Blanck Mass @ Summerhall, Edinburgh, 12 Mar
Blanck Mass manages to find the sweet spot between a rave and the sonic equivalent of a dystopian future
If you think a pair of drag queens as support for a power-electro-industrial show is an odd choice, well, you'd be dead right. The middle-aged drone crowd is mostly as uncomfortable as you'd expect, but Violet Grace and Frans Gender put on a stellar show. Lip-syncing mash-ups, acrobatic split-drops and a seemingly infinite loop of the first six seconds of 9 to 5, what more could you want?
Russell Haswell brings us back to more familiar territory, but his ludicrously abrasive noise cacophonies are tough to take for even the most hardened enthusiast, and his equally antagonistic stage presence creates a tense atmosphere that his screeching industrial tones can't cut through. Which is probably exactly what he wanted.
A Blanck Mass show is famously loud, and there's more than one unprepared audience member forced to leave for not bringing appropriate earplugs. This is seriously pummelling sound, but channelled in such a way that it's immensely danceable (evidenced by the near-rave going on at the front) even when Benjamin John Power is throwing out his best death metal vocals (Death Drop).
The whole of last year's excellent Animated Violence Mild is played, accompanied by flickering visuals that range from footage of the 80s ballroom scene to the sort of grotesque maggots-and-rot imagery of his most recent album cover. Please continues the sensory overload with its triumphant crescendo of overclocked synth and deep sub-bass, yet still manages to make the end of the world sound like a party you don't want to miss. Odd Scene and Shit Luck end the night with a dose of thrash-noise, just in case anyone was in doubt of Power's penchant for tinnitus-inducing sonic assaults.
There might be a threshold of noise you need to pass in order to get on the same wavelength as Blanck Mass, but giving yourself over to the sheer awesomeness of this performance is one of the most viscerally enjoyable experiences you're likely to have.