The Punk Vault

Cold Waves XI Day One – 9/22/23 at Metro

The first weekend of fall means two things, winter depression is coming soon and the Cold Waves Festival returns to Metro! The fest definitely is the highlight of fall and they had a pretty solid lineup for this year, including a couple of bigger names that haven’t played the fest before. They also had a lot of more recent bands, so it was a great way to check out some new music if you were unfamiliar with some of the acts, and so many of them were excellent.

Harsh Symmetry is a two-piece band hailing from Sacremento. They played electronic post-punk/synthpop. The singer’s voice was great and he really is well-suited for delivering the melancholy, haunting style of singing that is a staple of this type of music. There’s a lot of Cure/New Order/Joy Division influence in the guitar sound as well. Their songs were really good and easy to dance to. Their 30 minute set was really enjoyable.


Ash Code made the long trip from Italy to play the festival and they were a real highlight of the weekend. Great dark wave/goth/industrial/dance, with post-punk thrown in for good measure. They have both male and female vocals, great songs that. you can dance to, catchy yet hard edged songs, and a great vibe. They played an amazing set of material from their various albums and left the crowd wanting more of it when they were done. Please bring them back again next year!

Nuovo Testamento was next. This was a female-led act that sounded a lot like early Madonna! Her songs were almost pure pop, dance-friendly, and catchy. She had a great voice that again was very similar to Madonna. There wasn’t much in the way of any sort of dark wave or gothic style to any of her music, but it was still a lot of fun and was very unique sounding on a Cold Waves bill. The crowd seemed to be really enjoying her music as well so it was great to see so many in attendance having open minds and appreciating something outside their normal comfort zone.

Texas duo, Twin Tribes, quickly followed. These guys are not twins, but the pair certainly clicked like twins in how well they played together. Their sound was deeply rooted in dark wave/post-punk and there was a strong Joy Division and early Cure influence in their music. The vocals are low and bellowing, both soothing and at times haunting. The crowd was really into these guys and you could see a lot of people dancing in the audience as they soaked it all in. It was a fantastic 45 minute set.

IAMX was the headliner of the evening. When he came and took the stage, the were experiencing a lot of technical problems and the music wouldn’t start. He got extremely frustrated and threw the microphone down on the stage and walked off. After about 20 minutes of his tech trying to figure out what was wrong, they got the problem sorted only to then have the main microphone fail. Eventually they got it all worked out and IAMX was able to start performing. They played a really great set of his industrial/electronic dance music. He’s got a really great and somewhat unique vocal sound, and has a really good range of hitting higher notes. He was wearing a really cool looking mask, and the bass player had a really cool outfit and mask on as well. IAMX weaved and darted all around the stage, sometimes removing the mask and then putting it back on. He had a bass player and live drummer, while he handled all the electronics.

He’d often dart back and forth from his rack to adjust vocal effects to back to the front of the stage. It was like he was buzzing around like a bee. With all the quick movements and the costume it was really fascinating to watch. The crowd really enjoyed it as well, there were people dancing all around, and the performance was really solid once they got past all the technical hurdles. They even played a couple extra songs and ran over the allotted time to make up for the lengthy delay in starting, which was very much appreciated, and it was well worth sticking around and waiting for.

The first night of Cold Waves came to a close with many of the night owls venturing downstairs to Smart Bar for a couple rounds of DJ’s, while the rest of us went home to rest up for the next big night of the festival. It was a great way to kick off the weekend.


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