We humans, for the most part, kind of suck at playing live music. We only have four limbs and can only play so fast. We’re easily distracted and fuck up our parts all the time. Our fingers bleed and our tendons get strained. It’s a miracle every concert isn’t a complete disaster, really.
So why not replace those feeble humans with ass-kicking robots? That’s the idea behind Captured! By Robots, a three-piece grindcore band that is only one-third human. And on a recent night here in Los Angeles, at a venue called Resident, those robots and their human slave, Jbot, proved that it’s a pretty awesome idea.
Captured! By Robots is one of those bands where the show starts before a single note of music is played. The band’s drummer, DRMBOT0110, and guitarist/bassist, GTRBOT666, get wheeled into position early, followed by a series of banners expressing C!BR’s collective attitude towards its pathetic human fan base. You pretty much know exactly where you stand at a Captured! By Robots show, and it’s low on the food chain.
Then the show starts and it’s mayhem. GTRBOT and DRMBOT don’t move around too much — though they do headbang with animatronic gusto — but they churn out a wall of blast beats and riffs denser than anything 20 human musicians could generate. Jbot, clad in rags and chains like some sort of post-apocalyptic death camp escapee, screams, growls and shambles between the stage and the audience, belting out songs with titles like “What Is Wrong” and “No Help Coming.” “Ladies and gentlemen, I was built for one thing,” Jbot declared before the latter tune. “And that’s to suffer alone in a cave.”
C!BR’s vision of the future sounds pretty bleak, but there was one ray of hope — in a drum-off between DRMBOT and a human volunteer from the audience, the human won. I’m not sure if that’s how it goes down every night, but at the L.A. show, at least, as GTRBOT mechanically intoned, “The human has won!”, it made for an almost uplifting moment.
As GTRBOT’s final power chords reverberated through the small venue, Jbot gasped, “Thank you very much, we’re all gonna die, I’ve got merch in the back.” Then he went to work his own merch table and accept thanks, admiration and hard currency from a line of frail human fans. Maybe for his next tour, he’ll have a MRCHBOT, but this time around, it was impressive to see Jbot working so hard to be a one-man operation — albeit one in which he’s cleverly replaced all the instrumental heavy lifting with machines. Or have they replaced him?
I’ve been remiss in not posting this review sooner, but Captured! By Robots do still have some tour dates remaining — see below for a full list. If you live in any of the towns they have yet to invade, I highly recommend seeking them out. They put on a hell of a show. And if you pay your respects now, maybe they’ll go easy on you when they inevitably take over and start grinding our soft, mushy bodies into paste.