Photo of Matt Stephenson of Machine Girl by Jen Ruff. See below for more photos.
On a chilly December Wednesday, the Red Flag was lowered and the black flag of musical anarchy was raised on Locust Street. It was an unholy ritual of cybermancy, and the high priests were Machine Girl and LustSickPuppy. The New York natives play a brutal blend of punk, industrial, hip-hop, and underground EDM. It’s great music for dancing, breaking stuff, and racking up headshots in Overwatch.
Sporting clown makeup and green braids, LustSickPuppy stalked the stage and ruled the mic while grotesque low-fi renderings of dogs, clowns and female bodybuilders swirled about on the backdrop. The music had more of a hip-hop flavor than Machine Girl and it complemented them nicely. It’s no surprise that LustSickPuppy made an appearance on Machine Girl’s latest full-length, 2020’s U-Void Synthesizer.
I had a chance to speak with LP between sets, though they were pretty busy taking selfies with fans and selling custom facemasks. When I asked them to give the music a genre tag, their answer was succinct and accurate: “Freak.”
My cowriter, Dave, spoke with Noa, an experienced tour manager who’s working with Machine Girl for the first time. Noa said not to let the aggro aesthetic fool you: Machine Girl are “the best people ever. So nice and so accommodating.” She admitted to having “low expectations” for St. Louis, but we proved that Midwesterners can rave and mosh as hard as anyone.
Machine Girl’s output can be roughly divided into two categories: EDM and digital hardcore (a hybrid of punk, industrial and high-BPM techno). Many electronic artists are content to bob and sway behind the decks; Machine Girl leader Matt Stephenson, on the other hand, flavored his set with some wild dance moves, guitar solos, and a bit of crowd surfing.
The duo played tracks from their three heaviest albums, including U-Void Synthesizer. That album received a relatively frosty reception when it was first released, but tracks like “On Coming” sounded vicious live. Crowd pleasers like “Athoth a Go!! Go!!” also popped up. By the end of the set, I felt throttled and overloaded in the best possible way.
Machine Girl has just wrapped up their ‘22 tour. If you were busy in December but can afford a Spanish vacation, you can catch them at the Primavera Sound Festival this June. | Rob Von Nordheim