by Fondas SumerSon
When I returned from Germany last December, after the Nephilim/Nuns tour, I felt like I had left my mind there… I wanted to return as soon as possible.
Gotham Sounds Festival vol. II was the perfect opportunity, as this year’s fest was really promising. Two days of high class goth/wave music, including some of the best bands of the underground goth scene.
The first day’s line up was made up by Arts of Erebus, Aeon Sable, The Spiritual Bat and Soror Dolorosa. I was really excited as I am a big fan of three of these bands and curious, at least, to see the rest. Plus, I never had the chance to see any of them live on stage. When we arrived at Area 51, there weren’t so many people yet, but the numbers increased rapidly. My guess is that 180 people, or maybe a few more, had gathered to witness the first day of this great event.
After a small delay the lights went out. Thick smoke covered the stage and “Death shall have no dominion” filled the concert hall….. Arts Of Erebus were on stage! Although I have been a very devoted fan of these guys for years, I never had the chance to see them play live up to that day. So I was a bit curious about their live performance, because I totally loved the vocals of their former vocalist Damian. I have to admit, though, that I equally liked Raven’s vocals on the band’s new album and I wanted to see him perform. He definitely exceeded my expectations. He was really amazing on stage, performing the songs even better than in the studio recording. Michael did a great job on the guitars, Tommy played really strong bass lines and Stephane filled the songs with haunting keyboards. Of course I should not forget to mention their brilliant slide show, which fitted their performance perfectly. The only thing that I would change, was the fact that they didn’t play any songs from their previous releases (probably because of the limited time they were on stage), but after the gig the guys reassured me that this is going to change in future shows. A brilliant performance overall.
Death Shall Have no Dominion
Edge of Insanity
Spark of Hope
Point of no Return
The Wanderer between Life and Death
Shadow of Life
Insight in Darkness
Requiescat In Pace
The Die Is Cast
After a very small break, darkness fell upon the hall and Din tah Aeon came on stage first, playing some “demented” solos that led to the intro of “Aequinochtium”… Nino Sable followed with very slow footsteps and with his head covered… That was it… Their ritual had just begun! According to my opinion, aeon sable is a controversial band, as they can’t be categorized easily. Their sound has a basis of old school goth rock and on the same time is enriched by new wave elements and even steps into dark (even black?) metal. Now add the really astonishing guitar work of Din tah Aeon and the outstanding performance of Nino Sable to all the above and you might get a taste of Aeon Sable’s mystical world. Nino is not just singing, he is performing a theatrical act or a musical ceremony. He was changing t-shirts depending on the song, he was dancing all the time on stage, he communicated perfectly with the audience and he even went off stage to dance with the fans (including me) during their much praised hit “dancefloor satellite”. One of the highlights of their show – except of course playing their other mega hit “tenfifteen”- was that they played “Exodus”, a song from their debut album, which was never played live before. Generally, I think that this band has a lot to offer to dark music in the future and Artaud Seth was perspicacious enough to offer them a contract in his label, Solar Lodge.
Algorithm of None
At the Edge of the World
Visions (new song)
Another small break until The Spiritual Bat appeared on stage. To tell you the truth I never had the chance to listen to their tunes enough, so I wasn’t really familiar with their songs. They reminded me of Faith and the Muse and Siouxsie and the Banshees in a more Bat Cave and Post Punk version. Not bad at all, but definitely not my kind of sound. They were very static on stage, especially their guitarist, but I guess that this is their style and nevertheless people seemed to enjoy their performance and the guys really appreciated it. A good band.
Last break of the evening and it was time for the headlining act of day I … The mighty Soror Dolorosa from France. From the very first time I listened to them about five years ago, I was impressed instantly and became a big fan. Their sound stands somewhere between the Sisters of Mercy and the Cure, somewhere between up tempo goth rock and depressive, slow tempo new/dark wave. Their big advantage is, definitely, their charismatic frontman Andy Julia. He is taking them to a higher level with his performance. Through thick smoke and red lights, Andy came on stage leather-clad and started to sing the first lyrics of “Hologram” …The audience was absolutely focused on him. All band members were great on stage and performed the songs in a perfect way… even better than the studio versions. The setlist consisted of all kinds of songs, including all their big hits, a couple of new ones, as well as some less commercial songs, just for the hardcore fans’ delight. It was my first ever time to see these guys play live and after the gig I realized why they have conquered Europe so fast, becoming a big name in the dark underground scene in such a short time.
A Dead Yesterday
The Figure of the Night
Sound & Death
Scars of Crusade
In a Glance
So after a few last drinks and commemorative pics with old friends, we headed over to the hotel, dead tired but so delighted, also knowing that the second day of the Fest was to follow.
Next morning, after having our breakfast with Andy and Herve from Soror Dolorosa (which gave us the chance to discuss last night’s gig), we left our hotel in order to explore a little bit of Dusseldorf. Of course we managed to be back early enough to get some rest, as we had a long night ahead of us.
At 20:30 Sweet Ermengarde hit the stage. I was so anxious to see these guys live on stage, because they are one of the best Nephilim-influenced bands (and I do like the Nephs, in case you haven’t noticed ), without copying them. This band has definitely released the best album of 2013, if you ask me. They have a great line up, consisting of talented musicians and the addition of Mike York (ex- Garden of Delight, Kalt) as the second guitarist, made them even stronger! So the lights went off and Mike York came first on stage, followed by the rest of the clan. “In the Time” was their opening song. Their singer Kuba, without moving and dancing too much, delivered the appropriate dark feeling. The Nephilimesque bass lines of Lars, led us back to the old goth days and generally the whole band was more than outstanding on stage. Since they were the first band of the day, they didn’t play for long, but managed to perform their excellent debut album in its entirety in a 45 min set, dropping out only two songs. Of course, they played their well known hits “Kisses” and “A Promised to Fulfill”. Special mention must be made to the new song “A Tooth by a Tooth” from their upcoming album, characterized by a fantastic Mission-like guitar…Mike’s doing perhaps? I could have not imagined a better way for the band to end its performance, than playing my favorite song “Necropolitan Rest”. This made the audience dance a lot.
In the Time
A Promise to Fulfill
For this Moment
A Tooth by a Tooth
So after a small rest, it was Red Sun Revival’s turn… I can’t be objective about this band, as I am totally addicted to their tunes. This was the only band of the fest that I had seen on stage twice already. They released the best album of 2012, according to my opinion. We are talking about a band that delivers pure romantic goth music in a unique way, expressed through Christina’s violin, Matt’s great guitars, Panagiotis’ gothy bass lines and of course their multi talented frontman. Rob, as always, was very expressive on stage, even if he was a bit static. He was singing with passion every song they played. They didn’t have enough time to play their whole debut album, so they left a couple of songs out of the set. Still, they managed to play two new songs from their forthcoming ep, both of them being masterpieces. Especially “Mistakes” is going to be their new club hit I guess… just brilliant! Last but not least, special mention should be made to the mosh-pit during their much loved anthem “my child”. It was really fun to see people in the first rows jump all together, hugging each other… Great moments!
Running from the Dawn
Lost for Words
My Surrender (new song)
Mistakes (new song)
Forgive us Now
Nothing to Hide
After this great performance the time was right for some beers and chatting with band members, cds signatures etc, so I missed most of Winter Severity Index’s performance. Actually their music style of minimal-wave was not my cup of tea at all. Nevertheless, I saw a lot of people enjoying their tunes.
It was almost midnight and it was The Last Cry’s turn to come on stage. I have to admit that these guys are one of the main reasons that I traveled to Germany. I am a big fan of their music for years and even if I have traveled to London several times, I never had the opportunity to catch them live on stage. Therefore, I was very excited that this time I would get to see them at last. I had watched some videos on YouTube and I knew what to expect concerning their live performance, but -believe me- if you haven’t seen them on stage, LIVE in front of you, you can’t understand the meaning of “The Last Cry Live Experience”. Andrew Birch can be easily placed among the top 5 frontmen of the dark/goth underground scene nowadays. He was performing every song with such a brilliant and unique way. He was so hyperactive on stage and was driving the audience to dance and jump around all over the place! Tim on guitars and Chris on bass were the perfect companions to this outstanding show. The band played a full show of over an hour, including most of their hits from both releases and of course the 2 new songs from their current single which were both in the excellent goth/wave direction that we have come to expect. They closed their magnificent gig with the title track of their debut album, during which all the fans in the front rows (including me), were jumping and singing all together…. What a brilliant way to end this really great gig!
All you Gave me
To Dream Next to You
Life of Lies
Living in Grey
This Future has no Face
Prison of Dreams
Walking on the Edge
The festival was reaching its end, with only one band left to play. Uni Form from Portugal was the last act of this really great 2-days festival. I really had no idea about these guys and had never heard of them before. Even though they came on stage around 02:00 am and a lot of people had already left the venue, I decided to stick around and watch them play. I confess that even if their post punk style was not my kind of thing, these guys were quite interesting. They had a very nice video wall which helped them a lot in presenting their songs and making the audience follow them into their dark world. They reminded me of Joy Division with a modern approach. Quite decent performance that left everyone satisfied, leading a lot of people to their merchandise stall.
So after one more night full of goth excitements, we returned exhausted to our hotel at around 04:00 o’clock in the morning…
Gotham Sounds fest Vol. II was definitely one of the best festivals experiences I had across Europe. So many bands, from so many different countries, performing together in celebration of goth/dark music. Congratulations to Ralf Djwahni for putting so much effort in organizing all this. I really hope he is already making plans for the next one. I know I am. Until the next time ….LONG LIVE THE GOTH ROCK UNDERGROUND !