Concert Reviews

The Night Goth Music Came to Longmont's Dickens Opera House

Driving into Longmont from Denver on Highway 119, you will see a vast, seemingly abandoned factory complex that looks like it hasn't been used in decades. Such a sight wasn't uncommon in Denver at the turn of the century, but now it's largely unheard of. The city is changing, and as it does, we may see more things like the goth-industrial show in downtown Longmont over the weekend. The venue was the Dickens Opera House, a place built in 1881 that hosts open mikes on Thursday nights and more standard, smaller-town musical fare other nights.

Concert promoter and DJ Joshywa Schrader made this show his first foray back into promoting after a considerable hiatus, as an experiment to see if the goth community would come to Longmont. In the end, the show didn't attract as many fans as it should have. Still, anyone who did show up got to experience something truly memorable.

Main Street is lined by businesses; it seems that Longmont is reinventing its downtown. It was reminiscent of Old Town Fort Collins, but without the big college nearby: half cleaned-up, older, rustic buildings and half brand-new structures. The restaurant and bar that is part of the same building as the Dickens Opera House looks like something that might be found in Highland in Denver; it was too classy to be a dive bar, but still conveyed a sense of age.

The space where the show took place looked like a club one might see in the television show True Blood. There were dark-red walls, dark-red curtains, black trim on windows, high ceilings and dark furniture. 

The most sinister thing that happened was that between sets, DJ Ritual treated us to some choice cuts from the realm of goth-industrial music of the recent past from a shadowy corner of the room. Or maybe it was the freak -how performance from Slim Fadey, who suspended weights from his body and put needles into his arm, a long-bladed pair of scissors down his throat, and a fork and a knife up his nose. He also used a metal grinder to create orange sparks of metal bits to geyser into his mouth. And at the end of his show, he invited people to come up and use a staple gun on his body for a fee (with his assistant displaying the menu). Several people took him up on the offer, but not one threw down the hundred bucks to staple his taint. At least not tonight. Though a couple of people went for stapling money to Fadey's face.

The Gothsicles put in a light-hearted yet incredibly energetic performance that was reminiscent of what a Goth version of Mr. Pacman might look like. It was gimmcky, to be sure, with songs about video games replete with eight-bit music. One of those songs gave us the code to get thirty lives in the Nintendo Entertainment System game Contra. That would be up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, select and start. Singer Brian Graupner also told us one song was about a 1987 movie starring his favorite actor: JCVD. Yes, Jean-Claude Van Dam. The film? Bloodsport. It was such a barrage of genuinely smart yet silly jokes you had to love it in spite of yourself.

Angelspit definitely learned a thing or ten from Nine Inch Nails and Front Line Assembly, but similarities aside, Zoog Von Rock and Matt Siegel (who had been on stage with the Gothsicles earlier) made music that was very beat-oriented. Siegel used some kind of MIDI or controller to trigger samples and tracks, and it looked like he was playing a very complicated video game. Von Rock, aside from strong vocals, used his lighting setup in interesting ways, casting figures and shadows that accentuated the impact of the music.

At the end of the night, there was zero hustle and bustle in downtown Longmont. It was like time-traveling to Denver circa 2002 and being part of the semi-secret society that was the goth scene, when worthwhile live bands played shows in small clubs. Hopefully the next time Schrader puts together a show, people outside the usual goth-scene circles will catch on to the event. Schrader doesn't just care about the quality of the show — he cares in general.

Critic’s Notebook

Bias: I like going to shows at interesting places I've never been before. I'm also a fan of Joshywa Schrader's events.

Random Detail: Met up with Kill Minus Nine synth player Noel Johannes before the show. He was also once a member of Project 12:01 and the Siren Project.

By the Way: The next show Schrader is helping to promote through Pharoahmoan Productions is the Velvet Acid Christ show at Casselman's Bar and Venue on October 31, with the Siren Project and DJs Ritual, Juju, Sante and Pharoahmoan. It makes probably the fourth or fifth time VAC has played live in Denver in its 25-year career.

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Tom Murphy is a writer, visual artist and musician from Aurora, Colorado. He was a prolific music writer for Westword and a documenter of the Denver music scene.