53 Degrees, Preston
Festivals seem to be popping up all over. Probably not as many as it seems, but the calendar is certainly filling up - Whitby Goth Weekend, Infest, Resistanz, Midlands Goth Festival, Dark Waters and now Dark-Cide Fest. That's before we even get into European festivals and other mini-all-dayers.
The stakes are upped a bit with there being increased competition (and not increased disposable income!) so it needs something special to get people out, or at least bands you don't often see commonly on other bills.
A rare UK appearance for Gothminister and a re-formed Marionettes are amongst the attractions on display, but for some, there's appeal in the very first act...
Kevin Morris decided to check it out.
Special thanks to Marek Isalki for kind use of photos from the event. More from Marek here.
|'Demonic' Dom from Squid|
For the first time in ten years, SQUID, are playing together - a strict one-off as they're also using this to draw a line and put to bed the project. Not that much has happened with the project in that time, although that a 616 Abortions (the band Squid morphed into) album never materialised is one of the massive shames within our scene.
Some things have changed in the last 10 years, bassist Lorraine is almost unrecognisable without the glowing-white hair and UV outfits, vocalist Jane was previously Jason when Squid were active - but Dom looks pretty much as demonic as ever.
There's only time for 4-songs and whilst 'Fist' initially sounds muddy through the PA this is quickly rectified for the slow bass-driven 'All The Angels Hate You' an upbeat cover of 'Enola Gay' and the Manson-esque rave of 'Endgame'. It's a quick reminder of how great Squid were at their peak and an rewarding last chance for fans to see them.
SINNERGOD are from Wigan, which makes them dirty city rivals in these parts, but their Tim Burton-inspired rock isn't too shabby, despite being littered with cliches. Tracks like 'Corpse Bride' and lyrics about how you could be their Hallowe'en, well, it's maybe overdoing the SpookyKid thing a bit when you consider other bands on the bill. Competent enough, especially as they're filling in for a late pull out. But, yes, they're right, with their accent 'Bang, Ya Dead' does sound like 'Bang yer Dad'.
|It's not Robert Smith. But it certainly sounds like him|
There's always a question about the place of tribute bands on bills of original bands - but this can be forgiven a touch if you're good. THE CUREHEADS are a very good copy of The Cure, hence why they've been able to do this for so long (over 20 years!) and they woo the crowd with over an hour of hits from The Cure, plenty here for both the casual and the dedicated fan of the band.
The whole post-rave thing was probably good in the 90s. Y'know, bands like The Prodigy, Sheep on Drugs, Pop Will Eat Itself etc. In the modern-era, less convincing. OK, Prodigy have managed to almost reinvent themselves to keep up with the times, but if you've seen the others live recently - well...
|Pretty Addicted : post-post-post-rave?|
PRETTY ADDICTED are not that far away from where Sheep on Drugs are now. Plenty of songs about drugs, rave-beats, distinctive samples (one track heavily samples the Twilight Zone - though - it was PWEI that did that in 'Def Con One') and well... it's just a bit of a mess really. Although, they did seem to divide a lot of opinion - they did get a crowd pumped, although a lot of the crowd edged out early.
WILLIAM CONTROL was also a late addition to the bill, but mostly as the date fitted nicely with a UK tour, so Mr Francis breaks his headline tour to perform at Dark-Cide.
Due to licensing, 53 Degrees is strictly 18+ and many of the other dates on the tour were 14+ or 16+. The reduction in the younger fans does create a different atmosphere - and it's possibly disjointing to go from having screaming fans every night of a tour, to a crowd that shows their enjoyment more through dancing along.
A lot of people wrongly accuse William Control of things, despite Will's 'other band' being Aiden, who were popular amongst emo/screamo fans - WC are not metal or emo - granted, they've picked up a lot of fans from that crowd, but musically it's very much a darkwave influence with a danceable backbeat.
Accompanied only by a live guitarist, they belt out 45 minutes of tracks from their first 2 albums, full of charm and charisma. It's impossible to resist dancing along to their groove. There is, however, a suspicion of lip-syncing in some of the tracks and the cartoon-like hiding-cigarette-from-security routine could easily have been resolved with an E-Cig. Otherwise enjoyable.
Every now and then there's a British band people pin hopes on as a potential breakthrough act. About 10 years ago, MECHANICAL CABARET were one of those acts, they did gain some pretty big support slots and the crowd to see them shows that they've made a lot of friends in that time, but sadly they didn't get much wider recognition.
If Marc Almond and Dave Gahan decided to collobarate on an electro-clash project, Mechanical Cabaret would be everything they wrongfully rejected. Even full of cold, Roi is a dominant frontman, breaking mic stands (mostly accidental) climbing amongst the audience and generally oozing a sleak confidence, he takes a commanding role in wooing the crowd - interracting with old friends and making some new ones. That's meant in a literal sense, climbing into the audience and serenanding random people... this confuses the hell out of some people!
Plenty of swift dark electro tracks, perfectly palatable for the audience to lap up. Pretty much empathising what many have been missing all this time.
|The Marionettes - return! Hazzah!|
A reformed THE MARIONETTES is certainly a nice surprise, although Goth reunions seem to be in vogue at the moment, did anyone see this one coming, particularly with the death of Neville Gold? "Thankfully, Nev had the decency to teach him all the songs," explains vocalist Sean Cronin, of new guitarist Maximus, who is Nev's son. A nice touch.
They make the surprise decision of opening with 'Ave Dementia' and you almost feel the audience needed to be warmer to get this into full swing, which is a shame - but nevermind. Another big shame is that Maximus' amp blows in the third song, forcing them to complete the set without him and with only one guitarist. This aside, it's stil nice to see them and hear older tracks live again, 'Like Christabel' a firm favourite. They even sneak in some new tracks, new single 'Finally' sounds promising although it's clear, for this show, the crowd mostly wants to hear their classics.
|Gothminister - he used to be a werewolf, |
but he's alright nowwwwwwww
The mainstage headliners are GOTHMINISTER, they've very much a cult following in the UK - they're not quite as well known as could be despite tours with Mortiis and Das Ich, but for those that do know/like them - well - those kids went nuts for the full hour set. This is probably the first time they've been able to bring much of a stage show to the UK, previous visits here has seen Bjorn play about on his ladder and set off a few smoke bombs - but there's been nowhere near the theatrics they bring on the mainland.
So, we've zombies and witches and other beasts wandering around the stage getting into fights, there are beheadings and blood and gore... yeah, it's all a bit Alice Cooper but it's nice that a band can create a little bit theatre to accompany their music.
Material from new album, 'Utopia' is slightly less well known, but the atmosphere in the room soars during older tracks like 'From Dusk to Dawn' and 'Darkside'. Their heavy sound borders them a little with metal, but the driven synths create distinctive Gothic atmospheres, there's very much a crossover here.
The biggest shame about Gothminister is actually away from the gig tonight, they applied for the Eurovision Song Contest but didn't qualify through the Norwegian TV shows that picks a representative The track would have been 'Utopia' and the results probably would have been similar to Lordi, except with a much more epic and more underground track, they may not have won that but it would have become an excellent advert for the band in places like the UK. But, nevermind... 'Utopia' played live does further highlight what a shame that is, it's such an epic and uplifting track and stands shoulder to shoulder with their best work.
It's getting pretty late now - but for those who haven't dropped - there's post-headliners PHOSGORE. Their last UK appearance was opening at Resistanz, where their job was to warm up the crowd - this time their job is to keep the clubbers clubbing.
They achieved both easily. The husband and wife combo are very good at working the crowd and providing a non-stop array of thumping beats. Party people can, indeed, party.
And so, there it was... is this the first of many? Is it a one-off? Time will tell, but this one was a bunch of fun.