Review: The Birthday Massacre light up a damp NYC
Metropolis Records/YouTube

Around this time last year, Canadian synth-pop group The Birthday Massacre started working on their new studio album Under Your Spell. After some help from their fans via their successful Pledgemusic campaign, the 11-track album, which debuted at number two on the Heatseekers Albums chart, finally made its way onto store shelves earlier this month on Metropolis Records. Yesterday, The Birthday Massacre made their way to The Marlin Room at Webster Hall for their second to last show on tour. 

They're no strangers to performing in the 500 capacity room; at the bar, they were selling a special Red Stars drink in celebration of the band's show. Monday night shows can be somewhat of a drag for many, but tack on the horrendous thunderstorm that pounded the area, and it can be enough to have many people staying home. Fortunately, fans of the Canadian outfit managed to brave the storm and pack the place out.

The Birthday Massacre's music tends to attract a diverse group of fans. One on side, the outfit delivers synth melodies that's akin to acts such as CHVRCHES and Ladytron. The other side brings forth some meaty guitar riffs that wouldn't be out of place at Wacken Open Air or Download Festival. Then there's vocalist Chibi, who can go from singing like an angel to sounding like she's being possessed by dark spirits in a nanosecond.

With the usual suspects placed in their setlist ("Happy Birthday", "Looking Glass"), the band performed several songs from their new release. Set opener "One" and "All of Nothing" demonstrates Chibi's divine singing prowess. "No Tomorrow" is one of the heaviest songs written by the band, and the cut resonated firmly in a live setting. 

While performing "Leaving Tonight," Chibi noticed a fan in the front row trying to get some good video of the performance. Eager to help them out, the singer took the fan's phone and shot the remainder of the song from the stage. "Are you having fun out there?" asked the vocalist, which led to the energetic crowd howling their approval. "I hope it sounds convincing," she replied before handing the device back to its owner. During the encore, the band performed their cover of Tommy James and the Shondells' classic "I Think We're Alone Now" from their Looking Glass EP, which was sandwiched between "Blue" and their final song for the evening "Broken".

The last time Army of the Universe played NYC was three years in the same building as an opening act for influential industrial outfit Skinny Puppy. A few years later, the Italian electronic rock outfit find themselves back in North America to promote their latest record 1999 & The Aftershow. In fact, a bulk of their set was devoted to the release with cuts such as "1999", "Digital Slag", and "Another Escape" emitting dancefloor vibes. Vocalist Lord K was the complete gentleman as he kissed hands of fans during "A Visionary Story" and got the crowd to sing along during "The Aftershow". While the frontman arrived on stage with his leather jacket and shades, those items were eventually removed during the performance. A lucky fan in the crowd got the vocalist's sweat drenched shirt courtesy of keyboardist Trebla. One song that surprisingly didn't make the set was their collaboration with Chibi titled "Until The End".

Opening the evening were Canadian hard rock outfit Sumo Cyco, who managed to turn the historic venue into a Warped Tour moshpit. The band were called in at the last minute to replace original opening act Ludovico Technique, who dropped from the tour for health issues. Led by Skye Sweetnam aka Sever, Sumo Cyco have a hands on approach to their entire operation, whether it's directing their own music videos or building their rapid online fanbase. For Sever, who toured alongside Britney Spears at the age of 16, the outfit is another chapter in her musical evolution.

With a new album in hand titled Opus Mar, the outfit delivered some tunes from the release. The punchy track "Anti-Anthem" was inspired by the refugee crisis while "Free Yourself" deals with doing things for yourself. Much like Chibi, Sever can bounce around from crooning to maniacal screaming in a flash. The highlight of their set was "Like A Killer", which started off with the energetic singer walking through the crowd before deciding to get herself a drink. "Can I get a shot of whiskey if you don't mind?," asked the vocalist as she stood on top of the bar for the remainder of the song. She did manage to give some advice for those raising their cups in solidarity: "Tip your bartenders".