Having been lucky enough to attend all four installments of our beloved Kinetik Festival, the ID:UD staff have been able to watch the endeavor grow from what seemed like a potential one-off (albeit a star-studded one) to being the undisputed largest and best festival of its kind west of the Atlantic. Although we’ve never had the superhuman level of focus required to see every band each year (we’re still kicking ourselves for skipping Cervello Elettronico to go eat vegan chinese food) we’ve seen the vast majority and can speak with authority on the topic. With tickets for the fifth iteration (at which your humble correspondents will be DJing!) having just gone on sale, we thought we’d take this opportunity to reflect on some of the highlights of the festival thus far, be they hilarious or sublime.
2008: The Horrorist
Oliver Chesler’s blend of electro and hardcore has been a club staple in certain quarters for years, but we weren’t sure how it’d translate live. Accenting his tracks by waving a worklight into the crowd and entertaining deadpan patter, Chessler got things moving on the first night of the first Kinetik just fine, much to the delight of the dude in the crowd rocking a perfect replica of the skunk-coloured bihawk Chessler sported as a kid in the landmark Depeche Mode tour film, 101.
The Horrorist
2008: Memmaker
We’ve had the pleasure of seeing Yann and Guillaume perform several more times as Memmaker, but we can still clearly remember the shock and amazement of seeing the project for the first time at Year 1. In front of an enthusiastic hometown crowd, the duo pounded out a set of what unbeknownst to us was the bulk of the group’s first album of rhythmic-electro How To Enlist in a Robot Uprising. By the time “Get Your Ass To Mars” was played one of the senior staff had already excused himself to buy the CD, and some loyal fans were made.

2009: Interlace
Half of the ID:UD editorial staff was completely unfamiliar with Interlace when they took the stage at the first Kinetik, which made their costumes (half Warhammer 40K, half surgeon’s garb) all the more outlandish and their deceptively complex blend of electro-industrial all the more unsettling. While divisive amongst the general festival populace, their performance ranks as one of the festival’s all-time high points in our books. There hasn’t been a peep from their camp since the Nemesis single which had its official release at Kinetik – anyone know what these dudes’ current status is?

2009: Architect
As die-hard Daniel Myer fanboys we were super happy to see one of his projects live. Myer was predominantly playing material from the as of then unreleased Consume Adapt Create record, and while it was a joy to get a preview of that fantastic album, the highlight came when Myer quickly constructed a simplistic four on the floor beat from scratch, and gave the crowd a measure or two to fall into line dancing to it. “You like that?” he asked. “You like that doof-doof?” When the crowd roared its assent, he drily replied “I don’t”, and instantaneously swapped the oontzy beat out for one of his new, fabulously ornate creations.
2010: Tyske Ludder
Tyske have almost no profile in North America despite their fairly robust catalogue of militarized EBM, and we’ll admit we weren’t terribly familiar with them before they hit the Montreal stage. Pounding out tracks from the then freshly released Anonymous with an almost unprecedented level of intensity and commitment, they quickly won over both the senior staff and the mid-evening crowd who were assembled. We’ve used the humorous shorthand “The festival where we get yelled at by Germans” to refer to Kinetik in the past, and Tyske Ludder’s set was amongst the best we’ve ever seen of that variety.

2010: Run Level Zero
We’d been enjoying RLZ’s tasty Arctic Noise album in the months leading up to Kinetik 3.0, and by happenstance ended up palling around with them for much of the festival. After all of that we were a little trepidatious about their live set on the last night: what if they weren’t so hot? It’d be hella awkward! We needn’t have worried. They put on a super-fun, high-energy set which completely won over the crowd, most of whom were likely completely unfamiliar with RLZ beforehand.

2011: The Klinik
This could just as easily have been any of Ivens’ other projects that have graced Kinetik on a given year – we were equally excited to see Sonar the first year and Dive/Absolute Body Control in 2010. That said, the opportunity to see the storied Klinik live show in Montreal wasn’t something we could overlook in this write-up. We’ve seen a lot of two man vocal/keyboard set-ups, but very few with that level of almost trance-like commitment. Seeing Dirk alternately stride and shamble across the stage like a man at the mercy of dark forces beyond his control was hypnotic, and yes, slightly terrifying. A lot of folks were more interested in Agonoize’s goofy nonsense immediately following, but the real industrial heads in attendance knew what the score that evening was.

2011: Continues
Getting to see Dan Gatto perform in any configuration is something any fan of electronic music should do given the opportunity. Even given the total obscurity of all of his new synthpop material as Continues (most of which is still slated for release on a forthcoming album) he commanded the stage solo with the kind of masterful presence that comes from years of experience. Even playing an early set to a small crowd it was a festival highlight, and is one of the principal reasons we’re still waiting on that debut album.

2011: mind.in.a.box
In a field of bands who often do their best to sound as synthetic as possible, mind.in.a.box’s trance-inflected futurepop has always sounded like some of the most inorganic music ever made (in the best way possible). While this makes it great music for club play or Shadowrun campaigns, the question of how m.i.a.b. would translate live was one of the big questions at the most recent Kinetik. Stephan Poiss and co quickly put the lie to concerns about uninspiring laptop sets by taking the stage with a guitar, bass and live drum kit, and transposing their back-catalog to straightforward rock instrumentation with jaw-dropping ease.

2011: Painbastard
At the end of the last day of the five-day festival, Painbastard could probably have been forgiven for coming out, playing their most well-known songs and signing things off quietly for the dwindling post-Suicide Commando crowd. Hell, that might have been his plan. Fortunately the fact that singer Alex was a) very clearly drunk b) “dressed like a villain from Red Dwarf” (according to Bruce) somehow made his dark electro stylings all the more endearing. By the time the drunken clusterfuck of a DAF cover that involved a special guest appearance from an equally drunk Daniel Jonasson of Dupont fame and an on-stage scuffle with Marco of Decoded Feedback rolled around we were thoroughly charmed.
Tickets for Kinetik 5.0 are now on sale via the festival’s website.