IAMX & Mr. Kitty
@ Lee’s Palace, Toronto
October 23rd, 2015
Lee’s Palace was the place to be last Friday night to catch IAMX’s live performance promoting their brand new release, Metanoia. The show was part of the band’s current whirlwind tour of North America and Europe. IAMX is a solo project, created in 2004 by Chris Corner, formerly of Sneaker Pimps. Though formed in London, IAMX has been based in Berlin since 2006, and the German Underground is a definite undercurrent of the band’s visual appeal and musical style. IAMX now has six albums under its belt.
Opening act Mr. Kitty hails from Austin, Texas, and produces what he describes as “self-destructive Synth-pop.” An air of mystery surrounds him – little information is to be found about him online as biography pages are left incomplete, yet five full-length LPs can be discovered, all with one-word titles – Fragments, Time, Life, Eternity, and Death. His show adds to the aura of mystery; no introductions, just moving from one song to the other, to the audience’s delight. Yet the crowd was clearly more than familiar with Mr. Kitty as it sang along with every song. His show is all lasers, strobes, squeals, echoes, and synthesizers. His set was visually and musically appealing, and the crowd lapped it up.
After a brief break, it was time for IAMX. The crowd was ready; you could cut the excitement in the room with a knife. The lights dimmed, and graphics appeared on the backdrop screens. Black-and-white images of Joshua trees and full-colour images of a beating heart floating in space were displayed. The band mounted the stage to the screams from the crowd, and the throbbing, frantic beats began. Pulsating synthesizer beats accentuated by vicious, violent bass drums; the anxiety level rose to a panic level while IAMX dove into “I Come With Knives.” The mood escalated to frantic.
Corner is joined on tour by a band consisting of Janine Gezang on keys and bass, Sammi Doll on second keys, and Jon Siren on drums. Onstage, Corner was front and centre, singing into, and often hanging from, two microphones, and was prominently flanked by Gezang and Doll. Siren was at the back, dimly lit, long hair frequently covering his face, shirtless, and nearly anonymous. His drumbeats, on the other hand, were anything but anonymous: loud and pulsing, definitely a powerful force. The stage backdrop was a solid semicircle of screens onto which were projected beautiful, fascinating, and at times disturbing photos, graphic images, and videos, taken or created by Corner himself. These images go hand in hand with the painful and disturbing topics at the core of the music itself: decadence, pain, alienation, human relationships, and suffering. Imagine yourself at the brink of a panic attack, and you’re there. The beats were visceral and throbbing, and the entire room immediately was transformed into a sea of writhing, moving bodies, including IAMX itself. No one was left standing still, and every move, every beat, was synchronized. If you didn’t find yourself gyrating and throbbing along with the crowd, Corner didn’t give you the opportunity to be out, either. Bantering back and forth with the audience, IAMX had you singing, screaming, shouting, and crying along. You are not a listener at their show; you are a vessel for the music itself.
Though IAMX is on tour promoting Metanoia, the set-list was a more evenly distributed culling of songs from all six albums. Every song played was thrust upon all of your senses. An IAMX show is a complete and visceral experience. Being in attendance is not a passive event – you become a part of every beat, every lyric, every feeling, every collective moment.
Between songs, Corner graciously shook hands with audience members, and repeatedly expressed his gratitude and love. He is clearly the master in the ring. You could feel the outpouring of love, yet the loneliness and sadness he wishes to convey was physically present in the crowded room.
“I come with knives
I come with knives
To love you”
-IAMX, “I Come With Knives”
Yes you did. We feel your pain, IAMX, and we love you back. What an outstanding performance!
“I Come With Knives” (The Alternative, 2006, The Unified Field, 2012)
“The Alternative” (The Alternative, 2006)
“Happiness” (Metanoia, 2015)
“Mercy” (Kiss + Swallow, 2004)
“No Maker Made Me” (Metanoia, 2015)
“Volatile Times” (Volatile Times, 2011)
“Tear Garden” (Kingdom Of Welcome Addiction, 2009)
“Oh Cruel Darkness Embrace Me” (Metanoia, 2015)
“Spit It Out” (The Alternative, 2006)
“Bernadette” (Volatile Times, 2011)
“Surrender” (Metanoia, 2015)
“After Every Party I Die” (The Alternative, 2006)
“Aphrodisiac” (Metanoia, 2015)
“Your Joy Is My Low” (Kiss + Swallow, 2004)
“Bring Me Back A Dog” (The Alternative, 2006)
“Kiss + Swallow” (Kiss + Swallow, 2004)
“I Am Terrified” (Kingdom Of Welcome Addiction, 2009)