As the live music sector struggles with an ongoing lockdown and insufficient government support, I’ve turned a weary eye towards the UK’s music festivals which are both a social and sonic lifeline for the scene. Will there be any band-led social gatherings this side of 2021? The reality seems unlikely…
Whitby Goth Weekend
The most venerable of the UK festivals, WGW enjoys widespread recognition but has had to adapt to the new challenges of venue availability after a well-publicized split with the owners of Whitby Pavilion a few years back.
Recently, they were hoping to arrange an event for the peak season over Halloween, but have bemoaned the lack of support from local authorities to hold a safe and enjoyable event. The official Facebook page has reiterated their 2021 dates for Spring and Winter as well.
Tomorrow’s Ghosts Festival
Partnering with venue owners to hold a new festival at the Pavilion, TGF has enjoyed a surge in popularity after hosting high-profile bands at previous events. Originally aiming for an October event with legendary headliners The Damned, the myriad uncertainties eventually led to a statement on 31st July confirming their plans.
Taking a cautious stance, TGF events for Halloween 2020 are being pushed back to 2021 – with existing ticket-holders being guaranteed access for the rescheduled event, or refunded if required. A reduced event will take place in Spring 2021, and a virtual festival is being held over the original weekend of 31st October – expect an official announcement soon.
Goth City Festival
A fiercely independent, DIY event run in the heartland of British goth, Goth City has a passionate grass-roots fanbase attending live performances of up and coming dark alternative talent, as well as an array of cultural experiences – with a noble goal of supporting well-deserving charities.
Now in it’s fifth incarnation, the festival will run in July 2021 with an online edition occurring during October. The Leeds-based commander-in-goth Joel Heyes reached out to this site with the following statement;
“It’s been a frustrating time – having made our announcement regarding our next events back in January we’d confirmed 95% of our line-up by the end of February, and
I was considering getting the announcements out of the way before my holiday but didn’t have time in the end. And when I came back the world had gone to shit, so we’ve been in a holding pattern since then.
It’s great to be able to proceed in arranging next year’s event in our exciting new summer slot, especially with the great acts we’ve already confirmed. So we’re feeling pretty optimistic about the future – it’s a shame this year’s event can’t proceed, but all our promoter colleagues are in the same boat. The scene will survive and thrive next year, we’ve no doubt about that.”
Another venerable institution, this well-oiled three day extravaganza of alternative electronica has endured since ’98 and weathering the many storms that have plagued the live music arena.
As befits an organisation of tuned-up tech types, Infest has swung swiftly into action and is hosting “Stay-In-Fest” with a virtual festival taking place across 29th August and featuring assorted international acts including the iconic London After Midnight. Sign up now to be guaranteed access to what will undoubtedly be a marathon of quality bleeps!
HRH (Hard Rock Hell) Goth
Something of a double-edged sword, this new corporate venture. There is the appeal of a professionally-run, financially-sound operation (remember Alt-Fest, anyone?) but their approach has been oddly disconnected from the reality of the 21st century goth scene, and I’ve been holding back to see how they perform before reviewing.
Their website describes the goth audience in the UK as “under-serviced”, apparently ignoring their competitors listed here, as well as the many independent venues and promoters the length and breadth of the country! HRH Goth is one part of a division of a larger corporate conglomerate which might also give pause to those reluctant to support huge and faceless business entities.
Nevertheless they amassed a formidable array of classic bands and upcoming talent for a two-day at Sheffield’s O2 Academy. Unfortunately as lockdown descended, the fate of HRH Goth hung in the balance. Communications via their Facebook page were erratic, with the organisers holding out hope for a late compromise arrangement. It appears all communications were instead going directly to ticket-holders and bands involved.
Whatever update was provided, the HRHGoth.com website now states two 2021 events, in London and Leeds, both across the 11th and 12th September. The line-up has yet to be announced, and the impact on neighbouring festivals such as Goth City, the Whitby events, and local promoters such as Carpe Noctum have yet to be considered…
Seemingly the sole success story of 2020, this independent Morecambe-based event went off smoothly in March of this year before isolation dropped. Which means they’re already prepping for early 2021 with their next ambitious line-up of goth/industrial/alternative acts both old and new.
Here’s hoping lockdown is relaxed and the atmosphere is safe for this next installation of which I have heard rave reviews, and dearly wish to visit!
So the myriad festivals the UK enjoys have slithered back to their lairs, to wait until the sunlight of social distancing has passed and the safe night of mingling with mates and music can return. I urge my readers to support promoters and artists through this lean months, until we can get out and enjoy them in person again as soon as safely possible.
Have I missed someone from the list? What are you looking forward to enjoying as soon as you can? What do you think the post-virus landscape of live goth music will look like? Let me know in the comments below!