A Guide to Denver's Goth and Industrial Scene

Echo Beds | The Shitbiscuit in Minneapolis, MN | October 25, 2014
Echo Beds | The Shitbiscuit in Minneapolis, MN | October 25, 2014
Tom Murphy

The Goth and industrial bands from Denver enjoyed a kind of heyday in the '90s in Denver, with several active bands playing live. There was even a high-profile festival for a handful of years: the Denver Dark Arts Festival (later Tte Colorado Dark Arts Festival). When the momentum behind any unity in that scene ran out of steam a handful of years ago, you could still meet up with fellow appreciators of that music at dance nights at the Church and various other venues including now at Milk on Saturdays and the last Monday of the month at the hi-diive. But with the rediscovery of Goth and industrial music by a new generation of listeners it seems like it is now a kind of renaissance. Until that gets into full swing here are some photos of that scene as it was and to some extent is now.

See also: Don't Look at These Photos From Skinny Puppy's Denver Show While Eating

Blackcell | Old Curtis St. Bar | June 12, 2010
Blackcell | Old Curtis St. Bar | June 12, 2010
Tom Murphy

One of the longest continuously running industrial/dark wave bands from Denver, Blackcell (or Black Cell) set a high bar for a modern version of old school EBM with its 2013 album Songs In the Key of Black.

Born In Winter | Rock Island | September 16, 2005
Born In Winter | Rock Island | September 16, 2005
Tom Murphy

Before reinventing itself later in the decade as a progressive metal act, Born In Winter tried its hand as a Goth-industrial band. Singer Michelle Huerd now lends her considerable vocal talent to Glass Delirium.

Caustic Soul | Rock Island | September 5, 2004
Caustic Soul | Rock Island | September 5, 2004
Tom Murphy

The guys in Caustic Soul were the godfathers of the Goth scene in Denver in the early-to-mid 2000s taking leadership roles in bringing together the Denver Dark Arts festival and encouraging like-minded artists like Kubix and Noise 626. Pictured here the band performs at the CD release of its final, and best, album, An Absence of Warmth, a brilliant concept album about World War I.

Dark Orchid | Club Onyx | January 26, 2003
Dark Orchid | Club Onyx | January 26, 2003
Tom Murphy

Like Caustic Soul, Dark Orchid (along with eROTic) were signed to David Goff's excellent independent label, Gestalt. Fronted by Tonja Yelton (then Nolan), Dark Orchid didn't fit neatly in with the Goth scene because it was more like Concrete Blonde, but a lot of the band's friends were in that world and it had enough songs that were moody and dark at a time when that was all but synonymous with Goth.

Die Brücke | The Bluebird Theater | November 25, 2009
Die Brücke | The Bluebird Theater | November 25, 2009
Tom Murphy

Die Brücke was something like an industrial rock band. Here it is opening for Nitzer Ebb at the Bluebird Theater.  

Echo Beds | Mercury Café | June 22, 2011
Echo Beds | Mercury Café | June 22, 2011
Tom Murphy

Coming more from the worlds of hardcore and experimental garage rock, Echo Beds has become effectively the shining example of industrial music in Denver and one of the best in the nation. More like Einsturzende Neubauten and Test Department than Skinny Puppy, Echo Beds is impossible to ignore and forget. Pictured in this line-up are current members Keith Curts and Tom Nelsen as well as ex-singer/percussionist/saxophonist, David Mead.

Faces Under the Mirror | The Oriental Theater | October 1, 2013
Faces Under the Mirror | The Oriental Theater | October 1, 2013
Tom Murphy

Faces Under The Mirror was active more than ten years ago and then seemed to more or less disappear for going on a decade. Something like a cross between an industrial rock band and an EBM act, Faces was and is one of the better local bands coming from that realm of the Goth-Industrial spectrum. Here the group opens for Christian Death.

Fiction 8 | Exdo Events Center | September 27, 2009
Fiction 8 | Exdo Events Center | September 27, 2009
Tom Murphy

One of the true stars of the Goth scene in Denver in the 1990s, Fiction 8 explored a variety of sounds including what might be better called post-punk or dream pop. This rare late-era live performance happened at Vendetta Festival in 2009. David Devoe of The New Ben Franklins was once a member of this band and has contributed to what will likely be the band's next release hopefully due out in 2015.

In Ether | Club 2101 | October 15, 2006
In Ether | Club 2101 | October 15, 2006
Tom Murphy

In Ether made waves in both the noise scene and the industrial scene in Denver around the turn of the century. This 2006 reunion show found the band sharing the stage with noise legends Page 27, Syphilis Sauna Biaxial Creep and Nova Sak. Patrick Urn (on the right) now performs as Morlox and with Dave Colberg in Drones. Lucio Duran can sometimes be seen performing as Brocken Spectre.

IX07 | Brooks Center Arts | September 7, 2007
IX07 | Brooks Center Arts | September 7, 2007
Tom Murphy

BJ Serekis was the drummer of the Bedraggled with Reverend Dead Eye before he went on to drum in the earliest live incarnation of The Skivies. But the whole while he had this solo experimental/industrial project called IX07. He saw an opportunity to play on September 7 of '07 at the Brooks Center and performed his one and only live show, despite numerous records.  

nervesandgel | The Walnut Room | January 23, 2013
nervesandgel | The Walnut Room | January 23, 2013
Tom Murphy

Perhaps properly belonging with ambient or experimental electronic music, nervesandgel did plenty of playing in the Goth scene in his early days and the Legendary Pink Dots is certainly one of his main influences. Here Johnny Wohlfahrt performs with the talented vocalist Allison Young now of Orbit OK and host of the karaoke night at Hamburger Mary's on Monday nights.

Orbit Service | The Walnut Room | October 27, 2010
Orbit Service | The Walnut Room | October 27, 2010
Tom Murphy

Since the '90s, Orbit Service has been creating some of the most fascinating psychedelic ambient rock around. Also arguably not a Goth band, Orbit Service, like nervesandgel, has its roots in the dark, atmospheric psychedelia of the Legendary Pink Dots.

Psyborg Death | Old Curtis St. Bar | February 27, 2009
Psyborg Death | Old Curtis St. Bar | February 27, 2009
Tom Murphy

More a performance art act than a strictly musical one, Psyborg Death didn't exactly make the kind of music you'd want to listen to separate from the live show. But it did look the part.

Requiem In Black | Quixote's True Blue (now The Other Side) | September 19, 2008
Requiem In Black | Quixote's True Blue (now The Other Side) | September 19, 2008
Tom Murphy

A melodic EBM band, Requiem In Black was active in the second half of the 2000s while the live Goth scene was at an all time low and it never seemed to connect with many other like-minded artists.

Seraphim Shock | Gothic Theatre | June 13, 2008
Seraphim Shock | Gothic Theatre | June 13, 2008
Tom Murphy

One of the most popular of the Gothic-industrial bands from Denver, Seraphim Shock has evolved from its mid-to-late '90s theatrical, vampire-culture/Satanic melodic industrial phase into a more dark glam rock band but whatever its iteration, its shows have been dramatic and entertaining affairs.  

Shadowcaster | Secret warehouse space | December 21, 2012
Shadowcaster | Secret warehouse space | December 21, 2012
Tom Murphy

Whether performing shows including ritual like the infamous suspension show and the Satanic curse on the Monsanto corporation ritual, Shadowcaster is pretty unclassifiable but certainly seems to have an appeal to fans of industrial music and breakcore despite its music not really being in line with that.

Synapse | The Oriental Theater | October 1, 2013
Synapse | The Oriental Theater | October 1, 2013
Tom Murphy

Synapse is a current band that seems rooted in later era EBM and industrial rock. Singer Mark Sousa formerly fronted Machinegun Symphony.

A Guide to Denver's Goth and Industrial Scene

The Silver Cord emerged at a low point in the existence of live Goth music in Denver. So its hybrid of black metal and dark post-punk didn't fit in with a lot of the other music going on but somehow the band managed to garner a following among people that missed that type of music. It is still a going concern though it hasn't played a live show in what has to be two or three years.

The Siren Project | Quixote's True Blue (now The Other Side) | September 19, 2008
The Siren Project | Quixote's True Blue (now The Other Side) | September 19, 2008
Tom Murphy

One of the more popular bands in the Goth scene of the 2000s, The Siren Project is fronted by Polish immigrant Malgorzata Wacht. Really more like a dream pop band with a European flavor, the Siren Project has long been a bit misplaced in the Goth scene, though if you do anything with any mood and atmosphere it's easy to get pigeonholed as Goth. The Siren Project is currently working on a forthcoming sophomore release.

The Twilight Garden | Casselman's Bar and Venue | February 9, 2013
The Twilight Garden | Casselman's Bar and Venue | February 9, 2013
Tom Murphy

Somehow bridging punk, industrial and the melodicism of the Cure, The Twilight Garden rarely plays live in Denver but it did take the stage opening for one of the two or three live shows that legendary EBM band Velvet Acid Christ has played locally.  

Tollund Men | Rhinoceropolis | August 2, 2011
Tollund Men | Rhinoceropolis | August 2, 2011
Tom Murphy

Though technically more a minimal synth and post-punk band, in another era, Tollund Men would be considered a Goth band. On a bit of a hiatus, currently, Tollund Men will get back to live shows sometime in 2015. With several releases under its belt, Tollund Men has also garnered a bit of an international following as well as local cult band status.

Toothgnasher | random power station in central Denver | August 24, 2014
Toothgnasher | random power station in central Denver | August 24, 2014
Tom Murphy

Toothgnasher could be considered EBM but more the dark end of that with some industrial sensibilities. It is one of the few fairly active bands with ties to an earlier Goth scene still operating.

Torso | The Oriental Theater | July 17, 2008
Torso | The Oriental Theater | July 17, 2008
Tom Murphy

Not as active these days as it once was, Torso could be seen regularly for a handful of years. Basically an industrial rock band, here Torso opens for Bella Morte.

Velvet Acid Christ | Casselman's Bar and Venue | February 9, 2013
Velvet Acid Christ | Casselman's Bar and Venue | February 9, 2013
Tom Murphy

Upcoming Events

Last but certainly not least, Velvet Acid Christ is probably the longest continually running Goth-industrial project from Denver. Though VAC's Bryan Erickson rarely played live in general, he played really only two or three shows as VAC in town until this 2013 appearance. With numerous releases, VAC has been something of a prolific recording project phenomenon in EBM circles. This past year VAC has toured a bit more and it sounds like there may be another Denver show in 2015. We can only hope.

*Author's Note on the High Plains Underground Archive: In the late 1990s, I started going to local shows on a regular basis. Growing up in the '70s and '80s, I didn't know there was such a thing as local music worth checking out. But I was drawn in after seeing a band called Rainbow Sugar (an all-female punk/hip-hop/experimental guitar rock extravaganza) opening for Sleater-Kinney's first show in Colorado at The Fox Theatre in October 1998. Next, I learned about a show at the now-defunct Rebis Galleries. From there I went to the first Monkey Mania show, and there was no looking back.

Rainbow Sugar was the first local band I photographed at Herman's Hideaway in 1999. But it was in 2005 when I got my first digital camera that my extensive photo archive started. In this series, called High Plains Underground Archive, I will share a small fraction of the tens of thousands of those photos, focusing on specific venues, bands, time periods, movements and whatever else seems to make sense. The title of this series comes from the working title of my book on the history of underground music in Denver 1975 to the present.

• BACKBEAT'S GREATEST HITS • - Bryan Erickson of Velvet Acid Christ on Keeping Friendships to a Minimum Make Time For Music - The Silver Cord Explores the Dark Side of Humanity - Why DIY Venues Are Vital Are Vital to the Health of the Entire Music Scene - DIY or Die: Why Denver Need Under-The-Radar, All-Ages Arts Spaces




If you'd like to contact me, Tom Murphy, on Twitter, my handle is @simianthinker.


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