Dawn has come, and the Dusk Till Dawn music festival has passed. On Friday and Saturday, the two-day festival of goth and industrial musical acts took place at the historic (and in some areas crumbling) Globe and Tower Theatres, and Biergarten, in downtown LA. The three buildings housed 4 performance areas: two in the Globe, main stage and basement; one in the Tower; and one in the Biergarten, wherein the DJs spun. Last week, Adam Bravin, one of the owners of the Cloak and Dagger nightclub, which presented Dusk Till Dawn, spoke with the Weekly about the festival’s inception — revealing that it was an escalation of the idea of having a secret performance of his band She Wants Revenge, in celebration of the nightclub’s second anniversary. In the end, She Wants Revenge’s performance concluded the festival’s schedule of performances by bands whose rankings ran the gamut from relatively newer acts to titans of dark music. Interestingly, many of the groups and musicians whose work had been fundamental in establishing the genres and subgenres of goth and industrial music did not hold the most prestigious spots on the totem pole at this festival.
The Globe Theatre’s mainstage headliner on day one was TR/ST, a synth pop / dark wave band which first hit the scene in 2010. Just prior to their set was The Jesus and Mary Chain, one of the pre-cursers to proper shoegazing music, which AllMusic credits as essentially having invented the noise pop musical genre. Their set included fan faves: “April Skies,” “Just Like Honey,” “War On Peace,” and concluded with “I Hate Rock ‘n’ Roll.”
On day two, the almost-headliner was DJ / Model Tamara Sky. Just prior to her set was Poptone, a band comprised of two of the founding members of Bauhaus, one of the earliest goth bands (as well as Love and Rockets, Tones on Tail, and The Bubblemen). This current project of Daniel Ash (vocals, guitar) and Kevin Haskins (drums) includes Haskins’ daughter, Diva Dompé, put on a terrific set of tunes from throughout Ash and Haskins’ collective catalog, with an emphasis on their Tones on Tail and Love and Rockets material. Also included in their set was a cover of Adam Ant’s “Physical (You’re So),” and Elvis Presley’s “Heartbreak Hotel.” Talk about paying homage to the forefathers!
Stylistically, She Wants Revenge — again, which closed out the show on the Globe’s mainstage — is heavily influenced by Bauhaus; similarly, Cold Cave, which headlined on the Tower Theatre’s stage, has routinely been compared to Joy Division, another of the original goth forefathers. Prior to Cold Cave’s set was KMFDM, one of the two seminal industrial electro-industrial forefathers on the roster; the other being ohGr, which is the project of Skinny Puppy’s vocalist / lyricist Kevin “ohGr” Ogilvie and Mark Walk. KMFDM and ohGr are currently wrapping up a US tour. Both informed OC Weekly that the tour has basically been incredibly successful.
KMFDM’s 20th album Hell Yeah (2017) is essentially an attack on the current state of global politics, and it has been receiving fairly universal praise as one of the band’s strongest LPs. Band founder, frontman, and producer Sascha Konietzko pointed out one of the ways in which the new album truly resonates with the band’s fans. He said, “In the past, it was usually people would talk to me about, you know, bands, books, music, whatever. And now everybody's talking politics. Just politics all the time. People are really on the cusp of something at this point, I think. I have a feeling there's some boiling that's gonna blow at some point.” As for how this specific administration has affected him, several musicians (from the band Lord of the Lost) were supposed to join KMFDM on their current tour, but due to the increase in difficulty obtaining work visas, they were not able to come. Konietzko elaborated, “Apparently the whole ESTA waiver program is not really in power anymore, or enforced anymore. I'm reading a lot about bands that don't get their visas issued.” As for their set at the Tower Theatre, highlights included: “Light,” “Hau Ruck,” “A Drug Against War,” “Freak Flag,” and “Godlike.”
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When ohGr’s set began, two acts prior to KMFDM, ohGr greeted the audience by decrying the festival’s organizers. “What’s this Cloak & Dagger bullshit?” He then targeted the club’s dress code (and the festival’s recommended dress code) of all black attire and pointed out that when he was younger, the goth movement was more about creatively exploring one’s own unique look, not just joining an army of people wearing black. After his set, the early industrial pioneer revealed to the Weekly that the festival hadn’t treated him well — claiming that his band had not been given a sound check (their set started about 45 minutes late) and that the organizers had been difficult to do business with. That said, his band put on a great set for a rabid crowd of fans. Most of the setlist consisted of songs from his album Welt, including: “Cracker,” “Lusid,” “Minus,” and “Water.” At the end of his set, his mic went dead, and he smiled and gestured his appreciation for the love of the fans and for his bandmates.
Some of the other solid acts this writer observed included a performance by indie rockers Lust For Youth and intimate basement sets by Nostalghia and Ssleeperhold. Overall, the event was an interesting cauldron. The line-up had nearly as much diversity within the subgenres of goth and industrial music as it did in terms of the reputations of the bands, and while some of the crumbling walls of the old venues (especially at the Tower Theatre) may have been symbolic of the organization, according to ohGr, the bands all played their hearts out, and the fans dressed in black were happy to get a chance to see some of their favorite performers.