NEW YORK -- Junkie XL techno wizard Tom Holkenborg burst on stage
alone, but surrounded by a lethal dose of electronic energy.
With a charge of hyperactivity that never wavered, he began flailing his arms
and dancing maniacally behind a mixing board that seemed as much an
extension of his body as the fist that he used to punch at the air. The leader and
mastermind behind Junkie XL opened his show at The Cooler on Thursday
night with a typical techno rhythm.
Yet the performance by his Dutch outfit was anything but typical.
Holkenborg's touring partners -- drummer Baz Mattie, guitarist Renee Van
Darzee, rapper/vocalist Rude Boy and DJ Frankie D -- rushed to their
instruments a few minutes after their leader, nearly matching his constant
For a guy who claims that he's not a hip-hop head, 30-year-old Holkenborg put
on one hell of a rap show. Still, there's something very new about his band's
A week before performing live in that small New York City club, Junkie XL
rapper Rude Boy (a.k.a. Patrick Remington) walked along the streets of Midtown
Manhattan, talking excitedly about how all the best music sounds like it comes
from Mars the first time you hear it. Hip-hop, punk-rock, Chuck Berry, Jimi
Hendrix: 33-year-old Rude Boy rattled off names that would have made the old
guard quake and that forced the new school to do a double take.
Junkie XL delivered snatches of those otherworldly influences to the more than
200 people packed into the club, but he did so in a familiar techno-rock fashion
that was clearly from this planet. "They sound like Prodigy," said Bronx resident
Dan Fogarty. "But I like Prodigy, so I like Junkie XL."
The fun began in earnest for the Dutch techno-rockers and their fans when
Rude Boy, who also raps full-time for Urban Dance Squad, took the mic. The
stocky but surprisingly agile MC convinced the audience to move with his own
bounding dance as he barked the lyrics to
HREF="http://www.addict.com/music/Junkie_XL/Billy_Club.ram">"Billy Club" HREF="http://www.addict.com/music/Junkie_XL/Underachievers.ram">"Undera chievers"
chievers"(RealAudio excerpt) and "Metrolike" behind goggle-like
shades, ably keeping up with his skinny fellow Dutchmen.
While the beats sometimes sounded vaguely familiar, the band's energy was its
live allure to Fogarty and Israeli Sarah Wainer, who had never heard Junkie XL
"They were exciting," Wainer said, "dancing, jumping, always moving. That's
what I liked about them."
Van Darzee never seemed to stop leaping about as he flailed at his guitar, its
grating metallic sound tweaked constantly by Holkenborg, who wore an orange
Sepultura T-shirt as he barely stayed within the confines of the mixing board.
Meanwhile, Frankie D seemed more intent on dancing for the first few rows of
the audience than scratching. "He said the D stands for disease," Rude Boy
once said, " 'cause he comes on like a disease."
It seemed as if Junkie XL knew that a band with a debut album titled
Saturday Teenage Kick has to throw down tons of live energy in its music
to prove itself to its audience. The group kicked out all the jams it could within
its framework of prescribed beats, with drummer Mattie only accentuating pre-
And when Junkie had completed their regular set, there was no encore -- since
the group played almost its entire recorded repertoire.
Still, before leaving the stage, Holkenborg leaned on a keyboard, producing a
squall of noise not unlike guitar feedback.
It mirrored the outros of a score of noisy guitar bands, an apropos moment for
an electronic group that succeeded by reminding the audience of older, more
earthly sounds such as the hip-hop in Rude Boy's rap, the heavy metal in Van
Darzee's guitar or the familiar aura of rock 'n' roll from which Junkie XL draw