Thursday’s Filthy Spectacula gig was unusual for us in a number of ways.
For one thing, we were playing just a half-hour set at the Fleece in Bristol, crammed into a midweek gig night bill with four other acts. These days we mostly seem to do either festival sets or all-evening bookings with no one else playing.
For another, since we were supporting this leg of a UK tour by US gothdom’s most media-friendly spokesperson Aurelio Voltaire, the most prevalent tenor of the night was the goth one. This tends to crop up in our freestyled lists of genres we might touch on (alongside steampunk, dark cabaret, ska, punk, ska-punk, gypsy, pirate, dark cabaret, dark folk, dark, debauched, drunk, anything else beginning with d and ‘unique as F*ck’), but as a subculture hasn’t had much direct contact with us.
I don’t have strong feelings either way on white foundation, guyliner, bats or pathological avoidance of sunlight; as usual, I’m more interested in the musical implications of finding ourselves in that sphere.
There was serious discussion among the band in advance as to whether it would go down well to even try and get people dancing in our usual raucous-n-rolling style (the phrase ‘the dead don’t dance’ was used!), and certainly the other two local supports were mostly about mood, not to say brood, rather than beat.
In the end though we went for standing out because we were never going to blend in, and probably delivered one of our most intense sets ever knowing we didn’t have to keep it up for long! It may have jarred against our immediate neighbours, but credit to us as the outsiders and to the crowd for not being too tribal we did win over a fair number, produce a satisfying amount of crazy dancing and make some new fans – not least among the other bands.
Tour support Cauda Pavonis kept up the darkness and the use of backing tracks (we were the only act to do everything live except for Voltaire himself, who, clearly used to maximising touring profit margins, took to the stage bolstered only by his own acoustic guitar and a half-litre of Cuban rum), but added sledgehammer energy to the mix, driven by gut-deep female vocals, guitar power chords, six-string bass and possibly the largest drum kit I have ever seen in person. Much more up our alley and the sentiment was mutual.
I had to miss half of Voltaire’s set due to catching the last
train rail replacement bus home for work in the morning, but even stripped back to acoustic guitar and voice, his mix of playfully gothic lyrics and near-rockabilly musical styling clinched the night for energetic danceable performance (and larger-than-life stage personality!).
Icing on the cake for us though was certainly getting another (and hopefully somewhat more lucrative) gig out of it through new dead musical BFFs Cauda Pavonis – so black wearers of Bristol, if you missed us this time, you can get a closer look in June: