This article is part of an occasional series on Writing about Images
Prior to photographing the gig at The Palomino last night, all I knew about the music of DRI HIEV was what I had read in the Sled Island 2018 Program Guide: “(they) spit in your face with industrial force. Mixing aggressive angular noise with fat, groovy bass lines, the band creates an otherwise sonic experience.” I got my green pen out and highlighted that bit and noted down their classification as “Electronic/Noise/Punk.”
I was intrigued by how groovy the tunes might go, then conjured up some visuals of a post-industrial wasteland site in Detroit that I photographed a while ago.
As my mind often does, it wandered towards a music video concept of a band thrashing out their stuff in some Motor City location under the broken glass roof of a derelict factory, where heavy machinery still sits there, too expensive to be pulled out, in the rain puddles, grease stains, and scattered metal machine turnings.
But now that I have seen DRI HIEV, I would have to move the location away from Michigan to Germany. Why go there? Well, first there is the German accent of frontman, Carter Crough who, on checking, has his roots in Grande Prairie, not Gröningen or Groß-Gerau or some former munitions town in the Ruhr. The music seemed to fit for me in that post-war Deutsche Industrielandschaft with recollections of Bauhaus and Kraut Rock. And with the inclusion of saxophone in DRI HIEV’s line-up, I made some synaptic connections between DRI HIEV’s high-noise sound to David Bowie’s V-2 Schneider, Moss Garden, and Neuköln, from the album Heroes, recorded in Berlin in 1977.
But the main thing was Crough’s stage presence, which was bold, very bold. Or maybe I could say Bowles, as in Sally Bowles. She was the main character in Christopher Isherwood’s book Goodbye to Berlin (1939) about life in the German capital in 1931 as the Nazis began their evil push to power. That book became a stage musical, which turned into the film, Cabaret, starring Liza Minnelli. Crough dressed in a black frock and black elbow-length PVC gloves had some of that wardrobe and his moves suggested Minelli’s rendition of Mein Herr but without the chair. His make-up was more suggestive though of the face paint of the other main character from Cabaret, the Master of Ceremonies, marvelously and mischievously played by Joel Grey, and his Kit Kat Klub girls in their song, Two Ladies.
So there you have it, my best pick of the bands I photographed last night and how DRI HIEV’s industrial post-punk met Cabaret at The Palomino. You can find more images from Sled Island 2018 by visiting J. Ashley Nixon Photography.