Ahhhhhhh, The Goth Scene. Something I’ve been on (and off) for the better part of 23 years or so. From being a gig goer and punter of club nights/venues to DJ’ing Alternative nights onward – we’ve seen a scene I love go up and down more times than a tarts knickers in all different regions of the UK. The scene has been somewhat in cohesive in recent years. As with any blurb I write i’ll do so with a distinct vibe of honesty. Like The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole written in guyliner.
Sure we can all experience nights and weekend events, get stuck in (and avoid) the politics of a tight but relatively small scene nationally (as it is here in the UK) but one thing it has lacked for some time is freshness. I say this with respect for the scene, the culture, the old and the new. It’s always up and down to the point where certain aspects of it were stale in certain factors. But, I digress…
Now for the past 8 or 9 years (on and off) I’ve DJ’d a fringe event that fell alongside with the official Whitby Goth Weekend event. I’ve seen the trials and tribulations of attendance figures sway at either side. And as somebody who has put on events and done promotions before we all aim for putting on a successful event.
Now one thing I’m sure most will agree on is change. Goths hate change. Like the Glam Scene which I’ve embraced for just as long or even every other facet and subgenre of the Rock, Metal and Alternative scene – people get too comfortable in familiar surroundings and aren’t warming to at least attempting to opening their minds and trying new things. And then I caught wind of Tomorrow’s Ghosts Festival. I had already heard of it when they had the Nephs booked to play last year. Now it was my time to find out.
Tomorrow’s Ghosts Festival is the brainchild of Kirstin Lavender at Absinthe Promotions – aiming to give the scene something familiar but new. Friday 1st November was my starting point. 6:50pm and wind-swept from the coastal breeze I walked into Whitby Pavillion to get my first taste….
As I walked down the steps there was one thing I did recognise – a lack of posers. Something we’ve all seen many times at various events and the WGW. I was surprised! Now I can tart it better than most. Pass in hand – pint in the other – pout on the go… I wandered into the main room.
Kicking off the first night were London based band AlterRed. The band took to the stage like Jack Daniels to Coke. Vocalist Mikey’s stand out stance projected onto the building crowd was one of solid energy and enthusiasm. A few quips of “Brexit” flavoured levity and the show was in full flow. Standout tracks such as “Dead and Cold” and “Broken Glass” shone through this virginal exposure to them first time. As my eyes flitted across the stage between members there was one thing to be said – they were having fun. Something you don’t see too often without a dark and moody premise.
October Burns Black came to the forefront of the next support. One thing I will say is that what I experienced was unexpected. Being a fan of the more “Trad” styling of the scene I was taken by surprise. The familiar tone of what we know as old school ripped through my ears with a smile of complete dark enchantment. Rod’s vocals were reminiscent of several vocalists but I’m not going to trap anyone in any particular sideline. Solid sound with a moody leaning premise as each solo was played, Rod had stood aside/arms folded but then took to the stage with a moody yet perverse charm. A band I will definitely be checking out again ASAP.
Final support slot was delivered by Turkish boys and the solid unit of She Past Away. I’m a big fan of 80’s Electronic and the Synth delivery was something to behold. Now there are multiple stylized influences the duo will describe themselves as. It can’t be noted as I was hearing vibes of multiple sub-genres and even hearing vibes of numerous artists of Coldwave to familiar 80’s synth-pop with a darkened edge. Hearing the distinct sounds such as “Disko Anksiyete!” and “Insanlar” were tracks that opened my ears. It has to be said that the image these lads had was an infused style that you can’t put your finger on. Regardless they shone brightly above the lighting rigs. One quip I did have is that the vocals were a little low throughout their set. But it didn’t detract.
Now I’m at the point – 3 pints in – the edgings of Whitby lurgy and ready to see Clan of Xymox again and it’s been a good while. Xymox have been around almost as I have been on this tainted little planet. Styles change and the last time I had seen them I was accosted by a drunken fan – so to save grace I took my position near the disabled access ramp to get another taste in better spirits. Now there was an atmosphere in the room where everybody had been prepping themselves for the headline act. This didn’t detract from the great support delivered. There is very little that can be said apart from a solid and strong set delivered as always. The crowd were raring to go and whilst trying to make notes, my head turned upwards as hearing “In Love We Trust”, “Your Kiss” and “Hail Mary”. I will note that apart from the dude winking at me through the set – I thought I had pulled… However it appears I was flying low. Red faced I continued the rest of the set and it came to a damn fine close.
5 pints in we had a set from Parisian DJ Element. My night drew to a close and more than Happy to rest ready for tomorrow. Punters tired, event organisers and staff tired – we made our way back to the apartment ready for round two the following evening.
It has to be said that any promoter that puts on a solid event or something of this scale has to be applauded. It’s not an easy task. Whilst my own experience has been minimalist in comparison – TGF really put something on the UK map that caters for everyone. I call this next part of my review… ”Getting To Know Your Assailant”. Here we have a Q&A from the rather awesome owner of Absinthe Promotions and Keeper/Queen Bee of TGF: Kirstin Lavender:
Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Kirstin and I run ‘Tomorrow’s Ghosts Festival’ alongside ‘Absinthe Promotions’ the festival takes place at Whitby Pavilion and as Absinthe, we plan/run tours for bands.
How long have you been on the scene?
A question I’m slightly cringing at as I like to pretend I’m not in my mid 40s – haha. I’ve been on the scene on and off nearly 30 years now. I started as a young thing DJ’ing on a Sat afternoon at Le Phono in Leeds.
I met you briefly some years back when you were running events at The Met – How did the Eden House work / Absinthe Promotions come to light and what compelled you to do so and your motivation?
Well I was a Mortician for 21 years but had some success in the early 90’s putting bands on – but that was short lived as I was going to University. Both my parents passed away quite close in time to one another and I handed my notice in, in search of doing something new. I then met writer Dacre Stoker (Great Grand Nephew of Bram) some years ago and we kept in touch. I asked him if he wanted to come back to the UK to arrange some talks etc and very quickly we were working together at various venues in Yorkshire organising his events. Quite quickly alongside that, I was putting on band and club nights on at The Met in Whitby. I’d been a fan of The Eden House and had asked them if they wanted to do some gigs for us, I was asked down to visit them down in Cambs and they asked me to manage them and the rest is (kind of) history I guess.
Does it differ seeing it from one side of the rails to the other (punter to organiser)?
I think only in the sense that there’s a lot of organising behind the scene and that bands cost money! One punter asked me if I could get ‘Rammstein’ and have the pyrotechnics that go with their gigs!!! It was a ‘no’ I guess people don’t always realise that some bands are just not affordable for a promoter with limited space but that’s cool.
There was a time when the scene that is operating up and down the country was considered almost (if you forgive the pun) Dead and Buried [regionally]. Outside of Whitby there are very few solid events operating on a frequent basis with venue closures and attendance numbers fluctuating etc opposed to 10-15 years ago. What are your thoughts on the current Goth scene as an individual?
I still think it’s very alive today as it was in the 80s, but I get what you mean. London always had the big clubs and Yorkshire the smaller ones. We still have Le Phono re-unions, Goth City Festival, Leeds Festival Of Gothica, Carpe Noctum, Corrosion etc so it’s still going strong. Is it going to die a death after we’ve long gone though, I don’t know.
**The above question was distinctly to separate the different shifting facets of the scene from North to South from Noircastle and on to Birmingham based Zombie Club and to then to London’s Slimelight**
What would you say are your biggest challenges?
So far nothing too challenging apart from being stuck in traffic trying to get a band to the next venue or bands who light up a fag in the venue!!!
(As above) What are your thoughts on the current Goth/Alt scene via Absinthe Promotions? How is it fairing for you now that you are seeing it from the other side (punter to DJ to organiser)?
As a promoter you have to put a lot of time and planning into running a festival and you can’t rest on your laurels thinking that it will promote itself. I’ve found that even if you promote something to death, you can still promote it a bit more as there’s always someone who isn’t aware it’s on. The festival has only ran three time yet but after just three, I’ve found it’s been given a lot of exposure since announcing The Damned.
How has the response been for you personally?
For me it’s been wonderful and as new as ‘Tomorrow’s Ghosts’ is, we’ve had people come up to us in another city wearing our merch telling us how much they loved the last one. That makes me feel really happy inside even though face to face I quietly say ‘thank you’ and blush like mad!! Getting used to people telling you how good something is, is a bit strange but nice.
Apart from a great line up for the April 2020 event which I’m personally looking forward to – What are your plans moving forward?
I’m up to my eyeballs in ideas! There’s nothing like the great British public for telling you whether you’ve got it right or wrong in equal amounts but we listen to what people ask us for and we try to accommodate it wherever we can. I’m trying to move the festival along as mini horror/goth con with film guests and well as bands and see where we can go with it.
***I can say this now – from what I had experienced and the shape of things to come… Kirstin has definitely got it right***
Now we’re on to night two of our dark seaside rendezvous. The rain poured outside and I ran to the Pavillion dressed as a make-up smeared drowned rat. Ready and poised for a more familiar evening…
Syd.31 had all the elements of a hard hitting start to this evening’s line up courtesy of Dr Magic. An amalgamation of Punk, Industrial and a sweet taste that sticks it’s two fingers up to those above. As the room became more packed I retreated a little further back but the vibe was something not to be sniffed at. As I fluttered between the sides of the room an post apocalyptic musical vibe erupted at peak levels that would make the most shy of sound engineers soil themselves. The distinct tones of Mr Vain erupted at the end of their set and my inner teenage self bounced mentally like a fat kid locked in a sweet shop.
Grooving In Green were the next to erupt on the stage. This Brighton based outfit had quite the balance of the crowd and something that shone beyond. Hearing Post Traumatic Stress pricked my ears as I walked to the bar – so I turned back to the stage. Stand out tracks such as Rise, A Little Soul and Warning Signs were something too memorable. At that point somebody drunkenly stood on my foot. Aching – I wondered to the foyer to ease myself back in to the zone.
Then we get to the Inkies (Inkubus Sukkubus). A band I haven’t listened to in a long time and I hope they forgive me for my insolence on that thought. The bizarre thing is, I looked to the stage knowing it was going to be a solid performance. Candia smiled at the audience glancefully and inadvertently looked like my ex so it kind of threw me (LOL). Watching from the barriers and then to the sidelines it was a warm and sobrietal performance that had the crowds eating out of the their hands. Saying that – I never thought that there would be so many people didn’t know the words to Paint It Black… who knew?
Then we get to the headline – The Godfather of Goth – the inimitable Wayne Hussey and The Divine as a very very welcome stop off as part of his Salad Daze tour. There is something to be said about the man who stepped onto that stage and there was an element of shared love in that room as though everybody had telepathically spooned each other musically. And who doesn’t like spooning…
The plethora of old school fans that almost mounted each other towards the barrier in a harmonious vibe that would make even the most open minded individual blush. From the openings of ‘Look Down From The Bridge’ it was very apparent that this was something more than expected. The full on appreciation from the stage to the crowd was unmistakable. Now i’m a fan of orchestral arrangements. A big fan of them.But there is something more to be said that after all the bands that have played with various orchestras over the years from the stadium fillers to the next level artists who go on to record with various different string sections. This was different.
Stand out performances of For Ever More and Like A Child Again will be forever ringing harmoniously in my ears. Then we were also treated to Never Again, Crystal Ocean, The Long Goodbye and Tower of Strength. And there was an inevitable cover of Personal Jesus where crowds trying to sing in time was more like a drunken after thought. The glow that emanated from Wayne’s face was something to behold. All in all – a killer set and one that won’t be forgotten. Cheers, Mr H!
Then we had a closing set from DJ Pyromancer. Having DJ’d with Jack before it wasn’t long until I was two stepping my way across the floor. Great set – great crowd.
The Sunday I had missed due to DJ’ing Sexy Sunday at The Met and the inevitable start of the Whitby Lurgy… bleurgh!
So all in all: Tomorrow’s Ghosts Festival. Let’s just say Madame Lavender and all involved broke my mental hymen. Thank you for the mess….
Now in April 2020, TGF have The Damned headlining which i’m extremely stoked about.
So would I recommend TGF? Well… Whitby has had the change it has really needed for a while: Options. And a damn fine option it is too. Recommended? “I’d buy that for a dollar”
www.facebook.com/groups/2087975531456774/ – Tomorrow’s Ghosts Festival Facebook Group