Cold Waves X thrilled audiences over the course of three weeks in September at Brooklyn's Warsaw, Chicago's Metro and Riviera Theaters, and the Mayan Theater in Los Angeles. The festival originated in 2012 as a memorial concert for Chicago musician and sound man Jamie Duffy and has grown from a hastily organized fundraiser to a global destination for industrial, goth and dark electronic-music fans. This year, $12,000 was raised from raffles, auctions and donations for Darkest Before Dawn, a nonprofit based in Chicago committed to improving the health and well-being of workers from within the service industry and nightlife communities.
The lineup for the festival's 10th anniversary shows featured a number of innovative acts from around the world making their debut appearance at Cold Waves, including Kite (Sweden), Hapax (Italy), Spike Hellis (Los Angeles), Rare DM (Brooklyn), Plack Blague (Nebraska), Leathers (Canada), the Foreign Resort (Denmark), ritualz (Mexico City), Haloblack (formed in Minneapolis in 1992), Orphx (Canada), Ghostfeeder (New York), Rein (Sweden) and New Canyons (Chicago).
Since the announcement that Portion Control would join Cold Waves X, anticipation grew to see the South London electronic and industrial band, which formed in 1979 and reformed in 2002. Attendees were also eager to see Stromkern, which returned after a long hiatus to join Portion Control for a couple of U.S. tour dates before hitting Cold Waves.
The diverse bill of returning bands included Haex, Actors, High Functioning Flesh, Kontravoid, Light Asylum, Caustic, Cold Cave and Choke Chain. Due to various complications, a handful of acts initially scheduled had to cancel, including Covenant, Empathy Test, Drab Majesty and Stabbing Westward.
Electric Body Music (EBM) pioneers Nitzer Ebb and Front 242 headlined Chicago and Los Angeles (with Front 242 also headlining NYC), electrifying festival goers who traveled from all over to see their explosive sets. With members of both bands having experienced recent health issues, it was especially gratifying to see them out in full force.
Industrial music OGs Revolting Cocks — calling itself Revolting Corpse for these shows — played what were their last performances ever, according to the band, which featured Dan Brill, Duane Buford, founding member Richard 23 (Front 242) and Cold Waves' organizer Jason Novak, joining Paul Barker (Ministry) and Chris Connelly. With Connelly splayed out onstage at one point, RevCo's relaxed yet entertaining set was capped by a riotous crowd chanting along to their droning cover of "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy." It was a fitting, chaotic send-off for a boundary-pushing collaborative project with remarkable staying power.
Festival goers were also buzzing after performances by Kite (with one fan sharing that he was brought to tears by their emotionally charged performance), Light Asylum (vocalist Shannon Funchess captivated the whole of the Riviera Theater with her energy), Nitzer Ebb, Spike Hellis and Caustic (the "power industrial" outfit lit up Smartbar's dim basement). Another highlight was Los Angeles-based duo Haex, a band forged in industrial music and infused with heavy metal. Adam Jones (not TOOL's guitarist) and Sarah Graves were not to be ignored as they unleashed their fury and melted faces off with their grinding riffs and beats.
Cold Waves Chicago's after-party shows at Smartbar and Le Nocturne included guest sets by Front 242's Patrick Codenys and Richard 23, Light Asylum's Shannon Funchess, Baby Magick (a.k.a. Haex's Sarah Graves), NYC-based Synthicide event producer DJ Andi Harriman, and DJ Scary Lady Sarah of Chicago's long-running Nocturna party.
Cold Waves 2022 will be a hard act to follow but judging by the artists featured this year, there's a wealth of new, and established, bands to make next year's bill as diverse and exciting.