Maybe it was the rain dance of thumping tribal beats and sweat soaked bouncing bodies that convinced the skies to open up and break their weeks-long drought. If so, we can thank night two of the fifth annual Reverence festival, which played host to three regional bands and a swarm of dedicated revelers.
Held over four nights, Reverence 2007 brings local and regional EBM, industrial, synth pop and darkwave bands to both the Inferno and, on Saturday, the High Noon Saloon. Unsurprisingly, some of the best offerings are Madison based bands like Stochastic Theory and Sensuous Enemy, who made up two thirds of Thursday night's line up.
The other third, Chicago based band MindFluxFuneral, jumpstarted the evening's entertainment with a unique brand of growling, polished beats. Self described "hardcore industrial torture tekk," the group of four tore through a brain rattling set of dark but danceable tunes.
Balancing the technology of laptops and loops with live instrumentation is no easy feat, but MindFluxFuneral definitely pull it off. Incorporating guitar, drums, keys and vocals, they put together a full and powerful sound. In addition to the complex rhythms and interesting arrangements, the band also boasts a very decent light and projection show. All of it comes together to form some seriously fun entertainment.
Drawing influences from groups like Wolfsheim and VNV Nation, Stochastic Theory took the stage next and brought a more lyrically focused style with them. Chuck Spencer, the mastermind behind the project, writes emotionally vulnerable songs, made more immediate by a very decent backing band of guitar and keyboard.
While the pre recorded background track used for percussion sometimes sounded a bit too much like listening to someone's computer speakers, the overall sound was intriguing. They incorporated straight ahead dance beats, dark but melodious riffs and interesting lyrics. Their cover of REM's "Losing My Religion" was a nice touch and made for a good fit with the style of the rest of their set.
Finishing off the night was Sensuous Enemy, another hardworking Madison band and Reverence Festival veterans fronted by the charismatic Jai and backed by programmer/guitarist Ffej and standing percussionist B.O.B. There were some unfortunate technical difficulties at the start of their set, but the band shrugged it off with good humor and continued on with music that might best be described as darkly melodic tribal industrial. Jai's velvety alto voice and her strong stage presence carried the songs, which ranged from up tempo audience movers to the sparse cover of the Tears for Fears song "Mad World."
The audience was especially appreciative of the local acts and very respectable in size for a Thursday night show. It was good to see that kind of support for Madison's more off-the-beaten-path groups. And the people on stage showed their love right back. MindFluxFuneral's front man summed up the edgy but jovial mood with his closing remark of "God bless you, motherfuckers!"
The festival continues into Friday and Saturday evenings, featuring more hometown and regional favorites like Stromkern, Null Device and Caustic.