Isolation, death, loneliness – all things that can be found in the lyrics of The Cure and Nine Inch Nails. The current apocalypse fever is nothing new for a goth. However, clubs are shut down and concerts cancelled. Raising the question, if a goth falls in their closet will anyone hear it? For those concerned about the scene, a larger problem is posed – what is the future of goth in 2020? This depends on how long this goes on for. Even if this was resolved in a few weeks, the few smaller clubs that host goth events and independent record shops might close after lacking the capital to survive a few months without revenue. The scene as we know it today might suffer.
Goth for me in 2019 really was not much different than what I’m looking at now, often too depressed to motivate myself to go out to a “goth night.” Depression aside, I don’t drink, and all the music I would want the DJ to play is already sitting in my iTunes. I did however drop the big bucks on Bauhaus tickets, so I just need this thing to shit or get off the pot by then.
I was reminded how I have already survived worse when talking to my Mom last week. After she rambled over the phone for ten minutes about how she was afraid my brother might get “the Virus,” she said:
“But I don’t have to worry about you, you have already died three times.”
To which I couldn’t resist replying, “Can you see now why I find Jesus less than impressive, he only died once.”
All of my resurrections took place in the 90s. Leading me to conclude that if you can survive the 90s goth scene, you can survive anything. I was desperately trying to die and it still would not take.
What are we talking about anyway? What is goth? By strictest definition, I guess if we aren’t Germans over running Rome, we aren’t goth. Perhaps closer might be admirers of the arches and buttresses of medieval architecture. I think we’re getting closer as this style of architecture marks early English Hammer horror movies, which by any definition are goth as hell. Christopher Lee’s Dracula in those movies is better than Lugosi’s. Not that it matters since Bella Lugosi’s dead, but vampires are pretty much the embodiment of goth. Even Stoker’s narrative of Dracula who sails 400 years for a lost love epitomizes goth.
The First Family of Goth came about in 1938, when Charles Addams created his cast of oddball ghouls, who went on to start in their cult tv show in the 60s. The spirit of what goth is carried on until we had a name for it. Rozz Williams said death rock was just punks who liked Halloween. For the record, I would never hang out with a punk who didn’t like Halloween, if those exist. All of those descriptions have common themes that define goth elegance, passion fuelled by sorrow and perhaps most importantly, darkness.
Darkness as a feeling perhaps even more than an aesthetic. It goes beyond wearing black lipstick on instagram. One of my favorite Morrissey lyrics is from “Unloveable,” the b-side of BigMouth Strikes Again:
“I wear black on the outside / ‘Cause black is how I feel on the inside “
This isn’t to say the Smiths are goth…they aren’t, but Morrissey can relate to the outward expression of inward depression. Sure, the archetype of the vampire is one of the pillars. So when I hear the goth scene accused of pretentious gatekeeping, I ask:
“How else would you expect vampires to behave? Why do you think there’s not more undead creeping around? You don’t want to spend eternity with just anyone.”
I’ve heard some people from the scene announce on social media that they have had all the gloom and doom they can stand and need to see pictures of kittens. Can you really have enough doom and gloom? I don’t have anything against kittens. I love them, but can they at least be black? Is this a foreshadowing of the Myspace-wave of goths ageing themselves out because they can’t take any more darkness aside from that which the outside world is feeding them? I’ve already had to tell a few friends they were going to be cut from my zombie apocalypse team if they didn’t stop acting like little old ladies in their panicking. Because let’s face it – this is the reason we’ll never know the truth about Area 51.
I’ve always been on the inside of the scene, yet having an outsider’s perspective from my days in high school where I was too into metal for the goth kids and too into goth for the metal kids, though they tended to accept me into their pack more than the goth kids as I was more testosterone-driven. But this background brings to mind that as my friends grew up, I never heard any of the metalheads say, “ Oh yeah, remember when I was into death metal?” Because if anything, their tastes got heavier, some went a little more into hardcore, but they never shunned metal. I’ve experienced many of the goth kids growing up and shifting their tastes from the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies to outlaw country to …um… the Dave Matthews band. My musical tastes broadened over the years as well – I can get down with Merle Haggard, but not jam bands. There’s still sorrow and darkness to country music. Nick Cave would certainly back me on this.
As a subculture ages, the tribe shifts. In the last years of the Grateful Dead, there were a bunch of doctors and lawyers changing into tye-dye shirts in the parking lot. The natural shedding of pedestrian Cure fans will occur. It’s the cycle of life. As a worshipper of death, I might not relate to it, but recognize it’s a thing.
As far the rest of us go, many artists are live streaming performances (CVLT Nation is about to start livestream features on their Youtube, FYI). Now would be a good time to seek out Bandcamp pages and support artists. Obviously, I’m not talking about the Robert Smith-level artists who have plenty of gold hoarded away in the basements of their castles, but you can click on “DEATH ROCK’ on this very site and find plenty of artists who will need your support during this time.
Personally, I’ve been scouring the interwebs looking to replace band tees I have lost or that girls “borrowed” over the years. If you miss leaving the house to express your darkness, cemeteries are still open. Take a stroll through one as the sun sets with your earbuds on and smoke a clove. Once we emerge from this, the “goths” of Instagram will have moved on to their natural look and “Live , Laugh, Love” wall hangings and it will be back to the status quo for us. Release the Bats…