The Punk Vault

Cold Waves XI Day Two – 9/23/23 at Metro

Saturday was the second night of Cold Waves at Metro and they had a couple of big names headlining this evening, including one that hasn’t played in Chicago in ages! Just like the previous night, some more recent acts rounded out the rest of the bill and it was another stellar lineup of older and newer bands.

KANGA is a musician and producer hailing from Los Angeles. She was last seen here a year ago when she opened for Kaelan Mikla and put on a hell of a great performance. This time was no different. She played atmospheric electronic pop songs with a dark edge. She danced around the stage seductively as she delivered her trademark beautiful vocal performance. It was incredibly entertaining and she was captivating, you couldn’t take your eyes off of her as she performed. She was definitely another highlight of the whole weekend.

Cold Waves regulars, Acumen (led by the main promoter of the festival, Jason Novak), made a return appearance to the fest. They played a solid set of aggressive industrial rock that was chock full of power and intensity. They sounded in fine form and were definitely one of two hardest, and borderline metal acts of the weekend. They played about a half hour and it was a good time.

16 Volt is another familiar face to make their return and they had a very familiar face on stage with them as Jason Novak was playing bass for them. Much like Acumen, 16 Volt was the other hardest band with their intense, guitar driven industrial rock. They played a few favorites and even debuted a new song which ended up being the standout of the whole set with a bit of an early NIN feel and more interesting tempo changes. The rest of the material was largely fast paced, guitar heavy songs that always sound good live. It was nice to have them back again as part of the festival.

A Split Second made their return to Chicago after a lengthy hiatus (unless I’m wrong, they may not have been here since the late 1980s!) and getting to see them live was a real treat. Their industrial dance music sounded as good as ever, and they played some old favorites from their Wax Trax releases. They have some of the best and most catchy synth lines in the business and that hasn’t changed in all these years. Their 45 minute set flew by and was perfect from start to finish. Let’s hope it won’t be decades until they make their next return.

Legendary industrial veterans and Cold Waves regulars, Front Line Assembly, headlined the show and the people were excited. They took the stage and put on a classic industrial clinic of aggressive music. The band played flawlessly and sounded even better than ever. Bill Leeb is a really strong frontman and when he wasn’t singing, he often picked up a pair of drumsticks and pounded on a drum for added percussive intensity. The band played an hour’s worth of great songs that included a couple of older favorites, and the crowd went nuts for all of it. They were awesome and the crowd will likely never tire of having them back every couple of years, especially with performances as strong as this one was!

It was another great night of music at Cold Waves and the late night folks were once again treated to great DJ action at Smart Bar after the show. There was only one night left for the festival, but it too had two big names headlining it.


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