(By Fondas SumerSon)
While I’m travelling a lot across Europe and have been to many interesting underground goth festivals, I never had the chance to attend Sacrosanct, although I really wanted to since 2013, when the festival was “revitalised”. This year everything turned out fine and Reading-UK was definitely calling for me!
Sacrosanct is a 3 day festival hosting bands from all over the world, unlike most goth festivals which mainly focus on the European scene. It’s obvious that the organisers –Dave & Simone– put a lot of effort and money in order to set up this 3 day celebration of dark alternative music. And it really was a huge success! But let’s have a closer look….
Day I – Friday 25.09.2015
We left our hotel while the sun was still shinning as we didn’t want to miss any band, since all the bands are carefully chosen or rather hand-picked by Dave! Great vibes everywhere. I was delighted to run into many good old friends/dawnrazors, as well as some “facebook friends”. We had some beers and did some catching up before the first band hit the stage.
Grooving in Green was the one to start the Sacrosanct fire… and what a bright fire it was! This was my first Grooving in Green gig and I was so anxious to see these guys on stage, since I’m addicted to their tunes for years! Their line up was special just for this particular show. They were joined by two legendary guests, Simon Rippin (The Eden House) on drums and Stephen Carey (The Eden House) on the guitars. Need I say more about these guys? True masters of their craft. Pete, Tron and Eleonora were so energetic and their sound was just perfect! They played tunes from both their releases and totally satisfied their fans (including me), even if they didn’t play any Stun tune, something that I was really hoping for. After the gig I talked with the guys, had some pics with Tron and Pete who gladly signed my old Stun albums!!
Some Kind of Saviour
Post Traumatic Stress
Next band was NU:N, the newcomers from Portugal. I have listened to their debut a lot and – as I have mentioned before – I consider it one of last year’s best goth rock releases. I was wondering how these guys would sound on stage, as (according to my opinion) the live performance of a band is very crucial in determining its status. This was their first gig abroad, not that one could tell, since they were absolutely comfortable on stage. They sounded excellent with clear, well played guitar melodies, strong bass lines and of course amazing Neph-like vocals!
When they first appeared on stage there were only a few people watching, but during their very first song, more and more people were gathering to witness this new dark force from Porto. In a few moments, the concert hall was full and the thrilled audience was now clapping and shouting. These guys made the whole place “burn”! Definitely one of the highlights of the festival! They gained numerous fans, that’s for sure! Can’t wait to see them again in half a month at Semana Gotica de Madrid fest.
In April of 1984
Elysium for the Weak
It’s a Goth Revolution
Vera (a cappella)
Romeo without Juliet (new song)
Under your Stars
Dance to the Sun
Seeds of Absence (new song)
The Italians Horror Vacui was the third band of the day. I thought these guys stand out when I first listened to their debut in 2012. Their sound blends punk rock, goth rock and post punk, all under a horror-rock veil. I would say that Misfits, Bauhaus and The Sisters are some of their main influences among others. Their last year’s “Return of the Empire” was stuck in my cd player for many weeks. They were just KILLERS on stage! They made the whole club move (a mosh-ing panic spread across the hall during the closing track of their set, which was the title track of their debut album “In Darkness you will Feel Alright”). All the band members were very active on stage, especially their singer who didn’t stop jumping – headbanging and moving during their stunning performance. One of the highlights as well. After their gig there was a long queue in front of their merch stand!
Return of the Empire
The Right Cure
Light of Darkness
Till the Last Drop
On the Other Side
In Darkness you will Feel Alright
Age of Heaven
After a small break the time had come for the headliners of the evening, the mighty Age of Heaven. I can easily admit that these guys were one of the main reasons for my visit to Reading this year. I’m listening to their tunes for almost 20 years and never had the chance to see them live on stage . Age of Heaven, along with The Garden of Delight, The House of Usher, Still Patient?, Love Like Blood and The Merry Thoughts, are included in my German goth rock Hall of Fame… Hence the excitement that I felt when I saw Ju Age and his gang on stage can’t be described with words!
The guys played a longer set from the other bands since they were the headliners, including all their classics like “Armageddon”, “Providence” and “Garden of Love”. They even played the intro of their second album “The Secret” which they hadn’t played live for many years. They also performed some new songs from their upcoming release, which were nothing less than true masterpieces! The band had an amazing rhythm section with both guitars and bass in top shape! I shouldn’t forget to mention the brilliant keyboards of Yvonne, which added an eerie touch to the songs!
But above all, I want to point up the imposing and captivating vocals of Ju and his “goth” character on stage! He was an excellent frontman, performing the songs even better than in the studio versions! I have no words… Just can’t wait to see these guys on stage again! One of my everlasting dreams fulfilled!
After the gig I talked a lot with Ju, he signed my cds and we had some pics together. A true honour.
Lethal Poison (new song)
To the Clouds (new song)
Broke the Chain
Into the Mirror
Your Hidden Mind (new song)
Tonight (new song)
The Secret (intro)
Garden of Love
Love is Just a Lie (new song)
Over the Seven Seas
After a few last drinks and pics with friends, we headed over to the hotel. We left the venue with a huge smile of satisfaction and quite impatient for day II !
Day II – Saturday 26.09.2015
After some delightful sightseeing in Reading, we were ready for the second day of the Fest. This time with almost no rest at all, but still really excited for what was to follow.
Drama Queen from my home town, Athens, was the first band of day II. They started early, so some people were still on their way to Face bar and missed a couple of their songs. However the band easily gained the attention of the audience, since they have a very unique style, not similar to any other band of the festival. Their wave/goth/ethereal influences create a sentimental yet powerful ethereal rock/post punk. Their singer Kleo was a great front lady for the band, inviting everyone to join in their “drama-tic” world. All band members gave 100% of themselves on stage and all attendants were quite surprised with the emotional power of this band!
It was the second time that I noticed so many people on a merch stand after a gig, buying cds and requesting pics with the band! A memorable appearance!
Regrets (new song)
Nuclear winter (new song)
Greater Love (new song)
Winter Severity Index
Second band of the day was Winter Severity Index from Italy. Well, I had seen these guys a couple of years ago at Gotham Sounds festival in Hilden-Germany and as I wrote back then, their “cold wave” is not my cup of tea. Nevertheless, I saw a lot of people gathering in front of the stage and having fun listening to their tunes. I think that they totally satisfied all their fans presenting a very decent show. Good job!
A Sudden Cold
The Brightest Days
Embracing the Void
After a small break, another Italian band was ready to hit the stage: The Stompcrash. I like these guys a lot and according to my opinion they are a fine mix of goth/dark wave with modern electronics! Their last album was really awesome and I was curious to see whether they would sound just as good on stage. Their strong rhythm section easily captured everyone’s attention. Their keyboards really stand out in their sound enriching the songs. Chris, the band’s singer, is an excellent frontman as well, quite energetic! They played songs from all their releases and -of course- their latest brilliant single “Mirrors”. One of the highlights of their show was when Chris invited Mr. Andrew Birch from The Last Cry on stage to perform “duality” with him. Needless to say, the crowd went mad !!
Love from Hell
October People, a band from Spain, was up next. To be honest I was not familiar with their material before Dave booked them for the fest. I listened to some of their tunes and I can say that they are a very promising band. Of course they keep their distance from “goth” sound (and style). They rather are a good indie-rock band with a post-punk/new wave attitude.
They were awesome on stage and achieved to make the “goths” dance while listening to their songs! My guess is that they gained a lot of fans that evening. That’s why all their merchandise was SOLD OUT after a while!
Later, when I was chatting with people at the bar, I could not find a single person that was not blown away by these guys! Well done!
The Neverending Lie
What I am
Not the One
Our Darkest Time
Leave your World Behind
Long Night, the 5th band in the order of appearance, are from Norway. Actually, this band was another basic reason for me to attend this fest. I have always been a huge fan of Elusive and of Tommy‘s “dancefloor-desert-goth” style!
I was really excited to see that he had a new band with a male singer again, after the death of one of the greatest vocalists and personal friend of mine, Jan K. Barkved (RIP).
In this new effort Tommy recruited 2 very talented musicians, Arni Sørlie (guitars) & Østen Bergøy (vocals) and came up with some really great songs. Since they haven’t released any album so far (their debut ep will be out soon) people weren’t familiar with their songs, but this didn’t stop the guys from introducing us to their dark rock anthems with passion! They chose to play both slow and fast paced songs, including “Arkham” and “Winter” in their setlist, the only songs available on their site. The highlight of their show was definitely the memorable moment when they performed one of the oldest songs that Tommy has composed, the Morendoes classic “Shadow Dance”. I even had the chance to “contribute” some vocals on this epic song as the band’s singer offered me the microphone during the song. My excitement cannot be described as this song holds a very special place in my heart for many reasons. I’m sure that Long Night are going to be huge in the future, being one of the biggest hopes of goth rock right now.
East of the Sun
Shadow Dance (The Morendoes cover)
The Last Cry
One final break and the headliners of the evening were almost ready to come on stage. Time had come for the outstanding The Last Cry! One of the best live bands of the scene, no doubt about it. I have seen Andrew, Tim & Chris two more times on stage, so I really knew what to expect. The club was full by that time, since The Last Cry were maybe the main attraction for the English people. After a little while, one by one the members of band appeared, with Andrew entering the stage last and warmly saluting the audience by saying “Hello Family” !
Their “storm” was about to begin. “No Resistance” was the opening tune and all the club surrendered to a dancing frenzy… If you haven’t seen these guys on stage you can’t understand what I’m talking about! They played the longest set of the fest and it makes sense since they were the headliners and most people came for them. They performed old and new songs with the vigorous attitude that is typical of the band.
I definitely have to focus on the strong bond between them and their fans. All people attending a Last Cry gig is “Family” to the band. Indeed, at some point the whole Face bar was singing “We are Family, The Last Cry Family” !! Such a special moment. It really made me feel proud to be part of it.
After an outstanding show the band hung out and had beers and laughs with the fans, as they are some of the most down to earth persons that I have ever met in the goth scene! Love these guys so much!
Truth and Lies
The Night that I saw you (new song)
Be with you Again (new song)
This Future has no Face
Life of Lies
To Dream Next to you
Walking to the Edge
A great aftershow party followed The Last Cry’s fantastic performance. We danced and had even more drinks, while the excitement kept growing since we knew that the party would be continued tomorrow, both on and off stage!
Day III – Sunday 27.09.2015
Since the next day was a working day, the festival started right on schedule and Yabanci came on stage a few minutes after 18:00 o’clock. Because of starting this early, many people were on the way to the Club and unfortunately lost a couple of their songs. I like this band a lot as they are quite original, not copying the well established acts of the scene. Instead, they blend their influences into something completely fresh!
One could describe their sound as that of a dark wave band with a Neph-influenced guitarist (Valerio), a Siouxie-like vocalist (Laura) and a fine keyboard player (Emiliana). This intriguing mix appealed to a lot of people who clapped enthusiastically and bought goodies from their merch stand. Their songs are powerful and emotional on the same time. This is a band that deserves a lot of attention. Very good performance in every aspect!
Star in Man
The next band of the evening came all the way from Costa Rica to fill up the stage with its haunting old school goth rock! We are talking about Last Dusk, maybe the best band from Latin America, along with Das Projekt of course. They came on stage as a trio. Stephanie was drumming hard, Frederico played the guitars quite passionately, while Carfax -in a top goth outfit- with his outstanding bass lines and imposing singing, was the leader of this chariot of darkness!
Their sound was something between post-punk and goth rock with an intense “cult” feeling. According to my opinion some keyboards would enrich their sound!
As they have only released a self-produced 3 track ep (Trismegistus ep), they mainly played new songs, all of which were absolutely great. Especially “Oblivion” and “Crossroad” left me speechless!
These guys have a lot to offer in the scene and I have the feeling that this live gig will help them become more known and sign a record deal. By the way, all their t-shirts were sold out in just a few minutes after their gig. This means a lot!
Oblivion (new song)
Principle of rhythm
The Outsider (new version of an old song)
Crossroad (new song)
The Fool (new song)
Whispers in the Shadows
As the fest was heading towards its end, time had come for some “evil manifestation” . And who would be more fitting for this, than the Austrian masters of the occult themselves, Whispers in the Shadow?
I never had the chance to catch them on stage in the past, so I was really looking forward to their show! The band’s style has progressed a lot through the years, from Cure-ish post punk (in their early works), to occult-themed goth rock heavily influenced from bands like The Garden of Delight.
Ashley and his “dark cult” appeared on stage through thick smoke and in pure devilish mood. They commenced their ceremony with “The Arrival”, one of their best compositions. They played songs mainly from their four last albums, like “His Name is Legion”, “The Lost Souls” and “Damned Nation” which are top goth rock tunes. Special mention should be made to “Left Hand Anthem” during which their bass player did some extra drumming, helping the band create an alluring ritualistic atmosphere. People watched their show with great interest and seemed to be absorbed in the band’s music. A stunning performance that I could easily place among the top appearances of the festival.
After the gig I talked with Ashley about many things. I can assure you that he is a great, open-minded and down to earth guy. He gladly signed my cds too!!
Agent of Chaos
His Name is Legion
If Uriel Falls
The Lost Souls
Left Hand Anthem
Blood, Sweet & Tears
Drowning Like the Moon
The Last Dance
And after the excellent performance of Whispers in the Shadow, the time had come for the closing of the festival. The US goth rock heroes The Last Dance were ready to offer us the last excitement for this memorable weekend of music celebration, a weekend that I definitely won’t forget!
I can’t be objective about this sublime band, since they where one the first bands that I’ve listened to from the US goth scene, along with the mighty The Wake and London After Midnight. I instantly became a loyal fan of the band. Again, one of the main reasons for travelling to Reading!
So the lights went off for one last time and the American “sentimental goths” came on stage to close the festival in their own unique way! Surprisingly enough Simon Rippin was playing the drums for them! Later on Jeff told us that their drummer couldn’t make it, so Simon offered to help them. It only took him a single rehearsal to master the songs, being the great drum-lord that he is.
Rick on guitars and Peter on bass masterfully generated a loud and clear sound, while Jeff on vocals proved that a band needs a charismatic frontman in order to be distinguished. He was so direct and in constant communication with the audience, telling stories and even teasing some “old goths” in the front rows. In just a few words, one of the finest frontmen I had the chance to see in a live show! Their setlist was carefully chosen in order to include old classics like “Do you believe in angels”, “Once Beautiful”, “Whisper” as well as songs from their last album (“Ruins”), which is one of the best albums they have ever released. Last but not least, I shouldn’t forget to mention the brilliant female vocal contribution from Joyce (singer of Sapphire Solace) that added an ethereal touch to their exquisite songs!
I had met all the Last Dance guys the previous day and they were all so willing to chat and sign my cds one by one (and believe me they were not a few).
Especially Jeff is such a great dude. He even promised that they would do “desperately still” tomorrow, just because I told him that it was one of my all time favourites! (This one was not supposed to be on their setlist). Thanks Jeff!
Special Little Gift
Dead Man’s Party
Do you Believe in Angels
After the end of their show, we stayed for a while at Face bar since Diego Lima was spinning some killer goth rock tunes making us all dance, but around midnight the party was unfortunately over, since the bar had to close.
Concluding, I would like to give all credit to Dave & Simone for this demanding endeavour of a 3-days underground goth festival, hosting bands form all over the world! I have attended many festivals all around Europe, but this was undeniably a special occasion. I will definitely do my best to attend Sacrosanct again next year, if they decide to go for it again! Thank you both for keeping the underground goth flame alive and thanks to all my friends -on and off stage- for the great moments we shared…. GOTH ON!
pics by Oliver Krapp