The first time I saw Death in June live was in 2002 at the Walker Stage in New York City. The duo of Douglas Pearce and John Murphy commanded an intimate acoustic performance to a small but dedicated audience. Almost twelve years later, as this latest performance wrapped up, I thought back to my first DIJ experience and recounted how much things have both changed and stayed the same. The audience is larger, but just as dedicated. The band itself remains Douglas P. and John Murphy, but the momentary addition of Miro Snejdr (Herr Lounge Corps) added a fresh element to their classic line-up. The venue itself was an evolutionary step up from old punk bars, with a top-of-the-line audio system that delivered every note, beat, and sample without fail. Complex, situated right outside of the city of Los Angeles in Glendale, has grown to be the premiere venue for Industrial/Noise events in the area. Which should not be all that surprising when considering the long history that their staff, headed by the Rev. John, has had promoting the underground music scene in Los Angeles. Partnered with the event collective Church of the 8th Day, the team comfortably packed the venue with passionate fans and proved that they can deliver a more traditional act. The merchandise table was extensive, ranging from reissues of classic albums to brand new shirt designs and tour keepsakes, and as any event promoter should know, the life blood of any gig you book is the bar — which was staffed by courteous professionals who kept my whiskey flowing throughout the night.
This evening’s event was scheduled as a double feature, with an early and late show. Due to the long drive to and fro, my wife and I opted only for the early performance. Each show had a DJ opening to set the mood, with Blk Rainbow on early duties and Frank H-Bomb for the later crowd. Blk Rainbow focused on minimal and darkwave sounds to get the night started, and Herr H-Bomb delivered an impressive neofolk and ambient mix for those sticking around or joining in the revelries. The stage was set with a striking American Totenkopf 6 backdrop, with more flags draped over the instruments and flanked on one side by an imposing Schwarze Sonne banner. Kudos to the promoters for not compromising on the powerful aesthetic that is so crucial to the aura of Death in June.