Cheryl from Dreamchild
It was a dark and stormy night . . . which made for a veritable holiday in the sun for the folks attending “Gotharama — New England’s Dark Music Festival,” a seven-band goth-rock marathon downstairs at the Middle East last Saturday. The ghosts of Bauhaus, Joy Division, and Siouxsie and the Banshees hovered over the trenchcoat brigade, the pseudo-Victorians, the gals with dark eyeliner and push-up bustiers, and a chick who recalled Abby, the geek-goth tech on NCIS. How you look is important, but local dark-music promoter Anderson Lyn Mar demurred, “People think it’s a fashion statement or mindset — no, it’s music in a minor key.”
Yes, the dark heart of goth is still beating, if somewhat more faintly than a quarter-century ago, when the movement began. Mistress Laura, who’s been hosting Bats in the Belfry on WMBR for 16 years, beamed: “I still love it. I see it as the ultimate alternative to the alternative. It’s a whole dark æsthetic, the transcendent quality of the emotion.”
Which isn’t as simple as people reveling in doom and gloom. Cusraque, who booked “Hell” night at ManRay, the now-defunct goth nexus in Central Square, said that it’s not all about “being depressed. That’s tongue-in-cheek, like rubber bats. There’s a dark sensibility in the humor and an acknowledgment that things suck — without dwelling on it.”
The show was keyed to bands rather than DJs. Beginning with the My Bloody Valentine–like noise of Happy the Clown, the music continued with the mad-woman rants, drones, and loops of Dreamchild. There followed Bauhaus and Joy Division knockoffs by, respectively, New York bands the Hunt and Blacklist. This was the first time promoter/MC Matthew Griffin and partner Robert Read have brought the festival — headlined by Boston’s synth-based You Shriek and metallic rockers Bella Morte — up from Providence. But it’s not likely to be the last.
It was all summed up by Dreamchild singer Cheryl: “The melancholy and fascination with death inherent in human nature ensures that music which appeals to our darker sides will forever endure. . . . Goth is a little overly obsessed with the dark side and death, but so am I.”