Shock value is powerful. It can ensure the captivation of an unwitting audience, secure coverage from otherwise uncaring media and boost sales to curious outsiders. When coupled with sensationalism and sex, it becomes a dominant entity that is virtually impossible to ignore.
Suffice it to say, that shock value is what has been driving Tampa, FL-based rockers Genitorturers for the past 15 years. Their industrial/gothic tunes heavy on clinical rhythms and crunching distortion are performed as a backdrop to sultry, blonde vocalist Gen as she performs a variety of sadomasochistic practices on a number of victims. So naturally, we had to see their purportedly over-the-top sex/music show in support of latest effort Blackheart Revolution.
The trouble is, back in 1994 when the band was first garnering attention, they had two advantages: bondage gear, PVC, tattoos and piercings were still quite out there, and Marilyn Manson hadn't driven the whole Gothic thing into the dirt. Now, Genitorturers seem to be just another band with a few tricks up their sleeve that will hopefully bring in paying customers.
While the band's performance was tight and passably energetic, the exposition side of the engagement was sorely lacking. Seeing a few gimp masks, rubber dolls dressed up as if they've been ripped out of the uterus and some nipple pasties on a burlesque dancer lacks the impact it may have had a decade ago.
Audience desensitization or not, this night felt particularly no-frills. A band that once boasted a stage-encompassing set of toys such as spinning wheels, massive crosses and an onslaught of potential sexual casualties was pared down to a shadow of its former self with costumes and props pulled from what could easily have been big-box store shelves, as opposed to custom-crafted den of iniquity gear. It was deflating after expecting a Hellfire Club on-tour experience.
As a band, Genitorturers still capably deliver their sterile synthesized rock'n'roll. As a stage show, however, at least on this night, they seemed to have lost that internal spirit for a rousing performance, delivering a bare-bones S&M-influenced show as opposed to the sensory overload S&M extravaganza they are renowned for and have easily been capable of in the past.