The final night of the event shared much in common with the previous evenings, however, when compared to night three, there was a deeper air of menace and intensity. The lineup in question was composed of far more intense industrial acts who happily spent the night pushing the boundaries of the venue, seeing if they could crumble the venue into dust. While they may not have succeeded in that regard, they certainly tried to do so, making for, if nothing else, a profoundly interesting night.
H3llb3nt kicked off the night in a surprisingly aggressive fashion. The opening moments of their set shared more in common with Merzbow than anything else, and the onstage projection screen played an appropriate amount of static before their signature handcrafted synths punched through the room. To an observer, they seemed an odd choice for an early night act, as their music would have been an excellent late show dance session. Despite kicking off in such an abrasive manner, songs like “Overloaded” and “Forget You” showed an unexpected level of grooviness that is so often lacking in the industrial scene. The crowd may have been small, but H3llb3nt certainly made the most of it and served as an excellent starting point for the night’s festivities.
The group left with the unfortunate task of following up H3llb3nt was Actors. Luckily the crowd for their set had increased in size significantly. Another factor in their success was the drastic shift in sound from the previous bands. Where they had opted for a more intense industrial sound, Actors felt almost poppy by comparison. Their guitar-led rock sound called to mind comparisons with The Smiths and The Cure with a splash of post-punk. The crowd, while mostly still, wore broad smiles of approval on their mascara laden faces. Despite the lack of a screen being integrated into their set, the presence of a live band handily upped the showmanship element of their performance, and the lead singer brought a jovial energy by joking with the crowd in between sets—all of which led to an excellent set before the main gauntlet of the show began in earnest.
Night Club kicked off the gauntlet with music that was more than befitting of their name. With atmospheric synth-heavy beats that threatened to pull the eardrums out of the heads of the audience, the now half-full venue was held in full rapture of the group. Stage-wise, they relied heavily on cool toned lights and lasers during their opening track “Scary World.” At first it seemed as though they may not have been able to match the energy that Actors had brought to their set, but about halfway into their opening song, it became apparent that energy would not be an issue. The lead singer cultivated a vibe that didn’t feel entirely unlike Harley Quinn, a vibe that was further reinforced by song titles like “Schizophrenic.” The set actually managed to be one of the most exciting of the night, and so far the evening seemed to be trending entirely upwards, much to the delight of the now half full dance floor. Though only time would tell if that trend would be an upward slope or if this was the top of the bell curve.
Next up was Chemlab, a group known for their vicious, noisy sound, that would presumably prepare the audience for the even more abrasive Front Line Assembly. They started off their performance (predictably) by playing “Easy (Like Sunday Morning)” while the lead singer danced on the bar. Though once that odd (yet enjoyable) diversion passed, the show began in earnest with a roaring rendition of “White Room, Black Eyes” which was the most furious performance of the night by far. Each instrument was perfectly in sync and cranked just a little beyond the point of comfort but still soundly within the zone of intense enjoyment. The crowd responded in kind as the raging instruments assaulted the eardrums of the now nearly-full room. Later songs like “Chemical Halo” and “Suicide Jag” only increased the joy of the crowd and each track performed proved itself to be better than the last.
Closing out the show was Front Line Assembly, a group that casually seemed to tiptoe the line between industrial and modern dubstep with their intense blend of club and power electronics. The result on the album will vary from listener to listener, however, when viewed live, the sheer intensity of it becomes a revelation. At first, a low grumble reverberated through the crowd, as if each body in the space had become an amplifier, the room literally rattled with anticipation. Then as the center of “Mindphaser” kicked in, it was as though someone put a phone on vibrate then surgically inserted it into your chest. The experience teetered on the edge of overwhelming, but the crowd would have gladly been washed away by this sonic tsunami for hours. Each song, whether something new like “Mechvirus” or something a little more weathered like “Killing Grounds,” was met with frenzied roars from the crowd who eagerly demanded more at every turn. The onscreen visuals and blinding yellow lights went a long ways toward cultivating the machine-like atmosphere that permeated each of the band’s tracks. While other bands may have brought more onstage energy, no other group seemed to carry the crowds hearts quite like Front Line Assembly did, and their robotic, almost alien sound, briefly transported each member of the audience to another world, making them the perfect closer for not only this night, but for Cold Waves Los Angeles as a whole.
In every regard, the final night exceeded both expectations and the nights before it. Where the energy in previous nights may have been strong, the joy and intensity brought by every single performer on the closing night proved to be infectious and quickly turned a reserved crowd into a zoo. This is exactly what this type of show should be. It was dark, it was goth, the venue was absolutely perfect and every single band brought their best effort, and it paid off wonderfully. Should a Cold Waves festival come through your city it deserves to be on your must-attend list, because it’s much more than just an industrial festival—it’s a group of people and bands who want nothing more than to be right where they are.