This great festival has been a wonderful surprise for me: I planned to go to Paris just for a short holyday, and didn’t expect to see any concert but, once discovered the event, how could I refuse so many bands (mostly French) playing together, from 15 to dawn, in the same place?
La Locomotive is a big venue just next to the Moulin Rouge, with 2 different stages (Main and Underground one), and an upper flood for the exposition of gothic shops/painters/tattoo. Everything was well organised, and no incidents occurred. About the concert, sometimes I had to decide which band I’d like to see, because they were playing at the same time on different stages, and I don’t like very much to see 10 min of one and 10 minutes of the other, going back and forth and never "entering" the feeling of the concert. I hope I decided well, even though I can say that I felt more comfortable with the Underground Stage, with hot bands playing a bloody gothic rock, and where being close to their public doesn’t mean only talking with silly groupies after the exhibition.
Due to some problems I arrived late to see CRACK OV DAWN and LITURGY OF DECAY, and I’m really sorry because I was quite curious about them. The first band I can hear is MASNADA, playing a sort of nu-metal: sometimes I heard some analogies with Papa Roach, but more obscure. The band, who released two albums, sings in French, and on stage has a great scenic impact and an aggressive sound that is remarkable. Their genre usually isn’t my cup of tea but I did like them, and so did the public, still a bit cold but singing their songs.
On the other stage I can see the VOICES OF MASADA, an UK band previously unknown to me. And they’re a very good discovery, because their sound is deep and intense and their "British Gothic Rock" (as they describe themselves) is really a pleasure for my ears. On the beats of a drum-machine, the pulsing bass and the energetic guitar melt together, creating a landscape for the good vocal performance of the singer Raymon. Their songs mix energy, passion and choruses you can remember, and I like their care for aesthetics. Definitely a very good band, on the path of Fields of the Nephilim, but with their own personality: I bought their two albums as soon as they ended the concert!
Still on the Underground stage come the French band DEADCHOVSKY. They’ve a particular visual impact, with the singer/bassist Afterglauk dressed as a psychedelic painter and also the other members with particular dressing. The music, too, isn’t conventional: they play a mixture of punk/dark with an artistic and theatrical approach, with songs "in your face" and songs more difficult to catch at first listening, with waltzing rhythm and a more cabaret-oriented voice. Their exhibition is an astonishing delirium, with public in love with them: "Solène is a Batcave" makes people jumping everywhere. If you like psychotic songs with vigorous rhythm section (very good the basslines), a sharp guitar and horrorific keyboards, they’re the band you need.
Due to the contemporaneous exhibition, I didn’t see much of JADALLYS. Their "fairy rock" consists of a gothic metal rhythm with female voice, and this can appear as the same meat loaf already known. But I think they’re different because Selene’s voice isn’t always soft and ethereal, but knows how to scream and does it many times (do you remember Guano Apes?). The songs aren’t plain and slow, but aggressive, moving, rhythmical and make you shake and feel the beat with all your body. Yet, they have also an ethnic influence they’ve shown in some particular tribal drum arrangements and in a song that was a duo between voice and djambé.
KATZENJAMMER KABARETT is another French band with a really particular and personal approach. They describe themselves ad Deathrock Cabaret, and I think never a definition has been better. The audio of the concert is terrible, with bass and keyboards covering everything else, and instruments not melting in an unique sound. Despite these problems, I can hear that their songs are nice, rhythmical and melodic, with Mary Komplikated’s voice like a crazy Siouxie. Dressed like a moustached pirate with tricorn, she dances and together with the other members transmits a sense of happy insanity, a ship of fools coming to shock the audience and make people jump and dance. The only problem is that after some time I feel bored of cabaret-style voice and I need an old-fashioned singing with choruses I can listen and remember (on the album the songs seems to be more immediate).
About DARK SANCTUARY’s, their serious and hieratic exhibition is a strong contrast after all the death-rock bands seen till now. Their gloom atmospheres and the heavenly voice are really ecstatic, with beautiful arrangements: they surely aren’t like the usual clones of Dead Can Dance. Deep are their sounds, with all the instruments magically plaited together, and over all the superb voice of their singer. When drums starts playing, the sound becomes more and more powerful, like a storm approaching or like an army marching, with keyboards, violins, cello, bass, bagpipe giving voice to the darkest feelings. A refined and not easy-listening band, but what a pleasure when you discover their world.
VIOLET STIGMATA is a band I already knew and adored. "Energy" is the only word that can describe a performance that took me like in a whirlwind. A temple of fire on stage, with the audience shouting and slam-dancing. "Cut the Flesh Wires" is the song that makes the unbelievable happen, with people jumping and dancing even on the ceiling. All the band is a concentrate of power, and knows how to involve the listeners; the singer is great, has personality to sell, even though his voice live has a different tone, without all the effects it has on cd. Their exhibition is so intense that they exhausted my reserve of strength, but they seem to have unending resources.
COLLECTION D’ARNELL ANDREA are an historical band born in the far 1986, with about ten albums in their career and a particular way of composing that mix electronic beats, classical instruments, electric guitar. Compositions like pearls, crystal-clear and passionate, perfect in their balance between harmony and movement. The big room is crowded, and they receive a strong support from the audience. In my opinion, their perfection is too much for a live concert, in the sense that they could appear cold and their message couldn’t reach the listener or catch him. That’s what happened to me: on records I found them great, but live something was lacking, like there was an abyss between me and the band playing on stage.
CHARLES DE GOAL is an institution for French New Wave, starting in 1980 and playing still today a rock with post-punk energy and rough melodies. Instruments are raped in aggressive way, transmitting a harsh feeling, with light distortions but great power. Charles de Goal is in the middle between Elvis Costello and an intellectual chansonnier. Older than the other bands, this ensemble isn’t "old" at all: they play with a vigour and a passion unknown to many younger gothic bands more interested in their hairstyle than in music they play. That’s Charles de Goal, an ensemble without compromise that plays naked to the bone, a bloody and "real" rock.
Underground: that the word we can use to describe that wonderful character that is JACQUY BITCH! The ex-Neva singer plays in a terrible situation, with drums that seem to come from the other room, so low they are and giving no power to the concert, and this visibly annoys him. It’s a pity because songs are quite pleasant, particular, melodic even though powerful and not foreseeable. He has the same voice as in the past, but the energy he gives off is ten times more then ever. Sometimes the distorted bass covers everything but, despite everything against, the performance is fantastic and public listens to him forgetting the Cinema Strange starting playing in the other room. The new songs remember something of the last Rozz Williams’ vocal approach, but I can’t mention one song in particular that is better than the other, for all are very good. I can only say that when the band starts "Louchald" from Neva era, the world falls apart.
About CINEMA STRANGE I haven’t much to say, because most of the time I was in the underground room looking at Jacquy Bitch’s concert. I think they’re an interesting band, with well-played and well-composed songs, morbid and obscure... but there’s something that doesn’t appeal me. Probably, as said before, the cabaret approach with voice lamenting and crying they have in quite all the compositions annoys me too much. They play live still without the drummer and, as usual, you love them or you hate them. I’m in the middle with a tendency for the second choice, but I could change my mind if in the future something will prove I’m wrong. Anyway, they’ve so many fans they don’t need another more.
TORS OF DARTMOOR are great. The singer Rüdiger Frank has one of the deepest, warmest and profound voices I ever heard in dark/gothic scene. They play compositions from their previous albums and from the last album "Chapter VI". The Bauhaus’ cover "Bela Lugosi is Dead" has been received with thundering applause, while "Welcome to the House" embraces with its fascinating atmosphere, such as "Scottish Rain". "God Gave No More" and "Chapter One" are other wonderful songs, powerful and passionate. Surely the concert could be better with a real drummer and/or bass player, but the duo Rutger Franck-Wolf Koch does its best to involve the audience. They’re a great band, but they deserve more than they got in their career, and I hope they’ll get because if you see them live you fall in love with them.
I saw only one song of INKUBUS SUKKUBUS, because of the T.O.D. concert and because I don’t like too much this ensemble. A too metal (for my taste) rhythm section and too pop oriented vocals makes the band something already heard and not so interesting, compared to what I had listened till now. Some songs are undoubtedly nice, but I can’t really enjoy their exhibition.
The aesthetics of FRANK THE BAPTIST is like an undertaker style mixed with a kitsch death-rock approach. Their performance is energetic, pleasant, really a good ensemble to listen to. The songs from the forthcoming album are in same path of the previous, with a good balance between power and melody.
I didn’t see TERMINAL CHOICE: it was too late for me and, anyway, I don’t like them too much. They seem to me to be the usual German band that consider Gothic only a way to play pop music with a makeup, using a kitsch or fetish aesthetics and drumbeats I usually hear in commercial discos. Sorry, not what I think dark/gothic is.