While strokes might not be the most pleasant thing in the world, they do have quite a few things in common with the nearly indescribable experience that Austin, Texas’ Street Sects bring to the stage. It goes by fast, it puts you out of your body and mind, and you will only realize what just happened once it’s over.
A show like a stroke
However, in terms of pleasure and addictiveness, the best suited comparison might be that of an orgasm, one that makes your head fly for a good couple of minutes. Austria’s promoter Liccht (notorious for inviting Lingua Ignota (read here) to her first ever show in Austria) is responsible for booking modern Electro-Industrial giants and underground legends Street Sects for their debut show in Austria.
One would expect the venue to match the industrial and abrasive sounds so typical for Street Sects’ output, the logical choice being Arena Wien. Surprisingly enough, Grillx in the first district – surrounded by Gucci stores, plague memorials and Peter’s church – is not your typical setting. Despite being in the most expensive district of the city and having relatively small available space, it proved to be the perfect choice for Austin’s finest.
From the point of view / perspective of a photographer, the show they put on is an absolute nightmare. Fog thicker than any Black Metal band would ever dare to put on (in fact, during the first two tracks, one was not able to see their own hands in front of their faces) epilepsy inducing strobe lights that would not go out for the whole duration of the show and vocalist Leo Ashline as a never stopping, maniacal movement machine. Not that you’d be able to ever spot the two band members at the beginning of the performance anyway, both do their work hidden away in impenetrable fog.
Screams can be heard from a clouded stage, as well as harsh, chaotic, violent synth elements blaring from beyond. Teasing melodies and strong, pumping industrial rhythms emerge and collapse back into the chaotic waves and sounds that Shaun Ringsmuth, the instrumental motor of the project, summon, one track flows effortlessly into the next, putting little to no breaks into this mayhem of light and sound.
Despite all the fog, Street Sects have nothing to hide, there is only embracement and shocking sincerity. Ashline does not shy away from the audience, rather dives right between them, moves like a lightning bolt, screams into faces, getting up close, sweat pouring from his concentrated face. Ringsmuth, although tied behind synth systems, does not stop moving either, relentlessly banging his head to the remorseless rhythms he invokes. It is rhythmic chaos, the force of a vehicular impact, the danger of a shootout, condensed into two people.
And then, suddenly, it’s all over, after not more than 25 minutes. Thank you, that was Street Sects, says Leo, grins, and joins Shaun in starting to pack up their gear. It’s like waking up from a nightmare of sound and fury, from a state of orgasmic bliss and ignorance, like suddenly being back inside your body, having your mind not longer hold captive by industrial chaos. But after being captured once, being grilled by this light speed experience that Street Sects is, you’re almost guaranteed to develop Stockholm syndrome, yearning for more.