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NEW DARK AGE – April 2019

Filed under: Uncategorized — doktorjohn April 22, 2019 @ 11:43 pm


Darkside of the Con – March 29, 30, 31 – 2019

There are almost countless “fandom” conventions that cater to one or more pop culture phenomena. Prime examples include the Comic Con, Steampunk Con, Dragon Con, and the cons devoted to Anime, Manga, Star Trek, gaming and many more. Most fandom cons include a significant component of darkside interest. E.g., the first con I ever attended was Goth Con in New Orleans in 2001.

For the past three years, under the auspices of his online community, Vampire Freaks, impresario and producer Jet Berelson (Jet VF) has hosted an increasingly popular, annual convention that caters to the fans of dark entertainment and interest – those generally known as Goths.

Jet Vampire Freaks & friends

Darkside of the Con 3 was a three-day convention held at a castle-shaped, luxury hotel, the Sheraton in Parsippany NJ. Its scope, as in two previous iterations, included everything dark and creepy, whether musical or fashion related, especially those morbid phenomena with a sly, tongue-in-cheek aspect. Goth – as the subculture labels itself – is a “big tent” phenomenon, built around post punk, electronic and industrial music, its adherents identified by predominantly black attire.

The Long Losts on stage


Performances by some eighteen bands, including such famous acts as Stabbing Westward, Aesthetic Perfection and Assemblage 23 were held in a Grand Ballroom. Beloved local and indy bands filled the bill. Renowned deejays from New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia spun appropriate tracks for late night dance parties, balls and nightclub-themed events, including Cybertron, Stimulate, The Red Party and QXT’s. Naughty burlesque performances and costume contests featuring outrageous and diverse characters took place. Some contestants wore incandescent and LED-illuminated total body garb. Others appeared as villains and victims of sci-fi, fantasy and horror fiction. A live theater troupe performed the action of “A Nightmare Before Christmas” simultaneously while the movie itself ran on the big screen behind them.

Some costume contestants

Panels and lectures/workshops abounded with such interesting and useful subjects as Goth Parenting, the Paranormal, Rope Bondage, Gothic and Horror Literature, Mask Making and Elders of the Goth community. Live action role playing theater invited attendees to participate in the action. Artisans of all ages got to paint in a workshop, and an introduction to making electronic music was held for aspiring composers. History buffs got to learn about the Original Goths and How They Shaped the World.

A lecture and demonstration of live bats was presented in a side room by state licensed wildlife exhibitor “Batman” Joe D’Angeli. Joe’s background as a singer in a 90s glam metal band and as a frequent presenter at Chiller granted him a certain theatricality in addition to his take on conservation science.

Hallway beauties


The halls were lined at all times with vendors selling artworks, jewelry, garments, accessories, literature, and more.

Vendor stands

Those same halls were replete with the most astounding and alluring eye-candy that this subculture can put forth. Both scantily-clad beauties and decidedly overdressed models, some in steampunk, outlandish or fetish attire strolled the corridors displaying their costumes, corsets, headdresses, footwear, horns, studs, spikes, armor and the like.

Mr Haunt and friends

Not only does Goth flaunt the norms of mainstream culture and society, but encompasses numerous subdivisions and outliers that go against the norms of Goth itself!

Sights in the corridors


No one, not even Jet VF himself – who was omnipresent, seeing to the smooth running of events – could take it all in. Without intending to slight or overlook many of the fine and fabulous participants, I offer my own observations on those few highlights I was able to attend, given the fact that I was confined for most of the three day schedule to my table where I was vending artworks from the opening hours on Friday night right up until the closing on Sunday evening.

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Panic Lift on stage


At around 10 pm Friday night, one could attend a screening of the original “Dracula” (1931) starring Bela Lugosi. Friday’s lineup in the Grand Ballroom included Jersey boys Panic Lift, who wed electro-industrial to melodious song, sometimes sung full-throat, sometimes delivered in a distorted growl. A video of their performance at Darkside is linked on their Facebook page.

Stabbing Westward

It is not a shortcoming, but a virtue that Friday’s headliners, Stabbing Westward, rest upon their laurels that go back more than thirty years, because this is music that never fails to excite. The industrial rhythms, the recurring hooks, Chris Hall’s plaintive scream and mantra-like lyrics constitute a formula that is hard to beat for sheer musical enjoyment. Their performance was followed by a show of voluptuous beauties on stage as the Darkside Burlesque.

Around the same time, and going on into the night were two party events. The Red Party hosted by Sean Templar et al. ran a night called “Stay Sick” playing Deathrock, Goth and PostPunk. A few doors over, Cybertron teamed up with Stimulate to host an industrial dance pajama party.

One of several dance parties


Saturday performances in the Grand ballroom started at 2:00 pm with Lorelei Dreaming, an electro-EBM group with a bewitching female lead. Also on the playbill was the horror-rock couple, the Long Losts, who spiced their act up with a sexy dancer/contortionist. Later Rexx Arcana’s FGFC820 performed harsh EBM as a lead into LA-based industrial/pop trio Aesthetic Perfection, just before another round of costumes and burlesque.
Meanwhile in the various salons were panels on Gothic literature, on “What the Hell is Goth?” and on Dark Visual Arts. A panel of Elder Goths brought their combined life experiences to bear on the issues of the Goth subculture and the Goth lifestyle as they relate to personal values.

Elder Goths Panel

The evening ended for many with a QXT’s-hosted dance party at which one could stomp to Sisters of Mercy, Skinny Puppy and Covenant.
On Sunday, those wishing to participate could wake up to morning yoga. There were panels dealing with race issues in the alternative music scene, on polyamory, on Gothic horror in cinema and a conclave of the Iron Garden community. Kids were entertained in a salon that offered Spooky Story Time, Spooky Coloring and the chance to paint a ceramic skull with or without supervision.
Stone Burner performed a violent, primal kind of tribal rock music in the Grand Ballroom. Andy Deane’s singing solo with the backup of percussion as The Rain Within was nothing short of spectacular and not to be forgotten.

Andy Dean of The Rain Within

At 5:00 pm the festivities ended with EBM favorites Assemblage 23, and the vendors closed down amidst last minute impulse sales.
Happiness, a sense of community and a feeling of exhausted satisfaction prevailed as attendees, participants and the staff brought the festival to a conclusion.

Play It Loud – The Instruments of Rock & Roll

The Metropolitan Museum just launched a mega-exhibition entitled Play It Loud – Instruments of Rock & Roll, co-organized with the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. This is the first time a major museum examines the instruments of Rock & Roll. It’s impossible to overestimate the influence of Rock & roll on 20th century culture. The instruments have had a profound impact on the form that rock music has taken.
Guitars and bass guitars make up the essential bedrock of the exhibit, and include the first ever Fender from 1949, Les Paul’s early “Klunker” (1942), “The Hoss” Telecaster, the Stratocaster, the Gibson Southern Jumbo (1944), Rickenbacker’s Twelve-String and Eddie Van Halen’s “Frankenstein” composite electric.
Radical designs include such novel shapes as the “Flying V, the skewed Explorer and the SG by Gibson. But the collection also includes a petite grand piano, a Tama drum set, an upright bass, the Aztec 5-string, and a bass violin.
The Hammond organ is represented along with the Moog synthesizer and numerous compact electric keyboards. The venerable saxophone made the transition over from jazz and blues to rock & roll, and is seen in the collection along with such special items as the autoharp, Brian Jones’s Appalachian dulcimer, the Rolling Stones’ violin. Trumpets, trombones and the Sitar and even the Theremin are on view.
Rigs, amps and Lady Gaga’s ARTPOP piano with custom housing round out the music-making machines.
But there are also stage costume garments and iconic posters that demonstrate the rock & roll sensibility in graphic arts. Many show wear and tear as well as actual destructive abuse, The term “Loud” in the title refers not only to the sound but to a whole style and attitude.
All in all there are 185 objects that make up the exhibit, and there are both a catalog and a photo book available for purchase.
The exhibition is free with Museum admission.

Album : “Invocation” with image of Bulgarian “kukeri”

Dead Can Dance
Dionysus – Act II: The Invocation
Back in October last year we reported that Dead Can Dance was releasing their ninth studio album. It went on sale in November 2018. Now they have released a fascinatingly beautiful video of “The Invocation,” the second movement of the Act II of this album, “Dionysus.” It was directed by a Bulgarian company and contains breath-taking imagery including Bulgarian folk dancers – called “kukeri,” in colorful, exotic costumes. They perform ancient Balkan ritual dances as a form of exorcism to ward off evil in a tradition that is believed to date back to the cult of Dionysus, the Greek god who is also the title and the subject of DCD’s album. Mingled with the dance sequence are magnificent time-lapse landscape and skyscape sequences that are the signature style of video artist Ron Fricke, previous videographer for DCD and responsible for “Koyaanisqatsi” (1982) and “Baraka” (1992).
Above all, it features the glorious and blissful music of Dead Can Dance and vocals by Lisa Gerrard that are of surpassing beauty. It’s easy to access and view on Youtube by searching for it under the title and Dead Can Dance. DCD will tour Europe in May and June of this year. They haven’t announced an American tour yet.

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