Nitzer Ebb @ Gramercy Theatre, 11/16/10

It’s 1987, I’m a brooding teen. Nitzer Ebb solidify themselves as one of my favorite bands and officially help coin the term “Industrial Dance” music.

Fast forward to 2010, almost 25 years later. Nitzer Ebb now live in my iTunes but don’t get as much play as they used to. Have I outgrown Nitzer Ebb? As I shuffle into the Gramercy Theatre in New York City to see them live for the first time, I’m ready to see if these guys live up to the lineage they helped create.

It’s no secret that their setup reflects their style, simple and precise. Nitzer is comprised of three members; Douglas McCarthy, Vaughn “Bon” Harris, and Jason Payne. There’s a drum kit on one end of the stage, a set of percussive instruments and midi triggers on the other. A single microphone stands lonely in the center of the stage, waiting to be embraced. As they waltz on to perform, Douglas McCarthy takes command of the mic with ardent intensity and almost tangible electricity. Their lyrics, full of angst and stripped of detail synchronize perfectly with their heavy downbeats. Nitzer Ebb’s presence reeks of seasoned performers and their music – still hypnotic and clean, gave me hope that not all good bands from this era sell-out. McCarthy’s roar was spot on and his charisma and energy level are impressive. Meaningful lyrics that can be interpreted as social injustice play as a catalyst to their message and they manage to keep the mercury at the top the entire show. Their fusion of deep, arpeggiated staccato bass and highly percussive hooks instantly worked the crowd into a frenzy.

Two impressive things:

1. I’d say 85% of their set was early material from their first album.

2. There were many parents and their kids. Its one thing to be influenced by your parents’ music later in life, but for kids to be able to share this genre of music with their parents…well, that’s just damn cool. Forget the Stones – my parents were into Nitzer Ebb…

As we move into the modern era of cheaply funded home studios and a plethora of genre making electronica bands, Nitzer Ebb proved that they deserve credit as one of the first of their kind. On this night, they claimed their rightful place in Industrial Dance history and brought this kid full-circle with an incredible evening of raw, uninterrupted energy and powerful, meaningful music.

–Noah Gilbert

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