In the early 80s, the Batcave was a legendary nightclub in London, famous for being the birthplace of Goth culture in Southern England, and regulars at the club included Bauhaus, Robert Smith, Siouxsie Sioux, Steve Severin, Foetus, Marc Almond and Nick Cave among others.
Last night, Los Angelenos had the chance to relive the Batcave experience (minus Nick Cave) at the new Non Plus Ultra venue, at a brand new location since the last one had to close down because of safety issues. With FOXES Magazine, a Rock n Roll Men’s Fashion and Music publication based in London, hosting the night, three bands played till very late at night, and despite a minor sound problem before Sextile’s performance (the power went off twice before they had the chance to finish a song) the night was a success, as many people had played the game and had dressed up with their best goth-punk attires.
First Susan Subtract of High-Functioning Flesh played solo as Physical Wash, and gave us a high-energy set of electronic punk, delivered with ferocity and rage. Substract was dancing and screaming, while looking like an angry punk cyborg, who was following the harsh tempo of his hard beats and cold synth lines. It was as if he was fighting inside an imaginary world of stroboscopic sounds and repetitive techno assaults. The result was aggressive and as industrial as you can imagine, and the music sounded retro and futuristic at the same time, while installing a combative dancefloor between Substract and a few people, pumping up the atmosphere for the rest of the night.
By now, I have already seen Egrets on Ergot perform a few times, and it can be challenging to describe a band you have seen quite recently, without repeating yourself. However, their shows are so raucous, their sound is so aggressive and chaotic that honestly, my brain never totally manages to follow what’s happening in front of me. What the quartet is really doing is raising hell and annihilating any preconceived idea you may have had of songs and music. On stage, they are hitting bars of metal, injecting punk sax lines, experimenting with noise and rhythms, launching sonic charges at the top of noise assaults, while propelling their sound to a pure cacophony of brutal guitar-drums accelerations. As usual, their performance was driven by the vitality and amazing agility of frontman Adam Brooks. With the make up of Nosferatu and the theatricality of Nick Cave – well, they covered ‘Cry’ by the Birthday Party, so I had to mention him – he was restless, climbing on the drumset and everything else around him, in a perpetual screaming assault, acting like the ringmaster of a horror circus who is following strange rhythms coming from his mysterious tribe. An Egrets on Ergot show bring you on the edge of the apocalypse with a deathrock bass inspired by Bauhaus, and sax lines with the chills of a film noir soundtrack,… just listen to their song ‘Sister Please’!. Of course it didn’t take long before the chaos was communicated to the crowd, and, all set-long, I had to watch my back for these aggressive moshers.
The band has been playing a lot of shows around, and they have a few more to come with upcoming dates at the Monty Bar, the Bootleg and the Satellite, and they have recently released ‘Surfeit of Gemutlich’ on Cleopatra Records. They are the buzz of the town right now… before entering the show, I heard two young girls saying that their release party at Blank City Records (that I attended last month) was ‘the best show they had ever attended this year’. The band is surely spreading its ‘post art punk’ all over Silverlake/Echo Park, bringing back the noise right in the middle of a goth scene revival.
After a few false starts due to a power problem, SEXTILE continued to rip the place off with their ‘primitive post-punk from outer space’ sound. At least this is how they describe what they are doing. They surely have a sound, a very interesting one, blending influences from dark wave, post punk, psychedelic electronica, industrial and even pure 70s punk, well alive during their live shows and in their sophomore LP, ‘Albeit Living’. With their apparent inoffensive good looks (don’t they look a bit like a sort of A-Ha of the past), they played an aggressive and frenetic brand of music, hammering their icy synth with distortion in the guitars and reverb in the vocals. Along a primal steady drumming, their frontman brings the show to a violent energy, singing and often dancing at the same time. Sextile’s music is definitively filled with noise and aggression, but there were also plenty of hooks and playfulness behind the fuzz and the chaos, transforming the place into hard dancefloors. The crowd went crazy during several of their maddening industrial goth, and I wasn’t not sure whether they were dancing or moshing, but beer got spilt on my feet, a photographer got kicked on the floor and, for one night only, the Batcave was more than a gothic fantasy of the past.
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