(by Fondas SumerSon)
On my last visit to Madrid for SGM VI a year ago, I experienced unforgettable moments of goth-fun during both days of the fest, as well as at the outstanding after-show parties. That’s why I promised myself that I would definitely come back, if the festival would take place next year. Needless to say, the wisely chosen line up -courtesy of BillyPhobia– encouraged me to actually make another trip to Madrid, the land of great art, architecture, soccer and -why not- goth festivals!
Day I – Friday 23.10.2015
ASCETIC: from Australia (Berlin is their hometown now) was the opening act, a band that can’t be easily categorized. They mix a lot of styles in their sound, which is mainly based on dark wave and post punk. They remind me a little bit of Swans or Einstürzende Neubauten, while occasionally they even approach the sound of early 4AD releases. The band appeared as a trio with one guitar, electronic drums and August Skipper on vocals and bass. They played songs from their excellent debut album, as well as from their upcoming release.
ASCETIC: appealed more to the open minded dark wave/goth fans as they are not an “easy” band to follow, if you are listening to their tunes for the first time. I was already a fan of the band and I knew what to expect, so I was quite amazed by their performance. A great start for the festival!
From the Outset
We Are Not All Dead
The UK Trad-Goth heroes Grooving in Green was the second band of the fest. That seemed a bit odd, because we all thought that they would be the headliners of the evening. Anyway, they started their Groove-Goth show passionately and made the Spanish audience warm up. Stephen Carrey couldn’t follow the band this time, so Pete was the only guitarist on stage but he managed quite fine. He turned his GOTH ROCK engines on and seemed unstoppable!!!
Simon (drums) and Eleonora (bass) were great as usually and Torn on vocals was completely out of this world. An excellent frontman! I can admit that he was more energetic on stage than he was at Sacrosanct a few weeks ago…He even threw the microphone down at some point in an ecstatic state!
They played exactly the same setlist like one month earlier at Reading and they totally gained the love of the audience! Top performance, no doubt!!!
Some Kind of Saviour
Post Traumatic Stress
The third band of day I was the Italians Christine Plays Viola. I never had the chance to properly listen to their tunes in the past, except from a couple of songs. Therefore I was really curious to see if they would attract my interest with their show. The guys are playing an obscure type of new wave, blended with some goth rock elements. According to my opinion their sound is reminiscent of the “non commercial” early days of the Cure. Their talented singer (Massimo Ciampan) is giving them a great push! All band members performed great and I bet Christine Plays Viola gained a lot of new fans that evening. I was one of them. Well done guys!
Rejecting the Limitations of Fate
Failed to Connect to Heart (Endline)
Swallowed Cold Insanity
I was Wrong
The Stars Can’t Frighten (part I)
The Stars Can’t Frighten (part II)
Slaughter of the Black Swan
Witch of Silence
After a small break the Italians punk-goth rockers Horror Vacui were ready to “kill” again, this time on Spanish ground! Koppa and his gang made us mosh once again… These guys know what to do in order to make the audience dance! Very few bands unleash such raw energy on stage nowadays. The crowd embraced them and bought a lot of their stuff after the gig.
Return of the Empire
The Right Cure
Light of Darkness
Till the Last Drop
On the Other Side
In Darkness you will Feel Alright
So the day ended with a fantastic aftershow party and great expectations for day II…
Day II – Saturday 24.10.2015
After a long day of sight-seeing (as you can never have enough of Madrid) and only a few hours of rest, we headed to Sala We Rock for the second day of the fest…
Ash Code, the electronic dark wave trio from Italy, was the first band of the day. Normally I am not into these kind of tunes, but when I first listened to these guys I actually liked them a lot for a strange reason. I can assure you that their debut album played a lot in my cd player! Their melancholic synths mix perfectly with their dark wave guitars, creating a unique dark atmosphere for the listener. Their video wall projections were enriching the songs visually, while Claudia, Alessandro and Adriano gave their best on stage. They definitely succeeded to warm up the crowd, including me! They played almost their whole debut album, plus some new songs and a special cover version of “I can’t escape myself” by The Sound! Excellent performance in every aspect!
Waves with no Shores
In the Night
I Can’t Escape myself (The Sound cover)
Challenge the Sea
Dry your Eyes
The lights went off and a banner with astrological and occult symbols was placed on the back of the stage… It was the time for Portuguese goth rockers NU:N to spread their tunes at Sala We Rock. I had seen these guys a month before at Sacrosanct fest and I experienced one of the best live performances of the current year. Now it was the time for the Spanish Goths to understand that “nothing unveils nothing” and to become part of their Goth Rock revolution!
The guys gave a hell of a gig once again, playing the complete debut album plus a couple of new songs and of course their latest single “Revenge”, during which their loyal fans raised a human “tower”!! As the band had promised, they had prepared a special surprise for their Spanish fans: They performed an outstanding cover version of “Gotas”, a song from the band Remembrance, possibly the best Spanish Goth Rock act. As expected, the audience went mad and was delighted by this good old goth tune with a Spanish flavor. Absolutely stunning Performance!
In April of 1984
Elysium for the Weak
It’s a Goth Revolution
Soft Parade (a cappella)
Romeo without Juliet
Under your Stars
Dance to the Sun
Seeds of Absence
Gotas (Remembrance cover)
After the Portuguese goth rock attack, the journey through the occult realms was about to continue with Aeon Sable as the masters of the ceremony this time. I have to admit that this band was one of the main reasons for my second (in a row) visit to SGM fest. I consider them one of the best bands of the new era of Goth rock. Aeon Sable have developed a totally personal sound that artfully “invades” many musical styles, bearing elements from Goth rock to new/dark wave and from prog rock to black metal. Despite their few years of existence, the band has reached a cult status and is gaining more fans with every new release.
As you might have guessed, I can’t really be objective about them. While I was talking with a lot of my Spanish friends, I figured out that I was not the only one that was really looking forward to see them on stage (that would be my second time actually).
So through thick smoke, red lights and with a spinning pentagram on the video wall behind them, the dark cult collectively known as Aeon Sable came on stage. Nino, last one as always, with his head covered by a hood, started singing the lyrics of “Aequinoctium”… That was it… Their “Aeons” flooded the place with dark emotion. Nino is such a great performer… dancing , screaming, head-banging, then turning mellow and sensitive, only to get lost again in rivers of darkness that the band creates with their songs. I consider him one of the top frontmen of the goth scene. Of course the rest of the band deserves an honorary mention as Din‘s and Jo‘s guitars along with Quoth‘s bass produced a melodious sound of obscure beauty and power. Since their music is characterized by great variety in tempo and intensity, they played all kinds of songs: from goth rock anthems like “Visions” and “Dancefloor satellite” to mid-tempo masterpieces like “Fabulous Land” and “Secret Flower” and then to dark goth-metal tunes like “Quaalude Tango” and “A Serpente e o Andarilho” (epic tune that I never expected to listen to at a live performance).
When they finished their set, the crowd would not stop asking for more “spells”… Aeon Sable came back on stage to conclude their Iberian ceremony by playing the mysterious and soul ripping “Praying Mantis”, a song that was the perfect closer for this memorable gig!!
I just feel so lucky to have seen them on stage for a second time, as I can never have enough of these guys. The good thing is that in few days they will be in Athens for their first show in Greece.
A Serpente e o Andarilho
While the night was heading to an end, the headliners of the evening, Frank The Baptist, were ready to hit the stage and close this magnificent festival in a haunting way! This is a band that has been around for over 15 years and has created its own legacy! Their sound is mainly post-punk, but unlike most bands of this genre, they have an “epic” feeling and grandiose melodies in their songs. This is mostly because of the melodic vocals of Frank Vollmann, the band’s mastermind.
Although I always liked their goth-post-punk style, I never had the chance to see them perform, so I was longing for their show. The guys graciously appeared on stage dressed in “goth” outfits and played a long set with songs coming from almost all their releases, even from their very early days. Of course they played for us some songs from their latest album (“As the Camp Burns”), which -according to my opinion- deserves a place among the best releases of 2015. Frank was very talkative on stage, he even started singing the lyrics of Marionettes‘ “Ave Dementia” (btw the dj was spinning killer tunes on the breaks between the bands), while his guys were preparing their instruments.
All the people were singing and dancing throughout the band’s performance and thus gave me the feeling that they had been waiting for Frank and his boys for a long time in Spain!! I definitely feel quite satisfied that I managed to see them on stage after all these years. After the gig I talked a lot with Frank and he surprised me with his politeness and willingness to discuss anything about the band. Great guy, no doubt! And one last thing… The legendary Fields of the Nephilim have chosen them as the opening act at their forthcoming German tour on March 2016. This has got to count for something, right?
Silver is her Color
Letters to Earth
Bleeding in my Arms
Sealegs on the Train
How Low are We
If I Speak
After the gig all the crazy goths, including some band members (Aeon Sable & NU:N) enjoyed themselves at the aftershow party as Billy and Nico were spinning killer tunes, keeping us in the dancefloor for many hours! There you go, that was the Gothic Festival of Madrid for 2015, in all its splendor or rather darkness…
I would like to give credit to Billy, Marjorie and all people involved in Semana Gotica de Madrid for offering us sensational musical excitements in a very successful goth festival that deserves to draw the attention of all lovers of dark music across Europe. I assure you guys that next year we will do our best to attend this “goth” celebration once more…. Until then GOTH ON !
pics by Oliver Krapp
videos by Oliver Krapp & Fondas SumerSon