In May that I had a chance to sit down and interview FleischgewehR. Since then, I’ve been counting the days until I actually got to see the band perform live. As I stated previously, you just don’t think of Germany’s Rammstein when you think of bands who have tribute acts. But as the calendar turned from June to July, we found ourselves at King Avenue 5, ready and willing to be rocked.
The opening act was a group from Mansfield called Kobalt Kreek, whose set was comprised entirely of massive 1990’s and 2000’s nu-metal hits such as Down With The Sickness and Bodies. They provided a somewhat refreshing take on the hits, and perfectly set the stage for the headliners. Up next was Sin Nombre, who brought heavy sludge grooves and a kick-ass attitude to boot. King Avenue 5 had filled up by the time they left, and we felt a quivering sense of anticipation as FleischgewehR took the stage.
It was a slightly strange look that the band presented, and that wasn’t just the costumes and makeup. True, they looked like they had all just crawled out of an industrial labor plant, but the band still hadn’t found a drummer since their last set, so it was simply the five current members on stage.
Steve “The Engine” Clark and Einer von Millionen took stage right and left respectively, with bassist Neil R Young between them. Keyboardist George “Pour-Man” Johnson stood where the drums normally would be, as everyone waited for singer Frankie “Frankalien” Bernert join.
The lights dimmed as the keyboards hummed the opening to Rammstein’s newest track, tentatively titled Ramm4. Since the band has only played a few shows in the past several years, and nothing has been officially recorded, I was surprised to see FleischgewehR open with it. Bernert came onto the stage waving the German flag and churned through the song. The chorus had the crowd chanting “Ja! Nein! Rammstein!”
Up next was Ich Tu Der Weh, featuring an almost perfectly emulated guitar tone from Clark, as Johnson’s keys lit up the night. Unfortunately the band had some sound difficulties early in their set and Johnson’s work was buried among the massive crunch of the three guitars.
The band then threw it back to Rammstein’s debut album with the song Heirate Mich, a bizarre song about making love to corpses. Dave “Re:Ject” Bowman (now of Zero Signal) joined his former bandmates with an industrial tool that shot sparks around the stage as they played. Von Millionen cranked out a screaming solo near the end, and it was at that point that I realized just how much work these guys put into perfecting their craft.
However, I was disappointed at the lack of sound coming from the keyboards on Keine Lust, which features a pretty solid keyboard solo when played by Rammstein. While the guitars and bass kept their parts up, you almost wouldn’t know there was a keyboard hiding in the background from the lack of sound coming from it.
It seemed to be straightened out when they played the controversial Pussy, which contains both English and German lyrics. The band’s namesake comes from the line “Blitzkreig mit dem Fleischgewehr” (literally, blitzkrieg with the meat rifle) from this song, and Bowman ran out in a giant hot dog costume to dance with Bernert.
Frankie had said that his favorite song to sing was Stein um Stein, and it definitely showed. Stein um Stein is a deceptively slow song that features some of Rammstein (and FleischgewehR’s) heaviest riffs, and another wailing solo from von Millionen. It was fantastically done, and you could make the argument that the guys did a better job than the original on this one. I also have to take a second to give a shout-out to Travis, the sound and light engineer at King Avenue 5. He was absolutely on point with everything he did throughout the night, and it really showed on this song.
Waidmann’s Heil ramped-up the speed, as Frankie let the crowd sing parts of the chorus. We were finally able to enjoy Johnson’s keyboard work, as it seemed they had hemmed out all of their technical issues. The guitars continued to pound into the sexual anthem Rein Raus (In Out) off the Mutter album. Bernert hilariously had to pull his pants back up after aggressively humping during the chorus, but the song fell short musically of the expectations put forth from the previous tracks. The saving grace was Clark ripping his best solo of the evening.
Benzin was the only song featured from the Rosenrot album, and it was well worth the wait. Bernert let loose a few screams that could have curdled blood, while Clark pierced the evening with screaming high notes throughout the track. The band definitely could have used a drummer to help punch this song home, but they did well with what they had. The unmistakable keyboard opening of Du Hast rang out next, giving the crowd a tune that they could all sing along with. Young’s crunchy bass was especially highlighted throughout the song.
The band followed up with Engel, which brought the beautiful Elmie Hubbard onto the stage. The band considers her the honorary seventh member, as she does all of their makeup and sings the female parts on any song that needs them. The coolest part of this song were the three guitarists moving over to the far left of the stage so that Frankie and Elmie could dance at their leisure. It was a funky and fun song that again put the spotlight on Young’s ability to thunder home his low notes.
Bernert jumped onto his light box as the marching beat of Links 2 3 4 got fists pumping throughout the crowd. It was on this tune that I felt that von Millionen and Clark’s tone best matched Rammstein’s Richard Kruspe and Paul Landers, and was another song that sounded better with FleischgewehR playing it. The frenetic Feuer Frei followed, with Bowman again jumping on stage to shoot sparks around. The floor started to shake underneath me from the amount of people jumping around, and as the song hit its crescendo, Bernert lay down on the stage while Johnson filled the air with creepy keyboard notes.
The band gave us a bit of Inception, as they played Rammstein’s version of Depeche Mode’s Stripped. The major difference was that FleischgewehR’s version seemed significantly heavier, and it set the tone perfectly for the thunderous opening of Mein Teil, a song about the gruesome Armin Meiwes trial. Despite bordering on 1 a.m., you could still feel the pulsing energy through King Avenue 5. It was honestly as if the band had taken the song and injected it with steroids, making it even heavier than any number they had played prior.
As the song closed, the lights faded and the sound trimmed low, but the crowd were still in for one smashing encore. The quintet brought one final blast of funky heavy energy to the opening track of Rammstein’s debut album, Wollt Ihr Das Bett In Flammen Sehen? It’s another sex-heavy song that features the band-members yelling “Rammstein,” and features the line “Sex ist eine Schlacht, Liebe ist Krieg,” which translates to “Sex is a battle, love is war.” It is arguably one of the most fun songs the band plays, and I can see why FleischgewehR chose to play it as their final song.
As Clark played out the final notes of the song, the five members all got together to take a bow for the crowd. It was a very cool sight to see them all after the show, with nothing but their smiles and sheer appreciation for the crowd.
FleischgewehR, as a whole, pride themselves in their ability to replicate the German titans, and I know that the addition of a live drummer will only bring them closer to that goal. As for tonight, I felt as if they were as close to the genuine article as I was going to get in Columbus, Ohio.
- Ich Tu Der Weh
- Heirate Mich
- Keine Lust
- Stein um Stein
- Waidmann’s Heil
- Rein Raus
- Du Hast
- Links 2 3 4
- Feuer Frei
- Stripped (Depeche Mode cover)
- Mein Teil
- Wollt Ihr Das Bett In Flammen Sehen?