Hello, welcome and happy World Goth Day all! I hope everyone is celebrating in whatever manner they can. I had a vague thought of actually putting this on YouTube, but time was against me so I’ve had to commit to ‘merely’ an article. In reality of course the blog is the heart of my online presence, so I’m delighted to publish today…
I really wanted to get an overall look at the UK Goth scene this year – with restrictions lifted, how was this long-lived music subculture rallying back? From the regional nights, through the national festivals to how our flagship bands are faring on the international stage, even a cursory glance shows black shoots pushing up through the lockdown earth!
Despite their reluctance to bear up the standard for goth, Bauhaus appeared to have a fantastic time at Cruel World Festival in South California – and have announced a one-off appearence at the O2 Academy in Brixton later this year, no doubt hoping for a warm welcome from the UK hardcore fanbase. More news from the other goth heavyweights – despite any denials – The Cure, where Robert Smith has again promised an album before their tour of Europe in the Winter; “Songs of a Lost World” has been described by the singer to be as dark as Disintegration, piquing a lot of interest. Time will tell, however, if the band and label can deliver to that timetable.
Already in Europe on a vast tour are The Sisters of Mercy, and although they’re approaching the end the arch-denier is committed to a headline at M’era Luna Festival later in the summer. No word on how far their dressing rooms will be from former Sisters Wayne and Craig of The Mission, also on the roster at the legendary German festival. It’ll be follow a brief UK tour, and precede a vast and ambitious excursion to North America along with underrated indie stars The Chameleons and Spear of Destiny across September and October. From the top pantheon of the UK Goth scene, some of the most definitive bands are taking their show and sound out on the road, apparently eager to return to the world so soon after controls are lifted.
Next, I wanted to look at what was happening entirely within the UK – and I’m heartened to see how the national scene also seems to be rallying back, bringing live entertainment back to the biggest cities with some worthy tours. The most intriguing is a triple-threat attack from three stalwart UK Goth acts under the banner of the Triumvirate Tour, taking in an adventurous amount of locations later this Summer…
Not to be outdone, long-running goth/punk/horror/comedy outfit ‘Lesbian Bed Death‘ are playing all over Great Britain on The Witching Hour Tour between September and December, including an appearance at the new and popular HRH Goth Festival – but more on such events later.
Meanwhile, ever prolific Flag Promotions have several irons in the fire with bands on their books roaming the country later this year. Whether it’s the familiar but fiery performances of Siouxsie songs by ‘Lizzie and the Banshees’, or the exotic European appearance of ‘Black Nail Cabaret’, the discerning goth will be able to pick from the array of events provided. The sharp-eyed may even enjoy the appearance of this blog’s author at the Metropole Gig on 28 October in Whitby…!
This rash of tours taking in a myriad of UK cities is a welcome break from international artists who may only drop in on London, and I hope to see audiences booming at all venues.
The real belt-and-braces work in the UK Goth scene is, for me, the local promoter who runs a single night in their city. I’m also pleased to report a swathe of opportunities to go clubbing with either bands or just dedicated DJs spinning new and classic goth/alt tunes.
Without such rallying points for regional scenes, there’s nowhere for your local scene to congregate, making it harder to tempt festivals, promoters and bands. So support your local night, people!
Speaking of varied UK venues, it’s also time to look at the festival circuit – up there with smaller venues for vulnerability to pandemic restrictions. And yet it’s a flourishing field of events for the rest of the year, and even more strangely for the UK, contained entirely within the North! A glance across the ‘festivals’ section of my new events bible, The Goth Calendar, has the ardent fan booked up constantly between now and the end of the year!
From the activist energy of veterans Goth City, to the exciting novelty of Cleethorpes goth weekend (!) with The Snake Festival, taking in heavy hitters like Infest UK and Tomorrow’s Ghosts, there’s a vast array of opportunities to be crammed into a venue with a whirlwind of alternative acts. However, in detached observer mode, I do find myself speculating on how many times a year the devoted fan can see their favourite band – certain artists popping up fairly regularly on my pages alone.
No criticism intended, of course, with repeat performances a commendation of their skill and appeal. More a speculation on the variety and broadness of the UK goth/alternative roster of artists available. An entire article could be penned on that seemingly uncrossable chasm between the bands in the first paragraph of this entry and the remainder of the scene in Britain. How to cross it, who headlines certain events, what kind of attendance figure and ticket price warrants what particular household name… these are the questions I am sure some promoters will be asking themselves, and at some point even the immortal, endless goth scene must look at its options in this field. That will be a challenging day no doubt.
Finally, we come to look at the scene itself. In an unprecedented turn of events, goth has remained permanently in the newspapers – no longer the ‘winter’ wardrobe for bored fashion designers, the Dark Wash Cycle as I’ve called it, instead corsets, flowing black dresses, chunky boots and stark makeup have become a surprising staple of 2022. Well, perhaps not that surprising now that the Kardashians have made it the central plank of their current marketing strategy anyway…
But it hasn’t just been fashion that’s kept goth in the news cycle. Starting last year, popular British soap opera ran a storyline featuring a vibrant young goth character that culminated in violence, inspired by – and informed by those with knowledge of – the Sophie Lancaster attack of 2007. Unfortunately more bad news has followed, with widespread public condemnation over the announcement in March this year that one of her killers, Ryan Herbert, was eligible for parole. Further tragedy followed, with the sudden passing of Sophie’s mother, Sylvia Lancaster, who was buried on 12 May in Whitworth, Rochdale alongside her daughter. We sincerely hope the Lancasters find the peace and comfort they so clearly deserve…
The goth scene has emerged from a world frozen by lockdown, into a maelstrom of activity unprecedented. With such bleak news as the above, there are also promising signs that this impossible subculture continues to endure and even grow – the clientele at long-running club and gig nights continues to grow with new, young faces appearing regularly. Even the goths in the wild seem to be flourishing!
But whilst that might warm the chilly heart of the goth punter, there have been some wry observations about the sudden renaissance of the scene and the era in which post-punk and goth first arose. You know, that era dominated by tensions with Russia whilst a loathed Tory regime oversaw economic collapse in the UK – ring any bells?
All I’m saying is perhaps now’s the time to dig out that old drum machine and tune up your dusty bass – we’re taking two steps forward into the 21st century, two steps back to 410AD! Wherever and whenever you find yourself, please have a jolly jet-black time on World Goth Day!
You can now become a patron of The Blogging Goth and enjoy influence over future articles, credit for your contributions and keeping the site ad-free!