I joined our very own Sgt. and Mrs. Deth on the trek to the depths of Chi-town on a gloomy October day. Before we hit the Excalibur, we dined at a very cool Italian restaurant called Quartino's. Let me tell you, you won't find places like this outside of the biggest cities. We each got to share our entrees, which were Angus Beef tagliata, an awesome thin-crust mushroom and prosciutto pizza and penne arrabiate with calamari. All for a reasonable price. Mrs. Deth finished everything off with a dessert that added 20 pounds to me just looking at it.
It's also truly maze-like and somewhat confusing to get around. We were in a series of small rooms connected to each other stretching over three stories. Each room was full of sinister touches and boasted a bar. There were two full stages with bands alternating. It was a bit of a chore zipping back and forth from the lower floor stage to the upper floor stage, but you soon got the hang of it. When a band was not playing, that stage area was pumped full of thumping techno music and industrial rock. In between the two stages was a kind of "monster market" full of booths hawking goth merchandise. I was in this area a grand total of maybe 30 seconds before some guy from the Ninth Gate was trying to hard sell me on something.
Most of the reason to go to something like this is to people-watch and check out all the freaks in action. Lots of
It's easy to see the variety in the Goth subculture. We had a lot of Eric Harris/Dylan Klebold Columbine types in long black dusters, long-haired vampires, mohawked punk rockers, gothic bikers in plenty of leather, Victorian gentlemen with top hats, Marilyn Manson type dudes, thug-goths in bandannas and baseball hats. One guy had to be at least seven feet tall...I wonder if he played for the Bulls? Some folks seem to have wandered in by mistake. One was a dead ringer for Tommy Chong, there were a couple of overaged lesbians in jeans and workshirts and an older black guy who REALLY looked lost.
We missed the lovely Ms. Ammunition of the 313 Suspension team hanging in mid-air from hooks impaled in her tender flesh. Darn it! However, I got a look at her back and the neat red holes where the hooks had been earlier were easy to see. To each his (or her) own, I guess...
The band set-up here reminded me of Milwaukee Metalfest, but unlike that event, there really wasn't anybody here
First band I caught were local favorites Fashion Bomb. Obviously Marilyn Manson inspired, these guys were one of the more energetic bands. Nothing terribly original, at least they didn't mope and stare at their shoes. Music was crunchy metal riffs with a frosting of techno. I have a secret liking for this stuff when done right and these guys did it right.
Probably the heaviest band of the evening was 13 Winters, coming from Maine to again play in front of a sparse crowd. The Gothicfest event as a whole was well attended, but the Excalibur is so full of diversions that very few people stay in one spot for long. 13 Winters was a combination of Frost-type sludge, epic black metal and keyboard-dominated symphonic parts. Their female singer was multi-talented and rattled off some spine-chilling shrieks, while the bass player also handled keyboards and a violin as well as singing! On the opposite end of the scale were the dreadful Deepest Symphony, three guys who tried to pass themselves off as a full-fledged symphonic metal band by using obvious backtracking and computerized "assistance". How bad was it? The lead singer was caught lip synching when "technical difficulties" reared their heads. If you can't fuckin' play live without these sort of cheats, then stay home! A real disgrace, and the band fully deserved the "crowd" of five or six who witnessed their travesty of a set.
One of the most entertaining events at the fest did not involve live music or self-mutilation. Martin Atkins, former
Assisted by a Powerpoint display, Atkins laid out easy rules for succeeding in music:
2. "Move to Boise". According to Atkins, there are about 1200 live music events in Los Angeles every week and over 1700 in New York. That makes those the two worst places for aspiring musicians to relocate, because you are the smallest fish in the ocean. Better to find a mid-sized city and build yourself up as the buzz band there to try and attract interest. In my experience, this has never worked for any band from Rockford, Illinois yet, but as usual, Rockford proves the exception to every rule.
3: "Prepare for the worst in order to play at your best". It's easy to put on a great gig when you have five perfect
Atkins also spoke about how the shittiest band on Myspace can now reach more people than the Beatles ever did, but why that means nothing. Myspace is a poorly understood tool that has most bands at its mercy...very, very few have learned how to use this tool effectively. I agree with that. He suggested that old-fashioned showmanship and crazy promo stunts are a good idea. For example, he said send out 50 copies of your new CD baked into a cake. Make sure to send one to the West Memphis 3 in their prison cells. When the media gets hold of the story of a CD baked in a cake sent to guys wrongly incarcerated in prison, your fortune will be made.
While in the "funeral parlor" section of Excalibur, Sarge, Mrs. and I ran into the members of Grigori 3 doing a photo shoot. I haven't seen G3 in a dog's age and they were one of the bands I was really looking forward to tonight. We managed to make some small talk with the lovely lead singer Gwen, sporting new red dreadlocks, and grab some pics with her, which you can see here. She is a real sweetheart and it was great bumping into her in front of an open coffin.
The gig by Grigori 3 put the cap on our evening. In front of by far the biggest crowd we had seen so far at Gothicest,
Attrition and Bella Morte were up next to finish off Gothicfest, but we made our exit after Grigori 3 made theirs. I had fun tonight and enjoyed playing a little bit of dress up with the Goths. I'll always be more of a metalhead, but the Gothic beast lurks within my soul like a chained basilisk awaiting release. I think all of us may have that same beast inside and events like this allow him a little time to roam free.
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