Thursday 11 July 2013

Where are the Swashbucklers of Goth?

Spare a thought for Simon Bolivar – liberator of South America from the Spanish, tireless fighter for liberation and democracy in the great era of world revolution, and unifier of all the new democracies on the continent into the new state of Grand Columbia, only to see the labyrinthine politics of the region and the power struggle between nations pull it apart. Bemoaning that 'all who have served the revolution have ploughed the sea', he packed his belongings for self-imposed exile in 1830 only to die before setting sail. At least he tried, though.

Is it too soon to bemoan that “all who served Goth have ploughed the sea”? After all, following over 30 years of records, tours, festivals, magazines, videos, films and clubs, the epic project to spread gloom and glam throughout the world often seems to be losing track. The tearaway post-punk era, the toilet circuit, Top Of The Pops, fanzines, festivals, independent labels...all of them a fading memory as the subculture shrinks and mutates.

Likewise, the struggle to bring unity to the scene. With such a diversity of subgenres, non-genres and Trojan horses masquerading under the black flag, where is the centre of gravity for goth? What can we unite behind? Who can we all bitch at?

What is needed now, more than ever, is some Bolivarian spirit in the goth world - some adventurism, voluntarism, and imagination. The freedom to indulge impossible ideas. Where are the swashbucklers of Goth, willing to seek and destroy new frontiers for the scene?

We can point to examples of old where audacity drank cider & black. Like The Sisters' Albert Hall headliner, or their even more impetuous dates at Wembley Arena; like The Mission's tour of the Scottish highlands, or Killing Joke recording in the Great Pyramid; like The Damned's bid for mainstream success or the Banshees' tenacious surfing of punk wave. Like the founding of an annual goth festival in a small Yorkshire fishing town. And what happened to the days when the leading lights of goth could put together extensive tours of the UK? The venues have gone, the circuit has gone, but do the audience and spirit live on? Is there literally nowhere left for a band to play in 99% of the UK?

If we look closely, we can still find traces of the pioneering spirit that made goth great. Such as the 2014 US tour by The Last Dance and Pretentious Moi? organised by DJ Martin Oldgoth; like the DV8 Festival, which takes place in York this month; like Intravenous Magazine. And an especially apt example is Alt-Fest, which gives us the mouthwatering prospect of an outdoor alternative festival with over 100 acts in 2014. But we need more of the same - more risks taken, and more savage assaults upon the possible.

So to all the musicians, DJs, club owners, promoters, writers, artists, designers and any other lover of the drab and the fab – roll the dice, raise the bar, and seize the day to expand the frontiers of goth! More gigs, more festivals, more fanzines, more websites, more clubs! And we shall all see that the key to the future of the scene is, as Danton would say, “audacity, audacity, and more audacity!”.

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