It ceases to amaze me how thriving the goth scene is present, compared to a few years ago. Over the last few years, smaller goth festivals are popping up. One of these is Darker Days in Leicester, now in its, the third year; has gained in popularity. The first date started off as an all-day event, and last year, it was held over two-days showcasing more musicians.
I first heard about Darker Days, after a gig in Edinburgh, after talking to the guys of Gothzilla and Trouble Fait told us they were performing in the festival. The Boyfriend and I decided to attend after seeing the fantastic lineup. He booked up early, so the tickets cost £25 each, a great bargain.
The festival, a three-day affair of a non-stop dark, gloom, of reverbing synth, tribal drum machine, brittle the guitar, and occasionally the realistic drummer. Despite the despairing sounding atmosphere, everybody was exhilarated to attend
The event was held at the Musician; a surprisingly, Tardis-like pub, on first glances, the exterior looked small once in the interior extends for some distance. We knew we had arrived after seeing the figure clad in black queueing. We arrived at 8 pm since the first bands started at 8:15 pm. The queue went down quickly because of Andrew's and Angela's, the event organisers, the meticulous organisation; They were friendly and welcomed us to the event, handed us an envelope.
One thing I highly commend the sound quality was superb, and the engineer an audial wizard a rarity able to mind read musicians and cater to them. I've frequented across the country one of the best venue's for sound quality, this enhanced overall experience.
The first band appeared on stage with the smoke machine already emitting vapour creating a mysterious ambience for Rain Children who kicked the night off with trad ethereal goth style. I never heard of the duo before. I felt very captivated, through the bands' mystical, yet energy. The vocalist emanated a Kate Bush vibe; from swaying to her Bush-style pitch; I like the fact she had a crisp, and operatic style works harmoniously with the songs. It had powerful feminine energy. That contrasted with the more masculinity of the early post-punk style of the classic flanging, brittle guitar strumming; the reverberating drum machine. There sound remind of Juju. The band had a delicate balance to the overall performance. The audience appeared to enjoy the group and offered a round of applause and cheers for the duo. Who smile thanked everyone and walked off.
During the weekend, the bands were strictly kept to their 45-minute slot, which limited band and audience interaction, most of the musicians focusing more on the stage presence and performance.
The next band prepare their equipment, my partner was excited to see Luxury Stranger and commented on how immensely talented they were. After fifteen minutes, the group were ready. Playing their set the band after a few minutes the audience were awestruck with their mesmerising myriad of dark sounds influenced by every music genre possible from blues, fun the strongest was post-punk. I could imagine band featuring on Jules Holland.
House of Usher.
The final band of the night was the longstanding second-wave goth band from the late '80s to early 90's House of Usher. Travelled from Germany. The band had a quick introduction and started playing. They had a typical flanging guitar, melodic base, the deep vocals and even a drummer. Honestly, their set beginning felt bland, lacking energy or stage presence. All of sudden, life and passion ebbed and radiated through the band playing with How Far Can We Go each song they continued through an enigmatic performance captivating the audience. Sadly, they returned to the lifeless, performance for the last part of the set. It felt like I was listening to back round music. It was a shame as they have great talent when playing with passion.
The night ended on a high, and it was a great way selection of band to quick off the festivities.
The band kicked off at 2:15 pm. The first band was the Scottish Gothzilla. I've seen them live several times and expected a vigorous and danceable repertoire. They entered the stage with an energetic performance with Tim belting out his metal style vocals, keeping the front sections of the audience dancing. Gothzilla is heavily influenced by the second wave of goth bands. Their albums and songs have a connective narrative, but with each song having a unique identity. I've heard various them in different venues, and their sound was the best I have listened to. The music was so crisp, I loved the addition of a second guitar adds new weight to the songs. It allowed Tim to focus more on his performance and vocals, as usual, he plays the guitar, which was refreshing as fully emerged it. Due to time constraints, The band didn't have as much there full crowd banter. It seemed like an epic opening.
We had a breather outside as the heat inside got too much, and by the freak heatwave, we experienced. With the excellent sound quality, you could hear the bands playing from outside. Often we spent time outside.
Next up, the French post-punk band Trouble Fait, who managed to cross the channel early in the morning, despite all the Brexit troubles. We kept up to date by the groups Facebook updates. Not even Brexit could stop the festival. The band began playing, the sound was incredible, I remember the band sounding a bit on the solemn side, but they seemed more post-punk uptempo style while singing in French; their sounds a combo of Manchester post-punk style. The band swung into form a fantastic set including energetic Paris, finished off with their rendition Love Will Tear Us Apart. Despite their long journey, they put on an exhilarating performance. It ended too soon. They finished with the next band preparing for their turn on stage.
After the more trad style bands came the afternoon of prog goth with experimentation and offering a new take on the goth genre.
Auger for me, was one a surprising and engaging band; I was intoxicated, from first hearing the first and last synth notes of their performance. I love their balanced sound using dark industrious synths, and programming to create a (pseudo ) german rawness. Keiran's metal style rifts add an oppressive weight to the melodies. The lyrics have a paradoxical drudgery, which can in parts feel uplifting. While, Kyle's (clear, guttural, baritone vocals ) deliverance of the words emphasises the song's despairing narratives. They were fully immersed and passionately they were in their performance and stage presence.
A Hanoverian duo, arrived safely, however, their equiment went missing; the other bands kindly loaned them equipment. They put on a mystifying performance, despite the sleep deprivation. Their unique take on the goth genre by incorporating metal riffs mixed with electronic synth, with some occasional technical keyboards. The band emulated vampiric vibes, especially the vocalist sorrowful deep vocals, with hauntingly dark lyrics; with the audience engrossed by the band's performance. They seemed the perfect choice to sum the first part of the festival.
We had a two-hour break, which was well needed, for some reason I started feeling unwell and extremely tired ( I hadn't drunk alcohol either) We headed to a Turkish restaurant, beyond generous with their servings and very cheap, that's Turkish cultural. Afterwards, we returned to the hotel I fell asleep. Sadly, missed the second half of the set. However, My partner said I missed some great bands.
Guillotine Dream - Darkling Glooms - getting all doomy, image spoiled a little by the singer laughing when he couldn't remember which song came next.
Iamtheshadow - closest thing to a (sub) genre repeat so far, some Euro-electro (and guitar) post punk from Portugal.
The Last Cry
Somehow reminiscent of the Cure early in the set, something to do with the way their songs built. Though with less bass, crunchier guitar and more impassioned vocals. By the end, I thought that they have a lot in common with the band that opened the day - Gothzilla. Great way to end the day.
By the Sunday, the heat and partying were taking its toll on everybody, and I felt much better, after sleep. I also prefer the later start time of 3 pm rather than two.
Today kicked off with another familiar band, who've been regularly appeared at Noir Castle (local goth night) and Carpe Noctum in Leeds.
They hail from all over the North East, including the former industrial Teeside that produces some dark and brooding bands. Memento Mori is a small original second-wave goth band who formed in the late '80s and toured all over Europe and disbanded six years later. They reformed back in 2009 travelling on the national goth scene and releases an album and ep. I bought it for £10.
They have a trad goth sound range of various goth styles in terms of their songs ranging from the tribal-sounding post punk, brittle guitar right through the use of later rock goth sting work. The band's experimental synth keyboards and drum machines offer darker danceable edge to the songs. My favourite song has to their renditions of the '90s. The audience was in full sway from the performance injected a much need enter boost.
Her Despair, another exciting band with a progressive gothic edge. The group have heavy twin guitars and base bringing thrash element. With keyboards and the singer's vocals bring a My Dying Bride vibe. I like the combo. It offers a new reversion on the goth genre. These reminded me of a band I reviewed Leashes ( who I highly recommend checking out.)
The Glass House Musem
I've heard some much positive comments about this band, it always great see a female vocalist that help break the male energy. I stood for a while, really wanting to fall for their spell. I couldn't get into them, the bands, just, not my personal taste. They are very talented technically in their guitar and bass work, and the vocalist has an intense emotive quality. Their sound is more of 80's goth-pop with upbeat melodies. I enjoy the darker twist of Jericho.
There was a two-hour break that seemed for food, and I finally had a first cider alcohol drink of the weekends.
Darkers Days became international with Costa Rican, Last Dusk.
They have a very slowly post punk sound but have a proper drummer. The melodies sound dysfunctional and raw harkening back to the early post punk. The drums added emphasises a heavy tribal beat and experimental synths furthered the vehement sound. The lead singer has a David Vanian vibes in both energy and vocal style.
To finish the weekend off was Belgium;
They have a strong post-punk sound with a real drummer. However, the band have more technical coordinated sounds in comparison to the previous groups. They felt more avant-garde and extending post punk sound influence into the acid-fueled audial journey. The band are heavily synth-driven and strengthened by experimental keyboards with deep brittle guitar and base. The singer bass vocals using interruptive dance moves to emphasise the lyrics. They were an insense talented felt like a fantastic finale to end the weekend.