Concert Review: Grinderman Fans Get Primal Like Dexter


On the night of November 22nd 2010 Grinderman rocked the Riviera with a vengeance. Fans got primal. It was euphoric. It was just like an episode of Dexter. This is the story of how it happened.

Yes, we all know that Grinderman 2 is one of the best albums of 2010.

But what about the live show? Did it rock?


This was my first time seeing Nick Cave in concert and I will never forget it.

The minute I walked in to the Riviera I could feel it: the primal euphoria was already smoldering and heating up my flesh.

The anticipation grew as hundreds of hungry and ravenous Grinderman fans made their way in to the Riviera.

The lights went down. The crowd roared. And the rest was history.

Like a pack of hungry wolves ready to pounce on their prey, Grinderman grabbed their instruments and snarled their way through a brilliant set seething with bluesy scuzzed-out psychedelic scuzz-rock.

Beginning to end, it was a magnificent feast filled with mystery, mythology and mystical wonder.

For over ninety minutes fans — mostly male, by the way — throughout the venue basked in the glory of the loud, raw and pummeling guitars, drums and bass, devouring it all with our ears and bodies as if it was our last sonic meal, or our last live concert ever.

Towards the middle of the show, Nick Cave howled and crooned as he lead the crowd in an extended refrain that climaxed when fans feverishly clapped in unison during “No Pussy Blues,” a strange anthem to be singing in a crowded venue packed mostly with guys.

The scene was legendary as far as 2010 concert fan moments go, because I had never felt such a surge of primal undertow from my fellow male concert fans during a show.

For years to come, I’ll always remember how Grinderman thrashed and bashed their way through “Get It On”.

And because touch plays a vital role in our long-term memory, I will never forget what it felt like as the waves of synchronized and syncopated thunder rolled through the crowd during “Worm Tamer” and “Honeybee (Let’s Fly To Mars)”.

And I won’t ever forget what it felt like as Grinderman traversed by bringing the raucous fever pitch down with slow-burning, complex and epically tragic ballads “Palaces of Montezuma,” “Grinderman” and “Heathen Child” that were simultaneously gorgeous and gruesome.

Though it was mostly through the darker side of our human psyche, it was still a breathtaking journey through the whole spectrum of human emotion as Grinderman balance the set going back and forth from the violent and torrential to the sublime and tender.

Nick Cave is a lyrical master and a storytelling sage who — along with his Bad Seeds boys who make up the rest of Grinderman — has been perfecting his craft for years. And that is what made this show a beautifully complex mix of terror, pleasure, joy, sin and sanctification of the highest order.

The show ended two weeks ago, but like we’re doing now, we WILL continue to realize the physiological, sociological and psychological impact this Grinderman concert had on the fans.

Are Concert Fans Just Like Dexter?

And right now I can tell you that as I reflect on the meaning of this most profoundly primal concert, I’ve realized just how much I felt like I was at a live concert version of a Jordan Chase “Take It” seminar, just like Dexter was.

So are concert fans more like Dexter than we realize?

What would Dexter think of a Grinderman concert?

I don’t know. But I certainly would love to find out.

You can watch this clip below from the latest season and decide for yourself.

Now, onto the beauty of theremin.

Why We Need More Theremins At Concerts

Now, let’s turn the clock back further and see how a theremin put this primal event in motion.

Before the Grinderman show, opening act and theremin artist Armen Ra took the stage dressed in an elegant and very dapper conductor tux.

He graciously said “hello” and then began playing his Theremin Octavia, accompanied by a backing track of orchestra drums and other percussive instruments.

If you haven’t seen one before, the theremin is one of the most fascinating instruments to watch live because it is one of the most difficult instruments in the world to play.

Moving his hands and fingers ever so slightly over the theremin, Ra manipulated the invisible frequencies with the stunning precision of a master surgeon.

The operatic symphony of angelic tones and harmonies Ra created lifted me off my feet as I watched and listened in utter awe.

Were other fans as awestruck? Yes. Because as I looked around and I saw many other entranced faces completely captivated by the surreal, timeless and beautifully eerie melodies of Ra’s masterful theremin playing.

In between sets it became obvious that we were set up.

Ra and his theremin were to serve as the cerebral and heavenly melodic ying to Grinderman’s dark and brutally thumping yang.

And looking back, experiencing Ra and Grinderman in sequence was what made both performances triumphantly epic.

What Did Armen Ra Think Of The Enraptured Chicago Crowd?

Here’s what he had to say on his blog after the Chicago show:

“Chicagoooo!!!! I love you! An incredible crowd, beautiful decaying deco theater the Riviera… I had never been to Chicago, and now I want to return. The crowd was fantastic, total respect and silence as I played, and once again thunderous applause! Beautiful people, great energy, I love you all.”

Same to you Armen, you and your theremin rocked too! Thank you!

Why Grinderman Fans Shouldn’t Rewrite Song Lyrics But Still Use Twitter

In between Armen and Grinderman, two fans behind me were failing miserably at writing their own lyrics to “No Pussy Blues”.

What they said can’t be repeated here. But trust me. It was stupid and ridiculous to hear them attempt to trump Cave.

But nonetheless, it was entertaining and those fans will definitely be going on our 2010 list.

Of all the flurry of tweets during the show and afterward, this tweet ranks as the best.

It came from Ezrafurman and went something like this:

“This Grinderman concert is like a mass bar mitzvah. Every boy here is becoming a man.”

Here’s a snapshot of other Twittering fans who expressed themselves before the show and in the euphoric afterglow of Grinderman:

If you were at the Grinderman show and want to tell your story like these fans have, drop a comment or email me at

Grinderman Chicago twitter
Grinderman photo credit gramsik

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