My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult at the Gin Mill Bar & Grille

Amid the satanic panic moral hysteria of the late 80s, Wax Trax! Records luminaries My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult emerged as the eminent scourge of knee-jerk, misguided parents and overzealous censorship groups across America, unleashing un-holy terror with thumping, tongue-in-cheek, sample-heavy sound collage noise anthems about drugs, BDSM-tinged sex and faux occultism.

TKK-Gin Mill ©Steve Topp 2016 08
Photo By: Steve Topp

Nearly 30 years have passed since those heady days, and although the Thrill Kill Kult may no longer be the potent force of corruption they once were, the campy, kitschy, b-movie horror sleaze they peddled with classic albums I See Good Spirits and I See Bad Spirits, Kooler Than Jesus, and Confessions of a Knife is as gleefully alive as ever.

TKK-Gin Mill ©Steve Topp 2016 07
Photo By: Steve Topp

They made this abundantly clear to a small but enthusiastic Lehigh Valley crowd on Thursday, June 9, when Northampton served as the unlikely first stop on the northeast leg of the band’s Elektrik Messiah Show tour.

TKK-Gin MIll Groovie ©Adrianna Gober 2016
Photo By: Adrianna Gober

Slinking on stage one by one, co-founder and Chairman of the Beat, Buzz McCoy, lead the way, taking his place at an elevated synth station at the back of the stage where he oversaw the night’s proceedings. Guitarist Westin Halvorson and bassist Mimi Star soon followed, and as a triggered sample of a man’s voice dully intoning about witchcraft filled the room, the trio exploded into “Witchpunkrockstar,” the opening track from 2009’s over-the-top Death Threat. It wasn’t until halfway through the song that co-founder, frontman and sleaze ambassador Groovie Mann crept onto the stage from out the darkness.

TKK-Gin Mill ©Steve Topp 2016 01
Photo By: Steve Topp

Dressed nearly head-to-toe in leather with various gold accoutrements decorating his neck and knuckles, Mann stalked the stage like a man possessed, preening menacingly and camping it up to the absolute delight of a increasingly fired up crowd. Flanked on either side by Halvorson and Star, Mann growled his way through a relentlessly fast-paced set, including industrial dance staples “A Daisy Chain 4 Satan,” “Kooler Than Jesus,” “Sex on Wheelz” and “After the Flesh”. Especially entertaining were Mann’s provocative, sexually-charged antics with guitarist Halvorson, enacting a display that would not be chaperone-approved. With a non-stop, high powered set and McCoy acting as devilish hype man from his synthesizer pulpit, it didn’t take long for the Kult to whip the crowd into a limb-flailing frenzy.

TKK-Gin Mill ©Steve Topp 2016 06
Photo By: Steve Topp

By the time the band reached the end of their set, Mann had lost his shirt and draped himself across the monitors, pawing at the adoring faithful at the front. Those not being gladly and willingly victimized danced with shameless abandon, engulfed by a pummeling wave of bass and distortion as the band tore through a deranged version of “Electrical Soul Wish,” to close out their set. Sweat drenched and satisfied, the band and the crowd disbursed to mingle at the bar, or to make their way out into the night.


Photos By: Steve Topp
Words By: Adrianna Gober

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