“I was blown away by the response we got when the show went on sale.” Stabbing Westward’s Walter Flakus told Aaron Pollak on the Cold Waves Soundcheck podcast about their 30th anniversary concert in Chicago last night that sold out in three minutes. “I kind of figured that it would do pretty well, that it might sell out before September, but I had no idea that it would sell out as fast as it did day of.”
Flakus tells Pollak that he and Stabbing’s lead singer Christopher Hall had been kicking around a way to come back together under the original name for a while and the Cold Waves festival, now in its fifth year as a de facto family reunion of varying eras of the Chicago industrial scene, seemed like the perfect occasion.
In the spirit of reminiscing, Flakus tells The A.V. Club “it was fun to go back and re-do this last track,” which is the “new” song debuting here today. “Plastic Jesus is the last of the 4 original songs we recorded for our Iwo Jesus cassette EP before we were signed. The other three songs—Shame, P.O.M.F. (The Thing I Hate) and Violent Mood Swings—all ended up on Stabbing Westward records.” Plastic Jesus also features vocals from Stella Katsoudas of Sister Soleil.
For the first time in nearly fifteen years, Stabbing Westward took the stage together at Chicago’s embattled Double Door last night as a kick-off show for this weekend’s fest. “I didn’t actually think I could still sing like this,” Hall joked in between songs. “I guess the exorcism didn’t totally work.”
Far from the type of begrudging reunion sets that have become the norm to trot out every festival season, Stabbing’s return was a true revival. Hall and Flakus were anything but simmering frenemies cajoled into slogging through their hits for the kids, they were the same college pals that came together in rural Illinois 30 years ago, beaming their way through a flawless hour and a half.
As Flakus explains to Pollak in the Cold Waves interview, Stabbing Westward’s career has always felt cut short by the unceremonious loss of their Columbia contract that left the group practically hanging on the tarmac of a 2002 tour. But last night was all humor and joy, as if the last decade and a half were just a vacation. “I can’t believe I actually remember all these words,” laughed Hall, whose stage presence hasn’t missed a beat. “And who the hell writes so many words about the same damn thing? We get it, you miss her. Jesus … ”
Stabbing lead their encore with a performance of today’s premiere, complete with Hall playing the trumpet heard in the intro portion live. They’re scheduled for one more show on Halloween in Philadelphia.
The Cold Waves festival runs all this weekend, featuring industrial heavyweights like Meat Beat Manifesto, Clock DVA, The Cocks (a.k.a. The Revolting Cocks minus Al Jourgensen), <PIG> and more. Single-day tickets are still available for Friday night.
Cold Waves benefits Darkest Before Dawn, a Chicago-based non-profit “with one simple yet urgent goal: to provide support, community and resources to our city’s service industry and live entertainment workers, who’s late hours and isolated commutes leave them susceptible to depression, anxiety and suicide.”