Tuesday, August 5, 2014

What's Happening to the Goth Scene?

During the last two or three days of July, unsubstantiated rumors began making their way through social media stating that Alt-Fest, a U.K.-based event billed as a new-metal festival, had been cancelled. On August 1, event organizers release an official statement,
which verified the veracity of the rumors. The concept of this event, which had been considered unique by many, had been cancelled.
Had Alt-Fest occurred, it would have been much more than simply a metal event as plans called for four musical stages. The main stage would have featured performances by Marilyn Manson, Fields of the Nephilim and The Cult, to name a few. The other three stages had each been devoted to providing musical performances exclusively in the electronica, metal and goth genres.

In their official statement the event organizers pointed out that cancellation was necessary because they hadn't sold nearly enough tickets to cover band and other expenses. This admission seems to have set off a lively debate on social media as to whether or not Alt-Fest's demise reflects a slow demise of goth culture as a whole. The Vampire Freaks social site released its own Ode to the Organizers,
which concludes by speculating on the possibility that our culture and scene are slowly fading away. Others of course, argue that Alt-Fest was simply a first attempt by its organizers who sadly, were likely inexperienced and found themselves in over their heads. And let's not forget that there are still some highly successful festivals, such as Whitby, which occurs twice a year, and Wave Gotik Treffen. Then again, Prague Gothic Treffen, is set to take place at the end of this month in the Czech Republic. So, the scene is certainly not dead.

Still, Alt-Fest's demise and the ensuing discussions have me thinking about how the scene is faring, not only throughout the United States, but locally and regionally. In my last post, which I entitled The Demise of a Venue,
I mentioned that The Stolen Glass, that very accessible and likely, reasonably priced venue at which we had been holding our Darkness Resurrected Dance Nights, had closed its doors. Further, the Ravenwood Gothic Community had been planning to hold its annual reunion there as well. At the time, I considered the club's closing a bad omen indeed.

At about the same time, I noticed an event promoter in the Tulsa area bemoaning the sometimes low turnout for his events. He moved his affair to Oklahoma City and apparently, enjoyed a successful first night. The question is, will attendance remain high for the next event, and the one after that? Only time will tell.

There's a theory that keeps popping up and it's based upon the belief that musical preferences are slowly driving scene members apart. The argument goes like this: The more traditional folks, who tend to be older, prefer the music that the scene was originally based upon. They want to hear bands like The Cure, The Sisters of Mercy or even newer dark-wave/industrial groups. Younger people, on the other hand, tend to enjoy electronica more. My observation is that at times, various event organizers seem at a loss to bridge this gap. Quite frankly, I think Darkness Resurrected handled things well by playing the more traditional material during the first hour before focusing more on electronic music later on. I'm not sure if that's the answer for everybody, but it might be worth a try.

All things considered, it's hard to tell what might be happening with our sub culture. I know that nothing can remain the same and yet continue being vibrant. Things have to change somewhat; stagnation isn't good; and that most definitely applies to music. Yet, I also realize that things can change to the point that a sub culture is no longer recognizable. In places such as Germany, the United Kingdom and yes, even the Czech Republic, Goth is still doing well. But I am concerned about things here in the States and particularly, here in Arkansas and Oklahoma.

While working on this post I took a break for a minute and jumped over to Facebook, where I found a new post by Darkness Resurrected. Due to the closing of The Stolen Glass and other reasons, Darkness Resurrected Dance Night is being relocated to Little Rock for the next two or three years.While I totally understand the reasons behind the decision and I wish the event organizer every success with his endeavors, I have to admit that I've been overtaken by a cloud of sadness. Little Rock is about 175 miles from where I live and I seriously doubt that I'll be able to make it down there very often, if at all. At the moment, I'm taking solace in the fact that at least the metal scene is thriving up here. Still, metal may be my music of choice and a lot of neat people attend metal events, but it's not the same as going to a goth event.  I'll most definitely miss attending the latter as well as seeing the new friends I'd made.

As for omens, I think really do portend the future sometimes.
Photo source: Gothic Pictures Gallery
Artist unknown