Screaming Into The Abyss

Where Would I Be Without IBM?
By Ben Zvan
On March 30, 2009 at 12:57

Information Society - James CassidyThe first thing that I noticed walking into the Varsity Theater for Information Society on Saturday was the progress they had made since Tuesday night in their renovations. There was a whole new set of stairs going up to the balcony. It was closed, but it hadn't been there on Tuesday. I'm really looking forward to seeing what the place looks like when they get the Shop-Vac and the workbench off of the second floor.

Information Society has always held a special place in my music collection with their energetic synth-pop. I've never felt that they got the recognition they deserved in the international music scene, but I am comforted in the knowledge that their home town and mine contains a high proportion of fans. Most of the people I know who have heard InSoc like InSoc with only a few exceptions.

Milkbar - Sarah MöedingInSoc is the first band I know of to use the Internet to expand the experience of their music. Nine Inch Nails' alternate reality game was innovative and imersive but that was decades after InSoc's online scavenger hunt. I never got excited enough, or maybe geeky enough, to connect my CD player to a modem to pull out the super-secret hidden content but I know people who did so I guess that makes me geeky by extension.

Information Society played at The Varsity with a grand total of three opening bands. A local group named MilkBar opened the night. Unfortunately, either the mix was a little off or I was too close to the stage to hear it right, since Sarah Möeding's vocals were mostly drowned out by the rest of the band. Ignoring that, the music was good, if hard to describe. They're solidly synth-pop, but there are so many other influences, including Pat Benatar of all things that they pretty much define their own sub-genre. check them out on MySpace.

Faith Assembly - Mark StacyThe second band was Faith Assembly. I described them as "Erasure meets Joy Division" when I first heard them and grew to like them more during their set. I enjoyed their music and they really worked to get the stodgy Minnesotans pumped up but I have to admit that the guitar with blue LEDs was the highlight of their set for me. Mark Stacy is a heck of a showman.

Information Society - Kurt HarlandThe third and final warm up band was Moulin Noir which turned out to be a guy in a corset from Stockholm, Sweeden. His style of electro-goth new wave music worked really well but you could tell the audience was really getting a little tired of waiting. Note to self: try not to be the third opening act for a big-name band.

When the stage was finally set for Information Society, there were projectors displaying "propaganda" on the back wall and the crowd got jumpy every time someone crossed the stage. Then a short woman with a long scarf walked up to the microphone, got up on her tippy toes and said "Information Society - Paul RobbI am the original drum machine opperator for Information Society and the band has asked me to begin the show in the traditional Information Society manner." She then walked over to a rack of equipment and very deliberately, with her right index finger, pressed the "start" button and walked off stage.

What can I say about Information Society? The beats were solid, the synthesizers were exquisitely synthesizing and the geeks were good to go. Three of the original four members were up on stage, Paul Robb working the synthesizers and sequencers, James Cassidy on bass and the occasional keyboard and Kurt Harland singing lead vocals and smacking the box of samples with a drumstick. Kurt performed what I consider to be a legitimate magic trick by conjouring not one but two Halls from an audience member after the first song and proceeded to sing around the hard, mentholated candy.

Information Society - Kurt HarlandAbout half way through the show, Kurt looked out into the audience and adressed a woman standing right up by the stage: "Paul says you're trying to look like me from the 80s." She nodded yes and he helped her up on stage so everyone could see her lab coat, stripy tie and wild hair. He took her lab coat, which didn't fit him very well, dug through the pockets and said "Hey! There's stuff in here!" Holding up her keys "are you trying to give me a hint here, because I'll need to have your address too... Oh, it's right here on your driver's license!"

There were three sets with costume changes between them and I didn't miss any of the songs they didn't play. With a repertoir as long as theirs, there was no way they could cover everything, especially after three opening acts, but they hit all the bases and bends of genre they've made over the years. The show ended pretty suddenly at the end of "What's On Your Mind" but I and my cohorts left the theater completely satisfied.

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