New Collapse R.I.P.
New Collapse played their last show ever last night at the Echo. This isn’t that footage, but I wanted to post a clip to show how amazing this band was on a pretty consistent basis, whenever they played.
New Collapse were hands down L.A.’s fiercest punk band. Sophia was a dynamic female singer, usually covered in smeared makeup and sometimes fake or real blood, with a spastic delivery and performance somewhere between Poly Styrene and Tomata Du Plenty. They had no guitars at all (Quinn and sometimes other keyboardists would play the most abrasive synths imaginable) and live, industrial drums in the form of Rich Bitch, who stamped and clamped his heart out on the drums like a mechanical cobbler elf hammering away at some asshole’s shoes to get them done before daybreak. It was like sped-up Silver Apples, or sped-up Minimal Man, or a sped-up Liquid Sky soundtrack, or like some bands that Rich probably listens to that I’ve never heard. But it was definitely fast and loud and electronic and angry. You could call it industrial, but except for occasionally sounding like a NES game soundtrack, it never sounded cheesy or dated in the way Nitzer Ebb or KMFDM’s drum machine industrial kept becoming more obsolete with each passing year of their careers.
For some reason, Industrial harsh punk is always associated with Berlin or some European city, but fuck that. Anyone who’s taken advantage of a Eurail pass knows that most of Europe is a working society with real cultural interest and parks and trees and quasi-legal pot and social safety nets.
It’s Los Angeles, with its cement and broken car windows and homeless people sleeping under freeway overpasses, that is the true post-industrial nightmarescape. We have the brutal police and the clogged freeways and the douchebag assholes in BMW’s with the fake-tit bimbo wives. We have the dry heat and the dried-up water supply. We have the fenced-in river that trickles through downtown like the syrupy blood in a collapsed vein. We have the crystal meth mornings and the jitters and the dog shit and Little Joy and ex-punkers pushing shopping carts on the streets and nodding off next to the 98 cent stores. And somehow New Collapse’s music captured all of that and made at least my own personal rage seem poignant, and worth dancing to like a spazz.
I mean, jeezuz, in what city would a song about “living in a ghost world” be more appropriate? In a town that incorporates Hollywood, where there are two parallel worlds, one of fame and glamour and riches, surrounded by a burnt-out husk that the rest of us have to inhabit, it does feel sometimes like you slip into a Carnival of Souls alternate reality before you can pull yourself back again. And where more than here (or perhaps Mall of America) would cause a person to have to scream “Don’t wanna be a consumer!” (good luck with that one).
For a moment a couple years ago, it looked like New Collapse would be able to take that rage out to the rest of the world. But a brief quasi-breakup while Sophia pursued a career as an actress quashed a potential Alternative Tentacles deal, and they ended up primarily staying in and playing in L.A. Now I guess they’re breaking up for good, leaving their audiences wanting more (like so many good bands have been doing) rather than petering out. But I’ll miss them, and probably rabidly will support whatever projects they move onto next.