When Controller.Controller stood on stage at the Pianos show on December 8th in NYC, my first impression was "hmm, an interesting melting pot." A silver metallic skull sits on the bass drum and dim red lighting fills the room like a murder scene in Sin City. Each member has their own individual sense of style instead of a cohesive unified uniform (like all black or an over the top sparkle motion get up). First up is lead singer Nirmala Basnayake, who was sporting simple jeans and t-shirt and a chunky gold chain with a lion head medallion. Then, drummer Jeff Scheven came on stage wearing an orange ski mask with cat ears and brown skinny pants with a skull studded belt. Guitarist Scott Kaija wore a black collared shirt with pin stripes and a black tie while the bassist, Ronnie Morris, stood next to him in a black cowboy shirt and worn-in jeans with shaggy long hair. My favorite was the one who stood off to the side looking very calm and content, guitarist Colwyn Llewellyn-Thomas, in jeans and a red collared shirt, with a rockabilly hairdo.
When they started in on their first song the sound that came out of their instruments was entrancingly erie and dark yet electronically danceable. Right away the audience started to clap their hands with smiles upon their faces. The two guitarists played in perfect unison like a sped up track from a Black Rebel Motorcyle song, and Nirmala started yelping in a trembly Siouxsie Sioux-inspired vocal. At this point, it dawned on me that their sound was actually quite reminiscent of someone else I had heard before – they reminded me of the band X from Los Angeles, an early '80s punk band. At a time when punks were supposed to hate hippies, X merged with ex-Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek who produced some of their seminal records and helped turn them into one of California’s preeminent punk bands. As the show accelerated into action, I felt like I was listening to a new version of X with a poppy clap-your-hands disco feel added to the mix.
The whole front row was dancing as if they were in a voodoo séance - erotic movements with gyrating hips and arms high above their head. Whether Nirmala was actually singing these words or if this was just what I'd imagined her saying, this is what I heard: "dance, dance, dance, deeper and deeper, deeper into the body and soul." Ronnie got off stage and started pushing the crowd out of his way with his back while playing his bass. Naturally, the ladies loved it.
Controller.Controller performed songs from both their debut EP, History, and their forthcoming debut album, X-Amounts. By the end of the show people (including the entire band) were out of breath and covered in sweat. I think I will pay attention to my gut reaction and use this quote from X’s John Doe to sum up the feeling after experiencing a Controller.Controller show…“This is not punk rock, but it uses all the same ingredients: sex, drugs, death, loss, longing and
Source: Amylu Meneses