Monday, April 25, 2011

Goth in the City

Zola Jesus.
  
Zola Jesus.

Zola Jesus.

This was the thought that had been running through my head for basically the entire week leading up to the show. Zola, Zola, Zola.

She is not very well known. An obscurity, sadly, but with music and voice and attitude to make her terribly enticing. I knew it would be a goth evening at the Empty Bottle. It started off with a lovely Greek dinner at Santorini’s with the Bard. I admitted to feeling like I was cheating on the Parthanon every time we went, but I was starting to like the new place more. She gave me a ride down to the Bottle afterwards.

I’d gone with black on shades of black, and dark black makeup as well. I rarely wore makeup, but when you were going to a goth show you may as well go all out. Being that I still tried not to frighten normal people I saved the bulk of my gothness for when I actually got to the Bottle, where I did the rest of my makeup and generally let my hair down for the show.

The bar was crowded with Zola fans, a range of men and women, all decked out in various shades of black and blacker still. The first band up, Population, had a dreamy dark, Peter Murphy-esque lead singer that had everyone swaying back and forth. He took possession of the microphone and poured his deep dark notes into it, and everyone was quite happy to let him. At first I had the band confused with Cult of Youth, but fortunately I was confused.

Population
Population

Population

Cult of youth took the stage in full goth/punk regalia. Ripped T-shirts on the keyboardist that looked like more clothespin than cloth. A dark surfer lead singer crooned into the microphone with throaty resonate vibes, impressing the crowd. The female violin player was in a one-piece dress that stopped mid-thigh, where her thigh-highs started and jetted down to the floor. The music was well put together, the lyrics meaningful, and the overall effect on the crowd was one of happy force.

Cult of Youth
Cult of Youth

Cult of Youth

But this was not who we were here to see. We wanted Zola.

As Cult of Youth left the stage we watched the roadies set up her act, which did not take much. At one point Zola herself was on stage, covering her face and body in a thick deep rich cape so no one could see what she was doing. She wanted to build the suspense. I was struck by how tiny she was.

Zola Jesus

Zola Jesus

She looked for all the world to be frail and small. Barely taller than five feet, and tiny thin. Her face was full of stark angles and shadows, and her eyes seemed to shine from under her hood as she finished up the final parts of her stage. Then she hit a button, lasers lit up, and she was on.

Zola was a whirling dervish as she sang. She never stopped moving; she was one place than another, flitting across the stage. She wore a red dress with a panel sewn on that could be a cape, or a sleeve or a hood, or just part of the dress. Sometimes she used it to cover her face, other times it blew like loose wings as she moved speedily across the stage. Her voice was the deep basso of power as she crooned out the songs over the intensely bassy keyboard, drum, and bass guitar. There was edge and softness as she sang and moved. The audience was completely caught up in it; watching her pace the stage like a caged animal we couldn't help but to feel her movement.

Zola Jesus
Zola Jesus
Zola Jesus

Zola Jesus

We moved, we screamed, we would do anything to make Zola happy as she owned the audience and all of us.

After she sang her last note and jumped down we all stood around, wondering now what to do. The bar, which looked very much like a goth club now, with so many there dressed in tight black leather, spiked Mohawks, dark black skirts, chains, and armor, began to clear out.

I sat at the bar and had a few glasses of water while talking to a Cult of Youth fan, who had never heard of Zola before. We chatted for a bit about his journeys in France as a janitor, and mine in Asia as whatever it is I do, before the last call finally rang out and I found myself wrapped up in dark thoughts in a cab headed home.

1 comment:

gryffan said...

you should be a music writer for like a paper, or something.