Whitby Ghosts: goth festival season

As Spring, and Easter, and all those sickeningly sweet signs of renewal come rolling round, it also heralds the arrival of ‘Whitby’, the generic term for a horde of Goths heading to the seaside for drinks, dancing and drama.

Discussed in articles previously, there are now two major events scheduled for the biannual home of UK goth. Longstanding veterans Whitby Goth Weekend and eager new Tomorrow’s Ghosts have both promised events in North Yorkshire – but for the first time, have split the dates.

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Top Mum Promotions have announced events and acts from Thursday 11th April to Sunday 14th April, including the renowned Bizarre Bazaar that sprawls across town with an array of artisan vendors!
The musical line-up leans very heavily towards the tribute end, with only Thursday’s Chasing Dragons being an original band, but all reports indicate WGW was immensely popular during the last event and I have personally enjoyed Siouxsie and the Budgies previously!

Even so, I’ll be planning to attend from 26th to 28th April, if not earlier and later, for Tomorrow’s Ghosts festival. Holding court in Whitby Pavilion, they’re delivering an impressive lineup of established acts and noticeable newcomers – expect to see me down the front for Saigon Blue Rain as well as The Chameleons.

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Added to that are their own markets packed full to bursting with traders, plus unique opportunities to meet the starlets of Hammer Horror and listen to their experiences – plus the thoughts of a very well-known author of all things vampiric – at the Hammer Glamour event on Sunday 28th, hosted by none other than The Blogging Goth himself!

FC GothenheimOn top of all that, witness the first appearance of the charity football team with the post-punk soundtrack, it’s F.C. Gothenheim! Plunging into the fray with old villains Stokoemotive F.C., Gothenheim will step into the pitch-black boots of Real Gothic and continue the proud tradition of drinking heavily, heckling loudly and losing badly.

A firm favourite for a Whitby trip, I’m delighted to see some Sunday sportsballing, all for some very good causes – please support these brave, probably bonkers boys as they raise money whilst lowering expectations across the pitch.


Whitby of course remains a flash-point in the Goth scene, testing loyalties and provoking fallout whenever it’s brought up. Now the events have breathing distance from one another, it will be interesting to see how matters proceed after April. Both promoters have events scheduled for October / November of this year, and time will tell if the town – and the subculture – can sustain the demands on our time and money. See you out there!

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Wayne Hussey: On Tour, On Writing and on Brexit

Wayne Hussey, lead singer and guitarist with The Mission, is making his way to Tomorrow’s Ghosts festival in Whitby on his SALAD DAZE tour – culminating in November of this year.

The veteran rock’n’roll performer will make the festival the last date of his UK leg, teasing but not confirming other UK and European dates. We had a quick transatlantic chat, with thanks to Absinthe Promotions for setting this up, and I quizzed the Brazil-based goth-rock veteran on autobiographies, international politics and the meaning of true happiness.

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Whitby Spring: A Tale of Two Festivals

It’s just two months until various goth-themed celebrations begin in Whitby, and time to look ahead to what is happening and when. In this, I’m grateful to the hard work of Ian Francis, who strives to add a Whitby-wide itinerary to the various groups for information. Good work!

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Top Mum Promotions, of long-standing event ‘Whitby Goth Weekend‘ which no longer holds events at Whitby Pavilion, have elected to hold their own event 12 – 14 April.
This is two weeks before Tomorrow’s Ghosts Festival, courtesy of Absinthe Promotions – 26 – 28 April. Absinthe contacted me with the statement they’ve officially released to clarify any confusion;

We are getting a lot of questions regarding the split in the Spring and Winter dates between ‘Tomorrow’s Ghosts Festival’ (26 to 28th April) and the previous promoter’s so we thought it best to clarify a few points.

When we first announced the festival in July 2018, we released both April and November 2019 dates and kept them as close to the usual dates as possible. After announcing this, the previous promoter announced different dates to mid-April and this has caused some confusion. We have coordinated with other promoters over this weekend to make sure our dates stay the same to make it a more inclusive festival to go to.

We have also strived to announce our line-ups as early as possible to assist in planning and will be announcing the full November line-up on 1st March. For further details please visit www.tomorrowsghostsfestival.co.uk

At the same time, allies of WGW have protested that the older festival has long established the dates, and it is Tomorrow’s Ghosts who have ‘split the crowd’ with the new times – another flare up in the ongoing grudge match it seems! Certainly, I shared the 2019 dates from Tomorrow’s Ghosts as early as July 2018, but the issue remains of who exactly fired the starting pistol first!

I note that many of the smaller promoters have elected to follow Tomorrow’s Ghosts Festival, with events run by Goth Town, Sexy Sunday, Marquis Masquerade and others all tied in with the last weekend of April. Meanwhile, WGW continues to offer the ever-popular Bizarre Bazaar and Fringe events, but no word as to whether they’ll have a live music line-up or venue as yet. Should anyone be headed to WGW and wish to file a review, please let The Blogging Goth know!

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Conversely, I’m holding out and heading to Tomorrow’s Ghosts, whose stellar lineup has some artists close to my heart – The Chameleons, PWEI, New Model Army – and some artists I’m itching to see live – Saigon Blue Rain, Christine Plays Viola. It’s a great mix of classic and breaking new talent, with some international appearances as well – a wise move to head off a UK-heavy set of familiar faces. I’ll be posting regularly to social media, and a review should follow promptly.

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On the fringe events, Absinthe are pursuing a horror theme enthusiastically, with discussion events featuring the ‘Women of Hammer’ – the leading ladies from the bright-red blood-stained British classic movies who will be talking about their experiences and answering questions. Joining them will be author, historian and descendant of the famed Dracula creator, Dacre Stoker who will be updating vampire fans on his investigations into the mythology and history of our favourite Transylvanian count!
I’m very flattered to be asked to host this session so please join us on Sunday 28th and bring your most cutting questions!

Sadly this does mean I’ll miss the inaugural match between Stokomotive Whitby FC and brand new goth football team F.C. 2019 Gothenheim, who will both be taking to the turf for good causes. A great deal of delicate diplomacy has gone on to ensure a team comprised of the players in black can be fielded, whilst bearing in mind who is attending what weekend and wants to play in the first place! Please take the time to check out the beautiful (goth) game and the pitch-side punnery which is an absolute highlight of the Whitby experience.

Around all of this, I intend to step into some of the alternative events on offer such as RAW Nightclub, ekeing out my bank account in the markets, plenty of time drinking and catching up with friends in the pubs of Whitby, and my regular visits to sightseeing spots like the Abbey. I’d also recommend a visit to the Museum, which is absolutely crammed with fascinating artefacts from this beautiful town’s rich history.

Despite all of the drama, which I naively believed would be put to rest at the last event, I’m still keenly anticipating this high point in the UK Goth calendar. Will I see you there? What are you most looking forward to?

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Celebrity Endorsement: I broke my goth addiction and so can you!

Last week veteran DJ Jo Whiley interviewed comedian Dom Joly on BBC Radio 2, in which he remarked he was an ‘ex-goth’, presumably having received his jet-black P45 from the Department of Woe and Pouting.
They posted a comic tweet remarking on other celebrities with a past dabbling in the scene such as actor Simon Pegg and comedian Marcus Brigstocke, not to mention Whiley herself. All of them have since ‘moved on’, presumably to better and brighter things… if not brighter clothing.

The tweets in reply were approximately 20% reminiscing over goth phases, and 80% comments along the lines of “What do you mean, used to be?” It was heartening, reading of people into retirement age still rocking excess eyeliner, compared to their fuzzy photos from University days in the Eighties. Talk about a ten-year challenge, try three or four decades!

It got me thinking about exactly how transitory goth can be. It’s a youth subculture, certainly, and it draws people in during the adolescent years most often – I was about fifteen when I finally started listening to trad. But what was the magic key that kept me on the terminal track, whilst these big showbiz names discard their diaphanous attire and chuckle fondly over memories of big hair and pints of snakebite?

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Could it be an obstacle to a career under the bright lights of the public gaze? Not exactly the natural haunting ground for the shrinking (march) violets of the goth scene. Would your career deter from your usual sartorial selection? Has it led to you leaving the scene entirely?

The concept of the ‘goth phase’ has been reinforced by these comments, and that’s a little disappointing as all the replies indicate plenty of people don’t ‘grow out of it, mum’. In many articles previously, I’ve acknowledged the hard work by academics – who are often goths themselves – researching the phenomena of adult goths and our tendency towards respectable middle-class careers.
It seems the one career track that isn’t hospitable to a collection of Bauhaus vinyl is showbusiness!

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Forty Years of Face-to-Face: “The Scream” released this day in 1978

Siouxsie and the Banshees, 1979 – By Source, Fair use, Link

One of the most recognizable bands in the goth pantheon, Siouxsie and the Banshees released their debut album “The Scream” on 13th November 1978. They had impeccable punk credentials, would go on to be populated by a talented brace of musicians including Steven Severin, Martin McCarrick, Robert Smith and John McGeoch, and all led by the mesmeric Siouxsie Sioux, an indecipherable silent movie star turned furious postpunk prophet swathed in the timeless fashion of the underworld that would become a universal constant for an undying subculture.

Their origins are fascinating – Sioux and Severin formed the band on a whim, with an opportunity to play support to the Sex Pistols that Sioux, a fervent fan, didn’t want to miss. They can later boast they played one of the earliest ever punk festivals in 1976, on stage with the likes of The Clash, The Damned and the Buzzcocks.
The band amazingly busked the whole thing, improvising a twenty-minute set with Sioux reciting random memorized text including The Lord’s Prayer. It probably didn’t help they had Sid Vicious behind the drums in this first ever lineup!

Despite an urge to split the band up, some fast talking ensured the Banshees stayed together, and ascended quickly to dizzying heights – magazine front cover material, an appearance on Tony “Mr. Manchester” Wilson’s show So It Goes, and a Peel session all in the can by ’77. Next they needed that debut album, and after a guerrilla, punk-promo campaign of vandalism around London by a fan, Polydor delivered a contract in June ’78 that the Banshees signed.

There was one frantic week in August when they recorded The Scream, and it spent the next three being produced, mastered and polished. The result catapulted into the music journalism world like a divebomber, scattering glowing reviews everywhere. Melody Maker praised the sound as “strong, abrasive, visceral and constantly inventive.” Kris Needs, writing in Zigzag was effusive, saying

It is certainly a special classic to join milestones like Diamond Dogs, Roxy Music’s first and (Lou Reed’s) Berlin.

Rolling Stone called it a “striking debut album” and prophetically described their music “…acknowledges the enduring power of the Old Wave, but yields not an inch in its assertion of the New.”

It’s a brilliantly accurate description. Even in this first recording, you can hear Siouxsie’s strident, challenging tone enveloped by icy expanses of discordance, and hypnotic pulsing rhythm.
It’s clear they’re going to tire of the restraints of the contemporaries in punk, and even post-punk, and aspire to something newer and darker. By 1981 they had that down with the darkly delicious fourth album Juju, helping set the boundaries of what we now know to be goth rock.

But right now, time-travelling back forty years exactly to 13 November 1978, the Banshees have an album that only hints at their vast, exploratory future and the eternal mark they’ll leave on untold generations of fans and follow-on musicians. It’s revelry and rawness and a riotously good start for a band who’ll reach further than they can probably imagine at this moment…

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