part two - live actions 13-23

live action 13


vfw hall - kansas city, usa

william bennett, kevin tomkins, peter sotos

cock dominant, bloodfucking, anal american, mindphaser, shitfun, cna, weapon power, right to kill

notes: audience 250 / support acts are william burroughs doing some live ‘reading’ and drunk alcoholics

Few hype slogans by groups are ever really true.

This is an exception.

Throbbing Gristle paved the way toward the newer forms of the Absurd - Industrial music. Combining the French technologies of musique concrete with life’s hidden realities. They incited the imagination of others to follow and expand on the groundwork TG explored. Since TG became somewhat superstars in their own way, they became institutionalised, unfortunately musically they became lighter, more easy to consume. Since TG’s demise both factions, Chris & Cosey and Psychic TV have developed a far more polished, cleaner sound. But for followers of the early TG sound the hushed dark side of life, Whitehouse develops and explores to the fullest potential.

From London, Whitehouse formed around the visions of William Bennett, visions of Sado-masochistic Marquis de Sade, the Third Reich’s slaughter prison camps, that of mass-murderers and rapists. Whitehouse forms sounds to the most violent, intense extremes. Mixing taped urban realities with harsh synth feedback combined with altered human vocal screams of death and the slow decay of life, what remains resembles barren catastrophe.

Around 200 persons from various musical beliefs gathered together here to listen to a virtually unknown 3 man group from the London underground - Whitehouse. All had preconceptions probably on what should a band sound like, either electronic avant or not. I think 90% of the populace in the VFW Hall wasn’t expecting this. Possibly an avant version of Human League-ish sound or maybe a new-wave Tangerine Dream. What they received is a virtual destruction of all accepted ‘music’ standards (along with most of their eardrums).

After William Burroughs and 2-man group Drunk Alcoholics came the finale, the group we paid $4 to see came on. Announce as the best band in the world, from London, Whitehouse. The three members, dressed in street clothes and long black overcoats took their just places on the stage. Kevin Tomkins on one side with small portable Wasp synth, John Murphy (sic) on the other side with Wasp synth, leader/vocalist William Bennett in the middle. And from this moment on tension built, people left and amps failed to function. I’ll say off-hand, the avant-garde is becoming extremely popular in England and throughout England they call it ‘power electronics’. This new revelation of the avant-garde has not and will never catch on Stateside.

Whitehouse’s music is only for people who can accept the furthest extreme in sound experimentation and reproduction. There’s no middle ground, either you accept them for starting, and exploring totally new music frontiers, or despise their very existence. Unfortunately, most at that hall on that mid-spring Saturday evening chose the latter. Understandably during the 3/4-hour concert (that is all management could stand), William Bennett was demonic. With mid-floor cleared of chairs, Bennett parading back and forth, on and off stage, he took his verbal barrage/assault and aimed it directly at the audience, charging into the audience then retreating shouting, screaming words, phrases, sometimes actually mocking the audience, nobody knew what he was going to do next. There was no "no man’s land" between artist and audience, at least for Bennett. The other two were well in the background. A couple of times Bennett traded with John (sic) on vocal/synth, but mainly this was Bennett’s show. The verbal energy Bennett lashed out seemed to be caught and violently caged by the intense beatless constant electronic barrage of John and Kevin’s synths.

The effects were felt. Hostilities were mounting. The concert ended by a member of the audience taking revenge on the table on which John’s synth was on, and to alleviate other trouble the management pulled the plug and Whitehouse quickly disappeared from sight. There were about 20 people left and I guess those were the curious ones, the ones maybe that will accept any new music, new prophesies and other people’s views no matter how different and accept them for what they are trying to convey.

Remember one thing, people laughed at Igor Stravinsky, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Erik Satie and others, saying their ‘music’ was worthless and should be permanently banned. I wonder what people 20 years from now will say about Whitehouse and their ‘music’.

live action 14


slaughterhouse - denver, usa

william bennett, kevin tomkins, peter sotos

cock dominant, bloodfucking, anal american, new saist, death penalty, mindphaser, shitfun, dedicated to peter kurten, exercise your will, cna, right to kill

notes: audience 25 / no support group / huge PA hired for what amounted to a private performance

live action 15


fiesta house - los angeles, usa

william bennett, kevin tomkins, peter sotos

cock dominant, bloodfucking, anal american, mindphaser, shitfun, exercise your will, cna, right to kill

notes: audience 140 / support group is debt of nature

live action 16


anticlub - los angeles, usa

william bennett, kevin tomkins, peter sotos

on top, the second coming, genesis of the new weapons, rock and roll, dedicated to peter kurten, lustmord, will to power, buchenwald

notes: audience 130 / support group is modern torture

extract from rock band interview:
Unsound magazine: How about industrial groups in LA? People who do music like yours (sic). Have you seen any of those groups or Whitehouse when they did their tour?

Mark: I saw Whitehouse, I thought they were bullshit, total bullshit. They thought that by doing a totally white noise thing that they were challenging the limits of the tolerance of their audience, when in reality all they were doing was standing up there and flipping on white noise switches . . . so what? That doesn’t challenge anyone, they aren’t irritating at all.

Johanna: I like Non.

Mark: I think Non blows Whitehouse completely out of the room, down the street and up the hall. I mean those guys were so pretentious about their stance and their attitude and about what they were doing that to me it was meaningless, it wasn’t what they wanted, which was to scare people, or disturb people in the audience, they didn’t disturb people in the audience, they just bored people, people said "so what," and walked out of the room. They didn’t walk out of the room because it blew them away or made their ears bleed or anything else, it just bored them the same way seeing some second rate version of Barry Manilow in some lounge would bore somebody. It was on that same level, just a nothing. I think that creativity is a factor and by them taking a stance of no creativity, no melody, nothing to offer to their audience, obviously they aren’t offering anything so why should they be on a stage? The ultimate statement for a band like that is to stay at home.

Unsound magazine: Probably their best statement was when they did their San Francisco show and they didn’t even show up at all.

Mark: Well, Boyd did that at the Whiskey, he set up his equipment and then sat in his car.

Johanna; Well, why didn’t they show up?

Unsound magazine: They got death threats in Los Angeles. People were calling them on the phone and sending the letters saying basically that if they showed up in San Francisco that they would be done the same type of harm that they insinuate that they would do on record, so they got really paranoid and scared and their true selves came out. We heard it through the promoters, it was sort of unfortunate.

live action 17


KPFW live broadcast - san francisco, usa

live action 18


on broadway - san francisco, usa

live action 19


mabuhay gardens - san francisco, usa

william bennett, kevin tomkins, peter sotos

notes: these three live actions were cancelled owing to threats of violence from friends and colleagues of monte cazazza while whitehouse were in los angeles

Whitehouse seemed with this show to create more agitation without even ever striking a singular sound. Never has one heard of a show more filled with politics and misunderstanding than this cancelled fiasco.

To make a long and complex story short, the problems began in LA, where Whitehouse received a series of death threats (phone calls and letters) originating in San Francisco. Basically, the threats stated that if Whitehouse came to SF they would be approached on a violent level, or in other words, they would be illustrated with violence comparable to Whitehouse’s own musically violent tendencies. Whitehouse became very upset by these threats, but what does one expect - here they are in a strange country, in a tension filled city (LA), receiving death threats that possibly could be real. Whitehouse wanted to back out of all the shows that had been set up in SF, but somehow they were convinced to play one of the alleged three shows (On Broadway). This is where the confusion begins. Whitehouse arrive in SF, tired and frustrated, paranoid and in a strange environment. Now, Whitehouse figures out that this is conspiracy, an attempt to degrade the name of Whitehouse, ‘a band with seven albums’. The conspiracy was rooted in various preconsumptions: first, the fact that Minimal Man was to play with Whitehouse at the On Broadway. Whitehouse had seen a poster made by MM which listed MM as possibly the headliner or in other words, MM’s name was on top. Well, this alleged poster was made by MM so of course they listed themselves on top. this was not an official poster, but Whitehouse could not understand why this poster was constructed like this. Second factor of confusion, who did send these death threats anyway? All people concerned assumed that it possibly could have been Monte Cazzaza, because of his sense of humour and possibly for his dislike of Whitehouse. The third reason why Whitehouse cancelled the performance was that they didn’t want to play on the bill with other Art/Industrial (sic) groups, they stated they wanted to play with heavy metal bands. Lastly Whitehouse felt as though they were not getting respect, the respect that is due a band with so many albums, on tour from England. Whitehouse cancelled the On Broadway show stating strangely that ‘California is full of psychotics’. Why was this show cancelled? Was it pride filled confusion and egotistical ethical reasoning on the part of this Whitehouse band? A real big mess. The nature of Whitehouse itself I feel constitutes this type of situation. I would like to stress that I was very disappointed by the cancellation and that in these mediocre times perhaps the Whitehouse band is something other than a standardisation of form. I had no conception of what to expect with the On Broadway Whitehouse Live Action, and that is a great rarity from a band from any genre. Are you still confused? More next issue on this matter . . .

live action 20


ground zero gallery - seattle, usa

william bennett, kevin tomkins, peter sotos

cock dominant, bloodfucking, anal american, mindphaser, rock and roll, the second coming, on top, erector, shitfun, rapeday, necrosadism, cna, dedicated to peter kurten

Overwhelming - relentless, powerful! Whitehouse was many times more powerful and LOUDER than on their numerous album releases. William Bennett was ‘lead singer’ with his vocals run through a flanger and enormous amounts of feedback. Kevin Tomkins, staid throughout much of the show, played ‘synth’ and Philip Best (from Chicago?) (sic) played a similar keyboard instrument. It was very intense and they lived up to their claim (and hope) of being ‘the world’s most extreme band’. De Sade would have been happy, albeit with his ears plugged. People, more versed with their material than I, recognised different pieces, but to me a lot of it sounded quite a bit the same. The songs with the low bass-like frequencies and the percussive sounds were the most interesting. it made my stomach sick and after a while it didn’t seem ‘real’ anymore - until the ultra high pitched sounds came echoing back in. I recommend seeing them live if you ever get the chance - life will not be the same afterwards. This was the last show of their first US tour.

notes: audience 135 / support group malfunktion / confusingly numbered as LA21 on archive material LA tapes list - strictly speaking Seattle was LA20

live action 21


musicians co-op - london, uk

william bennett, kevin tomkins, philip best

notes: whitehouse were the advertised ‘mystery guest band’ of the equinox event (featuring performances by coil, nww, etat brut, club moral, john murphy, dave tibet’s dogs blood order, test dept. and others) organised by mary dowd / however, whitehouse were banned on the eve of the event after philip best had a fight with mary dowd

special biographical note: This was to be the first live action with the new ‘super-powerful’ line-up of Philip Best (15 years old) of Consumer Electronics and Kevin Tomkins of Sutcliffe Jugend.

live action 22


roebuck - london, uk

william bennett, kevin tomkins, philip best

right to kill, bloodfucking, anal american

notes: audience 80 / support groups are ramleh and bushido (featuring glenn michael wallis and gary levermore) at low volume / steve stapleton gets arm cut after flying glass during whitehouse performance / police raid in large numbers midway through anal american / many arrested in chaos / whitehouse manager jordi valls spends night at police station for barring access to police

Wasn’t the half-hour wait for Whitehouse worth it? Yes, it was. Philip Best, the king of the nasties, walked on programming his tool of ultimate power: sound. Next walked on Kevin Tomkins who fiddled with the oscillators so harshly, he was torturing his own machinery! Then the brainiac of the Come Organisation, William Bennett, flitted along the floor, dictating and screaming "Kill" like Hitler never could! gesticulating "louder", a helper, I think, persuaded the public address bloke that more power was needed, with the sound ultimate violent playing, the anger was brewing. A fag butt directed at the audience, a glass of beer, beer glasses, the boys took over, objects were flying like a testing range, one bloke who decided that a beer glass cutting his arm was not very social got on stage and kicked the equipment over. William seemed to direct his anger to Phil by "come on" gestures, the doors were barricaded and officers of the law kicked the door down and literally dragged an angry man down the stairs in not the most polite fashion. Was that a Whitehouse performance, total anger, rage and violence? I mean, all their lyrics are "Fuck", "Kill", "Shitfun", "Buggerfuck", now what are you meant to think? Is it pretending of a warning, a sign of sheer dominance and then sheer fascism and sexism? Well, I don’t know, but if it is, fight it, if not, we should support the noble cause.

live action 23


the clarendon - london, uk

william bennett, kevin tomkins, philip best

right to kill

notes: audience 50 / support group is ramleh / sound cut off by club management after one song / whitehouse fanatics complain vociferously to club’s hippie sound man who claims whitehouse "not music"

Ramleh played for about 20 minutes and then finished. I really enjoyed it. After a short while Whitehouse came on and launched into ‘Right to Kill’. The American guy I was with got up from the table we were sitting at to take a photo and Philip Best lifted his synth off the stack of beer crates it was on and was gonna throw a beer crate at us. I had already read what was gonna happen and moved pretty swiftly to the back, as did the American guy. So nothing happened as we had already moved before anything COULD have happened. When I got to the back I noticed lots of people (well 30 or so actually, as that’s how many people were here to watch Whitehouse & Ramleh) with weird etchings cut out in their cropped hair and someone wearing an Ian Brady and Myra Hindley T-shirt and someone else wearing a fascist German T-shirt of some sort. My heart by this time was doing ninety to the dozen. I don’t mind admitting that I was terrified. the place was a dimly lit basement which really matched the atmosphere.

Anyway. The immense power of Whitehouse was still continuing and by this time a bloke and a girl got up and left which was followed by loads of abuse directed at the girl from Bennett. I was stunned and then Bennett started goose-stepping around the floor still screaming "It’s your right to kill, it’s your fucking nature". After what seemed like ten minutes - it was all finished. I was left totally amazed at what I had just witnessed. I left to get the train with an experience of a lifetime that I will always treasure. I never thought I would witness a concert that got me terrified but left me enjoying the experience once it was all over. Whitehouse at their best for me. Robert Maycock

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