Gother Than Thou 2: Beavis & Butthead Do Bradford
I am blessed - or cursed - with an ability to fall asleep anywhere. When my
brain decides it's time, that's it. I've lost count of the times I've dozed
off in the cinema, but I've managed it in nightclubs too, and now also at
an Alien Sex Fiend concert.
This was part of In-Fest 98, a selection of Goth, industrial and
electronic bands which took place in Bradford the weekend just gone. Went
up with Rob Dyer, 'Dark Star' editor and veteran of the previous TC trip to
Hamburg (yeah, I'll get round to reporting on it eventually). We took the
coach -- not a difficult decision, given that the train fare was exactly
three times as expensive. It was just about survivable, though I think five
hours on a bus is about the limit for me.
Our accomodation was in halls of residence, and this took me back a few
years it must be said. All those little things I'd forgotten about -- like
having to take your keys when you went to the bathroom, and having a room
at which an Inspector of Prisons would look disapprovingly. But, hey, for
fourteen quid a night, who's complaining? And most of the rest of the floor
was packed with like-minded people, so it was a bit like attending Goth U.
For despite the title, the audience was almost exclusively Goth in
appearance. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, for there were plenty
of Winonas to admire i.e. small, cute and dressed in black -- readers are
referred to 'Beetlejuice' for an example. While there were a couple of
serious hippos on view, the general opinion was most favourable: as Rob
Dyer pointed out, "Goth girls *know* how to dress". Though the perpetual
scowls were not particularly enhancing; how are you supposed to tell when
Goths are enjoying themselves? Are they looking miserable because they're
unhappy, or just 'cos they're Goths? I suspect the latter, going by the way
the song which got the dancefloor most packed was that Goth classic, er,
However, the most memorable sight of all was actually a bloke. From the
shoulders up, he looked like a card carrying Hell's Angel, and possessed
enough tattoos to get him executive membership at any Yakuza golf club.
This was nicely counterpointed by the leather corset, PVC trousers and
platform soles. That, was a man extremely confident of his sexuality.
Though precisely WHAT that sexuality was, I wouldn't begin to contemplate.
Instead, I just remember the Douglas Adams quote: "the things...the
people...the things are ALSO people."
Saturday morning dawned bright and early...well, bright, anyway. Headed
into town to explore a bit, pausing for the obligatory greasy breakfast.
Bradford town centre is compact, and hilly, with plenty of character, and a
good selection of shops. Rather nice. A copy of VR Baseball, four Xena
comics, a book about Lara Croft and some pine kernels (don't ask!) later,
it was back to the campus for a marathon ten-hour session.
- Dust to Dust. Turned up a bit late, due to an essential stop for
a local curry (and very good it was, too), so only got three of their
songs, all covers -- a Goth tribute band?
- Leech Woman. Impressive percussion, using such things as
acetylene cylinders and an angle grinder, which sent showers of sparks into
the audience. Vocals disappointing, with all the intelligibility of Napalm
- Ultraviolence. Hardcore techno. One man and his sequencers,
accompanied by Leech Woman's angle-grinder and two go-go dancers, one of
whom was also a fire-eater. Press your head against the loudspeakers, and
wait for the nose-bleed. Me like.
- The Horatii. Almost traditional Goth, yet also possessing a
quirky sense of humour, which was endearing. Hell, maybe it's just a big
joke after all. Vocalist again a little underwhelming, but not bad, and
had a nice rapport with the audience.
Picking myself up, I managed to remain conscious for the last couple
of songs, and then meander home experiencing a Bradford kebab. Something of
a first to have one that comes in naan bread, and very messy it is too,
with the assorted sauces spraying out over the vicinity. Trekked back to
the hotel and crash out -- the next morning, we discover Man(i)kin are
actually just down the corridor from us!
- Sneaky Bat Machine. SOOOOOO Goth they had to be a parody, though
it was some time before we were sure. I think flinging rubber bats into the
audience gave it away. Doom-laded electro-pop, bonus marks for particularly
insistent merchandise flogging, even trying to sell the window behind them.
- Man(i)kin. A real find, perhaps the band most likely to make it,
with an excellent wall of electronic sound. Their vocalist, looking like a
young Dave Gahan, needs work but, remarkably, this was their first time
live, so we'll give them the benefit. Most impressive.
- Passion Play. Maybe it was just in comparison, but this lot were
utterly forgettable. No stage presence at all, and nothing new or of
interest, though in their defence Goth music is perhaps not at its best on a
bright and warm August afternoon. Next, please.
- Squid. Replaced Libitina (out due to an "industrial accident"):
thrash-goth, worth catching before the lead vocalist commits suicide or his
throat explodes. The former seemed more likely, until they did the theme to
"Dad's Army", which made up for missing Libitina's notorious 'Gothic
- Nekromantik. A fairly lifeless duo, one on vocals, the other on
keyboards. Their more upbeat numbers worked well enough, yet the rest
proved insufficient to keep our interest, and we retired to find seats and
played 'Count the Babes' for a while.
- Alien Sex Fiend. A long-time veteran of the scene, having been
around since the 70's, yet Mr.Fiend's pasty-faced keyboard-backed doodlings
were not what was really needed at this hour. Even at about ten minutes per
song, it took him half an hour to deliver anything with a beat. From
standing, I sat down with my back to a pillar; then closed my eyes to
listen to the music...the next thing I know, a security guard is kicking my
feet and asking if I'm alright.
Bradford city centre was almost deserted on Sunday, save for ourselves
and a few other stray Goths wandering round, blinking in the sunlight and
trying to find anywhere open that sold food before getting the bus back to
London. Net result: shattered, hungover, broke, and having had a rather
good time. Roll on In-fest '99.
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