Multi-colored beams of light cast from the industrial ceiling flickered across hundreds of eager faces. Black Tiger Sex Machine, with opening artists Apashe and Dabin, summoned a crowd to The Orange Peel Wednesday night during their first major American tour.
Brimming with elation, the booming audience revealed the true volume of electronic music lovers in Asheville.
Black Tiger Sex Machine took the stage. As the eyes of their signature tiger helmets illuminated, and the music began, organic emotion exploded from high-tech machinery.
“My favorite part is probably the beginning and the end, when we turn on our helmets. It’s cool to see the crowd’s reaction because they are either going crazy or look really confused,” Patrick Barry, one of the trio, said.
Marc-Andre Chagnon of BTSM said the helmets play a role in the group’s aesthetic and are not meant to have a cryptic effect. Feeling their fans and fellow musicians under Kannibalen Records are more like a family, group members are far from secretive when it comes to showing their faces.
“Our music is really dark sometimes, so we try to have fun with it and have a stage presence,” Chagnon said.
Time seemed to stop as the beat rapidly ascended. The anticipating crowd jerked back into motion simultaneously as floor-melting bass roared from the amplifier. The fast-changing auditory and visual stimulation flooded the room to form a nearly hypnotic effect on attendees.
Despite the group’s extraordinary stage presence, the members portray a down-to-earth sense of companionship.
“We share a lot with each other in Kannibalen Records, like trading tips, especially now that we are on tour together,” Barry said.
He noted a show in which solo artist Dabin had to control each switch on the light panel manually.
“I knew their music so well at that point. We killed that shit,” Dabin said.
The Church Tour featuring these artists concludes the last day of this month.
“We call the tour Welcome to Our Church because people come with an expectation. It’s an expectation of abandoning yourself,” Chagnon said.
With audience members dancing wildly under an array of sound and light, this vibe of liberation and self-abandonment was unmistakable during the performance. While some songs contained glimmers of familiar compositions, others swam across the room with a new and innovative sound.
“We try to reach a full experience where everything is taken out of the ordinary day-to-day,” Barry said.
The Canadian group formed in 2009 and continues to gain momentum in the realm of electronic music. Since then, members have had some unusual experiences on stage.
“It was 100 degrees at Lollapalooza, and those machines get really hot. We are performing and my screen just goes black,” Chagnon said.
According to Chagnon, the problem was resolved by BTSM’s third member, Julien Maranda, who fixed the set with a few frozen water bottles. The music never stopped.
“Sometimes it’s good to have the helmets, so people don’t see us freaking out,” Barry joked.
Though the group is influenced by exterior inspiration like different artists and video games, namely League of Legends, they said their music is not based on current trends.
“We think about what we like and try to live up to our own standards,” Barry said. “We don’t set boundaries for ourselves or the other artists in the label.”
As the performance raged past midnight, the dynamic nature of electronic music revealed itself, encapsulating the audience within a wavering contrast of light and darkness, beginning to end.