I'm hoping to snag tickets to go and see Die So Fluid in March - just working out some travel issues before I cough up my cash - so what better time for a concert review? Or a whole bunch of them, since I'm working in chronological order, and the next on my list is the wonderful Spider's Web Goth Fest, which I attended on 20th March 2010.
This was the first ever Spider's Web Fest, and it was held at The Fleece in Bristol. The fest looks all set to become a regular event, although I'm sad to say that due to lack of funds I missed the second Spider's Web, which was held in November 2010 and was by all accounts bigger and better, with two days worth of performances from bands from all over the world.
The event was organised by the very lovely Spider Savage (Spider is also the editor of the fantastic Spider's Web Zine, which I highly recommend you check out if you can get your black-polished mitts on it), who advised me, "Wear something spiderish," although I was glad I didn't wear my purple New Rocks with spiderweb pattern, as when I arrived at the fest I immediately saw that Spider was wearing the same ones...
|OK, so it's an awful photo - but that's me, all ready for the festival|
The original line-up featured twelve bands from various Goth-associated genres such as Gothic metal, industrial, synth, and even an act that described themselves as 'theatrical Goth-circus'. Billed as 'A Day and Night For the Goth-Hearted', the event was scheduled to start at midday and finish at 2 a.m. - not bad for the ticket price of £10.
For a change I didn't have to leave ridiculously early - actually, I took off at midnight like a Gothic Cinderella, so only missed two hours of an all-day fest, which for me was a bit of a record. (Note to self: learn to drive.)
I met loads of people, including Spider and Loris, who organised and promoted the fest. Spider and I had been e-mailing for a while so it was nice to meet her in person. Oh, and I got a great deal on the Devolution magazine stall - green-haired editor Nickie gave me a free set of badges when I bought a stack of mags, a T-shirt and a sticker pack.
The best bands of the night for me were Calatrilloz, VelvetSeal and My Beloved Death, and I bought merch from VelvetSeal and headliners Lahannya. I heard from Spider that some of the bands on the flyer had pulled out last-minute, which is pretty rude...
Agony, the first band of the fest, describe themselves as Goth Sex'n'Roll from Italy. Unfortunately we missed the first half of their set as we were outside eating bacon baguettes (oops), but at least a handful of people had arrived by this time so the four flowing-haired young Italians weren't playing to an empty room.
Their set was fun and energetic, and it was quite amusing to see the lead guitarist's transformation from band geek (little round glasses and huge band tee hanging off his frame during soundcheck) to rock god (shirtless, black ribbon crisscrossed up his arm, long blonde mane of hair).
Their sound would probably appeal to fans of Goth'n'roll bands like the 69 Eyes, although they were hampered by some technical issues throughout, and I think they ended up borrowing a bass guitar from Lahannya, one of whose members was lurking in the audience for the set.
It was a good start to the day, especially with Gothy eye-candy in the form of pocket-sized vocalist Andreas Blackrose strutting about at the front of the stage.
|Andreas Blackrose - yup, I've got hair envy|
|The blonde guy is from Lahannya...|
Our hostess introduced the next band, Verney 1826. She mentioned a 'beautiful voice', but I still wasn't quite prepared for the sound that came out when the female singer opened her mouth. This band's sound was a sharp contrast to Agony's lively, guitar-driven rock - it was downbeat and experimental, featuring a variety of unusual instruments such as a tambourine.
The female singer's regal bearing and astounding voice were a fantastic combination, especially when she stopped hiking up the front of her strapless dress and left it alone. The band are from Germany, and used both English and German lyrics.
Their bleak, ambient music sends shivers down the spine - it's no surprise that the band seem to be fast making a name for themselves throughout the scene.
|Lahannya fans - recognise anyone?|
I happened to meet Psideralica's vocalist applying her make-up in the ladies'. She was swaddled in a huge coat and had her hair pulled back, and looked like a middle-aged mother, so when she arrived on stage looking fantastic in micro shorts, leather stockings and a fur bolero (hopefully fake) I almost fell over.
In a later issue of her zine, Spider mused that she didn't realise the band would be one of the most popular at the event. She says, "Many people complained to me that we should have had these Spanish guys play at a later time, and for longer, as their performance was fantastic, and Lady Marian's tantalising voice and beauty woke up the sleepy Gothic community in the mid-afternoon rain."
The band's industrial-metal-tinged sound was in stark contrast, again, to the previous performers. Despite the early time, Lady Marian's performance was one of the most energetic of the day, stomping her boots, shaking her hips, and, uh, licking her fingers and running them up the side of her leather-clad body. o.O Added to this, she was apparently not impressed that her typically reticient Goth audience was choosing to skulk at the back of the room, and frequently implored us to "Come closerrrr..." in her sexy Spanish accent.
For me, the highlight of their set was a cover of my favourite Alice Cooper song, Poison.
My favourite band of the fest! As soon as I read the words 'theatrical Goth-circus' on the leaflet, I felt that this band would either be really, really good - or really, really bad. The whole band took to the stage wearing masks, with the exception of the vocalist, who was not only maskless but shirtless and shoeless, clad in white trousers, black and white circus make-up, and a white top hat.
Their sound is generally termed 'alternative rock', but could be loosely described as psychedelic rock incorporating Goth, opera, rock and jazz, but really you have to hear them to know what I'm on about - and seeing them live, even better to get the full effect of an astonishing voice and some quite exceptional (and slightly freaky) dance moves - frontman Mr Z really knows how to move...
This band are absolutely amazing, and I intend to get my sticky paws on as much of their music as possible.
|The white blur on the stage is Mr Z. The dude with the camera is festival promoter Loris.|
I didn't manage to get a single decent picture of Shiraya's Dream, much to my disgust. The female vocalist from Verney 1826 is also the frontwoman of this very different band, who describe their synth-driven sound as 'alien pop'. Quite a shock to see Verney's regal singer transformed into sexy Anna Aliena, dressed in skimpy red and black PVC, kinky boots, and brandishing props including a fan and a whip!
Between songs, Ms. Aliena told us the story of her life, including a passionate affair with a spaceman and her fears of impending doom due to the coming of Nibiru. Her mindblowing mezzosoprano voice was layered over bouncy electro beats, and the highlight of the set was the final song, Chastity.
Neither could I get a decent photo of Imprint. The appearance on stage of frontwoman Sin, clad in a lacy mask and beautiful, diaphanous goddess-like dress, certainly stood out from the other bands of the night as she performed a slow, hypnotic dance to the instrumental opening track. Her sombre, melancholic music was certainly beautiful, although not one of my favourites.
My Beloved Death
My Beloved Death were another great band, not to mention that both of them were so pretty I'd be happy to frame them and hang them on the wall. A male and female duo from Spain, their band of dark Gothic electro immediately had me dancing. They both had great voices, and the male singer in particular had a very commanding, charismatic stage presence.
Both members of the band were permanent fixtures on the flagstone dancefloor for most of the night (although it was in traditional standing-and-staring-at-the-stage old-school-Goth fashion, admittedly). This was apparently their first performance in the UK, and I think it went very well.
|Unfortunately, My Beloved Death are not looking so pretty in this incredibly awful photo.|
Gothic metal band VelvetSeal had driven all the way from Hungary to perform at the fest, and gave one of the best performances. The vocalist was tiny but her voice was enormous, and the rest of the band pounded their instruments (oo-er) with so much energy that nearly everyone in the room (which by this point was packed out) had moved forward onto the dance floor.
They are an immensely talented band, and thankfully not another bunch of cookie-cutter Nightwish or Within Temptation wannabes - they have their own, quite likeable, surprisingly danceable sound. Great fun, great sound, and great to watch. Yet another stand-out band.
Headliner Lahannya faced several technical difficulties, several of which were self-inflicted (the drummer broke his chair, for starters). Their set was more polished than many of the other bands, but lacked the energy and drive of several. Nonetheless, their hybrid Goth/metal/industrial/rock was spectacular and kept everyone moving.
Blue-haired Lahannya herself was of course the star of the show, keeping up banter with the crowd and with her band, as well as dancing with surprising agility for someone wearing eye-wateringly tight PVC trousers. Unfortunately we had to leave midway through their set (it was by then approaching midnight, and we had a friend waiting to give us a lift home).
|Little vampire shoes! <3|