Name something more goth than the Cure, Bauhaus, and Siouxsie combined… shouldn’t be too hard, how about Chartres Cathedral? When goth music and Gothic architecture combine for a concert set under light penetrating through stained glass, it becomes a catharsis similar to that of a good cry. I’ve always been curious about the connection between the aesthetics of Christ worship in the Gothic and sadness in Goth. Have goths been weeping for Christ this whole time or just been looking for someone to hear their prayers, someone who’s there?
The interior of the theatre at Ace hotel, formerly United Artists theatre, acts as a mirror and conduit to any act on stage, from the purple portal in the ceiling emanating energy to the lobby’s glorious murals which depict scenes too puzzling to be of no biblical significance. The theatre’s stones shifts with the music. Don’t believe me? Pay closer attention, stare long enough and see solids melt before your very eyes!
Wesley Eisold of Cold Cave, who recently turned 40 the day after Valentine’s, might feel death’s loom as he’s been checking venues to perform at off his bucket list. First, his two-night stint at Hollywood Forever, now the end of a tour with Vowws and Adult. at the Ace hotel, his first “seated” show. This tour began with death, with the end of Sextile the original opening band on the tour occurring before the first show. Taking their place, Vowws rounded out the heavyweight electro tour of 2019.
Vowws began the show with thrilling and cerebral dark wave. This Australian “death-pop” two piece summoned music and images that perfectly fit the cinematic tradition of the theatre. It was like we were watching the live scoring of an experimental film inspired by New York No Wave and German expressionism.
I’ll die before I miss an Adult. show in Los Angeles but the fact most people were sitting for one of the best industrial dance groups ever nearly killed me. Whatever, they pushed on through, always giving off the air of strength and obscurity while simultaneously creating beats that make the body move without your mind’s consent. They had just finished touring their 2018 album “This Behavior” all over North America and Europe before joining this tour so I’m sure the band was exhausted but you wouldn’t known it having seen them. Even though the audience was stoic, I could tell they made new fans and challenged squares.
Of all the times I’ve seen Cold Cave, this performance had the most crisp and polished sound. The videos playing behind the band gave off a sense of majesty that heightened the music to something soul stirring. White horses galloping in slow motion, a wall of static, desaturated sunflowers. Like Bela Tarr films coming to life. These images married some of the band’s best songs like “My Heart is Immortal”, “A Little Death to Laugh”, “Love Comes Close”, “Glory”, and more. “Underworld USA” featured a giant black and grey American flag that really drove home the song’s message. The big hit, “Confetti”, a pop song about popping heads off necks, saw Wesley Eisold invite the audience on stage. He danced among the awestruck masses, his Raybans filtering the light out of people as they pointed cameras at him from every direction. I don’t know why they each needed proof they were on stage with him, couldn’t one of them taken video and just shared it with everybody? Of course not. The only person that would get their itch scratched would be the one guy recording. That’s the real thrill, not the dancing. I wondered what Wesley was thinking at this moment, so cool with his shades on while everyone around him was freaking out in a vapid display of social media parasitism.
Wesley’s bandmates definitely left an impression, notably Anthony Anzaldo of Ceremony who was playing guitar and synths as well as their drummer, whose talent shined through the night. The band left the stage and returned to encore a few songs including a cover of my favorite New Order requiem, “Your Silent Face”. The concert ended with an electric feeling in the air as if the gothic interiors somehow became animated. I’m sure if Jesus came back to Los Angeles, he wouldn’t consider architecture the highest form of worship to him. Music though, dark, sad songs about love, maybe God would see more of himself in that.
Words by: Rob Shepyer
Photos by: Audrey Kemp