The Birthday Massacre

It’s getting close to the end of the week, it’s still a school night, but there is a gig to go to! So off to The Engine Rooms in Southampton for The Birthday Massacre. For the more than reasonable price, tonight’s audience is treated to 4 bands.

First to hit the stage are Biomechanical, a trio not to be confused with the Metal act of the same name. The hit the stage brimming not only with enthusiasm but hard-hitting EBM/industrial sound whose bass note punches through you. Unfortunately early on they have a technical issue as their laptop decides to power down, there first issue in 3 years we are reliably informed. This, however, does not dampen the mood, and the audience is sympathetic to the band’s plight – soon we are back up and running as the beats return hard and heavy.

The treat us to a new track, “Honour”, powerful beats, electro-industrial guitar, and predominantly guttural vocals carried their strong set. One interesting point of note is the synth/pad controller mounted in a guitar body with blowing blue EL strings.

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Throughout their set, there is minimal crowd response, but no receivable background chatter showing that they had the audience’s full attention. As the set progressed a little more interaction with the crowd, especially on the last track. After a set of some dangerous bass, they left the stage to generous applause and appreciation.

Next up are Pythia (the name of the High Priestess of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi), and almost in stark contrast to Biomechanical, these folks are belting some hard rock tracks with a definite feel of something primal with songs about blood, honour and destiny. These guys hit the stage running and got applause and cheers as soon as they took to the stage. Following on from a predominately synth based outfit, to be hit hard and fast with a 6 piece rock and metal act was a head turner. And pleasant surprise at that.

With a slight medieval feel, with the band wearing pauldrons, they have a heavy and unrelenting sound which is carefully constructed, and as Sophia’s vocals cut through the guitars, there is an appreciation rippling through the audience.

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Next up are the interesting named Lesbian Bed Death, playing good old goth rock with themes heavily entrenched in 80’s horror movies. Hitting the stage to applause and cheers there goth-rock sound was readily consumed, and they had no trouble interacting with the audience.

Lesbian Bed Death
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Again with little movement by the audience, you might think there was no appreciation but the audience was firmly focused on the stage. Of which Sienna held full control over proceedings with her vocals and command of the stage. While Mr. Peach partook of most of the crowd banter talking about horror films and asking who had heard of them before. Proudly announcing that they are in a horror film next year (“Clownface”), in which they are also killed.

Jon, aka Dr. Powerful’s last show with the band, so they are joined stage by Nate from tonight’s headliners for the track “Halloween”, as Dr. Powerful gets lonely! This was a treat for fans of both bands and was created with cheers as Nate took to the stage.

With existing fans in the audience, there is no doubt they made some new ones this evening, and with their love of horror films, “Clownface” might be one to look out for!

And so to the final act of the evening. Now this reviewer has listened to the last couple of albums by The Birthday Massacre, and these in no way prepared me for tonight’s show. I perceived them to be synth-pop and goth rock, tending to the more synth’y dreamy sound, with Chibi’s vocals adding to that dreamlike quality. And I liked what I had heard. But I did not expect what hit the stage as the band exploded into “Counterpane” which set up the energy level for the remainder of this evening, and I knew from the outset that the energy and passion in the live show far outweighs their recorded material.

On stage these guys are more of a power-house, tending more to the rock element of their sound. Not only that, they are bouncy. These guys are really having fun, it shows, and from the moment they hit the stage they had the audience in the palm of their hands. I understand why this band has some fiercely loyal fans!

The Birthday Massacre
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On stage, the initially laid back “Superstition” has extra power and bite in the live show when compared to its understated recorded version. The power seems to be just hiding under the surface. While “Video Kid” and “Lovers End” take us down a deeper darker path. As with any live show, the performance is key to engaging with the audience, and while I enjoyed the opening acts – these guys took it to another level. And despite the deeper darker path, the audience followed them without question.

Now, considering the dark nature of their material, there is still humour and whimsy present, and you cannot help but think that they do not take themselves seriously. This added an extra dimension to their set because they became people and as an onlooker, you were drawn into their world.

Closing their energetic set with “Blue”, the crowd were not left disappointed as Chibi rushed from the stage through the audience and out into the night.

So, after a fairly diverse line up of bands, it is refreshing to see venues still put on what might be considered fringe acts. There are plenty of music fans wanting live music and tonight was a great night for bands and fans alike.

Set List
Red Stars
Kill the Lights
All of Nothing
Lovers End
Video Kid
Under Your Spell
Leaving Tonight
Pins & Needles
In The Dark


Words and Pictures by Jon.