The basics of a Young Gods show have remained unchanged for nearly twenty years. Franz Treichler sings, leaps about and generally provides the spectacle, Bernard Trontin provides a solid percussive backline and everything else emanates from the keyboards of Al Monod. But it’s a successful recipe for a righteous racket that combines elements of hardboiled techno, metal and avant electronica with the occasional wanderings into Brechtian folk. It’s a winning formula, and one that has been a major influence on bands from Nine Inch Nails and Ministry onwards. It’s a pity, then, that a show at a venue as small as the Barfly is still only about two thirds full when Reznor’s crew and a whole hoard of imitators can sell out venues a whole lot bigger.
On record, The Young Gods have experimented with ambient electronica, Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht songs, and space rock. On stage tonight, though, it was mostly about the riffs – great, brutal blasts of noise. Treichler is a charismatic front man, and doesn’t seem to have aged in fifteen years. He leaps about athletically, bellows bilingually and even straps on a guitar for a couple of tunes. Monod is impassive as he produces riff after crunching riff from his keyboard, coloured by subtle ambient washes and occasionally switching to tungsten-hard jackhammer techno that makes Front 242 sound like Erasure by comparison.
There were occasional passages where the music was pushed into more freeform, abstract areas. The Young Gods are far from one trick ponies, but do know where their strengths lie. As if to illustrate their versatility, they encored with a Brecht tune that could have come straight from a Stella Artois ad, before ending with a pummelling version of “Skinflowers”.
The support band were called Undercut. Their indie-emo songs were played with a passionate intensity, but didn’t really do anything for me. I did warm to them, though, when they ended their set with a really good version of Brittney Spears’ “Toxic”. That was fun.