Thrill Kill Kult

Is Chi-based Thrill Kill Kult a marketing concept in search of a band (and indeed a sound), a kind of Ministry Lite, or merely a quartet of loop-happy grungesters with an enhanced visual sense? All and none of the above, as it turned out at the (fairly jammed) El Rey Theater, for TKK (as the band is known to its devotees) is most effective, when it's melting down most of the better riffs of the past 30 years of pop music. It's a hypnotic, groove-y mix that only rarely stumbles into mind-numbing trance-rock, thanks mostly to the songs' deep respect for killer hooks and the collective showmanship of TKK founders Groovie Mann and Buzz McCoy. The duo produced more ersatz fog, strobes and bizarre found-noise samplings than any show playing venues this size has any right to present, but overkill is skillfully avoided at every turn.

With:
Band: Groovie Mann, vocals, electronics; Buzz McCoy, guitars, vocals, synthesizers; Levi Levi, bass, vocals; James Basore, drums, percussion; Xtina X, vocals.

The outfit, which surrounds Mann and McCoy with a shifting cast of rhythm sections and backup singer(s), notched its first significant airplay and sales action with “Sex on Wheelz,” its contribution to the soundtrack to the 1992 Ralph Bakshi animated feature “Cool World,” and it was this tune, with its driving bass and gritty, sampled vocals, that garnered the biggest crowd response at the El Rey.

But the band is anything but a one-trick pony. Tunes from TKK’s latest offering, “A Crime for All Seasons,” showed the crushing, monolithic side of the band’s attack as well as its ruminative, even delicate side.

The lyrics are a general antisocial haze, and McCoy and his mates are not exactly the greatest groove improvisers the world has ever heard, but hey: It’s hard enough getting the look, the attack and the loops right after eight years of recording activity.

Thrill Kill Kult

El Rey Theater; 800 capacity; $15

Production: Produced by Goldenvoice.

Crew: Reviewed July 18, 1997.

Cast: Band: Groovie Mann, vocals, electronics; Buzz McCoy, guitars, vocals, synthesizers; Levi Levi, bass, vocals; James Basore, drums, percussion; Xtina X, vocals.

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