LIVE at Observatory North Park
May 22, 2023 Review by Greg Vitalich
Fresh off a special performance at the ginormous Sick New Word festival in Las Vegas, industrial/techno legends KMFDM brought their show to San Diego in support of their 22nd studio album, “Hyena.”

I must confess, I was not very familiar with the group despite them having been around since 1984, but more than once I had heard their live show was worth checking out. This week was my finally chance!

Although widely considered a pioneer of heavy industrial music (along with bands like Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, and Skinny Puppy), KMFDM is still somewhat an underground act. KMFDM, an abbreviation loosely translated from a German phrase as “no pity for the majority,” is anchored by German founder, front-man and producer Sascha Konietzko.

With Konietzko as the only remaining original member, the band’s unique sound is enhanced by American singer Lucia Cifarelli, a goth beauty who provides dynamic female vocals ranging from delicate to psycho-crazy! Cifarelli’s edgy femme fatale vibe adds a key element to the KMFDM sound, complimenting Konietzko’s primary lead vocals and contrasting heavy sonics combining metal guitars, electronica, and techno. Konietzko and Cifarelli, married since 2005, were an interesting musical power couple I looked forward to seeing live.

KMFDM took the stage at San Diego’s Observatory North Park with the pulsating techno groove “D.I.Y.” Both Konietzko and Cifarelli were positioned stoically onstage, behind podiums holding what appeared to be keyboards and other electronic controls. Sporting aviator sunglasses and a short-hair mohawk, Konietzko was fully in command, pacing away from his podium to grab the audience’s attention from the start. Cifarelli was a trip – when not singing, she grabbed her podium with both hands, leaned forward, and gave a super intense death stare directly at the crowd. Towering onstage with seven-inch platform boots, black leather corset, and black tights, she seemed prepared to lead an army into a “Game of Thrones” battle – she won me over on song number one!

American guitarist Andee Blacksugar, and English drummer Andy Selway added to the international flavor of the band and were solid performers. Blacksugar’s guitar work was very metal in style and tone. But unlike the heavy metal genre where songs are often built around the foundation of a guitar riff, KMFDM utilized metal riffs for low-end heavy rhythmic textures underneath the more dominant techno-electronics. Drummer Selway was mostly hidden behind the huge kit, but he was a beast driving the grooves – his Rammstein-like freight train “four on the floor” kick drum had my insides vibrating!

KMFDM keenly showed off a wide representation of the work with a 19-song set spanning 11 different albums. My favorite song off the new album was the title track, “Hyena,” which combined techno and some gritty old school rock guitar – think of a pissed Depeche Mode synthesizer and loud metal guitar shredding. Not being very familiar with the band, I was pleasantly surprised when I realized an encore song, “Godlike,” was looping the first part of a Slayer riff from “Angel of Death.” Nicely done!
Some of the crowd favorites of the night included “Amnesia,” “Black Hole,” “Son of a Gun,” “Oh My Goth,” “Freak Flag,” “Megalomaniac,” “A Drug Against War,” and “Light.”

The final song was my favorite; “Paradise,” a funky techno groove with an angry catchy chorus with blunt socio-political commentary:
Entitlement breeds fraud
Learned men who got it wrong
Color, gender, faith, outlaw
We’re all human in the eyes of God
This planet is a paradise
A paradise for assholes
This planet is a paradise
A paradise for assholes

I left the show quite satisfied with my first KMFDM live experience. The legendary act has completed their West Coast tour swing and heads to Europe in the fall. Keep your eyes peeled for their next show dates in the States!


by Greg Vitalich Photography



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