When I was getting over grunge, I spent about a year engrossed in the club kid scene in Austin in the mid nineties. Prodigy’s Fat of the Land had just released, and it bridged the gap between my industrial roots in NIN and Manson, and the dance/trance Keoki style music that accompanied a couple of raves I snuck into. I have always heard that The Prodigy puts on killer live shows, and over ten years later, here we go.
I saw Tenderlions do an opening set earlier this year. They look a bit more comfortable, tweaking dance tracks and playing live drums…but my general impression remains the same. I don’t think the live drumming adds a ton. I also don’t think they drastically overhaul the songs they are spinning. They also play for too long for an opener- I’m not left wanting more at all here.
During the break, an older man starts chatting me up. He’s been into the band since the beginning, seeing their first SF show at DNA lounge with 40 people at 3 in the morning…or something like that. He decides to adopt me, fetching me water and explaining how the show will work. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I’m a concert vet, but it was a nice gesture. Looking back on it, I think he knew I was about to get mauled.
Right before the show starts I am surrounded by Prodigy groupies- English bitches who think they own the place. They want more drugs- asking me for some with their Cheshire cat eyes. They want me out of their way bad, but I’m not moving. “But these are me mates”. The lights dim, the smoke pours into the crowd. Some of the people on the rail next to me get that look on their face- probably the same look I had all last week. Ecstacy.
The Prodigy would rank high on my list of intense performers. Their overall energy and stage movement is propelled by their extreme eye contact, pointing, and crowd interaction, coupled with the level of fucked-upness of everyone on the floor. One of the English bitches pops in front of me at the beginning and pogos for at least 6 songs straight while the security guard stands face to face with her. Her friends are behind me arms flailing to reach out to the band over my shoulders. I wanted to kill them all.
I’m not familiar with the new album yet, so the first song or two I spent throwing elbows and pulling hair trying to get these bitches off me. But by ‘Firestarter’, I decided that I couldn’t beat them and joined them.
I had a side quest for this show- suss out Rob Holliday. I’ve seen him with Manson twice, but I’ve always been focused on either Tim Skold/Manson or Twiggy/Manson, and haven’t had a chance to form an opinion. Plus I think he’s touring again with Manson this summer, so I’m interested. I perched in front of his main post, though he does move around the stage quite a bit, or leaves completely for the songs that don’t require his services.
Well, I got my impression alright. It’s hard to judge his skills as a guitarist with this kind of music. I wouldn’t go put him in my top ten list at this point. But as a performer, he’s pretty entertaining. He does a lot of jumping. He likes to spray water in your face by putting the bottle by his crotch and squeezing the water out…..yeah. He sticks his tongue out. He’ll walk up to you, reveal the back of his guitar, where the words ‘DIRTY CUNTS’ are scrawled out on pieces of tape, and point to them, then point to you. Then he’ll throw his guitar in the crowd on top of you, allowing you to cut your fingers on the strings as you hold it up while everyone grabs for it.
The frontmen, Keith and Maxim, are very very intense. Keith walked the rail like a balance beam, Maxim would climb speakers along the sides. They would come and crouch down and just stare at everyone in the front row. They really work the crowd- it’s like they are watching and encouraging the audience to perform as much as we are them. At one point, Keith strums the guitar while Rob did the finger work….which looked dirtier than it really was.
The energy peaked during the encore’s ‘Smack My Bitch Up’. This was when there were so many hands around me reaching in the air, that I took an elbow to the lip and head from two different people simultaneously. Not a good feeling. But the energy during that song helped me get over it.
This was when the bitches surrounding me decided that they wanted to crowd surf. They attempted to organize, but it never came to fruition. Good thing- one was in a dress and they all had big purses.
I left with a huge welt on my arm, and a very bruised knee cap. Casualties were almost worse than NIN/JA all last week…..something is not right here.
The Prodigy performance: 8.75/10
venue (The Warfield): 8.75/10
value ($36.50/ticket): 9/10