DNA Lounge, San Francisco
June 28, 2022
Photos by Tyler King
IAMX, the project headed by mastermind Chris Corner, brought their Fault Lines Tour to the DNA Lounge in San Francisco, one of the last stops on a month-long tour. Supporting this year’s album Fault Lines, the live IAMX lineup for this tour featured long-time collaborator Janine Gezang on keyboards, bass, and vocals, and Jon Siren on drums. The band took to the stage, each wearing a different mask: Jon a black rabbit, Janine with a full-head mesh covering wrapped around her skull, and a silver fox mask for Chris. After Chris began turning knobs of various synthesizers onstage, the instrumental bubbled underneath for the song “The X ID” from the latest album, Jon soon pounding the beat of the song while Janine played the bassline. Before long the song worked up to a head during the chorus, Chris shouting, “There’s poison in my head and I don’t know what to do / The hole’s too deep for the drugs to get me through.” The song served as the perfect opening for the show.
As the set went on, each member removed their masks; Jon after “The X ID,” Janine during the middle of the next song, “Sailor,” and Chris later in the set after “Exit.” Each reveal felt like a huge moment for the crowd, who cheered the removal of each mask. Keeping the energy of the crowd up was the energy from Chris and Janine throughout the entire set; Chris was teetering somewhere between singer and ringleader at various points of the show, and the two of them swapped more than a couple of moments of sexual tension throughout the night.
This was the fifth time that I’ve seen IAMX, with each show being different from the last. Hell, last year’s show was Chris solo doing a set dominated by modular synth-based new songs and arrangements of older material. So trust me when I say that this was arguably the best set that I’ve ever seen Chris and his band play. Of course the energy of the band played into it, but so did the setlist choices: classic songs like “After Every Party I Die” and “Screams” worked perfectly against newer material like 2018’s “Exit” and the title track from Fault Lines.
If I have any complaint about the show, though, it was that only a few songs from Fault Lines were performed; on previous tours it felt like the most recent album was getting the most exposure in a setlist, but only three songs from the new album were played. I will say that the live performances of the songs from Fault Lines absolutely blew the album recordings out of the water. It isn’t that the album versions are bad (in fact, the entire album is pretty damn good), but there’s always been an element of the live performances of IAMX that elevate the songs that they’re playing, whether it’s the extended version of “I Come With Knives,” or a radically reworked version of “Bernadette.”
The highlight for the show for me came towards the end. After closing the main set with an incredibly rousing rendition of “Happiness,” the band came back onstage and opened their first encore with another song from 2015’s Metanoia, playing album opener “No Maker Made Me.” The song is one I’ve seen played multiple times, and this was probably the most powerful version of it that I’ve seen. After “Bernadette,” another fan favorite, the band waited minutes to come back onstage, to the point where the crowd seemed uncertain that they would return. About half of the audience left the DNA Lounge by the time that the band returned onstage for a one-two punch of two of the best songs from my favorite IAMX album, 2006’s The Alternative. First was the title track, a song whose chorus saw Janine throwing herself to the ground, head thrown back in faux ecstasy, Chris looming over her. Once everything calmed down after the song ended, the show was closed with a reworked version of “This Will Make You Love Again,” arguably one of the most heartfelt and delicate songs in the entire IAMX catalogue. The crowd hung on every word and sang them all back. The song eventually ended, and the three left the stage. This time, there was no return. The three-ring circus of Chris Corner, IAMX’s ringleader, was done for the evening.