Mindless Self Indulgence

support The Red Paintings
author PP date 25/11/13 venue Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DEN

It's been just about a year since the previous time Mindless Self Indulgence graced us with their arrogant presence last time, and having found that show to be absolutely fantastic, here I am again at the exact same location with more or less exactly the same people who were there in November last year. MSI shows are always spectacularly weird in their own spastic manner, but nothing could've prepared me for the support band The Red Paintings from Australia, whose opening set featured so many instances of "what the fuck is happening?" in a row that I was at a loss of words for the majority of their 40 minute set. Here's what I jotted down as notes as I was trying to wrap my head around that exact question for the entirety of their set.

The Red Paintings

The Red Paintings

People are still talking, unaware that lights have dimmed and the band is about to step on stage, mostly because their intro music is like straight out of some incredibly creepy sci-fi horror movie. Electronically modified vocals quietly whisper "come closer.... come closer" in set intervals, as the band members crawl on stage in total darkness one-by-one engaged in a dance that is possibly even more creepy than their introductory music. One of the first people on stage is a girl wearing skin-coloured bra and an enormous ant mask that's quite possibly the strangest conception I've seen any band wear, and trust me, I've seen plenty of black metal bands do some weird fucking shit in the past. Next, a female Dracula enters the stage armed with a bass guitar and some serious fangs, followed by a Japanese Geisha with a violin. Next, a female cello player, also dressed in god knows what traditional costume. Finally, the singer larps on stage wearing some sort of space suit, alien helmet, and a R2D2 backpack alongside his guitar.

The band engage in progressive art rock of the strangest kind I've ever heard, one that's engulfed in chaotic symphonies that see the Geisha violently thrash around the stage, and the cello player move in strangely rhythmic rotations next to her. Samples intrude the music, as do rapid tempo shifts and explorations of the outer realms of what can still be considered rock music. Experimentalism is the goal, progressive structures the facility, yet the songs shape shift into oddly catchy alternative rock passages in an unexpected manner.

Did I mention the stage is equipped with a hamster wheel, a few white rabbit statues, a weird 3D neon pyramid, and other props to make things appear even stranger than they are? As the band pauses in between the songs, the room is in a collective silence that feels deafening; not a soul is talking to the next one because everyone is just fucking confused about, well, everything that's conspiring on stage. I don't blame them - because I am one of them. Four songs in, just as I am settling into a more calm state and think I'm starting to 'get' what's going on, my consciousness is virtually shattered to pieces as a bright light comes on stage to the right of the stage. Here, all of a sudden two people, dressed as green Aliens, start pitching up a large canvas which has a stuffed reindeer head attached on top of it. On the other side, the half-naked ant-girl is now covered in some sort of white powder. "What the FUCK is going on?", are thoughts I just barely manage to string together as the Aliens start painting on the canvas on the right side, and on the ant girl on the left side.

The Red Paintings...painting a red painting?

I don't think I've ever been this confused about a live show before, I think, as I watch the crazed energy with which the band deliver their music that I can't even begin to describe on paper based on first listen. And then my brain experiences a complete meltdown as the band deliver a freaking weird interpretation of "Mad World" from the Donnie Darko soundtrack, which sounds great in this format. Now how on earth do you rate this show? It's either one of total lunacy, or pure genius. I'm gonna go with the latter, even if they do get outplayed by MSI's spastic set moments after. In fact, to call it a show is an understatement - this was performance arts.


Mindless Self Indulgence

If you are to categorize The Red Paintings as performance art, then Mindless Self Indulgence is pure entertainment from start to finish. You can't explain why their shows are awesome in the context of their hyperactive, spastic music that combines punk, industrial, electronic music, hip hop, metal, screamo (etc) because it wouldn't make sense. Instead, you have to explain them in the context of their vocalist Jimmy Urine, who closely resembles a coked up mental institution escapee who has taken a few hits of speed before entering the stage tonight. Not only is he an arrogant bastard, a giant douche, and a total asshole, not to mention the most irritating frontman on the entire planet, but his method of performance is so infectious it's impossible not to get into it and give him much credit for his innovative display of what paranoia-induced crazy looks and sounds like in person. "Ready for the truth, Copenhagen? We have travelled through trials and tribulations to tell you the truth, the only truth, and the absolute truth", is how he introduces his band in a sermon-like manner, before breaking out into a hyperactive performance that involves him bouncing frantically all over the stage, not to mention the drums, always remembering to show off his rump shakes and other dance moves while screaming spastically into the mic.

Lyn-Z of MSI

"You can look at Lyn-Z, but you can't touch her.", pointing at their incredibly sexy and rock'n'roll looking female bassist that has all the guys' attention drawn to her whenever they aren't starting at the next insane thing Johnny Urine is currently embraced in. "You can't look at Steve, but you can certainly touch him", he continues, before pointing at their drummer: "You can't look OR touch Kitty... but you can look at ME, while I touch myself", he shouts, before sticking his hands directly down his crotch while standing on the platform. Standard MSI weirdness.

Last year when they played, there was a whole lot of fuzz about the barrier that broke, which lead the band to insulting just about everyone and everything involved with the venue. Today, it's the sound console's turn, leading Urine to rage "We told you to not have the fucking barrier but you didn't listen... iihh, they're just 12-year-old girls, they can't break anything, righhht?" in his usual arrogancy-driven, but hilarious mid-song banter. From here onwards, the show feels like a direct continuance of the one last year, with the exception that all the entertainment and all the events are totally different, save for the crowd that is in a bouncy dancing frenzy complete with glow sticks for the duration of the entire show. There are outrageous innuendos all the time, whether in terms of lyrics, in-between song banter, or Urine's suggestive movement on stage. "Librarian sex", he screams like a lunatic, and sushes the crowd, before whispering "shhh... I'm writing a paper...I have this BIG book..." while staring directly in the eyes of one of the girls near the middle of the venue. The girls, of course, screech like there's no end in sight, to which Urine responds "I have no idea what you're so excited about. I hate this song.".

Johnny Urine on his usual platform, the drum set

Such innuendos and condescending (though laugh out loud hilarious) behaviour continues throughout the whole show, until a song is cut in mid-song by a piercingly loud old school phone ringtone. "SHUT UP!!!", Urine shouts repeatedly, until the crowd finally quiets down in confusion over where the sound might be coming from. It turns out there's an old rotary phone on stage that's ringing. Apparently it's Satan on the line ("SHUT UP", he shouts again, "this might be important")... "uh-huh. Yeah, not much... what's that? Copenhagen is going to be destroyed in seven days? Oh sorry I heard you wrong. Five days. Okay. ". He then hangs up and uses the phone as an alternate microphone as he goes into an a cappella hip hop section, which involves getting the crowd to sing "bring mother fuckers back" as what is apparently a traditional nordic hymn according to Urine.

Shortly after, Urine is nowhere to be seen on the stage, and that's because he's far behind the crowd, knocking on the heads and shoulders of unsuspecting fans from behind them while singing and partying along to his own songs, scaring the shit out of some people. Later, we're treated to the most punk rock song while whistling, which sees Urine and the band spend a few minutes of doing nothing but whistling on stage. Then I can see guitarist Steve making out with the steel pole next to him. So much fucked up stuff is again happening in repeat mode that it's difficult to account for it all, but basically when the encore happens, Urine doesn't stop talking to the crowd from the backstage area, asking them to shout back at him all sorts of weird fucking things, including "IF YOU PLAY THIS ONE MORE SONG, WE'LL NEVER HAVE TO COME BACK", which confuses the crowd slightly. Finally, he requires everyone in the crowd to blow - yes, literally, to blow as loud as they can - before he'll come on stage again.

Mindless Self Indulgence

By the end, even the parents at the back are laughing, smiling, and party with the band, because they are just that hilarious. They are totally retarded, but yet it doesn't feel like a gimmick rather than the band actually being as fucking weird in real life as they appear on stage. This is pure entertainment, but it's the kind of show you just don't want to end, ever. Go see this band, every show is completely different from the next one thanks to the totally unpredictable behaviour their vocalist Urine engages in all of the time. He is, truly, the mad professor of live music.

Photos by: Lykke Nielsen

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