Category Archive for Visual Kei + Music
Summer is back, and I’m ready to play! I have some big new destinations coming up — all will be announced soon.
If you’ve been following my Instagram Stories or Snapchat (@lacarmina), you’ll have seen me at the The Birthday Massacre live in Vancouver!
Read on for a review of the Gothic concert. I also included some snapshots from Kyoto, Japan because they remind of Rose (as I last saw this band with her in 2010.)
Greetings, Earthlings. We are now taking over your planet. (Couldn’t resist posing with the UFO spaceship “Time Top,” by Jerry Pethick.)
Before the concert, my friends and I spent the day walking by the ocean, and enjoying the sunshine that has finally hit Vancouver.
I’m shading my eyes from the light with these exact John Lennon Walrus eyeglasses (yes, he has a glasses collection!) These round, retro metal frames are based on the design that the Beatles musician wore in iconic photos.
If you can “imagine” yourself wearing John Lennon sunglasses, you can get them here.
We encountered yet another alien mothership on our walk. (Okay, it’s Vancouver Science World).
– Outfit Details – I bought my dress at Siam Paragon / Discovery mall in Bangkok, Thailand.
My diamond fishnet tights are from We Love Colors. They carry a variety of colored socks and legwear (mine are the wide mesh fishnet style in navy — great for warm weather).
A perfect day of wandering around downtown. We stopped for dinner and cocktails, and then headed to The Venue on Granville Street for the show.
The opening act, Sumo Cyco, started the show — and stole it. The stylish lead singer Sever (or Skye Sweetnam) is impossible to take your eyes from. She tossed her blue-green hair back and forth, crouched like a tiger, and went out into the crowd to down a whiskey shot. By the end of the set, her powerful stage presence had everyone smiling and bopping along.
Sumo Cyco’s songs are a mix of punk and metal: catchy hooks and riffing guitars over heavy beats. I was impressed with Sever’s vocals, which moved from the sweetness of Gwen Stefani to a deadly growl.
My friends and I were all blown away by Sumo Cyco, and would see them live again. It’s fantastic to discover an indie, female-fronted band that rocks this hard, exceeding all expectations for an opening act.
Next up: a solid performance by Army of the Universe. This industrial dance music group hails from Italy, and is signed to the Metropolis Records.
I’m often reminiscing about the 1990s these days… Army of the Universe spoke to my nostalgia, with an electro-techno industrial rock sound reminiscent of early Nine Inch Nails.
The crowd went crazy when The Birthday Massacre walked on. The Canadian Gothic group formed in 1999, and has cultivated a rabid following ever since.
It seems all my alternative friends have seen them at some point, and continue to love them (myself included). The band’s dark vision yet inclusive, positive energy have made an impact on many growing up Goth.
The dynamic lead singer, Chibi, displayed as much energy as ever. She always gives 100% love to her fans, trading cheeky comments and reaching down to hold their hands.
The band’s name, The Birthday Massacre, perfectly encapsulates front-woman Chibi: cute, chirpy, with a touch of evil.
Any time you see The Birthday Massacre on a concert bill, you know you’ll get a brilliant performance. The musicians displayed their talent through a wide-ranging dark spectrum of sound: electronic, atmospheric, Goth-melodic, headbanging guitar, and the all-mighty keytar.
Michael Rainbow and Chibi are two of original founders (along with Michael Falcore), and you can sense the telepathic connection between them on-stage.
The touring drummer, Nik Pesut, only had two days to learn the songs, and rocked them. Even with a new addition, the live show is as strong as ever.
The Birthday Massacre treated us to two hours of nonstop fun and dancing. They played their most beloved songs, including Blue, Kill the Lights, Looking Glass. Chibi gave a shout-out to a fan celebrating her big day, at the start of the Happy Birthday song.
The group also debuted a few new songs from their upcoming album. I can’t wait for this one: my friend Kevvy Metal (Kevin Maher) worked on the production, and the cover art looks fantastic. The newest songs are on the heavier side, with lots of headbanging riffs.
The band ended with a three-song encore, including a cover of Tiffany’s “I Think We’re Alone Now” that got me cheering. (All right, it’s originally by Tommy James & The Shondells).
The Birthday Massacre put on a brilliant, fan-friendly show as always. Check out their site for upcoming tour dates; this is an act you must see live.
My friends and I were talking about how strange it is to talk about Rose in the past tense… she would have been the first to get tickets for this show.
Still, it feels like she is alongside us, at events like these. In this vein, thought I’d end by sharing some last photos from Kyoto: I took snaps of cute stores that she would have gone wild for.
Rose always wanted to go to Japan, but her health never stabilized to the point where it was possible.
When I saw this collection of cute little seals (San-X Mamegoma toys), I immediately thought of her. She’d run right over to them and give them a squeeze!
Rose loved Halloween everything (like me), and all things kawaii with a touch of weird. She would have swooped up these pumpkin-seal and witch-rabbit hybrids.
This Kyoto portion continues below…
As much as I travel, I can’t be everywhere at once. This year, I sadly wasn’t able to make it to Wave Gotik Treffen in Leipzig (the biggest Gothic festival in the world).
Thankfully, my friend Jen was at WGT with her camera, and put together a special report for us! Read on for her German Goth stories, including images of the Victorian Village, flamboyant fashion, and industrial bands.
If I went to the festival, I would have worn these eye-catching steampunk shoes from Hades Footwear! Their Harajuku boots are my current favorites — such a striking design, with a metal heel and vintage-looking buckles. You can get these exact boots here.
Shop my outfit below:
I’m a huge fan of Hades Footwear, a California-based shoe company that specializes in alternative, Goth, Victorian and steampunk styles. They make unique designs like studded stilettos or thigh high boots — you won’t find these in regular stores!
(Click the photos below to browse more Hades Footwear styles.)
Now, let’s hand the keyboard over to my friend Jen (pictured above left, with her favorite corset maker Ludwig Lilienthal). Enjoy her diary of Wave Gotik Treffen 2015 with photos by Seventh Sin, the event photography company that she co-owns.
At the end, Jen invites you to submit photos and memories of Wave Gotik Treffen for a museum exhibition. I hope you’ll consider taking part in this historical project.
Jen writes: We skipped the traditional Friday afternoon picnic at Clara Zetkin Park in favor of checking out a new Friday afternoon event, Viona’s Victorian Village, held at the stunning Arena am Panometer. The Village features not only a grassy area to picnic, but also vendors, DJs and concerts.
Lolita style is no longer as prevalent in Germany as it was a few years back, but the girls who do it go all out.
We saw metal artist Pawel Athanasios Lickas working live at the Village.
There was a vague dress code to encourage to guests to participate rather than merely goth-stalking, but as you can see from the crowd photos, everyone who made an effort no matter what their personal style, was welcome.
This made for a lovely atmosphere where we were able to relax and find old friends among the crowd, and have conversations without being trampled by overzealous onlookers.
The left photo shows Courtney of Atropos Threads and a friend from Paris, in front of Courtney’s stand at the Victorian Village.
Diverse examples of the decadent personal style seen at Wave Gotik Treffen — from feathered collars to braided wigs.
The smiling participants and winners of the costume contest.
One of the best places to meet with friends and look around for new trends is the Agra, the main venue of WGT where the campground, market, and largest concerts are held. The “Black Market” is a huge hall where people can buy dark fashion and accessories.
Schnitt Muskel‘s macabre fetish and cyber inspired cuts and misappropriated materials seemed like a stark contrast to puderblonde‘s fashion and accessories in steampunk, gothic, shabby chic style. Nonetheless, the two small designers were working their booths together at the market.
I admired Benito Alesio’s stunning work for The Original Atelier…
… and these spooky-hawaii figurines from Pandemonium Crafts.
Romantic jewelry and headdresses from Nox Aurum, decorated with antler horns and lace fans.
As much fun as these events were, the main draw of the weekend was the 224 concerts and many dance nights on the official program. Our cat Hugin did his best to hide the schedule and keep us home, but in the end, he decided that having so many guests to fuss over him and fluttery black clothing to play with was actually pretty awesome.
This year we focused on meeting up with friends and catching smaller, less known acts. We saw Dan and Olaf of Harmjoy make their WGT debut (above)…
Did you know that next year will be the 25th Wave-Gotik-Treffen in Leipzig? WGT has grown from its humble beginning with 6 bands and one venue, to an event that brings in over 20,000 visitors and offers events all over the city. WGT has had its growing pains, but remains true to its ideal as a meeting point for goth subculture.
(These “classic Goth” photos by Muetze were taken at the first Wave-Gotik-Treffen in 1992!)
I’m thrilled to be working with the City History Museum of Leipzig to present the story of WGT and the goth movement in Germany, in an exhibition that will open next spring. If you’ve been to WGT we would be very interested to hear your stories and see your photos and videos.
We’re also looking for “objects” to display: such as clothing or shoes that you wore, signed albums or posters from bands you met at WGT, or handmade memorabilia. We’re also looking for people willing to be interviewed about their WGT experiences and featured as part of the exhibit, so please drop me a line if you’re interested.
(La Carmina’s note: I hope you’ll consider taking part in this Goth museum exhibit, and will do my best to see it next year!)
Last but certainly not least, I’m honored to reveal… I’m on the cover of FlyMe360° Travel & Lifestyle Magazine!
This new magazine is the brainchild of three friends and frequent travellers, who felt they could improve on the current travel publications in the market. FlyMe360° emphasizes personal, genuine travel stories that connect with all types of readers. The inaugural issue is an entertaining mix of first-person accounts, gadget reviews, photography tips, finance and health articles, and more.
FlyMe360° puts a special focus on travels in Asia. I contributed a story about my experiences last year in Cebu, Philippines. Above is a peek at the pages.
I encourage you to subscribe to FlyMe360 for free! You’ll get access to all of the first twelve issues (including my article), and perks such as prizes. The magazine invites you to contribute your own travel stories too — you can find out more and contact them through their site
(And if you’re still thinking about my Hades steampunk boots — here’s where you can find these shoes.)
I’m pleased you enjoyed my first report from Whitby Goth Weekend 2015! It was my first time at this massive British alt music and culture festival, and the entire town was filled with dark inspiration.
Let’s continue this WGW series with style snaps of attendees, a browse through the fashion bazaars…
(Find Goth corsets, boots and more below)
… and a review of the Goth and Glam musical performances.
Whitby is a seaside town in Yorkshire (northern England). At first, this seems to be a bizarre location for a Goth music and culture festival.
However, when you witness the dramatic skies, crashing waves and Dracula abbey on the horizon, it all makes sense.
Photographer Joey Wong spotted this appropriately black cat, giving us the evil eye.
We were glad to have a quaint, comfortable place to relax between the various Goth concerts and activities.
Staying with Sykes Cottages meant we got to experience “country living,” yet stay within walking distance to the center of Whitby. And we weren’t at all “roughing it” — the cottage rental had several bathrooms and a fully stocked modern kitchen.
I recommending finding accommodations through their site, if you’re coming to Whitby Goth Weekend. If only my ghost could linger here longer!
We spent most of our time at the Spa Pavilion, where the live music takes place. The Spa also has a cafeteria and multiple halls filled with vendors.
As I noted before, you’ll have to climb a steep flight of stairs to reach the Spa, so wear appropriate footwear…
The Spa is also the best place to people-watch. We were stunned by this gentleman’s DIY steampunk suit. Those clockwork gears and details!
He even rigged the outfit so that at the press of a button, steam emanated from the top of his headpiece.
We saw an enormous variety of fashion at WGW — carnival, cyber, Goth, deathrock, Victorian, pin-up.
Many attendees wore elaborate clothing that they made themselves, out of materials like feathers.
We recommend getting passes in advance via the Whitby Goth Weekend website, since early birds get discounts. The next event is in October, so you can plan ahead.
The organizers graciously gave us press passes. All of the staff was knowledgeable and well-prepared, and happy to answer questions.
Bring British pounds with you, as there are at least three different locations for vendor markets. These independent sellers set up booth, and sell one-of-a-kind alternative accessories, sweets, clothing, you name it.
This is what the scene looked like, in just one of the halls… As you can imagine, it gets overwhelming! I suggest briskly looking through everything first, and then coming back to narrow down what you want to purchase.
Steampunk is one of the most popular aesthetics at Whitby Goth Weekend. You can complete your outfit with a top hat or brass pocket-watch.
I’m loving this Goth wedding cake, which looks like a weathered book.
It was Whitby Goth Weekend’s 21st anniversary, so they prepared a chocolate skull cake! There were also bat lollies and absinthe chocolates for sale.
The bazaar had lots of spooky-cute designs, like these coffin earrings and Victorian cameo necklaces.
(Below are some Steampunk items for sale.)
I gave the giant stuffed bat a squeeze. There are gifts for all ages, from kawaii-Goth pillows to toddler t-shirts.
Now, let’s take a closer look at people’s personal style at the festival. There was no set dress code — you’ll come across all ages, all aesthetics.
The only overall link was “dark creativity,” as exemplified in this apocalyptic gasmask and steampunk explorer.
My friend Nyx wears Dracula Clothing — love her vampiric collar and collection of silver rings.
We saw a fair number of baby-Goths and children at the event. This one loved posing for photos, and rocked her pink cyber locks.
Very cool to see how Goths from the 80s and 90s now have families, who all take part in the lifestyle.
The Spa also holds the “Bring and Buy,” where you can sell and purchase used clothing at discount prices.
Be sure to arrive early, since all the vending bazaars close around 5pm. After, only wristband-wearers (who bought passes) are allowed into the venue to watch the concerts.
Joey and I got to see the bands from the photography area, just inches from the performers. We began the evening with The Last Dance, a Goth rock band that has been releasing consistently strong albums since they formed in California in 1990.
Vocalist Jeff Diehm sang a few songs with female guest Velvet Shadow. The band’s category-defying dark synth sound, coupled with a joyous stage presence, made for one of the most enjoyable performances of WGW.
The Last Dance ended with a raucous cover of “Dead Man’s Banter.” You couldn’t help but smile when Jeff and guest Ed Banshee linked arms and swayed together on stage.
Whitby Goth Weekend’s concert hall has impressive acoustics. The space has an intimate feeling, perhaps since everyone in the audience traveled a long way to come to this festival.
For every band, there were fans leaning over the railing, singing along to every song.
Next, it was glitter-punk decadence with Sigue Sigue Sputnik! Mohawks, sequined tops, horse tails, and codpieces took over the stage, and we knew we were in for a wild ride.
The band tore through glam rock numbers from the 1980s to the recent “Electronic” incarnation. The outfits and shenanigans took center stage, but each members had the musical chops to back up this visual candy.
Martin Degville looked like a dystopian punk, with his fishnet mask and salacious gestures. Near the end of the set, he launched into a cover of David Bowie’s “Jean Genie,” to the delight of the crowd.
Last but not least, we have Bella Morte. Joey’s image captures the pure, visceral energy from frontman Andy Deane. He leapt all over the stage — sometimes veering dangerously close to the equipment and ledge — and kept everyone in rapt attention.
The group’s name means “beautiful death,” and it fits their music: sometimes hard and dark, but always beautiful. Bella Morte’s latest album, “Exorcisms,” encapsulates the feeling of watching them raw and live on stage.
After the last set, the Spa turned into the ultimate Goth party! The DJs’ playlist veered towards old school Gothic, New Wave and post-punk tracks, which I personally love to hear.
The dancefloor looked like a coven of witches, swaying in their long black gowns.
See these bands and dancers in action, in the video above and on VideofyMe.
I leave you with the ominous Whitby Abbey… Later, I’ll show you an editorial magazine cover photoshoot that we did right against the church ruins.
Isn’t it wonderful to see dark, alternative bands and fashion thriving, at Whitby Goth Weekend? Perhaps you’ll make the trip out for the next WGW during Halloween 2015!
Joy Division & The Smiths tour: Manchester Music Tours! Factory Records, Salford Lads Club, Ian Curtis grave.
I’m wearing Joy Division tights, and posing like Morrissey — in Manchester, England!
For years, I’ve wanted to make a pilgrimage to this British city, which is one of the birthplaces of Goth and Post-Punk. But as Ian Curtis sang in “Disorder” — “I’ve been waiting for a guide to come and take me by the hand / Could these sensations make me feel the pleasures of a normal man?”
The answer is yes, yes, yes. Manchester Music Tours took me on the perfect customized Joy Division / New Order / The Smiths journey…
… which included stops at Factory Records (above), Ian Curtis’ grave and home, Salford Lads Club, and Manchester Cathedral. Read on for the photos and stories!
(But first — if you aren’t familiar with these bands, I suggest you scroll to the end of this post, and hit “Play” on the musical widget. It contains a selection of their songs, so you can listen as you read.)
Manchester Music Tours is run by Craig Gill, drummer of rock band Inspiral Carpets. I couldn’t have found a more passionate and knowledgeable guide. Craig has lived and breathed the local music scene since he was in his early teens. All day, he riveted me with stories of the Mad-Chester rave days, Noel Gallagher auditioning for his group (and getting rejected), and personal tales of growing up in this gritty city.
Craig offers both bus and walking tours, themed around famous Manchester bands including the Stone Roses and Oasis. He also does bespoke tours, and customized one for me around my personal favorites: Joy Division and The Smiths.
We started at Affleck’s, an alternative fashion center in the Northern Quarter (I’ll take you inside, in an upcoming post).
The exterior has tiled murals dedicated to Manchester luminaries. On the far right is a tribute to Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures album cover — notice it’s the same pattern on my leggings and skirt.
Nearby, there’s a Manchester musical walk of fame. I’m standing on a tribute to the Twisted Wheel Club, a 1960s and 70s nightclub for Northern Soul. (Craig’s band has a triangular plaque on this street too!)
We hopped back on the bus, and drove to Factory Records — the label of Joy Division, New Order, Happy Mondays and other British indie bands. (I did my makeup in 80s Goth style, to commemorate this era!)
● Outfit Details ●
– LovelySally leggings and skirt, featuring the Unknown Pleasures album cover print. This brand has many unique prints, including forest scenes and galaxies.
– Skull t-shirt from Iceland’s Dead Gallery. In an upcoming post, I’ll take you inside artist Jón Sæmundur’s studio.
Shop for Joy Division fashion and accessories below.
Nearby, we found a stencil of “Mr Manchester” by street artist Stewy. That’s the nickname of Tony Wilson, founder of The Factory and energy force behind the Manchester music and nightlife revival.
Tony Wilson is portrayed brilliantly in the movie 24 Hour Party People — I encourage you to watch it, if you haven’t already.
Today, this is building is home to FAC251, or the Factory Manchester nightclub. It’s co-owned by Peter Hook, bassist of New Order and Joy Division.
Thanks to Craig’s distinctive yellow bus, we were able to visit many famous spots in the course of a day. Photographer Joey Wong and I wanted to re-create famous visuals of the bands, so we stopped by Epping Walk bridge for a quick photoshoot.
This is the footbridge where Kevin Cummins took the iconic photo of Joy Division (above), in the late 1970s.
So cool, to be standing in their footsteps! The feeling of the bridge remains the same, over 40 years later.
(Although for some reason, the city replaced the original streetlamps and placed them on the other side. It appears they’ve added a safety hand rail too.)
Next, we drove to Salford to pay tribute to this famous photo, from the sleeve of The Smiths – Queen is Dead album.
Since 1903, the Salford Lads Club has run sports and recreational activities for young men (and now women). Today, the community is still going strong thanks to volunteers.
I did my best to imitate Morrissey‘s smug mug for the photos.
Located at the corner of Coronation Street, the Club has become one of the most famous musical landmarks. Fans from all over come to pose between the rounded arches.
Inside, I saw an old wood door marked with “The Smiths.” Inside, I found Leslie Holmes putting up photos and notes from devotees!
In 2004, Leslie led a project to turn the weightlifting room into a shrine for The Smiths. He loves meeting visitors from around the world, and puts his heart into maintaining this room for them.
He invited me to send in my photo taken outside the Salford Lads Club, which he’ll add to the wall. (Look for La Carmina, if you visit…)
The wall includes album covers, signed photos, and the original Affleck’s mosaic featuring Morrissey.
So happy to have Craig as my enthusiastic guide. He was fantastic at answering my questions, and sharing stories of the bands.
Since this was a customized tour, we could move at our own pace. We stopped for lunch at The Wizard Pub at Alderley Edge. What a special place: the inn dates back to the 16th century, and the surrounding countryside is the site of Merlin legends.
Still dreaming of that ricotta and spinach pie… (In an upcoming post, I’ll show you how Manchester’s food scene pleasantly surprised me, and defied stereotypes about British cuisine.)
It took about 45 minutes to reach Macclesfield, the town south of Manchester where Joy Division’s vocalist grew up. I loved seeing the peaceful, green countryside outside my window as Craig drove us to Macclesfield Cemetery, where he is buried.
Ian Curtis was cremated here in 1980. Fans continue to visit his curbstone, leaving photos and gifts for this beloved musician.
(The original memorial stone had a more Gothic font, but it was stolen in 2008!)
Perhaps you recognize this view from the movie Control. The final scene pans out to show the chimney where he was cremated.
This Victorian-era graveyard is beautiful — the perfect resting place for the man who many consider to be the first Gothic musician.
Manchester Music Tours also took us to the Macclesfield home that Ian Curtis shared with his wife (and where he ultimately committed suicide, in the kitchen). The house was recently sold to an unknown buyer. Let’s hope he or she is a Joy Division aficionado, and will preserve the rose-stained door
Also in the movie Control, you’ll see the actor playing Ian Curtis walk from this exact home to his job nearby, as an employment agent. The back of his jacket reads “Hate.”
While working here, Ian witnessed a woman suffering a seizure, inspiring the lyrics of the Joy Division song “She’s Lost Control.”
Craig Gill and I posed in front of the Juveniles sign (there’s a plaque for the band on another wall). We seem to be imitating the “dancing girls” emoji pose.
For our last stop, we drove back to Manchester and stopped by the cathedral where the band took these shivering pictures
That’s as Gothic as it gets. (If you dig what I’m wearing, below are links to Joy Division shirts and more).
Love the Gargoyles perched on the pillars.
Manchester Cathedral has a history that dates back centuries. Today, it holds poetry readings, musical performances and more.
I can’t thank Manchester Music Tours enough for this inspiring journey! Goth / post-punk music fans, I urge you to join one of Craig’s tours (schedules and more info are on his site). Having a passionate, easygoing guide like him was invaluable, and let us visit multiple locations in just half a day.
(Below is a bonus photo of The Hacienda, Tony Wilson’s happening club and music venue. Today, it’s an apartment complex but the name remains.)
Craig’s band, Inspiral Carpets, recently released a new studio album that you can pick up here. Psychedelic organs, spoken word, and dark beats — I’ve been listening to it on loop in my car.
Manchester’s music scene continues to rock hard. Inspiral Carpets is performing with Echo & The Bunnymen, Gang of Four and other indie bands on May 23rd at Manchester Academy (I wish I could be there.) Tickets are available online.
I leave you with a final shot of the Morrissey room at Salford Lads Club. “Farewell to this land’s cheerless marches / Hemmed in like a boar between arches…”
Wouldn’t you love to go on Goth music adventure like mine? Thanks to Visit Manchester for making these travels possible.
(For a taste of the bands featured in this Manchester Music Tour, click on the player below.)