Nashville After Midnight – Demon Night Fest 5-25-19

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Editor’s note: this post comes from our good and talented close friend E Young. To be featured on SoBros Network, just…like…shoot us an e-mail or something….

Hello friends, local creep-at-large here again. Say, what is “goth” to you?

Is it spooky music & kinky fashion? Is it big 80’s hair and black eyeliner? Is it dudes that look like The Crow/Sting? Is it Bauhaus and Siouxsie Sioux?

Goth, especially for new folks, often feels like an impenetrable fortress. The truth is, goth is all of those things, but at it’s core it is a music-based subculture. A goth is someone that listens to goth music and participates in the scene.

(By the way, if that clinical definition makes you feel some kind of way, feel free to find me out east and we’ll hash it out.)

So, if that’s all goth is… the most logical follow up question is: what is goth music? That’s where things get tricky. That’s where the infighting starts because, believe it or not, goth music is pretty hard to categorize beyond “something something post-punk”. I mean, we know it when we hear it right? Well, about that.

The end of May brought us the answer to that question in the form of Demon Night Fest, a musical extravaganza created by the local goth community, for the local goth community. The event took place at the Mercy Lounge and featured six acts and local vendors (and one not-so-local guest but just as important: Vinegar Syndrome for all your cult movie needs).

As most subcultural things go in the Bible Belt, word got out that there was an alleged protest planned by people that apparently hate black clothing and vendor tables. Bless their hearts. If they actually showed up, they must have got stuck in line for the hot dog cart because I didn’t see ‘em.

Y’all like darkness? Witchcraft? Fog? Dancing? Loud bellows from the ninth level of hell to a beat? Born in sin? Come on in!

The Mercy Lounge is a great venue, maybe even a little underrated. The acoustics in there are top notch and there’s plenty of floor space and outdoor seating. Just big enough for a mini-festival yet still small enough that you can see the whites of everyone’s eyes, which I love. Things kicked off in the daytime which hurt my dark little soul, but after the first group, and nightfall came (and a few drinks, let’s be honest) things really came alive…

All the groups curated for the evening represented a large swath of goth and ultra dark sounds. First up was Future Unlimited, a band local to Nashville. Their sound is probably closest to what one things of when “goth” crops up, specifically goth rock. A little moody and unpredictable with nervous guitars and thumping bass, vocals barely holding it together against the strain. The floor show was perfectly chaotic and unpolished like proper punk should be. I feel alive already!

As night settled, things took a hard right with Roseclouds of North Carolina. Look, Roseclouds scared me, okay? I wasn’t sure if Micah Moses was going to slit my throat or dissolve into a fit on the floor. But if I’m not in at least a little danger at a venue then I’m not interested. Their sound veers far away from the umbrella of typical goth into Industrial with black metal influence. Whether Industrial is under the “dark” category is a debate for another day, but there was definitely a home here for Roseclouds’s harsh, dissonant sounds; think Nitzer Ebb listening to Emperor on repeat for a weekend and hitting the studio like “yeah, let’s try that”.

So, I’m an introvert by nature but I have a hard time not running my mouth to strangers. Anxiety problems! It was a few hours into the festival that I realized a gentleman I had been talking to on and off was the man behind Panic Priest out of good ol’ Chicago, Illinois. Panic Priest was one of the acts I was most hyped to see and he didn’t disappoint. This project is the second closest to what one probably thinks of when “goth” is on the table, especially if you’re thinking Depeche Mode. Faraway baritone vocals, danceable melodies, romantic lyrics about love, death, pain and longing. Real life shit. Pure nostalgia.

Back to running my mouth, did you know I managed to find a way to talk about wrestling to someone? It’s true. And because I’m the worst person I almost missed the punishing blacklight beat of Fee Lion, likewise of Illinois. Fee Lion’s sound is slinky & kinky, Fad Gadget-esque tunes fit for leather and latex. And maybe the fog was getting to me at this point but hers was a very heady performance. Don’t be shocked if you’re caught up in her hypnotic sway.

Another pause, and… now a word about our vendors! Welcome to the kooky side of the city. I love patronizing local artists and makers, and during events like this it’s important to make it worth everyone’s while. That’s how I found myself with merchandise from Little Press on the Prairie and Athamè Metaphysical AND Vinegar Syndrome in about thirty minutes. Retail therapy is great, as are witchy things and teeny tiny enamel pins. If I may, this event was made for me. And, again because I can’t sit still without a long Shaggy Dog story to someone close by, Olivia from Athamè indulged me with conversation for a good minute. Bless her heart. I’m sober at this point, by the way.

Annnd we’re back to the show. If you thought goth was all doom & gloom ‘n darkness then boy does Wingtips have some news for you. Wingtips is pure distilled dreampop bliss right in the veins. Dreampop is part of the ethereal side of goth music, very 80s with layered vocals and angelic synths yet still retains an edge and still doesn’t quite hit mainstream. And as the semi-main event of the night, Wingtips was a great palette refresher before we got to…

Relic. Oh sweet lord, Relic. Relic comes from the same Industrial rock quarry as Throbbing Gristle or Psychic TV or Swans by way of Cincinnati, OH. Complete sensory overload. Dystopian cyberpunk sounds. So much bass I don’t think I’ve ever recovered and enough to metallic crunch to lacerate you from clear across the room. This project is the real deal. Handle with caution. Don’t handle at all!

After Relic obliterated the rest of my senses, the night came to a soft conclusion at something after midnight. Perfect time to continue into the witching hours… or go home and go to bed.

This event was ultimately about community and I loved getting closer to my belfry siblings. The chance to dance alone and with the music I love, the subculture I’ve been in and out of for a long time. Seeing new faces and reconnecting with old! Dance battling! There’s nothing better than just being with Your People. Somewhere you belong. Hopefully if the event returns from the ashes another time, we’ll find ourselves all together in death once again. Ascend, my friends!

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