The Alternative to Real World Is Just Time For Me and a Fantasy

Here’s one more old gig review. This is the last one. From now on there will be fresh ones as I go to more gigs (doing a Masters Degree takes up valuable portions of my time). I promise.

I’m also including the bonus track on the UK release of The Alternative album – the splendid string version of Spit It Out. I wouldn’t have thought it would work, but it becomes both ethereal and haunting.

The Alternative to Real World Is Just Time For Me and a Fantasy

An hour before doors opened at The Mod Club for the IAMX show back on October 20, I was just a tired, relatively introverted Masters student sitting on a hard bench, listening to my ipod. And Chris Corner was just a shy, diminutive man in sunglasses and a white jacket scurrying away from soundcheck with a quick nod to acknowledge my wave and “hello.” But when the show started a few hours later, something changed…

For those who don’t know, Chris Corner, formerly of the triphop band Sneaker Pimps, is now at the helm of a brilliant darkwave electro project called IAMX based in Berlin. With its glam flourishes and ambiguous, often deviant sexuality, it’s fitting that his project is based in a city that was known for its outrageous cabarets and the excesses of the Weimar Republic era. It’s also fitting because Berlin itself used to have a split personality between East and West.

Once Chris Corner hit the stage, it felt like a gothic circus had taken over the venue. I was swept up in the pounding beats and riffs of the opening “The Alternative” and mesmerized by Chris Corner’s alter ego, who moved about the stage like a possessed marionette, his kohl-rimmed, sequin-teared eyes often hidden by a glittery gold hat. He encouraged a feverish reaction by cocking his ear toward the crowd and beckoning to them, wanting to hear more screams. I admit that I screamed and sang like Chris Corner was pulling on my vocal cords, a master puppeteer of the entire audience. His extremely slender body, encased in a skin-tight, black bodysuit with yellow sequinned straps slung over it, alternated between fluidity and robotic movements. The chorus resulted in an explosion of jumping and arm pumping as the pure tones of Corner’s voice soared over the heavy, driving beats. The boundary between performer and audience dissolved in a sweaty madness and everyone began reaching out to him, the keyboardist, and the guitarist. In the frenzy, for some reason, Chris Corner chose to take my hand in his and hold it for a moment, but I almost forgot about my hand as the music and his hypnotic dark eyes dragged me into an underworld completely of IAMX’s creation.

As the show progressed, the band kept almost exclusively to upbeat tracks mainly from the latest album The Alternative (“Kiss and Swallow” and “Skin Vision” from Kiss and Swallow also made appearances). The entire band sustained an inhuman energy that rippled throughout the crowd. I lost myself so entirely, I can’t remember smashing my elbows on the monitor and giving myself bruises. What I can remember is actually grabbing a hold of one of Chris Corner’s high black boots and having the song “Venus in Furs” fly into my head. Other members of the audience, boys and girls, reached out and ran their hands over Corner’s legs, and he rocked his body so violently over the edge of the stage, his sweat rained on the front row. His bodily convulsions continued as he constantly fell to his knees and twisted through jumps in the air. He wielded the microphone cord like an S&M whip, nearly strangling the guitarist, and hanging it between his teeth. The band threw themselves into every song even though the pace never slackened, and Chris Corner’s voice cajoled and pleaded, dripping with dark purpose and freewheeling hedonism.

The encore was “Attack 61,” a song from the soundtrack for the French film Les Chevaliers du Ciel, an album that Chris Corner produced, and “Song of Imaginary Beings.” When the show ended, I was drenched in everyone’s sweat and genuinely understood what “After Every Party I Die” meant. Though the drummer and the guitarist hung around the venue after the show (the former eventually changing into track pants and the latter no longer bare-chested) and talked with the fans, Chris Corner had disappeared from the venue and into the tourbus before anyone had even gotten outside. I completely understood why. He had just prostituted his entire being for the fans and needed to shift back into reality. I, too, had to shift myself back into my own reality. If you never came down from all that, you’d probably go insane.

One of the girls I met after the show (while waiting for the manager to get our stuff signed by Chris Corner) asked if I would be interested in seeing IAMX again in two nights in Detroit. She wanted someone to split the gas money with her, and the trip was doable since Detroit was about four hours away. A large part of me really wanted to experience that incredible feeling again, that feeling of completely losing yourself in the music and performance – that was my own Mr. Hyde’s desire. The Dr. Jekyll, sensible side of me said that I had class the afternoon before the show and that I should be doing all the weekly homework required by a Masters Degree, so I should just forget about it. However, by the end of Sunday evening, Mr. Hyde won out and I followed IAMX to Detroit.

The Detroit show was at an even smaller venue than The Mod Club called The Magic Stick, and the crowd was also disappointingly smaller. I actually worried that the crowd wouldn’t be enough to support the alternative universe of IAMX properly. And in my crazed state, I somehow fancied myself a crowd leader. My metamorphosis happened all over again the second that IAMX took the stage, Chris Corner this time sporting a silver hat. Screaming like I was trying to exorcise my average persona, I couldn’t stand still and felt myself dancing in imitation of Chris Corner’s erratic movements, unbeknownst to me, smashing my knees into the stage in front of me. I have a feeling he may have recognized me from the Toronto show because he grabbed my hand multiple times and kept grinning at me, a twinkle in the event horizon of his black eyes. Even in my mind’s eye, his direct gaze in combination with his smile takes my breath away. After I had touched him, the rest of the crowd seemed more comfortable with doing the same, and the connection between the band and the audience grew with each song. At one point, Chris Corner grabbed the head of a guy who had also followed IAMX from Toronto to Detroit, and he roughly ruffled his hair. To the waltz beat of “President,” the audience swayed together like a pendulum, pacing out the perversity and drowning in the decadence of Chris Corner’s cadences, his voice wracked with desires that were tearing him apart.

The set was virtually the same as the Toronto set, but this time the encore featured “Your Joy is My Low” instead of “Attack 61.” At one beautiful moment, Chris Corner pointed directly at me as he sang the title line of the song. As ridiculous as this moment would seem from an outside perspective (and perhaps from my more rational brain), it was transfixing and enveloping while in that moment. And really all that counted was what was self-contained in that world of the stage.

Nursing knee-cap-sized bruises, I’ve now gone back to my unassuming, regular life as a quiet graduate student in Waterloo just as Chris Corner retires to his tourbus every night and hides his bewitching eyes behind sunglasses. We all need a little escape from ourselves to keep sane. I have no need to reconcile the willowy man silently fleeing soundcheck with the ringmaster of musical fantasy. The beauty is in the division.

Missile (Acoustic) – IAMX

The Alternative – IAMX

Spit It Out (String Version) – IAMX


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Gigs Attended

Arcade Fire w/ Bell Orchestre + Wolf Parade (2005)

Arctic Monkeys w/ Reverend and the Makers (2007)

Austra w/ Young Galaxy + Tasseomancy (2011)

Big Audio Dynamite (2011)

Billy Bragg w/ Ron Hawkins (2009)

Billy Idol w/ Bif Naked (2005)

Bloc Party w/ Hot Hot Heat (2009)

Buzzcocks w/ The Dollyrots (2010)

Damo Suzuki (2012)

David Bowie w/ The Polyphonic Spree (2004)

Diamond Rings w/ PS I Love You + The Cannon Bros. (2011)

Diamond Rings w/ Gold & Youth (2012)

Dragonette w/ Ruby Jean & the Thoughtful Bees (2009)

Frank Turner w/ The Cavaliers (2010)

Frank Turner w/ Into It Over It + Andrew Jackson Jihad (2011)

Franz Ferdinand w/ Think About Life (2009)

Gang of Four w/ Hollerado (2011)

Good Shoes w/ The Moths + The Envelopes (2007)

Hot Hot Heat w/ The Futureheads + Louis XIV (2005)

IAMX w/ closethuman (2007)

IAMX w/ Coma Soft + The Hourly Radio (2007)

Interpol (2007)

Janelle Monae w/ Roman GianArthur (2012)

Joel Plaskett Emergency w/ Frank Turner (2012)

Jonathan Richman (2011)

Keane w/ Lights (2009)

Lou Reed w/ Buke and Gass (2011)

Manic Street Preachers w/ Fear of Music (2007)

Manic Street Preachers w/ Bear Hands (2009)

Manic Street Preachers at Wanaja Festival (2011)

Mother Mother w/ Old Folks Home (2009)

Mother Mother w/ Whale Tooth (2011)

Mother Mother w/ Hannah Georgas (2012)

MSTRKRFT w/ Felix Cartal (2008)

Muse (2004)

Nine Inch Nails w/ Death From Above 1979 + Queens of the Stone Age (2005)

of Montreal w/ Janelle Monae (2010)

Owen Pallett w/ Little Scream (2010)

Patrick Wolf w/ Bishi (2007)

Prince (2011)

Pulp w/ Grace Jones, TV on the Radio, The Hives, The Horrors, Metronomy, Devotcka, Vintage Trouble (2011)

Rufus Wainwright w/ Teddy Thompson (2010)

Snow Patrol w/ Embrace (2005)

Snow Patrol w/ OK Go + Silversun Pickups (2007)

Sons and Daughters w/ Bodies of Water (2008)

Stars w/ Thurston Revival (2006)

Stars w/ The Details (2008)

Stars (2010)

Steven Severin (2010)

Stroszek (2007)

The Antlers w/ Haunter (2012)

The Flaming Lips w/ Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti (2010)

The Jesus and Mary Chain w/ Nightbox (2012)

The Killers w/ Ambulance Ltd (2004)

The New Pornographers w/ Novillero (2008)

The New Pornographers w/ The Mountain Goats (2010)

The Ordinary Boys w/ Young Soul Rebels (2006)

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart w/ Suun (2011)

The Rakes w/ The Young Knives (2006)

The Raveonettes w/ Black Acid (2008)

The Stills w/ Gentleman Reg (2009)

The Subways w/ The Mad Young Darlings (2006)

Tokyo Police Club w/ Smoosh + Attack in Black (2008)

TV on the Radio w/ The Dirty Projectors (2009)

Yann Tiersen w/ Breathe Owl Breathe (2011)

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The only certain thing that is left about me

There is no part of my body that has not been used

Pity or pain, to show displeasure's shame

Everyone I've loved or hated always seems to leave


So I turned myself to face me

But I've never caught a glimpse

Of how the others must see the faker

I'm much too fast to take that test

The Smiths Queen is Dead

A dreaded sunny day

So let's go where we're happy

And I meet you at the cemetry gates

Oh, Keats and Yeats are on your side

A dreaded sunny day

So let's go where we're wanted

And I meet you at the cemetry gates

Keats and Yeats are on your side

But you lose 'cause weird lover Wilde is on mine

The Clash London Calling

When they kick at your front door

How you gonna come?

With your hands on your head

Or on the trigger of your gun


Charles Windsor, who's at the door

At such an hour, who's at the door

In the back of an old green Cortina

You're on your way to the guillotine

Here the rabble comes

The kind you hoped were dead

They've come to chop, to chop off your head


Then you came with your breezeblocks

Smashing up my face like a bus-stop

You think you're giving

But you're taking my life away


Won't someone give me more fun?

(and the skin flies all around us)

We kiss in his room to a popular tune

Oh, real drowners


Don't walk away

In silence

See the danger

Always danger

Endless talking

Life rebuilding

Don't walk away

Walk in silence

Don't turn away in silence

Your confusion

My illusion

Worn like a mask of self-hate

Confronts and then dies

Don't walk away


You don't want to hurt me

But see how deep the bullet lies

Unaware I'm tearing you asunder

Oh there is thunder in our hearts

Is there so much hate for the ones we love

Tell me we both matter don't we

The Associates Affectionate

I don't know whether

To over or under estimate you

Whether to over or under estimate you

For when I come over

You then put me under

Personal taste is a matter of gender


I wake at dusk to go alone without a light

To the unknown

I want this night inside of me

I want to feel

I want this speeding

I want that speeding


You'll never live like common people

You'll never do what common people do

You'll never fail like common people

You'll never watch your life slide out of view

And dance and drink and screw

Because there's nothing else to do

Vanilla Swingers

All I have is words, words that don't obtain

And I feel I'm a stain on your horizon

So I stay away - it's easier that way

And there won't be no-one I need to rely on

Is it him, is it me

Or is there something only I can see

How did I get here, why do we blow around like straw dogs on the breeze

I'm a special one, what they used to say

But I've to stay on, finish levels-A

You don't need exams when you've read John Gray

The Indelicates American Demo

And nobody ever comes alive

And the journalists clamour round glamour like flies

And boys who should know better grin and get high

With fat men who once met the MC5

And no one discusses what they don't understand

And no one does anything to harm the brand

And this gift is an illusion, this isn't hard

Absolutely anyone can play the fucking guitar

JAMC Darklands

And we tried so hard

And we looked so good

And we lived our lives in black


Plucked her eyebrows on the way

Shaved her leg and then he was a she

She says, hey babe,

Take a walk on the wild side

Said, hey honey, take a walk on the wild side


Hide on the promenade

Etch a postcard:

How I dearly wish I was not here

In the seaside town...that they forgot to bomb

Come, come, come - nuclear bomb


Back when we were kids

We would always know when to stop

And now all the good kids are messing up

Nobody has gained or accomplished anything

Wire Pink Flag

Prices have risen since the government fell

Casualties increase as the enemy shell

The climate's unhealthy, flies and rats thrive

And sooner or later the end will arrive

This is your correspondent, running out of tape

Gunfire's increasing, looting, burning, rape


Well, maybe there's a god above

But all I've ever learned from love

Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew you

It's not a cry that you hear at night

It's not somebody who's seen the light

It's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah


And what costume shall the poor girl wear

To all tomorrow's parties

For Thursday's child is Sunday's clown

For whom none will go mourning


My body is your body

I won't tell anybody

If you want to use my body

Go for it


Oh it's opening time

Down on Fascination Street

So let's cut the conversation

And get out for a bit

Because I feel it all fading and paling

And I'm begging

To drag you down with me

Mansun Six

And you see, I kind of shivered to conformity

Did you see the way I cowered to authority

You see, my life, it's a series of compromises anyway

It's a sham, and I'm conditioned to accept it all, you see

Japan Gentlemen

Take in the country air, you'll never win

Gentlemen take polaroids

They fall in love, they fall in love


We just want to emote til we're dead

I know we suffer for fashion

Or whatever

We don't want these days to ever end

We just want to emasculate them forever

Forever, forever

Pretty sirens don't go flat

It's not supposed to happen like that

Longpigs The Sun

There's no perfume I can buy

Make me smell like myself

So I put on perfume

To make me smell like someone else

In bed

Calvin Harris I Created Disco

I got love for you if you were born in the 80's, the 80's

I've got hugs for you if you were born in the 80's, the 80's


Does his makeup in his room

Douse himself with cheap perfume

Eyeholes in a paper bag

Greatest lay I ever had

Kind of guy who mates for life

Gotta help him find a wife

We're a couple, when our bodies double

Simple Minds Sons and Fascination

Summer rains are here

Savaged beauty life

Falling here from grace

Sister feeling call

Cruising land to land

No faith no creed no soul

Half a world away

Beauty sleeps in time

Sound and fury play

Bloc Party Silent Alarm

North to south


Running on


As if to say, as if to say

He doesn't like chocolate

He's born a liar, he'll die a liar

Some things will never be different


LCD Soundsystem

Well Daft Punk is playing at my house, my house

I've waited 7 years and 15 days

There's every kid for miles at my house, my house

And the neighbors can't...call the police

There's a fist fight brewin' at my house, my house

Because the jocks can't...get in the door

Johnny Boy

I just can't help believing

Though believing sees me cursed

Stars Set Yourself

I am trying to say

What I want to say

Without having to say "I love you"

Josef K Entomology

It took 10 years to realise why the angels start to cry

When you go home down the main

Your happy smile

Your funny name

Cocteau Twins Bluebell


Doesn't she look a million with her hairagami set

Hair kisses 'n' hair architecture

Yes, she's a beautiful brunette angel from heaven with her hairagami set

Hair kisses 'n' hair architecture

Augment a beautiful brunette

New Order Power Corruption

How does it feel

To treat me like you do

When you've laid your hands upon me

And told me who you are


You must let her go

She's not crying



Feeling like I'm waiting

Modern times



Hating to distraction

Just leave them alone


Girls in the back

Girls in the back

Puressence Don't Forget

They say come back to earth and start getting real, yeah

I say come back to earth and start getting real

I know I can't


So I walk right up to you

And you walk all over me

And I ask you what you want

And you tell me what you need


The problem of leisure

What to do for pleasure

Ideal love a new purchase

A market of the senses

Dream of the perfect life

Economic circumstances

The body is good business

Sell out, maintain the interest


Sitting in my armchair thinking again and again and again

Going round in a circle I can't get out

Then I look around thinking day and night and day

Then you look around - there must be some explanation

And the tension builds

Psychdedelic Furs

India, India

You're my love song

India, you're my love song

In the flowers

You can have me in the flowers

We will dance alone

And live our useless lives

Ladytron Light Magic

They only want you when you're seventeen

When you're twenty-one

You're no fun

They take a polaroid and let you go

Say they'll let you know


No consolation prizes

Spit out your lies and chewing gum

Cut off your hair yeah that's it!

If you look like that I swear I'm gonna love you more


All the neighbors are startin' up a fire

Burning all the old folks, the witches and the liars.

My eyes are covered by the hands of my unborn kids

But my heart keeps watchin' through the skin of my eyelids


Prince charming

Prince charming

Ridicule is nothing to be scared of

Don't you ever, don't you ever

Stop being dandy, showing me you're handsome


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