There were two people in my vicinity who totally got it. The first was a bespectacled 20-something whose limbs flailed continuously for the entire blitzkrieg performance. Tumor rewarded his enthusiasm by careering into him on the dance floor—the bespectacled dude loved it. There was also a taller skinhead punk who swept Tumor off the stage—or caught him from a dive—and coddled him in an embrace for a few moments. The move was so natural it could have been choreographed. The rest of us, meanwhile, couldn't help but form a circle around the artist during his impulsive charges into the crowd, of which there were many.
If Serpent Music is all you know of Tumor, his live show will sting like a bullet ant. Shock is paramount to the experience and it's almost better to go in totally unprepared, as I did. He mounted the stage, hooded, booted and adorned in silver and gold, and froze in position with his back to the crowd. The music was raucous from the start and didn't let up for an instant. It clawed through the system, a seething, slashing, white-hot barrel of confrontational noise that landed somewhere between hip-hop and power electronics. More than Serpent Music, the sounds were reminiscent of his blistering Histrionic series for Mykki Blanco's Dogfood Music Group, while in his contortions and tortured gestures, his wild eyes and vehement cries down the mic, I was reminded a little of David Foster—the same barbarous nihilism runs through both their veins.
Exactly 36 minutes after the performance began, Tumor cut a path through the crowd and was gone, disappearing in a storm of strobes and distortion. Down the corridor in De School's restaurant, Thursday night diners continued sipping red wine by candlelight, oblivious to the nearby inferno that had just opened and closed.