Bella Morte with Krell
at Twisters
Richmond, Virginia
March 1, 2001
~by Michael Otley

DJ Rick Danger and DJ Sick Mick have been hosting Richmond, Virginia's main  goth night "Revelations" for years now, in a couple of different venues.  They've been calling Twisters home on Thursday nights for the past five years or so; conveniently right on VCU's campus.  Twisters isn't known for it's cleanliness and class, but it is known for variety.  If you're a goth band, metal band, punk band, or from just about any other related darker subculture, you don't have too many Richmond venues to choose from, chances are you can get a show at Twisters.  Eye Hate God is a big one.  Avail plays periodically.  As far as goth goes, Xymox and Death In June have each graced the not-so-roomy bar, among various other frequents like The Cruxshadows and Switchblade Symphony when they were doing there thing.

So Krell has been around for some ten years or something, poking out from under a rock for a show every year or two.  I remember being fairly impressed in the mid 90's when I saw them at Twisters.  Their sound was rich and creative with almost a Ministry the mind... feel.  I spoke to a guitarist then, trying to encourage him, but I haven't seen him on stage past couple of shows.  Krell now relies on weak strobe lights and some strippers wearing electrical tape to get the crowd excited, while the singer mumbles tired and unfelt lyrics ("fuck my woman, fuck this world") and the keyboard player tries to look busy.  I went outside and enjoyed shooting the breeze and discussing a possible future football game with the Bella Morte boys and other various Virginia goths.

After a set that took us a little too late into the evening, Bella Morte set up and sound checked as quickly as possibly.  It took a couple songs to get the sound just right, Bn's guitar is invariably too quiet at the beginning of their shows, and Andy's voice was missing some high end at first.  It was nice to hear "Relics", from their Where Shadows Lie release, I hadn't heard them play it in a while.  Bn handled the guitar beautifully though the new extended drum beat at the end always feels a little awkward to me, but maybe I just prefer the original.  They played a few of their new songs, and rocked out on "Where Shadows Lie", which is actually one of their very first songs, resurrected for the album of the same name.  They're always enthusiastic and cheerful (in all their gothic glory).  They played their newest, "Hope Again", which is a very nice ballad and quite touching, very rich, a nice slow moving sequence with Bn and Gopal filling it out on guitar and bass respectively.  Perhaps I'm biased though, as the song has some personal meaning.  They ended their set with a couple of their Misfits influenced songs, which tend to be crowd pleasers.  I just back off and watch from a distance, personal taste, but they do it well.

I don't think I'd heard a goth band sound so good at Twisters in a while, sometimes the sound is a nightmare.  It was a fun show.  One person came up to me mid-set and said, "you're right, they are good."  And sitting down after the show with Andy, fans kept coming up and expressing their appreciation, one boy saying that their song from a compilation had helped him get through some really hard stuff.  I know that made Andy feel good.

What a huge gothic smile.


Saturday April 14th, 2001
Lee's Palace, Toronto
~review by Steph

Toronto audiences are a blasé bunch. I couldn't tell you why, but at every concert I've been to recently, the crowd stands like statues, stone faced and immobile.

Walking past Lee's Palace in the fading twilight of April 14th, I noticed that there was already a queue. Very unusual. I returned an hour later, the queue had reached the end of the block and was snaking around the corner. Most of the people were desperately hoping to get their hands on one of the few tickets for Covenant that were only available at the door. The minutes wore on and it started to rain, and still we waited. There was a buzz in the air that I had not felt for a very long time, an edgy excitement that used to be there at every concert I went to.

When I finally got in, I staked my claim right in front of the stage. To hell with looking cool, I was going to be front and centre when Covenant came on! Sadly, And One did not make it across the border, so it was just Covenant on the bill, which meant that a lot more standing around was in order. Someone behind me grumbled that the least the DJ could do is play And One while we're waiting. The venue filled up very quickly, and I suspect that it was considerably oversold.

It's 11pm, and the crowd is packed in tight. I'm pressed up against the barrier at the front of the stage. Each minute feels like an eternity. Finally three dark figures materialize through the smoke, immaculate in black three piece suits and red ties. They may look like teutonic nordic gods, but Covenant aren't too cool to get down. They launch into "Tour de Force", pumping the air energetically, jumping up and down, and running around as much as the small stage will allow. They look understandably confused at the audience's lack of reaction.

Covenant persists, climbing on the barrier to get right in people's faces, prowling all the corners of the stage. I'm bouncing up and down and so are the people right behind me. Caught up in the wave of energy, the rest of the audience begins to respond, and when the opening beats of "Dead Stars" rings out, the crowd becomes a seething mass of sweaty bodies. For an electro-dance band, Covenant work the stage much like a trio of rappers, trading microphone duties with ease, and for once, the noise levels aren't punishingly loud.

"Go Film" gets another energetic audience response, as does "Tension" and "Leviathan". By this time the crowd is so worked up that they howl in protest when the band leaves the stage, and as we knew they would, the bounce back to play "Stalker". We're not done with them yet, oh no, and we entice Covenant back for two more encores. They close the evening with the sublime "Wall of Sound", the first Covenant song I remember dancing to, and the song that drove my SO to get the CD the very next day.

After the show, the band came out to mingle with the audience. There was no rock star posing, no attitude. All of this and high cheekbones too.

Thank you Covenant, for giving Toronto a much needed kick in the ass.


With Covenant
Wednesday April 11th, 2001
ManRay, Cambridge, MA
~reviewed by Digital Angel

I walked through the gates at ManRay around eight in the evening, after four hours in the car and a good hour stumbling around Cambridge in search of the oddly placed venue. I showed the doorman my ID. He made some comment about there being more cows than people in Vermont and marked both my hands with big black X’s. I’m three weeks short of 21, you see.

ManRay was one of the larger clubs I have been to. Three good sized rooms, five bars, pool tables, elegant furniture you almost don’t want to sit on, and great lighting. Obscure art decorated the walls. The front room had the most relaxed atmosphere. People sitting about, drinking and chatting. The room to the right of this was primarily for dancing, and the back room held the stage.

After checking out my surroundings, I made my way into the back room. The DJ, I must say, was fantastic. It was like he had taken possession of my CD collection. He spun everything from new Depeche Mode, Wolfsheim, Apoptygma Berzerk, to Nitzer Ebb and Portishead. I was thankful for this, seeing as how I stood in the middle of the floor for nearly 2.5 hours waiting for And One to take the stage. All the couches and barstools were occupied.

So there I was, bopping my head Skinny Puppy and sipping off my friends Amaretto Sour, when the DJ cut the music and suggested everyone turn their attention to the stage. Finally! My back was already sore from standing and my head was starting to hurt, but I had forgotten all about that as soon as the show began.

Two men walked out on stage. The first I did not recognize. The members of And One change so frequently, I can’t keep up. Except for the singer, of course. The strange new member took his place behind a keyboard, and singer Steve Naghavi followed. He was dressed quite nicely in a black shirt and tie with a leather jacket. He walked to the front of the stage and bowed graciously. The first song they played, “Uns Ghets Gut” was slow, and an unexpected opener, but a great lead in to my favorite And One song, “Fur”. I cannot express how surprised and excited I was to hear this song. And One writes a lot of slow songs that are easy to over look and are often over powered by their more aggressive and popular songs, but this one always stuck with me. Seeing it live shined a whole new light on the song. They took an otherwise hypnotic lullaby; you could almost get away with calling it “pretty” and made it thump. There is just no other way to put it.

They performed songs from the album in which they were promoting, “9.9.99” and older but always enjoyable, and never tiresome songs like “Metalhammer” and “Technoman”. The only thing standing between myself and full elation were two individuals, smack dab in the middle of the floor, paying no attention to the concert. They were much more interested in making out and talking about lip piercings. With the exception of these two, I’d say the clubs strict dress code was in full swing, and the reminder of the crowd was more respectful and well behaved.
This wasn’t your usual slew of kids in black eyeliner. From older Goth’s to ravers, rivet heads and mod’s
alike, they all seemed to be picking up on And One’s shining energy on stage. One thing that deserves mentioning is how I have never seen someone look so much like his or her photographs. In looking at a picture of Steve Naghavi, you see exactly what you get in real life. And his resemblance of Dave Gahan is uncanny. They even do the same spin around in circles bit.

“Technoman” was performed Beastie Boys style. They both stood at the front of the stage, adlibbing and bouncing all over the place, leaving the machinery to do all the work for them while they had a bit of fun. The crowd, which I was sure 90% of, was there solely for Covenant, really came through when offered the microphone when it came time to shout “why don’t you buy another And One?” I could see that I was not the only one satisfied by this. Steve Naghavi was grinning ear to ear.

After a really quick set of seven songs, they said “goodnight” and walked off stage. I was praying for an encore, although I had already gotten plenty a bang for my eighteen bucks. They returned a few short minutes later, Steve Naghavi picked up the mic and said “this is a song against nazi’s” and the beats that followed were those of “Die Mitte”, the most pissed off And One song to date. Toward the end of this performance, he stood at the front of the stage, ceased to sing and seemed to be intently scanning the crowd with his praying hands. Without so much as a split second pause, they went right into “Deutschmaschine” and his stone cold stance broke, violently. He sang and danced like it was his last offering. I was floored. I think shook my head and silently said “wow” for ten minutes thereafter.

Encountering And One live was immensely fulfilling. They are a high-energy unit that will electrify you and leave you clapping and shouting passionately by evening’s end. I am sad to say that I only stayed to watch Covenant perform “Tour de Force”. By 11:30, my migraine had taken over, and my thoughts were drawn to the long drive ahead of me. What I did see was fairly low key. Three guys in suits kind of standing around. I hope the remainder of the performance held more excitement.

Future tour dates for And One/Covenant:
Apr. 14 Toronto, ONT Lee's Place
Apr. 15 Detroit Emerald Theatre
Apr. 17 Chicago, IL Metro
Apr. 18 Minneapolis, MN Ground Zero
Apr. 20 Colorado Springs, CO Industrial Nation
Apr. 21 Salt Lake City, UT Area 51
Apr. 23 Phoenix, AZ (Mesa) Nile Theatre
Apr. 25 Los Angeles, CA Palace
Apr. 26 San Francisco, CA Maritime Hall
Apr. 27 Portland, OR New Paris Theatre
Apr. 28 Seattle, WA Catwalk
Apr. 29 Vancouver, BC Richard's On Richards

And One contact:

ManRay contact:
 21 Brookline Street
 Cambridge, MA 02139
 (617) 864-0400

with Crybaby
Atlanta, Ga
~photos and review by J

Not all that long ago, Wes Berggren, the guitarist for Tripping Daisy, died.  Shortly thereafter, I began hearing a song on one of the local college stations that had that Tripping Daisy sound -- I assumed that it was either from their swan song or the new project featuring ex-members.  I was surprised when I found out it was actually a local band, some outfit called Fancy.  Surprised again I was to learn that it featured ex-members of Myssouri, for they sounded nothing like their former outfit.  I was in for more surprise at their first show: instead of the off-kilter indie rock band I was expecting, there were a bunch of guys in overalls and truck stop hats sitting on stage like it was their front porch.

Surprise, surprise.  I wonder if someone switched my brain out for Gomer Pyle’s while I slept?

This would be the second Fancy show I’d seen.  Opening for them was another band containing an ex-Myssouri lead guitarist, Crybaby.  Crybaby was, unfortunately, disposable diva rock for the most part with a predictable stock-rock structure.  They did play two songs that sounded like evil spaghetti westerns.  Now where in the world would they have learned that?  Word on the street is that they’re currently in the studio and have used the latest former bandmate of Bradley’s, Drew Hodgson, on pedal steel for a few songs.

After a short break, Fancy took the stage, pulled up some chairs, and sat down.  Greg Thum, who sings and plays an acoustic guitar, did the first song solo.  He has a high, pretty voice, which is in stark contrast to his bald, wizened look.  After the lilting opener, the rest of the band joined in, though it didn’t change the feel of the music.

Fancy plays as a three-piece, with the other two members playing primarily bass and lap steel.  The bassist switches between electric and upright bass and played harmonica on a song.  The lap steel is heavily effected, so instead of a twangy crying-in-your-beer-down-at-the-honky-tonk sound, it is lush, more akin to a theremin or keyboard at times.  Greg’s singing is the musical center of the band.  Everything else is just coloring inside the lines, a rich backdrop to songs of loss and alienation.

The band is brave enough to play the entire set without drummer or drum machine, which suits their delicate songs.  The lyrics are melancholy without being mopey or trite.  Throughout the set, there was a nagging in the back of my mind that the songs reminded me of something, but what?  The middle of the set was a little more uptempo, but only relatively so.  After over half and hour of pretty, fragile music, I was getting tired of being on my feet and the absence of variety made my mind wander.  But aside from the monotony, excellent music.  It’s not the sort of thing I can stand through an entire set of, but I could certainly put it in the CD player and lie on the couch and stare at the ceiling.

For their last song, Fancy covered “Fearless”, which made it click in my mind what they reminded me of: mid-period acoustic Pink Floyd.  Fancy brought a full-size sitar to the show just for this song.  Even if their sound is lazy, they’re anything but.

with Labradford
February 19, 2001
at Alley Katz
Richmond, Virginia
~reviewed by Michael Otley

Alley Katz, as it's name suggests, hides out in an alley in downtown Richmond.  Shockoe Bottom is where a lot of Richmond's southern sports bars are located.  But Alley Katz, hiding around the corner, gets in some more feeling acts, at least occasionally.  It's too cold in February to have the garage door walls of Alley Katz open, but everyone is friendly none the less.  I see a lot of old friends walking around including Andy Deane of Bella Morte sticking out like a sore thumb in a crowd of 'feeling' hipsters and Nathan Roane currently of Tanakh.  Fellow bandmate Gabe Beverly and I (Vehemence Realized) note other musicians, Greg, the drummer of Trixie Delicious (an amazing local band popular for their Dolly Parton and Sinead O'Conner covers), Metal Mike of various local projects including NV, and countless others.  This is a musician's show indeed.

Labradford opens, with their ever ambient approach.  The bass is stead and slow and electric guitar quite sparse and almost western somehow.  Their thick electronics lull under the music.  Each piece is an instrumental soundscape full of space but never empty.  They are thick like the sky before a storm and full of emotion just after the very same storm.  Their performance featured material from the newest release fixed::context.

Low follows.  Last time I saw Low at Alley Katz, or anywhere for that matter, a large portion of the crowd sat down on the floor right in front of the stage.  No one is sitting now, perhaps it's the anticipation from their most aggressive release yet, Things We Lost in the Fire.  That's not to say they're aggressive now, this is still the same band with the droning "Little Drummer Boy" in the Gap commercials around Christmas time.

I didn't jot down the song list, I know I should have.  But they played a lot of material from the new one, as well as a few from 1999's Secret Name, and slipped in some older ones.  "Sunflower" is a sweet jangley piece, a bit of a change for them, but with their usual beautiful vocal harmonies and simple drums.  "Whitetail" is more typical Low with their eerily slow strumming and vocals.  Wires on the high hat and slow bass follow the guitar.  It feels like the kind of slow dull seduction it would take to creep up on a rabbit.  My favorite at this show, "Starfire", sounds like it's about having a space station of your own, it's so utterly cute and still gentle with Alan's falsetto.

Low played a healthy set satisfying all, and never boring the crowd.  I'd never seen them get so loud, but that's not to say they're loud or angry at all.  It's nice to see a band taking things where they want to, exploring their possibilities together; Low has found some amazing ones.


GSU's Cinefest
Atlanta, Ga
~reviewed by J

In an interesting departure from the "go to club, sit at bar, watch band play" routine, I recently saw Myssouri play at a screening of the original vampire movie, the 1922 silent film Nosferatu, based on Bram Stoker's Dracula.    Myssouri improvised a soundtrack while the film was showing -  fitting role for a band whose stylings are often deliberately anachronistic.

Never before had I seen a silent film in its entirety.  They are familiar to us all, as they have been recycled into TV commercials, music videos, and other movies (the original sampling?).   I figured the experience of seeing a silent film alone was easily worth hauling down to GSU's Cinefest film theater; the music was merely a bonus.

Sitting in the dark of the theater, I could see a bit of movement here and there, but for the most part, the band was hidden behind a large support column they had set their equipment behind.  The film began.  Sounding a tad hesitant, Myssouri launched into their accompaniment.  It took them a minute to sound comfortable.  But that was the only time for the whole hour-and-a-half film they didn't sound like they were playing exactly what they wanted to be playing.

Being between bassists, Myssouri was playing as a four piece:  2 guitars, keys, and drums.  It was a good setup for the film.  The editing is very random and inconsistent by modern standards, so it was almost impossible for the band to maintain any rhythm for long.  They had figures worked out for various situations, but a lot of the time they just made random noises.

At best, you forgot they were there.  That happened a lot, especially during climactic scenes.  For some of the slower scenes, Myssouri's playing was unfocused and repetitive.  Overall, though, they added to the film, and one must certainly give them credit for attempting to stretch their limits.



Voltaire Unplugged
March 26th
Alchemy -  NY
~review and photos by Kimberly

I was in my gray little cubicle at work a few weeks ago, pretending to be inputting numbers in my illustrious position in Internet Research but really just surfing when I go and open up my mail. And what should be staring me back in the face? A message from the Voltaire mailing list, with the header "Shows Added" written in big caps . 26 March, at Alchemy (the Monday night at CBGB's Gallery, run by the really really awesome Althea and Jason, and immortalized on "Almost Human" album).  All the email said was that it was a solo acoustic set of all new stuff. Going to the show wasn't even a decision. Not only do I love him, but so does my Perfect Circle-listening, get-in -the-mosh-pit heavy metal boyfriend.

Alchemy is an intimate space, which was perfect for the not very well advertised show, giving everything this wonderfully relaxed atmosphere. Small tables covered the dance floor, and for once no one was talking through the show.

Anyone who's seen Voltaire perform live knows that he has the easiest interaction with his audience out of anyone performing in the goth scene today. When he's onstage, while Voltaire's very much on, he makes you feel as though you're the only one he's performing for, though thankfully not in that soppy Keith Partridge sort of way.
All the songs are post "Almost Human", so I scribbled down whatever fragments of lyrics I could.

The first song Voltaire performed was about apathy, in a way that only he could make it funny. "I don't care if the whole world burns..." Usually that shit pisses me off, but even I had a smile on my face.

After that Voltaire went into a bit about GothCon, saying that if you can't get laid in New Orleans, there's something wrong with you; and that if can't get laid at GothCon in NOLA....that there was a lot of fellatiating going on at GothCon, and boy does his jaw hurt.

Voltaire's song about masturbating in the cemetery is going to be an instant classic. It's funnier than "The Man Upstairs" or "God Hates". Who else could write a terribly catchy tune about necrophilia that still manages to have the acidic humor of something like "drinking tea with Annabelle Lee"?

Then he got weird on me. An acoustic guitar rap song about Star Trek. Really. Now, I'm more of Star Wars fan, so suddenly Voltaire's up there singing in another language. The only way that I could tell it was brilliant was that everybody was doubled over. There was a joke in there somewhere about a Star Trek race being popular with the ladies because their heads aren't their only ridged body part. (I'm sure those who understand that will find it funny).

The best song of the night was about bombing New Jersey. He would conference Pakistan, and tell them that India was there; he would blow the Japanese; and bow to Mao- if only they'd bomb New Jersey.
It was over way too early. I couldn't have asked for a better show on a weekday night, really.