see all the photos from this show here

Saturnalia IV
God Module
Passion Play
Claire Voyant
Rachael's Surrender
The Ordo Templi Orientis
Bunny Peculiar
MC Scary Lady Sarah
...and a DJ cast of thousands.
Centrum Halls, Chicago
Saturday December 14 2002
~review and photos by Uncle Nemesis

This isn't going to be a normal review. I suspect it'll turn into a cross between those 'What I did on my holidays' essays my English teacher used to make me write at school, one of the tall tales you'll read on, and selected scenes from 'Spinal Tap: The Goth  Years'. All I can do is simply tell the story...

In a world where goth-scene promoters seem to come and go like the tides, it's unusual to find an outfit which has hung around for any great length of time.  But if somebody ever struck a medal for long-term service to the fractious subculture that is goth, it would instantly be won by Scary Lady Sarah's American Gothic Productions of Chicago.

American Gothic Productions' regular weekly club night, Nocturna, has been operating without a break for fifteen years now, which makes it the longest-running goth club anywhere in the world. That's some record. The club isn't AGP's only venture, however. There's also the Sunday night fetish extravaganza, Whiplash, and many years' worth of live shows by just about every goth-related band you can think of. And then there's the reason we're in Chicago today: the lavish end-of-year party that is Saturnalia.

Saturnalia counts as a relatively new addition to the Chicago scene-calendar. It started only four years ago, but already it's well established as a 'must-play' event for bands around the world. Bella Morte, Inkubus Sukkubus, Faith & The Muse, Element, and Angels & Agony are among the acts which have appeared in previous years. It's also become a 'must-attend' event for the denizens of Chicago's underground - because it's not just another festival. It's a wild party to which everyone's invited.

This year, we've been invited. That's 'we' as in Bunny Peculiar, former Woman of Sodom turned performance poet, and Uncle Nemesis, former promoter turned...well, on-line journalist, I suppose, if my ramblings for StarVox can be dignified by such a term. Also on the Saturnalia bill - and also on our plane to the USA - are the UK's rising stars, Passion Play. Except that Passion Play are much more of an international band these days, rather than simply a UK act. Later this year, Justin, the band's founder member, intends to relocate to Germany. That's a far more practical base for future progress than the UK, which hardly counts as a blip on the radar in international goth-scene terms these days. Mattias, the band's bassist, already lives in Germany, and will be making his own way to Chicago via a circuitous route involving three changes of plane in three countries, and 18 hours in the air. Rather him than me!

Although the UK contingent only has to contend with an 8-hour direct flight from London, we nevertheless arrive in Chicago feeling as grey as United Airlines' livery. Fortunately, Chicago is mild, the air is clear, and we soon perk up with a feeling of anticipation as the last few days before the big event are crossed off the calendar. The build-up to Saturnalia is well under way, and most of it seems to be on Scary Lady Sarah's kitchen table. Invitations, laminates, brochures and advance orders are piled high, and Sarah herself is spending every spare moment wrapping up the arrangements for the event. I'm surprised that she's doing so much of the work herself - much of it seems to be fairly straightforward admin stuff which anyone could do, given some basic background info. When the chief executive of American Gothic Productions is spending the small hours of the night slaving over a hot photocopier down at the 24-hour copy shop instead of getting some much-needed sleep, that surely counts as a little hint that some help is needed! But then, I used to do all the same stuff myself when I was a promoter. It goes with the territory, I suppose. Behind the glitz of the show lie many sleepless nights of hard graft, and it takes a tough cookie to handle it. Maybe we've discovered one of the reasons why so few promoters seem to stick around long-term!

It's also frequently true that behind the glitz of the show lie many hassles, problems, and freak-outs, and one of these is just about to land on Saturnalia. The day before the show, Mattias phones in from Germany: the first flight of his three-leg marathon journey to Chicago has been cancelled. There are 24 hours to go before he's due to walk out on stage with the band, and he's stuck on the other side of the planet! After a few hours of trawling through plane timetables it becomes obvious that there's no way he can use his existing ticket on an alternative flight and still get to Chicago in time for the show. The only thing to do is bite the bullet and spend a frighteningly huge wedge of cash on an entirely new ticket which will get Mattias to the show on time - just!  He'll arrive barely in time to do the soundcheck, play the set, grab a few hours' sleep, and fly straight out again. He'll probably feel like he's been dragged through several time zones backwards, but he'll make it, the show will go on, and nobody will ever know there was a problem. That's showbiz!

And then it's the day of the show. The hours before doors-open time count down relentlessly, even as the number of last-minute chores which simply *must* be done seem to multiply. Mattias arrives, telling horror stories of his full-scale search by airport security, who seemed convinced that the only reason anyone would enter the USA for just one day must be to commit terrorist acts. After all the hard work and hassle, it surely counts as a minor miracle to get everyone safely inside the venue, ready to set up. By the time we arrive in mid-afternoon, headliners God Module have finished their soundcheck and disappeared somewhere, and the other bands are just arriving. We have a clear hour or so to sort out Passion Play. Well, that should be easy enough.

Because Saturnalia is not held in a regular live music venue, there is no in-house sound equipment. The PA is all temporary gear, brought in by a rental company who have, apparently, supplied previous AGP events. Passion Play and entourage cast critical eyes over the equipment: the rented backline seems OK, but little alarm bells start to ring in our heads as we look over the rest of the system. It seems...well, rather small for such a large hall, and it's clear Justin isn't massively impressed with the monitors. With only four small wedges on stage (two at the front, one for the drums, and another floating randomly in the middle) it looks minimal to the point of being inadequate. Still, if those wedges can chuck out a good punchy sound, it should be OK. We hope!

I had vaguely assumed that a few backline roadies would be in evidence at the venue, to help set up the basic stuff and wield the gaffa tape, but this doesn't appear to be so. I look around for the crew, expecting to clock a bunch of geezers with Maglites hung off their belts waiting to get stuck in, but no such merry bunch can be seen. The only sound-tech person in the entire place is the engineer who comes with the PA (presumably in his own flight case). And, not to put too fine a point on it, the rental company haven't exactly sent the A-team. The engineer seems worryingly vague, bumbling half-heartedly around while wearing an expression of bland disinterest, and only showing signs of animation when he makes calls on his mobile phone - which he does with suspicious frequency. Elsewhere, there's another random bod wandering about carrying bundles of cables. This, it turns out, is the lighting tech. The rented lighting rig is a basic four-channel affair which surely shouldn't take too much brain-ache to set up, but our man seems to be making absurdly heavy weather of it. I sit to one side and watch him puzzling over the tricky problem of connecting one lead to another, all the while fighting the urge to march over to him, elbow him out of the way, and say, 'Look, you dozy twit, let *me* do it, or we'll be here all day!'

By now the alarm bells in our heads are ringing somewhat more loudly. If *this* is the Saturnalia technical crew, it's going to be an interesting night...

And it gets more interesting very quickly. Passion Play set themselves up on stage and prepare to make some noise. To boost the on-stage sound, the band's amps are piled up like a rock 'n' roll Stonehenge. Can't trust those monitors.There's a constant buzz of interference coming from somewhere. Is it the bass amp? Nope, it's probably the lights, which are plugged in to the same power circuit as the PA. If the Centrum was a proper gig venue it would have separate circuits for sound-power and lighting-power, thus removing any chance of interference, but it isn't and it doesn't. I wonder if I should suggest running out an extension lead, and powering the lights from a socket in another room, which in a building this size would presumably be on a different circuit. It's an old trick but I've known it to work. However, the thought of trying to explain this idea to the gormless lighting tech doesn't appeal, so I sit tight. In any case, there are other problems: Justin's effects unit, which he's brought with him from the UK, won't work on 110 volts. Has anyone thought to bring a transformer to step up the power to 230v? Never mind, we'll get the sound engineer to sort it. Hang on - has anyone seen the sound engineer? Cue instant crisis. Where is the sound engineer? He's gone!

In the middle of the soundcheck, just when he's needed to fix a veritable deli-tray of technical hitches, the engineer had simply put on his coat and left the building. The gormless lighting tech volunteers the information that he's 'gone to pick up his mum'. Is he coming back? Yeah, sometime later. What? LATER? Jaws hit the floor all over the room. It's now only two hours till doors-open, there are four bands to soundcheck through a gimcrack PA system that's buzzing like a wasp's nest, the monitors look like they've come free with a breakfast cereal, nobody seems to have taken care of details like voltage transformers so essential bits of kit can't even be plugged in - and now the engineer has walked out! If anyone was planning on having a nervous breakdown, this would seem to be the opportune moment.

I have to leave the room at this point, and go for a walk around the bar area. I just can't bear to sit there and watch the entire show fall to bits before it's even started. If this had been a Nemesis Promotions event, I think I would've taken myself outside with my service revolver and done the decent thing. Eventually, I find enough courage to peek into the main hall once more - and I discover that Saturnalia's fairy godmother has arrived.

I'm sure Sam Rosenthal of Projekt didn't expect to be the technical saviour of Saturnalia. He'd only come along to see Audra, who are on his label. But in the absence of anyone else, he steps up to the mixing desk and makes it all happen. The bassist from Rachael's Surrender appoints himself backline roadie, and he and Sam figure out what kit is plugged into what channel, what works, and what doesn't. Someone sends out to the rental company for a voltage transformer, and Justin gets to plug in his effects. All of a sudden - we've got a soundcheck!

It's a tall order to soundcheck all the bands within the time available, and it's pretty clear that the doors will open late - but at least the show will happen. Only a short time previously this had looked very doubtful. Passion Play whip through one and a half songs, and Claire Voyant,  Audra, and Rachael's Surrender get hasty but under the circumstances adequate run-throughs. The other performers, Bunny Peculiar and the O.T.O. squad, don't need soundchecks, being just spoken-word vocals. It would be nice to get five minutes on the mic just to set a level, but that notion went out of the window very early on. What the hell, they'll all wing it. In the midst of all this activity the sound engineer bumbles back in, having presumably taken care of his pressing domestic chores. We are then treated to the amusing spectacle of Scary Lady Sarah doing a verbal demolition job on him, while he stands there, gob hanging open, looking like someone's just hit him round the head with a wet fish. Guess who won't be getting paid tonight?

And then it's doors-open time. A miracle! I thought we'd never get there! While the soundcheck stress-fest has been under way in the main hall, other members of the Saturnalia crew have been quietly getting on with their own tasks elsewhere in the building. Downstairs, there's a  DJ room festooned with drapes and fairy lights, and a dungeon which looks suspiciously like it's been converted from someone's office. Well, there are a few scenarios which could be acted out of *that*, I'm sure. The DJs crank up, the bar staff brace themselves for the onslaught, and all of a sudden the venue is filled with the denizens of Chicago's underground, costumed to the nines and ready to party. It's showtime!

Rachael's Surrender stride onto the stage with an apparent confidence I suspect they don't really feel, given all the soundcheck shennanigans. They're probably secretly praying that nothing goes horribly wrong over the next 30 minutes. Aren't we all! They're local heroes, of a sort: it seems the band has been around for a good long while on the Chicago scene, in various line-ups based around guitarist and founder-member Reuben. The line-up we see before us tonight is new. The big change, I'm told, is the introduction of a female singer. (Who, I'm afraid, I cannot introduce to you. I tried to check her name on the band's website - never let it be said that I don't do my research! - but with impeccable timing, the entire site has been taken down. Duh!) The singer's identity might be a mystery, but she's a fine asset for the band - in fact, I can't envisage how they managed without her. She has great stage presence, and conveys exactly the kind of enthusiasm we need to get the party started. She also has a wonderfully clear, controlled voice, which sits just right in the band's chunky pop. Occasionally, she brings out a violin, and weaves a little melody around the spiky guitar, bass 'n' drum machine noise. On one song, we get a brief glimpse of old-skool Rachael's Surrender, as the guitarist takes a vocal. It's a fast, punky number (Rachael's Surrender go Dead Kennedys?) but his singing style has more enthusiasm than skill. It's quite a relief when the female singer resumes her place at the mic. Whatever the past history of Rachael's Surrender might be, I think this is *the* line-up: they deserve to become more than just a Chicago-scene phenomenon over the coming year.

We're still only about an hour into the event, but already there's an air of wild, booze-fuelled hedonism building up. In the UK, getting riotously pissed is part and parcel of a normal night out, but one of the differences I've observed between the US and UK scenes is that people simply don't drink as much at US clubs and gigs. Saturnalia seems to be the exception to that rule - everybody's hell-bent on getting as much alcohol inside them as possible, in the shortest possible time. The reason for this uncharacteristic Bacchanalian excess isn't hard to find. Saturnalia invitations cost $30, which not only covers the bands, the DJs, and the dungeon - it also entitles everyone to as much booze as they can sink. The American expression for this is 'open bar'. I suspect the British equivalent would be something along the lines of: 'Wahey! Let's get stuck in!' At any rate, it seems everyone is intent on drinking their full $30-worth, and then some. Quite a few punters seem to have figured out that if they drink more than $30 worth of booze, the evening effectively becomes free from that point on. If they're still standing, that is...

For those of us who haven't already drunk ourselves horizontal, it's time for the second band. Before Saturnalia, the sum total of my knowledge of Audra was this: they're on the Projekt label. Rightly or wrongly, when the P-word is mentioned in the UK, we tend to think of swirly-girly ethereal; delicate female vocals, precisely-plucked acoustic guitars, swooning keyboards. I'm therefore taken aback to find that Audra are a bunch of new-wavey looking blokes who kick up a robust racket. Definitely a rock band. Put all those notions of 'ethereal' on hold right now. Can Audra be summed up in one word? Hmmm. Not really, but if I were to try, I might venture 'Bowie-esque'. It's good stuff, very British in a way; the songs lock themselves into solid, no-messing rhythms while the guitar splinters and skitters over the top. The vocals are strong: I can imagine the singer propping up the same bar as Nick Cave.

It has to be said that the band looks fairly ordinary - in fact, the contrast between the dressed-up crowd and the dressed-down bands is quite noticeable all night. But Audra's prosaic alternoboys-next-door image is particularly odd given the elaborate artwork which they use on their CDs. Even their set list bears a pastel-green background pic and has been carefully singed around the edge to represent an old parchment. I like this attention to detail - especially as it's obviously something the band are doing for themselves, since set lists aren't intended for the public to see (unless the public steals them off the stage after the show, of course!) But why does this consideration of the visuals not extend to the appearance of the band themselves? God forbid that Audra should feel obliged to dress up like Nosferatu or something, but a sharp shirt or two wouldn't go amiss. But hey. I quibble. Audra delivered a punchy, energetic set, the audience liked them - and I thought they were a bit of all right myself.

Nobody's quite sure what the time is, and in any case the original schedule went overboard long ago, but Bunny Peculiar is lined up to do her brief interlude of near- (neo?) poetry next. The only trouble is, Sam on the mixing desk doesn't know about this, until he's accosted by a strange woman with polkadots in her hair, insisting that she's on stage any minute. 'Uh...if you say so,' says Sam. In fact there's another interlude before the interlude, as it were. Scary Lady Sarah jumps up to officially welcome us all to Saturnalia, and give us all a party-on pep talk. I'm impressed by her ability to remain positive and upbeat, just like all earlier hassles had never happened. It must take huge reserves of willpower to get on stage and sparkle for the audience when you're operating on a combination of stress, overwork, and sleep deprivation, but Sarah manages it. What a trouper. The audience cheers, and I cheer along with them.

And then it's time for Chicago to get its collective head round the poetic strangeness of Bunny Peculiar. Slightly to my surprise, she doesn't get heckled, bottled off, or - the unkindest cut of all - ignored. People actually pay attention, which is really quite gratifying, especially as Bunny P's material isn't exactly loaded with attention-grabbing hooks and rhymes. It's all ideas and images, thrown out like kitchen cleaner from one of those squirty guns. The stuff which gets the best response seems to be anything that has a certain rhythm, or at least a staccato, punctuated, emphasis in which certain lines and words are hit hard. That's the material which really hits home with this rock 'n' roll audience. The imagery seems to strike a chord, too. At any rate, there are a few laughs of recognition along the way, especially when Bunny P. gets on to the one about farting. If in doubt, give 'em something about bodily functions! This was a baptism of fire, in a way: a relatively large event with an audience more interested in partying than poetry. But the reaction was good. There's definitely something here which works...

The bizarre contrast between the dressed-up crowd in all their finery, and the dressed-down ordinariness of the bands is emphasised once again as the three members of Claire Voyant arrive on stage. The music is provided by two chaps in easy-to-wear casuals, who play keyboards and guitar. Centre stage, a female vocalist in a neat jacket and reassuringly sensible shoes provides the focal point. To be blunt, there's not much in the visual excitement department here, but when the singer gets going her voice is so arresting you can almost forget the fact that she's dressed like an amiable schoolteacher. Her voice is powerful, but she doesn't just belt out the songs: she gets inside them and really brings the lyrics to life. The band's musical forte seems to be precise, neat, tunes which strike a balance between grit and gloss. The name of Garbage has been dropped as a comparison: I'm not sure if that's really relevant, for Garbage always seem to me to be all production and no humanity, while Claire Voyant seem to have the knack of creating music which can both pull you in and shake you up. I'd suggest they're a band which repays listening at home, since in all honesty they don't have a spectacular stage show, but they get a good audience reaction and I'm happy to have seen them. Must check out the CDs now.

After the Claire Voyant's set, there's time to take a quick trip to the DJ floor, where CarrieMonster is playing Goteki. It sounds very strange to hear Sneaky's splendidly camp English vocals booming out of a dancefloor PA in Chicago, but long may this cross-fertilisation of scene-culture continue. That's the way to move onwards and upwards! I glance into the dungeon, which appears to be full of people in black leather having polite conversations with each other. Conversations? Where's the debauchery? I'm suddenly confronted by a girl in an alarming corset, her breasts cantilevered over the top in a manner which surely redefines the basic principles of civil engineering, not to mention gravity. Ah, *there's* the debauchery! I make my excuses and leave, because it's time to witness the Ordo Templi Orientis gang doing their showbiz ritual on the stage upstairs.

What is the Ordo Templi Orientis? My extensive research (yep, I looked at another website) reveals this handy thumbnail sketch: ' Outer Thelemic Order which is dedicated to the high purpose of securing the Liberty of the Individual and his or her advancement in Light, Wisdom, Understanding, Knowledge, and Power through Beauty, Courage, and Wit, on the Foundation of Universal Brotherhood.'  So now we know. Should you wish to investigate further, the web is loaded with many more explanations of, and dissertations on, the O.T.O. Most of them are brain-numbingly incomprehensible, and many seem to disagree with each other. Hmm, sounds a bit like the goth scene to me. Aleister Crowley comes in to it somewhere, but then he would, wouldn't he. (Hey! It *is* the goth scene!)

Tonight, certain members of the Chicago branch of this curious organisation have painted themselves red, donned outlandish masks, and loom dramatically on stage under red lights. They perform assorted rituals, the purpose of which frankly escapes me. They banish something, and summon something else: I did have a leaflet about it, but I left it in Chicago. As sheer spectacle, it's undeniably eye-catching, and on that level at least, it works. The participants in the ritual seem to be having fun, anyway. But it's about time we had another band, so bring on...Passion Play!

Lights, smoke, action, they're on stage. I'm sure Passion Play would've liked their debut show in the USA to have been a little less fraught with freak-outs, but you'd never know anything had gone less than swimmingly as they pitch into their set. This line-up of the band is still only two gigs (and about four rehearsals) old, but there seems to be that weird but essential chemistry between the five musicians which means it all just *works*. Mattias whacks at the bass just like he's not suffering from near-terminal jet lag, Doug powers the drums along like a ryhthm-turbine, and Justin and John hammer their guitars up front.

I'm struck by the thought that this is the only band on the Saturnalia bill which has simply come out and steamed into a full-tilt *rock* set; the only band whose music exhibits a clear line of descent from that all-purpose ancestor of goth: yer actual punk rock. It's there in the energy, the speed, the way the songs crash-land on each other as the set thunders along. But there's melody and neat pop touches in there, too, and even though Passion Play are probably utterly unknown to most of the Saturnalia crowd, the songs are so accessible it doesn't take long before a bunch of instant fans are dancing away up by the stage. 

The soundmix is surprisingly good, given that the soundcheck was such a grim experience, but I can tell that the PA is being pushed to its limits in order to get a decent out-front level. It's been whacked up so high there's a layer of distortion over everything - not too apparent from the middle of the hall, but when I get up close to the speaker stacks to loose off a few photos, the presence of the distortion (and the absence of any real *volume*) becomes obvious. What is this rig, 4k at a guess? It's basically a small club PA in a big hall, and it's struggling to put enough sound into the air. Passion Play take on the limitations of the PA and win, but I can't help feeling aggrieved on their behalf (and, indeed, on behalf of all the bands) that the technical side of things is so flimsy.

Curfew time is looming over us now, so God Module are rushed on stage as quickly as possible. They're here to represent the dance-floor tendency: they're a stomp-and-chant industrial/EBM duo of a type that has become quite common over the last few years. The beats hit hard, little synth-lines dance over the top, and the vocals are a distorted holler. It has to be said that God Module aren't exactly out on a creative limb: there's *so* much of this stuff around these days that they can't help but sound like they're simply leafing through the industrial-dance genre-rulebook. After all, one 'Huuurrgh! Huuurrgh! Huuurrgh!' vocal sounds much like another, and given the presence on the scene of such outfits as Aslan Faction, Void Construct, and Saints Of Eden (to mention only three UK-based bands who make more or less the same noise) I can't quite see what God Module's unique selling point might be.

Still, they launch into a rumbustious set, and at least the distortion which the PA slaps over everything isn't so noticeable here - it's impossible to tell where God Module's intentional distortion ends, and the PA's distortion begins.  It's obvious that the band aren't having a happy time: the monitor mix is all wrong. It's biased towards the two wedges at the back of the stage, which isn't much use for a two-piece band stationed at the front of the stage. Frequent requests to fix the problem go unheeded - Sam Rosenthal has taken a break from his unofficial soundmix duties, and the desk is now manned by the slack-jawed incompetent who came with the PA, for whom the notion of pushing a couple of sliders up and down seems to be an insurmountable technical challenge. God Module plough on regardless, and in spite of everything they attract a bunch of enthusiastic fans to the front. It looks like they might get away with it...until weird interruptions start breaking out in the music. The band have all their backing on CD, which is spinning in a little CD Walkman down on the stage. As God Module's singer stomps about, the stage is shaking so much that the inevitable occurs - the CD starts to skip. Every time this happens, the singer pauses and casts an exasperated glance to the heavens, but *this* problem can't be blamed on the PA. It's self-inflicted. This is why God gave us DAT!

God Module's blushes are spared, however, by the sudden illumination of the house lighting. It's 3am, curfew time. The band have only managed three songs, but the show's over. It's obviously not the way God Module would've liked to finish, and not the way Saturnalia itself should have finished, but I can't help feeling slightly relieved that this stressful and occasionally chaotic night has wound down at last.

Except there's no time for winding down. The venue management suddenly remember that they have a Sunday booking for the main hall, which means that rather than leaving the gear in situ to be collected later, as originally agreed, everything has to be loaded out, and fast. Just when we thought all the crazy last-minute fuck-abouts had been successfully seen comes another last-minute fuck-about!  I'm a little bemused to find that the precise arrangements for loading out have apparently not been enshrined in the venue rental contract, but whatever the situation, the venue management seem able to chop and change everything on a whim. Welcome to the chaos zone...again!

Well, what the hell. Now is not the time to raise delicate contractual points, so a scratch crew of band-members and random helper-outers, all in the throes of exhaustion and/or inebriation, is hastily assembled, and in a haphazard manner which at any other time would have amusingly recalled that classic Laurel and Hardy piano-on-the-staircase movie, the gear is humped and bumped down two flights of stairs to the erstwhile dungeon room. Here, apparently, it can be safely stored. Mattias looks like he's about to die of jetlag and post-gig comedown, but nevertheless he does his bit - shifting Passion Play's amps down the stairs, through a throng of fractious, pissed-up revellers whose booze-fogged brains are just about coming to terms with the fact that it's time to go home.

Outside, a small crowd of people mill about, saying their goodbyes, having drunken arguments with their significant others, or simply lying comatose on the ground. The demon drink has certainly hit some of them with a hefty wallop. One guy in pseudo-army fatigues is collapsed on the floor with his head in a bin, just in case he revives enough to vomit. Well, *he* won't make parade tomorrow. Someone's worried that he won't make it at all, so they call the fire brigade (this, apparently, is a perfectly logical thing to do in Chicago). A fire engine arrives, and the crew shoulder their way through the assembled perves and goths, and cast distinctly unimpressed glances at the human wreckage on the floor. I get the impression that rescuing drunken partygoers from their own foolishness wasn't exactly the kind of job they were expecting when they joined the Chicago Fire Department...

It's getting on for 5am before the aftermath of the show is finally wrapped up, and the Saturnalia crew - not least, Scary Lady Sarah herself -can leave the venue. It's been a crazy night, but all the problems and hassles were faced down or worked around, several hundred denizens of the Chicago underground had the best party of the year, and everyone involved can award themselves a pat on the back for successfully clinging on to the rollercoaster. It's all over. Surely nothing else can go wrong...can it?

It's then that Sarah discovers her car has been towed away.

The only appropriate response to this last-last-last minute fuck-up has to be helpless laughter. And so Saturnalia ends: with the promoter walking home through the winter-dark streets of Chicago, hoping to grab a few hours' sleep before her appointment at the car pound. Ah, the glamour of showbiz!

So, that was Saturnalia IV. Shall we do it all again in 2003, then? In spite of everything, I've had a good time, and so has Chicago. I hope there will be further Saturnalias, and they'll grow and develop in the years to come. But in future, let's do it *with* a technical crew!

[Postscript: We later discovered that the clueless sound engineer, who walked out of the soundcheck and didn't contribute much in the way of useful work even when he was around, *also* had his car towed. Karma always gets you in the end!]

see all the photos from this show here

God Module:

Passion Play:

Claire Voyant:


Rachael's Surrender:

Bunny Peculiar: No website (yet), but you can email her at: and see her in her previous incarnation as a Woman Of Sodom here:

The Ordo Templi Orientis in Chicago:

A fairly comprehensible (although not necessarily comprehensive) O.T.O. site, from which the quote in the text above is taken:

Try this O.T.O.-related site if you want to stretch your brain:

American Gothic Productions, promoters of Saturnalia IV:

The Gothic Chicago site - contains Chicago-scene info, and Saturnalia IV photos:

Projekt, on-line home of Saturnalia's technical saviour, Sam Rosenthal:

This was a true story (or at least, the bits I remember) - by Uncle Nemesis: