At a recent show at Club 828, A.D. (Akamai Drone) performed a set of arena-worthy electro-industrial art-rock that far outmatched the small crowd lucky enough to bear witness.
The brainchild of local musician/singer/producer extraordinaire Christian Imes (formerly a member of oddSTAR), the band has been operating under the local radar for a couple years now, but is poised to soon gain wider recognition with the release of its debut EP, Operator of Rage, and plans to tour the East Coast. Imes single-handedly wrote, performed and recorded all of the songs on the new disk, channeling influences like NIN and Tool to paint his own colorful and punishing industrial landscapes. At 828 he recruited Loren Hord (bass), Robzilla (guitar) and Dawn Storm (keyboards, live programming) to help bring the material to life.
They opened their set with the showing of a trailer video for the single, "Operator," a sophisticated CGI production that, along with the group's live rendition of the song, immediately provided a stark improvement in quality over the evening's opening act, Dead Level Underground. Whereas the supporting band expressed angst by pummeling ears with generic guitar-driven metal and coarsely delivered scream-barks, A.D. engaged the imagination with dark yet navigable sonic terrain.
Sporting a Mohawk and white suit, Imes proved himself to be a natural performer. He charismatically filled the stage with the flair of his dramatic movements, which resonated well with the intense emotionality of his songs. On "No Use" his singing evoked Perry Farrell, while later in the set the trance-y and tribal dance groove of "Glass So Far" allowed him to manifest his inner Prince. Trent Reznor was an ever-present inspiration, especially on one of A.D.'s most defining tunes, "Inside of Me."
Robzilla's playing shined throughout the night, sometimes calling to mind The Edge by building tension with subtle changes in his power cords' tones and rhythms. Wearing black eye liner and leather pants, the guitarist was a dramatic entertainer who often made good use of his wireless amp by jumping down to the floor to shred amidst the crowd. Hord was rock solid on bass, his driving thumps completely locked into the programmed beats coming from Storm's keys and laptops. Storm also provided nice high harmonies over Imes' guttural screams.
During "I See You, 'O,'" the ensemble was joined by local guest rapper Young T, who illuminated the subtle funk of the tune and helped prompt a short b-boy session among a couple members of the audience. The band ended the night with "Our Time," an anthemic psychedelic rocker that, like the rest of the material they played, had the energy and potential to touch many more people than were on hand in the mostly empty room.
Learn more at myspace.com/akamaidrone1.