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Coachella 2009 Day 3: Throbbing Gristle unleashes controlled cacophony

April 20, 2009 |  6:50 am


"I think I've had three orgasms already," Genesis P-Orridge said after the first song of Throbbing Gristle's set. All right, so we know it was good for the fair-haired, transgendered leader of the British industrial act, but how was it for us?

Sadly, the trashed Mojave Tent was only one-third full at its most robust, but no matter for the true fans of P-Orridge's skewed journeys through no-man-or-woman's land. P-Orridge knows a few things about psycho-sexual forays. Her radical exploration of the genders gives Throbbing Gristle's sparse but metallic compositions a sense of extra oomph. Or, in other words, these noise-rockers who are hallowed in the art world are not fooling around.

That said, the demands of the late-Sunday set cannot be underestimated. A band needs to bring it, and -- in fits -- Throbbing Gristle did just that. The start of the show found P-Orridge, dressed as a Palm Springs mom possessed by a satanic shaman, lustily swinging a microphone between her legs. "Hamburger Lady" fairly devastated the crowd with its haunted lyrics, such as "she's burned from the waist up," calling to mind alienation from one's body, bizarre stock that Throbbing Gristle trades in well.

The middle of the set was too bogged down with instrumentals, as precision-crafted as they were by original members Chris Carter and Peter Christopherson, the latter of whom was robed in a way that could only bring to mind the Grand Puba of "101 Dalmatians." But at the end, they picked up the juice once again. The last couple of songs reveled in tribal trance, a video-game stomp that felt like the perfect laser of doom,  penetrating teenage and old art-scenester hearts alike. It was similar to the "wall of sound" interlude in My Bloody Valentine's "You Made Me Realise" but with more grace and control.

-- Margaret Wappler

Photo of Genesis P-Orridge by Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times