”4 years ago a new alternative music festival insinuated itself onto the annual festival calendar down in the middle of darkest Dorset. Holt Heath was the setting for the inaugural Alice’s Wicked Tea Party. Like all festivals you have to start somewhere and you have to be prepared for obstacles being put in your way regarding t licenses and objections from the locals. Obstacles overcome a varied selection of bands were willing to play and support this fledgling festival and the likes of Tunnelmental Experiment Assembly, The Vultures, Doghouse and Poisoned Electric Head all put on fine performances. I remember there being a campsite in one field and a bridge going over a small gully into the field where the stage was located. On the day that I was attended there weren’t that many people in attendance but many more arrived for the following days entertainment. What I do know is that in year two of the festival the attendance was noticeably more dense and enthusiastic. It helped that the stage area had been moved to the field previously occupied by the campsite, a cosier atmosphere was achieved by this and the enthusiastic aura did not dissipate into the trees….. This time around Luxury Stranger, The Underrunners and Pussycat and The Dirty Johnsons were on the bill along with Go Go Cult and Anarchistwood. Vultures and Doghouse returned to finish off where they left off from the previous year, all in all a great time was had by all!!. The 2017 event I did not attend due to a clash with another festival so I’ve no reminiscences for that year I’m afraid but a new venue was found near to Corfe Castle in Dorset which I’m reliably informed is a step up from the last venue. I’m looking forward to experiencing this for the first time so I hope it does not disappoint! 2018 is on course to surpass last year and continue on the path to greater and greater things. and over 20 bands have been booked to appear. Ticket sales have been very healthy and this years attendance is set to surpass last years with brass knobs on!! The festival I mentioned that I attended last year, Wave Gotik Treffen, started over 25 years ago with 8 bands and now regularly hosts over 200 over a 4 days. It has made mistakes, tried and tested ideas and formats and finally has got to the stage where a whole city embraces 4 days gothic darkness. With the same good management and eclectic roster of acts Alice’s Wicked Tea Party can become a regular and successful addition to the Festival calendar and a welcome two days of escapism for the Dorset area. Onwards and upwards.”
Date:- Friday 18th May until Monday 21st May 2018
”Its nearing that time of year again where the annual pilgrimage to Leipzig gets under way and a large section of the worlds Goth community, around 20,000 people go see a large eclectic selection of bands and performing artists along with the experiencing of numerous exhibitions at various museums in and around the city!! Just think, 1992 was the first year of annual darkness with only 8 Artists on the bill including Das Ich and 25 years later 231 bands played! The organisers started small, worked hard with the groundwork and we finally get to where we’ve ended up today, a festival that has become an integral part of the Leipzig calendar. Whatever your musical tastes you’re sure to find something that satiates the palate be it EBM, darkwave, post punk, neo folk, metal or shoegaze. And there’s sure to be some theatre, comedy and burlesque for variety. The festival is a city-wide experience and is not just concentrated in the central area so you can get a flavour of the whole city if you so wish!! I’ve been twice and i think it is a great place to hold an event like this because the city embraces all things dark and you are made to feel very welcome! And because Leipzig is not a sprawling conurbation like London it is within capability of getting around fairly easily!! Places to visit while in Leipzig include:- The Museum Of The Printing Arts, The Natural History Museum, The Museum Of Applied Arts and the Monument To The Battle Of Nations! Also check out the Alter Johannisfriedhof (St Johns Cemetery) or Südfriedhof if you have time”
”Usually people start preparing for the following years festival not long after the current one has wrapped up so if you have not sorted out accommodation yet then i suggest you get on to that asap!! Many places won’t accept bookings for less than 5 days and i suspect most of those have gone already but you may be lucky especially if you decide to go the hostel/Air BnB route!!”
”Bands so far confirmed for this year include:- Australian outfit Buzz Kull, Trepaneringsritualen, Front Line Assembly, Jesus And Mary Chain, Tiamat, Einar Selvik and God Module.You have to go to this festival at least once in your lifetime and trust me when i say you’ll not regret it!!”
Venue: _ Shepherds Bush Empire, London, UK
”I’ve never seen Michael Schenker live before although i have listened to his music now and again either as a solo artist or when he was in The Scorpions. When i came across a competition online to win tickets to see him live i thought ”Fuck it, what have i to lose??” I won a ticket!! Off i trundle down to Shepherds Bush on the Circle line and arrive at the venue just as support band The Departed are taking to the stage!! I’ve never heard of them before and to be honest on first exposure they were not my thing. My fires were lit but they only flickered not roared, that had to do with the extreme belly ache i acquired once i had found a suitable spot stage left to stand. Anyway the sound was hard rock 80’s style, a bit Bon Jovi, a bit David Coverdale, well executed and well rehearsed and confident onstage, something you’d expect from a band that i read afterwards had played on bills with the likes of Graham Bonnet, Status quo and Ginger Wildheart. As i write this my view of The Departed is one of comme si comme ca, something to try again at a later date sans belly ache!!”
”From where i stood stage left there were people who had no interest in The Departed whatsoever, they stood impatiently waiting for the main act of the evening, when the intro music started playing these guys were shaken out of their chats, their eyes pulled away from their phones and an air of life and excitement meandered through the tightly packed throngs!! My experience of the Michael Schenker set was, like for The Departed, sullied by a, at this point, worsening belly ache. But the musicianship and charisma was not lost on me!! There were 5 guys onstage but my eyes were constantly drawn to the right hand side of said stage only offering cursory glances to the rest of the band, sometimes it was as if they were invisible. he could have stood at the back of the stage in the shadows and the charisma would have lit him up like a firecracker. As i am not familiar with any of the tracks played tonight i’m unable to pick a stand out track that wowed me or the crowd, all i can say is that it was a great 90 odd minutes of musicianship that did on occasion become tedious, i mean some of the guitar solos just went on for way too long and my inner voice kept piping up and saying ”Oh FFS get with it, you can play, i know!!”
”And then about 45 minutes to an hour into the set the sound in the venue cut out for 15 or so minutes, i took the time to freshen up and mitigate against the effects of my belly ache to no avail. When the band came back onstage i stood right at the back behind a crowded bar for the remainder of the set. And then i left….”
Venue:- The Lock Tavern, Chalk Farm Road, Camden, London.
”The other night i was asked by Shaun, one of the dj’s at Wicked Spins Radio, if i’d pop along to the Lock Tavern in Camden to check out a band called Crows, he said they are a good band that are on the up and destined for great things so i said i would go,check them out and write this review. I turned up around 7:45pm where i met a friend and chatted for a while before the support, a band called Krushed Puppies took to the stage. Sounding a bit like L7 or Hole but with weak vocals in want of energy and to be honest a bit ”whiney teenager”. There was a lack of oomph in said vocals and on occasions it was way out of tune. The drums were to high in the mix and the bass didn’t sound poignant enough in my view!! I was glad when they left the stage to be honest!!”
”The tables were removed for Crows and i can see why now because within 10 minutes of Krush Puppies leaving the stage the pub was already filling up for the headline!! The vocalist took to the stage in a dress/wig and dressing gown and mainly performed back at the band and not to the audience. or if not doing that spent a lot of time actually in the audience or standing on the bar. There was a fair bit of crowd surfing too. The set on this Halloween night consisted of only covers from bands of pedigree such as Black Sabbath/The Ramones/The Damned and The Cramps with the last track a cover of the Hives ”Hate to say i told you so” !! A band full of energy that is reciprocated by a crowd that is as raucous as the sound. obnoxiously so on occasions, a total antithesis to other gigs i have been to where everyone just stand around politely or is too scared to let themselves go. I went to gig last week and everyone in the crowd just stood passively with arms folded apart from one guy who stood in the middle of everyone going absolutely mental!! Tonight there were many more going mental!!”
”Anyway, this was a good covers set, i shall make a date to see them perform their own stuff soon. a good band!!”
Album released April 28, 2017
All voices and instruments by Simon York except all drums by Kevin Bales, and piano and trumpet on track 9 by Robert Squirrell
All voice and string arrangements by Simon York
Programming by Guy Elderfield
Engineered by Guy Elderfield
Mixed by Guy Elderfield
Produced by Guy Elderfield and Simon York
Recorded at Random Recording Studios, Nottingham UK
Mastered by John P Braddock at Formation Audio, Nottingham
Live Show:- The Waiting Room 16/10/2017
”The live sound is much better now drums have finally mad a return to the stage. The same intensity as the previous drummer who i thought was good but this drummer adds extra flourishes which spruce up and freshen the sound. the same goes for the bass player!! Tight and driving but with a bit more going which gives the sound more depth and detail. Vocals still rich and chocolatey, the overall sound is still punchy but more so and regains and retains interest!! A longer set this evening which was appreciated. Maybe leave out the banter to keep the set fluid and mess free or rehearse something that is relevant and in keeping with the set.
I bought the album at the gig and i must say that it does not disappoint!! All the guitar and bass on the album was played by Simon York, It’s well produced, rich with good sound separation. Last year i heard the album being played live to a select few people at a cold Chameleon Arts Centre in Nottingham, my view then was positive but sullied by the coldness, sound travels through cold air differently than in warm air so was somewhat less punchy and erm, warm!! As far as the live set is concerned there is no one track where the new bassist adds to the sound, he adds to all the tracks as stated above with more expressive and textured lines. The bass line in ”Wash” is a simple line but somehow it seems fresher!! The bass takes center stage here with a nice guitar phrase singing along in the background , in fact the counter balancing between the two stringed instruments is maintained throughout the album, neither really dominating, more like a happy marriage where both party’s allow each other to speak!! Nothing here gives your ears indigestion to the point where you say ”ENOUGH!!!”
Overall:- 9 out of 10
(Image to Come)
Band :- Punish Yourself
Title :- Spin The Pig
Label :- Verycords
Style:- Goth / Electro / Industrial
Detailed style:- Industrial Metal
Catalog #:- 6022046177
Release Date:- Oct 13, 2017
”An abrasive but is easily digestible Industrial metal band from France that produce some trancelike head banging tunes that do not end up falling into that loop of overdone to the point boredom!! The tracks i find are refreshingly to the point!! less is more in regards to the music and the topping that completes the whole is the neon fluorescent stage attire!! They remind me of Young Gods/Alien Sex Fiend in vocal delivery and Ministry in riffing. But whereas with Ministry the overall feel of the sound is dirty and oily this comes across as highly polished with bittersweet overtones!! Obviously that’s my perception, you of course are free to have a different one!! ”Lo Cust” sounds like it would not be out of place on Ministry’s Psalm 69 whilst the interestingly titled ”Die S I Ray” and ”BlackSunWhiteBones” are pure speed n roll!! I’ve played these tracks umpteen times and they are better than coffee!! Title track ”Spin The Pig” builds up slowly with echoing voices and creepy sinister vocalisations and then gets going with a hard driving bass that drives its point home!!! ”There’s no end to this” is like the musical equivalent to banging your knuckles on a drain cover until they bleed, it also sounds like Killing Joke from the Millennium period, no bad thing because I like that album!”
”This is a very good listen and it’s one of those albums that gets better with each listen. But I suspect there will be a limit to this ”better” so before I tire of a good thing this current listen through will be the last one of the night”
Artist:- The Underrunners.
Release Date:- 15th January 2017
”First Impressions:- I was not that sure about this album on first listen or even second listen!! On third listen i had overdone it and did not know what to think about it at all, i could not marshal my thoughts or decide on a view of what i was listening to. Ten months later i came back to it and found myself thinking :- Fizzy, effervescent and bubbly. I am on a free dive down to the deepest place a person can go without breathing apparatus. below me is darkness, all around is colour, vivid colour!! sound travels differently under water, it has to me a kind of dream like quality!! Like the song of Sirens!! Seduction and sex, riffs and beats writhing around each other!! ”Jump Today Not Tomorrow” lurks and stalks you like a catfish in the shadows darting out when you least expect it! ”So Bouncy” has a good feel to it with a nice guitar riff at the end, i am bouncing, on sugary Spangles! The same goes for ”One People”, a track that starts with an urgent guitar and bass and end with some bluesy riffing but alas is followed by a refrain that i cannot quite get because some of the words are indecipherable. ” One people one life one something to save this time”. Sorry but i cannot understand the words to hear the message, it could be my ears that are at fault here… On the whole I feel great but there is an undercurrent of ”This isn’t gonna last forever!!” So i focus on the moment and enjoy”
Venue:- The Queen Of Hoxton, The Junction of Worship Street and Curtain Road, Shoreditch London.
Date: – 20/12/2014
Update:- Since writing this review and forgetting to post it (How professional of me!!) a tower of characterless glass has been erected opposite the venue!!
”The night before i had one of my usual boozy binges and i overdid it as per usual! One should have stopped after the first bottle of wine but no i had to ruin everything!! Saturday afternoon i woke up with no memory of the night before and with the early stages of flu setting in. The flat was a mess, there were bottles everywhere along with empty plates replete with chicken bones, bread and indecipherable vegetables! I was in no state to go out Saturday night, i had no energy and my face looked like i’d been slapped around with spatulas simultaneously on each cheek!! ”I must make an effort” i said to myself!! So after numerous black coffees, paracetamol and rounds of toast i got ready in a half arsed fashion and then dragged my barely alive carcass down to The Queen Of Hoxton.”
”The Venue was located on a corner at the far end of Worship Street in the city of London opposite, well opposite nothing really, there was a building there but it’s not there now, another part of old London pulverised to nothing probably to be replace by more characterless glass. After negotiating the barriers and if i may say so, very accommodating staff, i entered the venue and descended the stairs to the stage/bar area!! I was just in time. Cauldronated were the stage and getting ready for the forthcoming set. Eva going through her pre set routines whilst Dave Barbarossa made final adjustments to his drums. The crowd was not an alternative crowd tonight. Totally different people to the crowd i am used to but there was plenty of them. A mixture of locals and out of towners readied themselves for the force that is Cauldronated!!”
”I have seen Cauldronated many times this year and as the year has progressed so has the confidence and presence of Eva Menon on each stage. Each gig is a progression, a letting go, an opening up, a statement of intent!! She uses the stage with much for fluidity, marking her territory with the the words that are spat forth with a subtle hint of ”don’t mess with me!!” If Cauldronated were a F1 car engine they would be this past seasons V6 that won the championship for Mercedes!! Well oiled, all the components working in perfect harmony with each other and fuel/air mix just right to facilitate the perfect explosion!!’
”Ibossa, Ring Of Khan, the new single ”BUY THIS THING!!” all went down well with the ”normals” in the crowd, there was a lot of foot tapping in front of me i noticed whilst the group of girls sat behind me on the left side of the stage looked on with expressionless faces but the feet tapping under the tables showed their true emotions!! As i have noticed from other gigs that Cauldronated have played, the venue is packed for their performance and thins out like an Arctic Foxes winter coat in the summer sun when they finish!!”
”These Guys have got something, if you’ve not noticed!!”
They know that!!
”I arrived in Leipzig on a hot and sunny Thursday to get my wristband from the Agra Messpark and meet up with a few friends in the Bayerischer Bahnhoff for a few beers and a bite to eat.”
”To be honest i was feeling quite subdued in mood for some reason and also in the back of my mind i had thoughts of the terror attack in Manchester at the end of May. From the time i got off the Flixbus outside the central station i was looking around for suspicious activity and continued after the London Bridge attack on the Saturday. But there was a visible police presence in Leipzig that was not there last year. After finishing with my photography/gig duties i’d sit outside the Haupfbahnhoff by the taxi rank for a few moments of rest and reflection and i lost count of the armed police i saw walking about or patrolling in their vans!! I did not really start to relax and enjoy myself until the Sunday, i loosened up and dropped out of meerkat mode! The Thursday and the Friday were both very hot days (29/30 degrees) and for the life of me i have no idea how most of these goths got through the day caked in layers of make up, petticoats, corsets and pvc boots!! No! in fact i do because i used to spend hours and hours refining my look before i went out and i was prepared to tolerate extreme temperature as long as i looked good. Not any more though, i have less tolerance for that kind of thing and my time could best utilised elsewhere!! Having said that minimalist cotton was still not good enough to stay comfortable but i coped, i had too!!”
”The first act i saw on the Friday was Jarboe at Shauspiel in Bosestrase , a grand venue with red carpeted stairs and a long entrance hall/foyer, if one wanted to be seen here then you would be seen quite clearly. This venue would not be out of place in an episode of ”Once Upon A Time” I have visions of Lana Parilla in her wicked queen finery decending the stairs complete with full on scowl!! The sound was great, Jarboe had a great voice that was expressive and full of emotion. The feel was pensive and thoughtful. Every note was precise and with an economy in delivery, i thought that added to the performance rather than making it overbearing with pointless vocal gymnastics, i mean why show your full range unless it it is pertinent to the art?? The vocal has a passing resemblance to Diamanda Galas too but with a warmer bluesy tone, less strident i would say!! Also there was no talking between songs, which i liked. I get bored with pointless waffle, it does not add to the experience and i just end up saying ”yeah yeah just get on with it will you!!?” This was the first time i’ve seen Jarboe live and i must admit that her output is something i have not researched in a long time, since the 1980’s in fact when i was into the band Swans but as i say the voice is still great!!
”After Jarboe finished i had a glass of wine before getting a tram down to see Devilment at the Agra Messpark. Devilment are a metal band formed in 2011 by Daniel Finch and had problems finding a stable vocalist until Dani Filth of Cradle Of Filth joined. The sound was good for this venue, i know a lot of people have issues with the sound, last year i listened to people who had issues with it but i thought everything was ok with Pete Murphy and Nouveau Vague etc and there were no issues tonight! The mix was just about a perfect as you could get and Dani’s vocal screeching were a joy to witness in the flesh, the quick changes from screeches to clean vocals to death growls had me mesmerised!! Yeah i’ve heard many vocalists who paint aural pictures like this but this was on a different level, i’ve tried to vocalise like this and all i end up doing is retching!!”
”Saturday in Leipzig was sunny until around 5pm when the weather turned on a sixpence to dark, hot and humid with thunderstorms! The Altes Landratsampt where i spent all of my evening was warm and steamy, it was like a greenhouse inside. Fill it up with legions of people and the temperature for me was uncomfortable!! Lebanon Hanover were playing at Leipziger Stadbad and Rotting Christ were playing the Kohlrabiszirkus but due to scheduling issues and the weather i thought i’s stay put in one venue, the trams/buses would have been packed and most likely i’d have ended up hot, wet and extremely irritable!! One of those great bands was Paris outfit Saigon Blue Rain. They are a band of reverie, dreams and flights of fancy and have been in existence since 2012, if you know what The Chameleons and The Cocteau Twins sound like then you have a good gauge of SBR output. It is music that is easy on the ear but at the same time it sends a chill down the spine whilst recharging the batteries! They played a great set that went down well with the crowd and the sound was perfect. I think it is about time they were playing venues the size of the Altes Landratsampt more often, no bigger than this i think because the impact would be lost otherwise!!”
”And then came Italian band klimt 1918 who i have never heard of before, i was not that interested in them to be honest, they are a bit shoe gaze and i like shoe gaze but for some reason i was not that enamoured by the set or the sound so i went walkabout around the venue politely applauding now and again Sylvaine were good i thought, i’ve not heard before either but there was something in the sound that perked up my interest!! From Norway and Paris, i would describe them as sounding like All About Eve, ethereal, dreamy, Pre Raphaelite, images of pained dead bodies in water surrounded by flowers fill my head, Interspersed with the dreamy vocals are screams and screeches that i don’t think Julianne Reagan would have indulged in!! Think of Dani Filth like vocal contortions!! The track ”Earthbound” is an interesting listen!! So is ”A Ghost Trapped In Limbo”
”Finally i got to see Esben And The Witch!! There is a Doors/Ani Di Franco/Savages feel to this band, which consists of Daniel, Thomas and Rachel. The venue was by this time quite full and really steamy!! The band got appreciation throughout their set, the sound was somewhat darker than Sylvaine, thicker and more spicy with an eastern sprinkling in places like a dark chocolate laced with Aleppo Chilli flakes, the sludginess complimented the steamy humidity of the venue i think but the bass was a bit distorted. Apart from that the sound in the venue was pretty good!!”
”Gene loves Jezebel on Sunday at the Agra Messpark was a great set!!! The band came on late afternoon in a very light arena. The area around the front of the stage was busy all the way to the back where the mixing desks were but the areas outside of the Speaker positions were virtually empty. Jay Aston’s voice was very strong, another voice that is gymnastic and elastic and used to add tone colour to an aural painting with flourishes and accents etc. Arcturus, the band i saw afterwards at The Felsenkeller were just as good but in a different way! Again the vocals were tight but elastic with an expressive range!! If you have not heard any of Arcturus output before then the best way to describe them is spacey cosmic and astral. Just like the Gene Loves Jezebel show before there was a good crowd of appreciative die hards in the venue but it was not full
The Final Day!! Monday’s weather was warm and bearable!! After sleeping in late, showering and then packing my bags i made my way from Bad Lausick 15 miles south of Leipzig into the centre of the city where i left my luggage at the Absintheria Sixtina before making my way down to the Pagan Village which is located amongst the trees near Torhaus Dolitz and not far from the Agra Messpark. The weather took at turn for the worst and for the rest of the time i was there it was raining.There was a German band that played at set times throughout the day called Nachtwindheim but i was here to see Forndom even though i had to wait until 9pm. I was looking forward to this since arriving in Germany and the 50 minute set started out really well until the Tagelharp experienced tuning issues brought on by humidity/temperature changes. This caused many drawn out pauses to rectify the problem, Ludvig Sward was patient and did not show any signs of frustration with this predicament and the crowd were patient too for the most part. some people moaned and many left but the bulk of the people in the audience stayed and allowed the performance to conclude although in an abreviated form. I bet Ludvig was seething when backstage though? Maybe?
Anyway this was not the smoothest ending to my festival experience but hey ho!! I got a tram back to the Absintheria Sixtina, had wheat beer, took a photo of some goth girls still up for a party and then i headed over to the Haupfbahnhoff to get an early morning Flixbus back to Berlin.
To conclude, it took me a while to get into this years proceedings and i shall be back next year for round three!!