Whitby Gothic Weekend
Friday (27th October):
- Trauma Pet
- Vampire Beach Babes
- The Damned
While I knew none of these bands well (or at all) I actually rather enjoyed most of them. XYkogen were technically a bit rough around the edges, but enthusiastic, and got full points for having a goth rapper of all things. Trauma Pet were technically more talented, and played music which was more to my usual taste but overall I actually found them less good, mainly because they just weren't as much fun. The Vampire Beach Babes were unexpectedly brilliant. Their bass player stood almost stock still on stage and her facial expression barely changed through the whole set, and normally that might be a bit odd but somehow it totally complemented the two singers. The lead singer and guitarist reminded me of a blonde goth version of Steve Martin as the dentist in Little Shop of Horrors, and the other girl was billed with "vocals and floating" both of which she did excellently. They belted out some fun little poppy surf rock style tunes and just had a laugh. Very much recommended. And the Damned were just great. I don't know them much beyond Eloise but they played a good set and were definitely completely up for it, with the guitarist having donned a red velvet dress and enormous red and black cyber-style hair falls. Class.
Saturday (28th October):
- Uninvited Guest
- Katzenjammer Kabaret
While Friday had catered more to the trad/rock school of goth Saturday was much more aimed at the cyber/industrial crowd. We gave all of the bands a couple of tracks trial, but they just didn't manage to grab us for the most part. Uninvited Guest were the surprise exception, with a glam look which would make Marc Almond at his glitteriest look dull. I rather enjoyed a very touching track about the death of the lead singer's father, a surprisingly upbeat number about surviving child abuse, and their rather fab one about being the contents of a rather goth toybox. None of the other bands managed to stick in my memory at all really.
Opeth/Paradise Lost (Thursday 9th November)
This gig is one which Mike had persuaded me to come along to. I've dragged him to lots of indie stuff, so it seemed only fair to let him return the favour and try convince me of the merit of some of the bands he really likes. I think if you try and put them into boxes you end up with Paradise Lost as Goth Metal and Opeth are vaguely Black Metal grown up a bit.
The Roundhouse is a really nice venue I'd never been to before. Nice and airy it's made even more so by being non-smoking, although a fair few people were cheating on that one. And it's all shiny and newly re-fitted which is very pleasant. The trains and queue for the cloakroom meant we missed the very beginning of the Paradise Lost set, which was a shame, but I definitely enjoyed them. I don't think I recognised any of the songs they played, despite Mike having been playing me bits, but it was good stuff well played, with a quiet but confident delivery. The biggest laugh of the set however was when the projected backdrop suddenly displayed a random Windows error of some sort though.
Opeth on the other hand were funny, with a very dry and knowing wit which teased the crowd a little without sounding at all contemptuous. I missed seeing the singer attempt to pat himself on the back for having now released 8 albums, but was amused at his reference to lyrics in an early track being rather silly and random black metal nonsense. The music was another thing entirely. Each track was well over 5 minutes long, and generally would weaving around itself with changes of tempo and style but all tied together somehow. Again I didn't know any of it, but I came away feeling that if I had it would have blown me away.
Less Than Jake/Dropkick Murphys (Saturday 11th November)
After one gig in London this week I was a little unsure about whether I still had enough energy to enjoy another, especially when I'm not the world's biggest fan of Less Than Jake and I'd already seen them twice this year. Still, the Dropkick Murphys were joint headlining and I was rather keen to catch them again, and we'd had a lazy day doing nothing on Friday and a long lie-in so we had no excuse for being tired, so we set off reasonably cheerful to Brixton where I joined the short queue to pick up my ticket from the Box Office and Mike and Ernie eventually found each other in the longer queue to get in if you had tickets already. This suggests that getting your tickets posted to you is particularly pointless, as well as more expensive. We met inside some time later though, and by the time Mike and I had queued at the cloakroom (letting Ernie head on down the front on his own) we'd missed the first band. But since this was Billy No Mates who we'd not particularly been impressed by when they supported Me First and the Gimme Gimmes earlier this year we weren't all that fussed.
Second support were The Living End from Melbourne Australia, who ernie had apparently seen before, and who had a huge lot of fans in the audience. We didn't know them at all but they went down really well, with a punk sound (obviously) tempered by being a three-piece with drums, a rather nicely painted double-bass and a guitarist with what looked like a rather nice steel guitar. The slap-bass sound definitely adds something a bit different, and they were really good fun. Lyrics you can make out, tunes you can bop along to, and a nice line of stage acrobatics involving climbing on the double bass. Impressive, and I'd definitely stick their new album on my wishlist if it weren't for them sadly not having a record contract over here.
The Dropkicks were good fun too, as they have been before, but I felt that I was a little let down by not really knowing any of the tracks (ernie said they didn't play much at all from the albums he knows) and by it being really hard to make out the words. We did have a good bounce along though, and the crowd were obviously pretty keen, which always helps.
We were a bit concerned after that, because Mike's bike computer said it was 10:30 and we were a bit worried we wouldn't make the last train. But we optimistically hoped that it was just still in british summer time (it turns out it was) and anyway, we wouldn't be able to leave early because we had to sort out getting stuff from the cloakroom and it was all in ernie's bag and we didn't have the heart to try and persuade him to move before the end even if we had been able to find him. The second-thoughts about being there were immediately swept away when they opened with "All my best friends are metalheads" which is easily their best (IMO) song. It was a good bouncy set, and we had fun with a mini-circle-pit of two people amongst other things. And in the end ernie stayed on the barrier til the end, Mike kindly fetched the bag in the encore, and we had fun sprinting to the tube station and got the KX in time for the last semi-fast train home to bed, along with quite a few other people from the same gig.
Another good night out, though perhaps not quite as good as Thursday, and as usual it left me feeling like maybe I would have rather seen Reel Big Fish again.
Next one I have tickets for is Ezio on Thursday, but I'm very tempted to spend 8 quid seeing ¡Forward Russia! at the Junction tomorrow, especially as I've just heard that Help She Can't Swim are supporting. It seems I've now seen 105 different bands this year. If anyone can recommend a convenient gig from anyone beginning with Q or J before the end of the year I'd be grateful :-)