After my relocation to Seattle, I figured this would be the perfect opportunity to go out for the first time -- besides, I wouldn't dare miss an Apocalypse Theatre show. They are, after all, quite a unique group of people, surviving their most recent tragedy (a house fire in which they pretty much lost everything they owned) and rebuilding in what seems to me a short period of time spurned on by their love of the road and of performing. After some 30 odd days at Burning Man, they were a bit tired and disoriented by the time they got to Seattle having drove all day from California but smiles were abounding as they were glad to get back to doing what they do best. The usual group was in tow (except the missing St. Germain) and they had picked up a few new folks from Burning Man. Always the wandering gypsies, if you follow Apocalypse Theatre, you kind of get used to seeing new faces brought into the fold.
Vogue is one of Seattle's mainstays - even after moving from downtown to
Capital Hill; it continues to be a late night home for the goth and fetish
scene. More long than it is wide, the stage is kind of sandwiched inbetween
the front and back of the building -- the bands having set up to play towards
the front (which incorporated the dance floor and some tables). Up first
was Seattle's Murder of Crows. With a new full length CD and plenty of
good natured home-town jesting from the crowd, they took the stage shortly
before 11 and coursed through their set of songs. Perhaps its the way the
club was set up, or perhaps it was the way the sound was set; but I caught
myself straining to hear the vocals through out their show. Obviously,
she has quite a range and her performance seemed quite emotionally driven
(the aggressive, pain-filled post-punk sort) but she often times got lost
in a wail of crunchy, grinding guitar. I think they have great potential
-- but something that night was just not clicking for me as I watched them
perform. I wanted to hear more of that grrrrrrrrrrrrrl growl and
Apocalypse Theatre is known for its inclusion of "tribal" elements in its shows. With traveling tattoo artist/drummer Skitch, drumming takes on an entirely different aesthetic for this band. His performance is as vital to this show as their firey and siren-like vocals. With a unique set up that includes tom-toms and steel barrels; Skitch set up on the floor in front of the stage in order to project towards the audience more effectively. Joined by another drummer, the stage above adorned by a backdrop of canvas cross bones, the scene was set. From almost ethereal acoustic sets to tribal and catchy electo/guitar dance, the troupe was inspired and energetic sometimes handing off vocal duties between them with Kamela Lise and Mercy singing and changing instrument several times. Hope joined in with vocals in the later songs along with the rest of the gang. Highlights include the pyro display of drumming by Skitch and he pounded through walls of firey flames and a fun cover of "I Hate Myself for Loving You."
Making their way back to the Northeast they set back out in two buses after it was over with only to hit the road again in time for Halloween. Although plans weren't concrete at the time, Mercy told me they were headed to Dallas to perform at a concert at the Art Landing and then would make their way over to the California Coast in time for Halloween.
If you get a chance to see this band -- please do. This is their amazing Third Resurrection and they are a tribute to most of what the underground aspires to be -- or *wants* to be. You think you're underground and alternative and dangerous? Check out Apocalypse Theatre and see what it really means to live your life for music on the edge of society. They're not weekend dress-ups; they live on the road by whatever means they can scrape up -- on the razorblade's edge experiencing life to the fullest. And yet underneath their well traveled dust coated exteriors, are souls that are as good-heareted and precious as any I've ever met. Their is nothing they would do for one of their friends - one of their family. See what family really can be and what they can accomplish working together. You just might be surprised ...
In May 2000, Apocalypse Theatre was featured playing live on The Learning Channel during "The Human Canvas" - a special about body art that featured tattoo artist and drummer Skitch. An excellent documentary on the roots of and present day applications of tribal art, this show offered a positive view of the underground scene.
Cafe Right Bank,
Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York.
26 August 2000
~reviewed by Kevin
There are few things more satisfying than watching a promising young band grow and develop. Six months ago I saw Datura when they played a gig at the late, lamented Byzantium. Jammed into the cramped upstairs lounge, they rose above acoustic and logistical difficulties to put on a tight, exciting show.
Since their Byzantium gig, they have lost their female backing vocalist and gained the services of Ed Mahmoud on keyboards. Once again they're in cramped quarters, wedged into a tiny alcove below a Budweiser neon, flanked by booths and by the bar; before they start, lead vocalist and songwriter Paul Jablonski warns me that this is their second show of the night.
As they begin the opening chords of "Disbelief," one of the standout songs from their Byzantium set, I see that Paul's worries are misplaced. Their new arrangement of "Disbelief" is crisper and faster than the old mix; later, Paul informs me that this is the first time he's performed without effects on his vocals. I hope he continues to sing "clean" in future performances; his baritone voice, which is somewhere between Eddie Vedder and Nick Cave, is more than strong enough on its own. If he's not in top form tonight, I'll be damned if I can tell.
plays good old guitar-driven rock and roll, as straightforward as the Garden
State Parkway. Since the 1990s this kind of music has been
pretty much Missing In Action. For me it's a trip down Memory Lane.
I feel like holding up my lighter and screaming "FREEBIRD!!!" (If you get
that joke, you're probably significantly older than everyone else reading
this...). Datura has taken the good-time music of my youth and added some Industrial elements and samplers to drag it kicking and screaming into the 21st century: think Trent Reznor and the Heartbreakers and you'll get the idea. It's an auspicious combination which shines brightly on "Away," another holdover from their Byzantium. The sequences, programmed by Jablonski and bassist Arthur Omeljaniuk, complement rather than overwhelm the melody and the bass line. The driving rocker "Undone," perhaps the standout track of the evening, features stinging guitar/bass interplay between Jablonski, Omeljaniuk and Darren Brown. Once again I'm reminded of the album-oriented rock of my teen years, only leaner and meaner.
While they have only improved in the six months since I last saw them, Datura still has some growing to do. They really need a drummer: a drum machine can keep a beat, but it can't provide the kind of jet propulsion a Neil Peart or a John Bonham can bring to a band. I also found that some of their more keyboard-heavy numbers, like "Pulse," lacked the energy of their more guitar-oriented songs. Despite that, Datura shows great promise. Jablonski's songs are insiduous as the best pop music: for weeks now I've been humming "Disbelief" in the shower. With work, some lineup tweaking, and a little bit of luck Datura could easily go on to bigger and better things.
Lineup for August 26, 2000 show:
Paul Jablonski: vocals, nylon and 12-string guitars, programming, songwriter
Arthur Omeljaniuk: 6-string bass, programming
Ed Mahmoud: ESQ1 keyboard
Darren Brown: guitar
Goth in London
Kimberly checks out the London Scene for us...
~article and photos by Kimberly
My university sucks. It's part of the City University system here in New York, and along with the dirt cheap tuition comes miles of bureaucracy, idiots, and lots of closed doors. There is one thing they finally got right, though- their "Summer in London" program. For relatively cheap, they put you up in a college dorm in King's Cross (in the center of the city), give you breakfast, and an unlimited travel card for the extensive tube system. All I had to do was take Intro to Creative Writing and Shakespeare I four mornings a week. It was too good to pass up. So, in the beginning of July, I packed my bags and split for five weeks.
First of all, fuck the tourist areas, like Leicester Square or Piccadilly Circus. All that's there are garish lights and far too many Bermuda shorts. If I wanted to meet fascinating frat boys from Ohio, I would have gone there.
Before I left, I did my research, since I'm not one of those people cool enough to just "come upon" the places I want to hang out in if I'm away form home. So I subscribed to uk.people.gothic and also found "Incy's Gothic Guide" (http://www.the-dreaming.demon.co.uk) and printed up his "London Guide".
I landed at Heathrow at eight am, wired from no sleep and the five hour time difference. By the time the group of forty trendy fucks and I dropped off our luggage in King's Cross, it was early afternoon. Instead of napping, I decided to check out the only thing on Incy's list that was open-The Devonshire Arms (33 Kentish Town Road. Take the Northern/Black line to the Camden Town stop, and exit on the left. Walk down the block. The pub is on your left, about two blocks down).
Even though it was too early for anyone to be there, I still fell in love with the place the moment I walked in. Jane's Addiction and Field of Nephilim posters on the ceiling, pew-like benches against the walls and skulls nestled among the liquor bottles. Even empty, the pub opened up its arms and embraced me. As soon as I walked in, I knew I was home. The whole place is bathed in dark wood, with lots of corners to hide in. Not that you'd want to.
When I came back a few nights later, after the sun had gone down, I discovered that The Dev is truly the central nerve of London's Goth scene. No matter what club you hold allegiance to, no matter what clique you're in, everyone comes here at one point during the week and has a pint, or six.
There's no one thing that makes the pub great. People there are ultra friendly, and not many casuals come through the door. I made mates quickly, just by hanging out in the first few days I was there. One could go to a club in New York and stand against the wall for three weeks before anyone deigns to talk to you. And that's probably because they don't have any friends, either.
The bartenders are extremely friendly and helpful, especially given that they're not usually getting tipped. I'm not really a drinker, but the inexpensive snakebite-and- blacks went down quickly. They also have the amazing ability to match up faces and drinks. There as one night or another when I'd had a few pints too many. You know- when you're ignoring your stomach's cue to stop. Anyway, I stumbled up to the bar in time for last call. I blurted out what I thought was my order; still don't remember what the hell I said. Ariana just looked at me, paused, and made me my drink. One of the unique things that makes The Dev choice are the DJs. Robin and John are more than proficient (the former deejays strictly Goth, the latter heavy metal). The DJ that really kicks ass, though, is Dayv Death. The New Zealand DJ is gifted in the art of seamlessly mixing songs that you'd never think to throw together. Think the Cure, Revolting Cox, Virgin Prunes, and VNV Nation all in the same set. He spins solo on Wednesday and Thursdays; with Robin and John on Sunday nights.
The clubs, overall, are awe-inspiring. While its getting better here, Americans definitely need to take cue from the Brits. Friday nights, I trekked to The Electric Ballroom (Walk back up to the Camden Town stop, swing around, and walk to the other side. You are now on Camden High Street. It's right down the block). Open from 10:30 to 2:30. There's a main warehouse type dance floor with two huge bars, in which they play everything you'd expect to hear at a Goth club, heavily leaning on Rob Zombie.
At one point, the downstairs music got a little too techno-y for me, and I wandered up. A balcony wraps around the main dance floor, so you can check out whomever you fancy without being too obvious about it. The second level also has a medium sized rap/heavy metal room. I know it sounds weird, but it somehow works. Even stranger was me, all gothed up, pogoing to Tool and Onyx. Totally sweaty, makeup running down my face. I hadn't had such a good time in quite awhile. Also, the punks and the goths hang out with each other, something that does not happen in New York.
Saturday nights, of course, belonged to the infamous Slimelight. (Take the Northern/Black line to Angel. Get out and turn left. Walk to the end of the block and turn left again to that you are behind the tube station. You should now be in an alley. Walk down and its on your right.) Yes, you have to be a member or a guest to get in. But hang around Angel and ask anyone who's obviously going in to the club to sign you in, and it shouldn't be a problem.
The space itself is a paintball arena during the week. Right when you walk in, there is a huge lounge area with plenty of comfy couches and tables to hang out on, and stare at everybody's outfits. The downstairs dance floor (that plays just about everything) has soundproof doors, making talking to people easier, but next to impossible to walk away from a boring conversation. Upstairs is the hardcore techo-industrial area, which I only took the briefest peek into. Slimelight can give an impression of snobbery, definitely an ubergoth place. Be prepared to either be outgoing, go with friends, or stand in the corner all night. The more dressed up you are, the better.
Out of the three clubs I went to, Gossips (somewhere on Dean St. in Soho) was my least favorite. The staff was friendly (the coatcheck guy complimented me on my "No God Can Save You Now" t-shirt). But the drinks were overpriced and there were depressingly few people there. Doesn't the weekend start on Thursdays?
Anyway, I don't know if there were many DJs, or just one, but someone was not on the ball when I checked the place out. The CD skipped multiple times on "Love Never Dies", and there were gaps in the music.
The scene itself in London is just, just it. Partially because of NYC's mayor, we are in the midst of the slow, tortuous "death of downtown". People haven't really been motivated to go out, unless there's an event going on.
Not in London. The Goth scene started there, and they take that very seriously. Always perfectly dressed, sometimes with the attitude to go with it. While I can't achieve that- I can't even match my socks before my first cup of coffee; I did find myself changing to go to The Dev on Sunday nights.
Also, I was entirely unprepared for how normal I looked there. Nannies with noserings, businessmen with blue hair. Who ever said that Brits were stuffy and repressed?
Now that I've presumptuously attempted to crowd an entire subculture into four pages, all I really had to say was, just get out there and see for yourself. I've fallen so in love with the city, I'm planning to move there as soon as I can scrape my pennies together. It's that astounding. Sure, there are some major drawbacks, such as the entire city basically shuts down at midnight; it can definitely be overlooked given everything London has to offer.
1- My Swedish counterpart, and bartender, Petra outside The Dev during the day
2- DJ Dayv Death doing the two of the things he loves most..
3- American Christine, Kitty and the really cute bi boi whose name escapes me
4- CJ, Danny and Armand (?) affecting sobriety
5- Jay in a quiet moment
7-Dayv Death and I goofing around on my (sob!) last night