Living in San Francisco--land of electronica, ethnic music, and drum circles--I'm always jonesing for aggressive guitars. I figured the Cradle Of Filth show last week at the Fillmore would satisfy, at least enough to tide me over for the next coupla months.
Though I steeled myself for an evening of metal (wait! I just made a clever pun without trying!) I instead discovered the rescusitation of another '80s genre--goth. As in well-thought-out theatrical performances of despair. During two of three sets, I was instantly thrown back to a time when many friends donned all black to be individualistic (but they ALL wore it), and when screaming battleaxes shared the stage with lush keyboards. So it was in the past, and so it shall be again.
The frontman of the headlining act, going by the moniker Dani Filth, has wild dark hair, a leather outfit that would induce envy from Catwoman, and weird light-colored contact lenses a la Marilyn Manson. Vocals (Filth's and a female backup's) blended operatic training with the hopelessness of black metal, while the keyboardist glared out into the crowd more menacingly than the guitar players. All this resulted in music equally appealing to "Saturday Night Live" goth-kid character Azreal Abyss as well as to the headbanging longhaired masses. I found them compelling enough to give them a thumbs-up to a friend who'd missed the show but who used to be a metal DJ in school. They'll never be among my favoritests, but I'm glad they made the trip from Suffolk, England to tour the U.S.
An enigmatic second act, The 69 Eyes sounded more Jim Morrison and less James Hetfield. These Finnish dudes are properly preoccupied with hell and sin, but with mohawks and a few shirtless torsoes, the guys reminded me of the artistic nihlism of bands whose followers sported Siouxie And The Banshees shirts skull accessories--but touched with a Doors-like psychedelia. Strange? Yeah. But worth checking out.
Opening the night was 3 Inches Of Blood, the Canadian outfit I interviewed last year (see my post)--and man, did they sound tight. Freakin' tight, and the group's latest album doesn't even drop until May. I could barely believe this was the same band I first saw at the now-defunct PoundSF just over a year ago; they've traded in sheer volume for virtuousity. And like Disco Stu, they don't advertise--rather than black leather like the other groups, 3 Inches played in the same clothes they wear riding their van.
Tour lasts through March 4 in New York; see http://www.cradleoffilth.com/.