage anytime soon. Its seventh album, Aviator, came out in 2007, and a double live CD is being released this month on Metropolis; there's also the Warzone K17: Live in Berlin import-only DVD (which includes a documentary on the band called Wrestling, Shotguns, Trailer Parks). So if it's your cup of tea, put on those aviator goggles, raise your fist, and proceed to stomp around the dance floor.
Funker Vogt with Interface, Rein[forced] and Boxed Warning. 7:30 p.m. Mon., April 13. Pegasus Lounge, 818 Liberty Ave., Downtown. All ages. 412-726-2925