Underworld Gets a Cyber Sister Night at Numbers

For a guy that makes his living covering the local music and art scene here in Houston I don't go out much. The wife is in school, and night time is when she studies while I bribe our child into dinner and bed. This last week was a rare night off between semesters, so we decided to check out Cyber Wasteland at Numbers as an excuse to put on some spooky clothes and leave our cave.

According to Carmina Bell, Underworld's majordomo who I ran into at the door, Cyber Wasteland represents an attempt to placate complaints from the city's always divided goth crowd. As far back as I can remember the deathrockers have moaned about all the Wolfsheim and VNV Nation, while the industrial set asked exactly how many times in your life it was necessary to hear The Sisters of Mercy sing "This Corrosion?"

Ironically, I had just come from dinner with Scarlett St. Vitus, one of the extremely pro-deathrock-y founders of the short-lived Bone Church here in Houston (Miss that place, yes I do). She herself has joined the EDM crowd, and lamented over burgers at Hobbit Café that she grew sick of trying to find new traditional goth tunes that would fill a dance floor. In this light, Cyber Wasteland makes sense.

See also: A Showcase Of Silly Industrial Dancing

Bell acknowledged that the Jets-vs-Sharks crap between goth camps had mellowed some over the last several years, but that Cyber Wasteland still seemed like a good idea.

As I headed in I noticed some changes to Numbers since last I ventured out. Rather than being sequestered upstairs in the imposing command module that is Numbers' DJ booth, the curtains were drawn on the stage and DJs IEnigma and Biocyde had their set-ups under imposing banners.

I've been a big fan of DJs being more visually performance oriented ever since I got the chance to see Skrillex and several other DJs in the film Re:Generation. It was enticing enough to make me rethink years of being a grumpy rockstar looking down my nose at people "pushing buttons on a computer."

Unfortunately, both IEnigma and Biocyde could use a few lessons in regards to their visual presence. They looked more bored than anything else, and it made me wonder if they wouldn't have been better up where we couldn't see them on the second floor.

I found IEnigma's set to be somewhat lacking and repetitive, even for EBM music. His mixes tended to use the same drum sounds over and over again, making each song feel like it was an overall dragging dance mix. His transitions, as well, while seamless did not really amp up the vibe of the floor.

I was much more into the work of Biocyde, who pulled from a more cohesive set of songs. Admittedly, I might be showing my age by wondering where stuff like Covenant was in his set, but at least I'm current enough to know he was playing the Swedish band's newer stuff. In contrast to IEnigma, who I felt was trying to create an endless rhythmic experience, Biocyde drew from much more melodic sources that felt fuller and more flushed out.

Ironically, he seemed to have a harder time filling the dance floor than IEnigma, though he got a much better response once he had. The Cyberot Dancers were dressed to the nines in the best standard "Oops, I forgot my clothes" look complete with dreads. They're a younger group of dancers, almost to the point I felt slightly pervy watching them, and their movements took some time to stop being awkward and grow confident.

I will say this, Cyber Wasteland had an extremely enthusiastic crowd. Plus, unlike deathrockers they don't consider it a sin to show up before 11 p.m. The result is a fresher, less uptight night that celebrates movement rather than glamour. I'd like to see how it would do with some feistier movements from the resident DJs, as well as maybe bringing in folks like Provision to up the energy. All in all, though, it's a good place to feel the electrons in your veins.

Jef has a new story, a tale of headless strippers and The Rolling Stones, available now in Broken Mirrors, Fractured Minds. You can also connect with him on Facebook.

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