William Control and the Neuromantic Boys crept into Chicago for an intimate evening at the underground venue, Subterranean, for their Punishment Tour.
There are very few musicians who can completely reinvent themselves during the peak of their career and get away with it. William Control (Control Records), however, seems to have managed quite seamlessly. Mostly known as the front man of the goth punk band Aiden, Control seems to have honed two very different personalities and created a style change for Aiden during their height of popularity to the astonishment of critics and fans. While the band may have lost some ground with the change, the man himself seems to be thriving and embracing what he’s created which begs the question, which style is the true one? Some would see William Control as a side project or an alter ego, but the more they bleed together, the more the two become a symbiotic Jekyll and Hyde versus a toxic one.
Coiffed and stylish, it was plain to see at Chicago’s Subterranean that fans of both personas were present and terribly excited to see the main attraction. Charismatic and full of energy, William Control greeted the intimate Monday night crowd like a true gent wearing an expertly tailored three-piece suit and his hair so perfect, Elvis himself would have been jealous. Gone is the long emo hair, the ghoulish makeup, and the screaming and snarling at fans. What has emerged is a more mature man who takes his music seriously. Control’s sound lands somewhere in the goth pool of the vocal styling of Peter Murphy, Joy Division’s Ian Curtis and Depeche Mode’s Dave Gahan. Control’s singing transformation is akin to David Sylvian’s shift in vocal style during the career of the 1980s band Japan.
If the music population at large hasn’t considered taking William Control seriously, one might do best to take another look and delve into Control’s many facets from acoustic recordings to spoken word. Regardless of past or presumed future successes, he seems to have found his stride with the Neuromantic Boys backing him up with catchy dance beats and clever hooks that his giddy schoolgirl-like admirers scream out over the crowd.
Supporting on the Punishment Tour are the Santa Cruz-based band Requiem (Cleopatra Records), who jokingly said they were from San Francisco for fear that people might not know their home town other than being the locale of a little movie called The Lost Boys that every goth generation adores. They were chatty with the crowd, knew their lighting and stage effects, and were overall very tight as a band. Comprised of mostly very young musicians, Requiem is off to a great start with this tour if they can keep up with the grueling schedule and nightly performances.
Out and about promoting their first album, The Unexplainable Truth, Requiem is off to a rip-roaring start. Somewhere between punk pop and power metal, Requiem is interesting and talented with that AFI kind of vibe but with hardcore vocal and guitar accompaniment by Ryan Heggum. Although the band may have a certain appearance that would shove them in a metal core box, this band is on the rise and is giving a refreshing take on what people think metal actually is without giving them some useless label. It’s nice to hear some high energy pounding rock with clean vocal power working with the heavy more guttural stuff. The two forms of sound compliment each other and just plain work. Keep an eye out for them and be sure to catch them with this tour.
Also along for the tour is Brooklyn-based Justin Symbol (unsigned), an industrial/electronic act in the vein of Marilyn Manson and Ministry with a little cyber goth style thrown in for good measure. Having released their debut album Viodhead last Halloween, taking their show on the road with the Punishment Tour is just the right kind of multiple date opportunity needed to get in front of the right audience. Justin Symbol was entertaining to watch because you never knew what he was going to do next whether it be diving into the crowd or shoving his stalactite shaped microphone down his pants. Reminiscent of the stage antics of Iggy Pop and the like, Justin’s stage show is a wild ride so be sure to get there early enough to see it in full glory.