On Stage: Industrial rock pioneers KMFDM return to Philly

By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times


When the dawn of industrial rock arrived more than three decades ago, KMFDM was there.

The industrial scene has gone through many changes over the years. Many bands in the genre have risen, fallen and ceased to exist. Fortunately, KMFDM is not one of them.

KMFDM is still here and is making music more powerful than ever.

Sascha Konietzko and the members of his band KMFDM are the forefathers of industrial rock – the progenitors of a whole breed of rockers who view noise as a valid foundation for songs.

KMFDM has been around longer than a lot of musicians in today’s bands have been alive. But Konietzko and his crew never grow old.

They don’t rest on their laurels — content to tour playing songs from 20 or 30 years ago. KMFDM is still making music that is vital, vibrant and vicious. This year, KMFDM celebrated its 38th anniversary.

On September 9, KMFDM released its latest album “Hyëna” on Metropolis Records.  Now, the multi-national band (Germany/England/United States) is touring the states in support of its new LP.

On October 14, KMFDM returns to Philadelphia for a show at Brooklyn Bowl (1009 Canal Street, Philadelphia, www.brooklynbowl.com/philadelphia).

“We started the tour on September 27 in Fort Lauderdale,” said Konietzko, during a phone interview Wednesday afternoon from a tour stop in Boston. “We had two shows in Florida cancelled because of Hurricane Ian.

“We did shows in the South and Midwest. We’re in Boston now and we’ll be in Philly on Friday. We finish in Atlanta on October 19. We’ll be back later for a West Coast tour and then have a European tour in fall 2023.”

KMFDM’s signature sound — a crossover between techno/dance, heavy rock and industrial a.k.a “Ultra Heavy Beat” — is combined with sometimes political, sometimes ironic lyrics and an underlying humorous edge.

KMFDM actually began in Hamburg, Germany as “Kein Mehrheit Fur Die Mitleid” (“No compassion for the majority”) which eventually was shortened to the acronym KMFDM.

The band still features the nucleus of Konietzko (vocals, guitar, bass, programming, keyboards, synthesizer, percussion), his wife Lucia Cifarelli (vocals, keyboards), Andee Blacksugar (guitar) and Andy Selway (drums).

“We recorded the new album all over the place,” said Konietzko,

“We started in late fall-early summer 2020 and worked on it until this spring. We did take a long time because we also worked on other side projects – the ‘In Dub’ album and Lucia’s solo album. We had ‘Paradise’ in 2019, ‘In Dub’ in 2020 and Lucia’s album in 2021.”

On July 2, 2021, Cifarelli released her sophomore solo album, “I Am Eye.”

“With ‘Hyëna,’ the drums were done in Florida, the guitars in New York and the rest in Hamburg,” said Konietzko. “We also did part in London and one song in Jamaica.”

While recording parts of songs separately in different locations was a model used by bands who were isolated during the pandemic, it was a way of recording that was old hat for KMFDM.

“The last time we made an album together in a studio was in 1994,” said Konietzko. “We did it for our ‘Nihil’ album.”

The band’s most recent previous release was “Paradise,’ which was released in September 2019 on Metropolis Records.

KMFDM has released more than 20 studio albums, 15 of which feature the band’s trademark one-word titles — “Opium,” “UAIOE,” “Naïve,” Money,” “Angst,” “Nihil,” “Xtort,” “Symbols,” “Adios,” “Attak,” “WWIII,” “Tohuvabohu,” “Blitz”, “WTF,” “Kunst,” “Paradise” and now “Hyëna.”

“We never had a chance to tour in support of ‘Paradise,’” said Konietzko, who also goes by the musical alias, Käpt’n K.

“Our last tour was the ‘Hell Yeah Tour’ in 2017. We had two 2020 tours with Ministry that got pushed back to 2021 and then eventually cancelled. Now here we are five years later.

“The pandemic postponed everything. It took its toll. We had no income from not touring for five years.

“The ‘Hyëna’ songs were all written during COVID. So, the pandemic did influence us in a positive way. The whole idea was to make a very varied album.”

The album spans many genres – the industrial rock of “Liquor Fish & Cigarettes,” hip-hop influenced “Rock’n’Roll Monster,” the blackgrass vibe of “Deluded Desperate Dangerous & Dumb,” the hardcore punch of All Wrong – But Alright,” the thrash metal slam of “Blindface,” the bad boy rock swagger of “Black Hole,” the techno-dance feel of “Hyëna” and the island vibe of “In Dub We Trust.”

“There’s a trend for records that aren’t super-long, and we went with that,” said Konietzko. “The songs swirl around. It’s like a sonic acid trip.

“On this tour,we’re playing songs from all throughout our history, including some from ‘Paradise.’ We’re also playing five or six songs from ‘Hyëna’ and several of our must-play songs like ‘Hau Rock,’ ‘Son of a Gun’ and ‘Drug Against War.’

“The band has the same line-up as always – Lucia, Andy, Andee and me along with MC Ocelot (rapper Andrew “Ocelot” Lindsley).”

Chant, the opening act on the tour is equally intense.

“Chant is very tribal…very dark,” said Konietzko. “This is the third tour they’ve opened for us. They also were on our North American tours in 2013 and 2015.”

Video link for KMFDM — https://youtu.be/bNqk41LR1PA.

The show at Brooklyn Bowl, which has Chant and Mighty Mike Saga as the opening acts, will start at 9 p.m. Tickets are $34.

In this era of political divisiveness, climate problems, fear, hate mongering and despair, a musical that celebrates truth, love, hope, happiness is a welcome event.


“Annie” which is running now through October 16 at the Kimmel Cultural Campus’ Miller Theater (Broad and Locust streets, Philadelphia, www.kimmelculturalcampus.org), is just such a musical.

The structure of this show is different than many other shows. The main character has the arc and everyone around Annie transforms. It was the Great Depression. Everyone was suffering and here was this little girl with an indomitable spirit. The show is funny but it’s also about truth and love.

According to director Jenn Thompson, who at the age of 10 stepped into the role of “Pepper” in the Original Broadway production, “This show, with its iconic title character, continues to delight generations of theatre-lovers old and new by joyfully singing directly into the face of great adversity with perseverance, guts and guile.

“For decades, ‘Annie’ has continued to shine brightly, not only as an appeal to our better angels, but also as an example of the thrill of hope, hard-won: promising a better ‘Tomorrow’ not only for Annie herself, but for all who need her message now more than ever.”

The National Tour of “Annie” features a stellar cast. In the title role of Annie is Ellie Pulsipher, a 12-year-old actress from South Florida who is making her tour debut. Christopher Swan will star as Oliver Warbucks. In the role of Miss Hannigan is Stefanie Londino.

“This is not your daddy’s ‘Annie’,” said Londino, during a phone interview last week from a tour stop in Syracuse, New York. “We’ve got something new for you. The music is stunning with all new orchestrations.

“I auditioned back in March, and they made the offer. They cast the children a little later. The whole cast was put together a week before rehearsals started. We’re now in our third week of tech here in Syracuse.

“I’m a Jersey girl – born and raised. I was born in New Brunswick and raised in Elizabeth. From there, I went to college at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. They have a great Shakespeare program.

“I studied in their actor training program. I wanted the challenge. Then, the East Coast called me back.”

Londino has performed in ​Broadway national tours of “A Bronx Tale” (Rosina) and “Fiddler on the Roof” (Shaindel). Her Off-Broadway credits include “The Mayor of Williamsburg,” “What Do Critics Know?,” “Flak House”  and“Red Wine in Paper Cups.” She is also an original rock musician who has recorded several albums and opened for Bon Jovi.

“I like playing the role of Miss Hannigan because she is a female powerhouse,” said Londino. “It’s such a delight to have a force in the play.

“She’s often portrayed as a cartoon. Jenn (director Jenn Thompson) looks at her as a real person. She is the dark side of the Annie coin.

“In terms of structure, she’s a villain – but she has to deal with the circumstances. The humor in her and the darkness play off each other. The darker she can be, the more hilarious she becomes.”

Pulsifer steals the show as Annie with poise beyond her years and a great comedic sense.

“Going toe-to-toe with Ellie Pulsifer is tough,” said Londino. “She is absolutely incandescent.”

Also starring in the tour are Julia Nicole Hunter as Grace, Nick Bernardi as Rooster, Krista Curry as Lily, Mark Woodard as FDR and Bronte Harrison as Molly.

The cast also has a bit of adoption reality.

Harrison, who sparkles as one of the orphans, was adopted from an orphanage in China as a toddler. Addison, a stray mutt rescued by Tony Award® Honoree William Berloni (Annie, A Christmas Story, Legally Blonde) through the Humane Society in 2017, stars as Sandy.

The original production of Annie had its world premiere on Aug 10, 1976, at the Goodspeed Opera House in Haddam, Connecticut, and opened on Broadway on April 21, 1977, at the Alvin Theatre (Neil Simon Theatre).  The production, featured Andrea McArdle as Annie, went on to win the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Musical, seven Drama Desk Awards including Best Musical, the Grammy for Best Cast Show Album, and seven Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Book (Thomas Meehan) and Best Score (Charles Strouse, Martin Charnin). It closed on Broadway after playing 2,377 performances.

“Annie” was revived on Broadway in 1997 and again in 2014. It has been made into a film three times (1982, 1999, 2014) and was most recently featured as a live television production on NBC. The show remains one of the biggest Broadway musical hits ever. It has been performed in 28 languages and has been running somewhere around the world for 45 years.

The beloved score for “Annie” includes “Maybe,” “It’s the Hard Knock Life,” “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile,” “Easy Street,” “I Don’t Need Anything But You,” and the eternal anthem of optimism, “Tomorrow.”

The show has gone on numerous national tours and featured notable cast members such as child star Amanda Balon as Annie and television/movie/stage/rock band veteran Mackenzie Phillips as Lily St. Regis.

Video link for “Annie” — https://youtu.be/j93KJmxtVpg.

The show at the Miller Theater will run through October 16 – Thursday and Friday, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, 2 and 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday, 1 and 6:30 p.m.

Ticket prices start at $40.

Two other attractive theater productions are running right now – “Mushroom”  and “Memphis.”


“Mushroom,” which is set in Kennett Square, is running now through October 16 at People’s Light (39 Conestoga Road, Malvern, www.peopleslight.org).

In Kennett Square, “The Mushroom Capital of the World,” intersecting lives of immigrant families collide when a workplace injury, an unexpected romance, and the looming presence of immigration authorities have far-reaching ramifications for the entire community.

Kennett Square is known as the Mushroom Capital of the World because mushroom farming in the region produces over

500 million pounds of mushrooms a year, totaling half of the United States mushroom crop.

Hispanic races make up almost 30 per cent of the borough’s population. A large percentage of workers on the mushroom farms are Mexican.

According to People’s Light, “‘Mushroom’ is a drama that focuses on the intersecting lives of immigrant families that collide when a workplace injury, an unexpected romance, and the looming presence of immigration authorities have far-reaching ramifications for the entire community.”

“Mushroom” is performed in both English and Spanish. The play’s dialogue is modeled on the way our communities in Chester County naturally move between languages. Every performance includes English supertitles for the parts of the play in Spanish, and Spanish supertitles for the parts of the play in English. Audience members will be able to read these supertitles from every seat in the theatre.

“Mushroom” is running now through October 16 at People’s Light. Ticket prices are $47 — $42 for youth.

The Candlelight Theatre (2208 Millers Road, Arden, Delaware, www.candlelighttheatredelaware.org) is in the middle of its fifth production run of 2022. The lively musical “Memphis” is running now through October 30.

“Memphis,” which was inspired by actual events, is about a white radio DJ who wants to change the world and a black club singer who is ready for her big break.

The play looks at their incredible journey to the ends of the airwaves and is filled with laughter, soaring emotion, and roof-raising rock-and-roll.

Winner of four 2010 Tony Awards including Best Musical and two 2015 Olivier Awards, Memphis features a Tony-winning book by Joe DiPietro and a Tony-winning original score with music by Bon Jovi founding member David Bryan.

“Memphis” takes the audience back to an era that really wasn’t that long ago — 60 years — but now seems like light years away.

It has only been a few decades since popular music depended on AM radio and not MTV or the internet. In the 1950s, disc jockeys on AM radio determined what songs would be hits (often through the help of payola…but that’s another story). And AM radio was definitely segregated.

The musical “Memphis” is set in that era. The show, which won four Tony Awards (including 2010’s Best Musical), is loosely based on the story of Dewey Phillips, a Memphis disc jockey who was one of the first white DJs to play black music on AM radio back in the mid-1950s.

In the show, Huey Calhoun is the deejay who breaks the color line by playing back songs on a white radio station. The kids love the music and the advertisers like the increased business. But there is also a major backlash from the racist element which was so prevalent in the South 50-60 years ago.

“Memphis” is also a great history lesson. It’s set in the 1950s on Beale Street in Memphis. It shows the difficulty of trying to be in an inter-racial relationship during that era — an era when African American men in the South were lynched for showing interest in white women.

The production at the Candlelight Dinner Theatre is directed and choreographed by Devon Sinclair with Hallie Berger as co-choreographer. The vocal director is Garrick Vaughan.

“Memphis” is running now October 30 at the Candlelight Dinner Theatre.

Tickets, which include dinner and parking, are $65.50 for adults and $33 for children (ages 4-12).

Jamey’s House of Music (32 South Lansdowne Avenue, Lansdowne, 215-477-9985,www.jameyshouseofmusic.com) always presents great folk, jazz and blues music every Thursday through Sunday.

The “Thursday Night Jazz Jam” and the “Sunday Blues Brunch & Jam” are regular features on Jamey’s calendar while Friday and Saturday night shows feature national and regional acts.

The headline shows on the weekend nights always draw appreciative crowds. The show this Friday night features the Paul Nelson Band.

Nelson is recognized as one of today’s top guitarists/songwriters and producers not only having the distinction of being the handpicked fellow guitarist to the legendary rock/blues icon Johnny Winter but he has toured the world over performing and or recorded alongside an endless who’s who list of top artists from Eric Clapton to Slash, Billy Gibbons, Ben Harper, Robben Ford, Vince Gill, Warren Haynes, Derek Trucks, James Cotton, Joe Perry, Susan Tedeschi, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, John Popper, Dr. John, Larry Carlton, Leslie West, Joe Bonamassa, Sonny Landreth, Dickey Betts to Joe Walsh and more.

Nelson received a Grammy award for his work performing on and producing Winter’s “Step Back” release on Megaforce/Sony winning “Best Blues Album of the Year” highlighting his already long list of Grammy Nominations. As well as the BMA “Blues Music Award” for “Best Blues/Rock Album” reaching #16 on the Billboard Top 200 and staying at #1 on the Billboard Blues Charts for weeks. He is also a recipient of the Blues Foundation’s KBA “Keeping The Blues Alive Award”.

Saturday’s headline act will be the Jimmy Pritchard Band.

Pritchard spent the early 80’s supporting heavy metal guitarist Vinnie Moore and then the 90’s brought Pritchard back to the blues. Touring throughout the U.S, Canada, and Europe he supported acts such as Sonny Rhodes, Georgie Bonds and The Blueskeepers, Socco, and Lonnie Shields. The next decade kept him even busier, as he was in high demand on bass duty with Big Jack Johnson, Richard Ray Farrell, and Roger Girke.

In more recent years, Pritchard rocked the International Blues Challenge as a bassist backing long-time friend and harp extraordinaire Mikey Junior- first in 2011 when they reached the semi-finals and then again in 2012 as finalists. 2014 brought the Jimmy Pritchard Band to Memphis where they became IBC semi-finalists representing the Jersey Shore Jazz & Blues Foundation, proving that Memphis, and the spotlight, is where Jimmy shines!

Since then, he enjoyed three years of the good life in Florida, while dazzling audiences around the country as bassman next to Albert Castiglia. But the Northeast called him back, and boy, he has arrived.

Pritchard exploded back into the limelight with his 2019 album “Meet Me in Memphis.” The release welcomes a sensational lineup which includes guitarist J.P. Soars and percussionist Chris Peet, guitarist Paul DesLauriers, bassist Greg Morency and drummer Sam Harrisson. Albert Castiglia laid down a few hot licks as well. The album also featured harp players Rockin’ Jake, Albert ‘Big Daddy’ Lambertson, and Mikey Junior as well as Allman Brothers alum Johnny Neel on keyboards.

The shows at Jamey’s on Friday and Saturday will start at 8 p.m. Tickets for either are $25 in advance and $30 at the door. S Sunday’s “Blues Jam” will feature Dave Orban.

The Colonial Theater (227 Bridge Street, Phoenixville, thecolonialtheatre.com/events) is hosting Rufus Wainwright on October 13 with Emily Drinker as the opening act.

Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center (226 North High Street, West Chester, www.uptownwestchester.org) is presenting Tusk on October 13, Urban Guerilla Orchestra on October 14 and First Ladies of Rock & Soul on October 15.

Kennett Flash (102 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Square, 484-732-8295, http://www.kennettflash.org) is hosting Lucky Brown on October 14 and Winslow on October 15.

The Sound Bank (119 South Main Street, Phoenixville, www.soundbankphx.com) will have Brown Sugar on October 13, Sam Schmidthuber and Will Overman on October 14 and Hotlanta on October 15.

Phantom Power (121 West Frederick Street, Millersville, www.phantompower.net) will have Kurt Vile & The Violators with Julia Shapiro on October 14 and Matt Wenger on October 15.

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