Goth Gift Guide 2014

As much as I’d love to just point you to my post below on great books to give a goth at Christmas, not even Goths can live on books alone… so I present to you now my picks for lovely objects I’ve come across that would make wonderful gifts for the Goth in your life. (Or yourself!) As with last year, I’ve generally avoided clothing and other things that need to be sized to fit, and separated into modestly priced items and some more luxurious splurges.

Merry Christmas and may all your holiday wishes come true….

Stocking Stuffers!
Tiny treasures $40 and under

feather pen

Ostrich Feather Pen

$18.95 from Nostalgic Impressions 

All pens are mighty but this one, combining a ballpoint with feathers and olde tyme brass handle, is perfect for late-night musings.

 

Screen Shot 2014-12-01 at 11.13.49 PMStudded Kiss Lipstick in Gothica

 

$26 from Sephora

Call me biased, but I think everyone should have one of these Gothica lipsticks from Kat Von D. The shade is an on-trend metallic bronze and the studded, shiny case is the coolest ever.

 

 

Vampire NailsVampire Princess
Nail Rings

$28 from Wonderland LA

Take those pointy stiletto nails to the next level with these silver rings, tipped with tiny red “blood drop” jewels. But don’t wear them to the vampire movies because they’re not very good at picking up popcorn.

 

 

Bat Necklace“We Will Kill You” Wooden Bat Necklace

$35 from Magic Pony

The mouth of this bat, carved from walnut wood, is both whimsical and scary. Just like the babybat in your household. (Or in you.)

 

 

 

edgar_allan_poe_action_figureEdgar Allen Poe
Action Figure

$12.95 from Victorian Trading Co.

I highly suggest you make him fight your Dracula and Alien figurines and let me know who wins.

 

 

 

 

 Splurges! Up to $350

 

HOE ClutchSpiked Latex Clutch

$110 (Cdn) from House of Etiquette

Latex: it’s not just for fetishists, it’s also for fashionistas who love shiny things. A clutch purse is a one-size-fits-all must-have.

Screen Shot 2014-12-01 at 11.05.26 PMDragon Cast Iron Teapot

$189.95 from Teavana

Winter is upon us, time for tea. And if you indulge on a regular basis it’s time to own a proper cast iron teapot. This one featuring an imperial dragon design should bring you good fortune.

nightmare-before-christmas-cuckoo-clock-3Nightmare Before Christmas
Cuckoo Clock

$249.99 from Bradford Exchange

Hear “This is Halloween” on the hour with this limited-edition light-up musical clock featuring fave characters from Nightmare Before Christmas. Watch a video of how it lights up here. 

 

 

 

Deck Doll“Mercy” Vampire Doll
by Sara Deck

$267.82 (Cdn) from Etsy

There’s just the one of these handmade art dolls, adorable with her bonnet, shawl and bloody fangs. A most unique and special gift.

 

 

 

McQueen scarfAlexander McQueen
Skull Scarf

$354 from McQueen

You know there’s always a McQueen item on my list every year. This men’s silk scarf is divine soft, full of skulls, and not crazy out of reach.

 

 

 

medievalUnicorn Tapestries
Throw and Pillow

$104 from the Met Shoppe

Beauty and warmth. For the Romantic-Goths and medievalists! 

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 4.37.07 PM

Iron Hourglass


$104 from Amara

Because the sands of time don’t stop at Christmas. Bring back this classic piece to your desk, den or anywhere in your home you’d like to be reminded that life is short. 2015 is just around the corner – make every moment count.  

 

Goth Gift Guide 2014 – For the Book Lovers

 

Who has been naughty? Then you deserve a wicked present.  In years past I have compiled and posted my Goth Girl Gift Guide. Last year I was asked to add one for the Goth Boys and that was fun. But since in my world men proudly wear eyeliner and women buy records too, this year there is no gender split. Instead I’ve added a dedicated Gift Guide post just for books. Because it’s the one thing I’m always happy to get, and I find great pleasure in giving them to others as well. Goths by nature tend to be a bookish lot, so I hope this selection of new titles helps you find something for the avid reader on your list.

 

art of goth

The Art of Gothic: Music, Fashion, Alt Culture 

By Natasha Scharf

$35 from Amazon or an Indie Bookseller near you

British journo’s follow up to WorldWide Gothic is a gorgeous hardcover brimming with essays and images from throughout the history of gothic music and culture. For music aficionados who like to geek out over memorabilia.

 

Death Cocktails

Death and Co. Modern Classic Cocktails

By David Kaplan

$40 from Amazon or an Indie Bookseller near you

You don’t need a secret knock to enjoy specialty cocktails anymore. Just make your own concoctions from 500+ recipes by New York’s celebrated speakeasy Death and Co. Hefty hardcover in fancy matte black. For the budding bartenders and serious drinkers.

heels
Killer Heels: The Art of the High 
Heeled Shoe

By Lisa Small

$55 from Amazon or an Indie Bookseller near you

This companion piece to a travelling art exhibition is full of curator talk about the history and importance of heels in fashion. But you’ll want this hardcover for the drool-worthy big glossy photos. For the shoe fetishists.

 

 

David J

Who Killed Mr. Moonlight? Bauhaus, Black Magick and Benediction

By David J. Haskins

$19.95 from Amazon or an Indie Bookseller near you

The eternally cool David J strolls down the dark corners of memory lane, covering his career in Bauhaus and beyond. A paperback to curl up with while spinning Bela Lugosi’s Dead. For the babybat who could use a history lesson.

 

 

anne


Prince Lestat

By Anne Rice

$19.95 from Amazon or an Indie Bookseller near you

Perhaps you’ve heard: Anne Rice has resurrected her vampire chronicles. Lestat’s Back. For everyone whose lives were changed by Interview with the Vampire and/or needs their faith in bloodsucker storytelling restored.

 

 

cold hill

Cold Hillside

By Nancy Baker

$16.99 from Amazon or an Indie Bookseller near you

Enter the world of the Fae. Shadowy Toronto author Nancy Baker’s long-awaited return to novels switches vampires for fairies, but her delicate, devious way with genre storytelling remains a delight. For the dark fantasy fan.

vampira

Vampira: Dark Goddess of Horror

By W. Scott Poole
$16.95 from Amazon or an Indie Bookseller near you

The original horror hostess, style icon to goth girls everywhere, is commemorated and her influence on society analyzed by macabrely minded American professor W. Scott. Poole. For the scholarly monster kids.

 

curtus

So This is Permanence

By Ian Curtis with Jon Savage

$40 from Amazon or an Indie Bookseller near you

 

Never-before-seen handwritten lyrics and pages from the Joy Division singer’s own notebooks. For the tortured romantic. (In other words: all of us.)

 

 

IMG_1786Encyclopedia Gothica and How to Kill a Vampire

by Me!

$26.95 and up from my on-line shoppe

Of course I’d be remiss not to remind that my own books are available signed and wax stamped directly from me.  For mail to North American addresses only.

In praise of …. Anne Rice

December, 1987.

I’m at the back of a Greyhound bus between Barrie and Toronto. It’s winter, so it’s dark. We are four high school kids travelling to see Depeche Mode play Maple Leaf Gardens, and by the tiny bus light I am reading aloud to my friends across the aisle: “‘Evil is a point of view,’ he whispered now. ‘We are immortal. And what we have before us are the rich feasts that conscience cannot appreciate…….’  I have recently discovered this book, Interview with a Vampire, by Anne Rice, in my hometown pubic library, and it is changing my life. Like The Outsiders once did. Like Othello once did. I have not yet read Dracula, or any other vampire novel. But I have seen The Lost Boys, and I have decided I am thirsty for vampire stories. This story, about the oh-so-beautiful Louis and Lestat and Claudia, this story, about magical, mystical New Orleans, of longing to understand one’s place in the universe, of mortality, and morality, and blood. As told to a journalist. This is my new favourite book, Anne Rice my new favourite author.

August, 1988.

I paid $10 to come and see D.O.A. and some band called Death Sentence play the Siboney Club in Kensington Market. All the cheap wooden tables are pushed against the walls to make room for moshing and whathaveyou. It’s a club so it’s dark. I live in Toronto now, with one of my best friends from Barrie. By not enough light I am sitting crossed-legged on top of one of these tables, back against the wall, reading The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice. Because I don’t care about Death Sentence nearly as much as I care about vampires. I may have been wearing a cape. My best friend, and our mutual punk rock friends, will make fun of me for this for quite a long time.

 Sometime later….

I stand in line for hours to get my copy of Queen of the Damned signed by Anne Rice at some Toronto bookstore. I remember this not because I have a signed hardcover copy of Queen of the Damned, but because I was captured on the local TV news coverage. I am wearing a black-and-white fun fur motorcycle jacket that used to be my favourite coat. I only remember this because 10+ years later someone I find incredibly annoying pulls out a VHS tape and plays it in front of a bunch of people I’m with. (Thankfully it is dark and noisy and no one pays him any attention.)

 November, 1994

It’s Friday night of not-Halloween weekend and I’m sitting in the front seat of a car wearing fake plastic fangs. I may have been wearing a cape. Four of us are speeding through the city trying to go see the new Interview with a Vampire movie. This is not the era of advance movie ticket buying. This is the first time I have encountered “sold out” at a cinema. We end up somewhere North, like Eglinton maybe? When we finally get seated I realize you cannot eat popcorn with fangs. A lot of people, Anne Rice especially, are angry that Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt are in this movie, playing Lestat and Louis. I think they look fabulous. The film is orange and red, so full of fire and blood, velvet and lace and ashes. I want to live in this world.

March, 2012

“I’ve been reading and enjoying thoroughly a delightful book called “Encyclopedia Gothica” by Liisa Ladouceur, given to me by the author when I was in Toronto. This is too informative and too funny. Am I an ubergoth? I certainly hope so. I’d wear black underwear if they made it in cotton.” —Anne Rice.

Well, that was a pretty awesome day.

October, 2014

Prince Lestat, the first new story in the Vampire Chronicles in 11 years, is released. I got an advance copy in the summer so I could interview Anne for Rue Morgue magazine. In this book, all the characters are swooning over Lestat’s return…much like the readers. The action takes place in several places I’ve been to, and I’ve had a relationship with these characters for more than half my life. If it wasn’t about vampires it might feel like a travel diary written by a friend. (Memo: Vampires are not real.) I had a chance to write about the book, first for Rue Morgue but also to review it for Macleans. It’s difficult to fit into short spaces, my thoughts. What I want people to know is that it’s an important release in genre, that Lestat is second only to Dracula in the vampire kingdom (sorry, Edward), that it’s a easy read (for those who gave up on the Chronicles when they got super dense and detailed) that is clearly designed to bring us all up to speed so that the Chronicles can resume in book and most likely TV series form. That it’s it’s not a great book, but it’s a very good book.

I sat down tonight intending to write about Anne Rice. About why I’ve been reading Anne Rice for so long. Forgive me for getting side-tracked. To close, a few practical notes:

  1. My interview with Anne Rice appears in the October 2014 issue of Rue Morgue, which is not on-line but the print issue can be ordered here. Since I could only use a small portion of our conversation for this assignment, I hope to publish the Q&A in full here or elsewhere soon.
  2. My Macleans review.
  3. Anne will appear in Toronto on Saturday, November 15 for the Inspire Toronto International Book Fair. See you there!
Rue Morgue - Rice

Interview with the Vampire (author), Rue Morgue October 2014

In Praise of….Kate Bush Live!

IMG_5918

Prologue.

“If she ever plays live again, anywhere in the world, I’m getting on a plane and going.”

I’ve been saying that for years. And as the years went by, and Kate Bush did not in fact play live again, it seemed like an impossible dream. And then….. March 21, 2014 came the shock: Kate Bush announces concerts, the first since 1979. They would be called Before the Dawn. They would take place in September, and only in London, England, at the Eventim (né Hammersmith) Apollo. There were 15 shows at first, then 22. The tickets would cost 100 British Pounds. For real.

Like a lot of the people excited about this news, for me Kate Bush is more than a favourite singer, she’s a muse. I know that makes me sound like a teenager, but when I first discovered her I was one. Spellbound by her music video for “Running up that Hill,” devouring all the vinyl records and VHS bootleg tapes I could acquire, falling in love with her voice, her lyrics, her mysterious, enthralling persona. I named my self-published zine The Ninth Wave, after side-B of her album Hounds of Love. I’ve danced wildly to “The Dreaming” about a thousand times, and written a glosa based on “Egypt.” Once, when she made a rare appearance in Toronto to promote her album The Red Shoes, I stood outside a radio station where she was being interviewed, which had literally had its glass windows papered up to shield her from view, and cried. Physically, I was the closest I’d ever get to her in my life, but I couldn’t see her. She wasn’t real.

I know at least 10 other Toronto Kate Bush fans who woke up at 5 am EST on the first day of ticket sales. Most did not score. I did, as did my friend Jeff. All of a sudden, I was not just going to  see Kate Bush play live, I was going to see her play live twice!  The dream was real.

IMG_5838IMG_4302

The Show.

“Well I said, ‘Lily, Oh Lily I don’t feel safe / I feel that life has blown a great big hole / Through me’ ”

Before the dawn, there is a theatre abuzz, there is a vast empty stage of possibilities, there are feather charm necklaces for sale, there is a no photography rule, there is a set list I know, there are tissues in my pocket, just in case.

Kate emerges sauntering from stage left, leading a procession of her back-up singers (which includes her 16-year-old son, Bertie). She wears a black dress, no shoes, a huge smile I can see all the way from the balcony. She sings “Lily,” one of my favourites. Tears. I don’t bother with the tissues. Rapturous applause and standing ovation. Boom! “It’s in the trees…it’s coming!” For some reason, the masses sit back down. Even during “Running Up that Hill.” I cannot. There are three of us up here, three lone people up dancing. One lady gets up just to come and tell me I am “ruining it for everyone” behind me. I am not here to fight or be upset, so I sit, but my heart is still dancing.  “King of the Mountain” ends with a storm and a canon firing orange confetti over the crowd.  And then the show starts, for real.

Before the Dawn is musical theatre. Part one is The Ninth Wave, a suite of songs about a woman tossed overboard in the sea. Tonight, Kate will drown (on screen, filmed in a floatation tank which I later learn made her sick), be pulled out from under ice, appear as a ghost, be lost and be found. There are old-school sets and props, sound effects and costumes. A helicopter with search lights whirring loud overhead. A rescue buoy. And Kate. She is not flexing her body in a leotard like it’s 1979. She is not shimmying like Kylie or Beyonce. But she is in total control, and her voice sounds glorious. Her voice. That’s how you know the woman up there is really her. Because it’s still hard to believe.

Part two is The Sky of Honey, another side-B, from Ariel. There is a wooden door sized for giants. There are birds in flight. There is a massive painter’s canvas and trees that descend from the roof/sky. There is Kate at the piano. There is, for some reason I still don’t really get, a life-sized artist’s mannequin, operated by a puppeteer. There is Bertie, singing his own song. This might be annoying if it wasn’t so clear it was Bertie who inspired Kate to do this, to be here with all of us. There is a lovely afternoon brought to life in the dark. There is a black bird who is Kate. There is a most magical surprise climax in which she emerges in flight. There is an encore. It includes “Cloudbusting.” Finally, there is dancing. And for me, there is one more show.

My second night at Before the Dawn was actually the final show of the run. I wondered if it would be  “special” in any way, different from the 21 that had come before. I wondered if this crowd might rise to their feet. I wondered if I could get some of that confetti, now that I was seated on the floor. And then “Lily” and there were no questions left for I was strapped in now and immersed in the experience, oh. It was the same show, but different in that I could really see and appreciate the band, I could make out more of Kate’s face, I could share it with my friend Sharon. There were four young men seated in front of us who talked through the first half for some confounding fucking reason but I tried hard to keep focused on every moment on stage, knowing the clock to when I’d never see Kate Bush sing live again was counting down. During the intermission, I climbed over seats to collect some confetti, printed with the section of Tennyson’s poem I knew well from the Hounds of Love liner notes. Wave after wave, indeed. In the end, we all sang “Cloudbusting” together, the “yeah-ay-ay-ay-ee-ohs!” bursting from our hearts and chests out through our lips and into the rafters.  There were many flowers. There were hints that it would not be the last time, as Bertie lingered after the cast bow, taking in the adulation until the final step into the shadows. If he wants to return, I feel Kate will come back. And even if she doesn’t, there will always be “Cloudbusting,” that black bird, and a shoeless, smiling muse made flesh. As I tweeted that night, for all the things in my life I wanted to happen that didn’t, I shall hold this night close to my heart and call it even.

IMG_4306

Epilogue.

Kate Bush doesn’t tour. That hasn’t changed. This show will not go on the road. Kate Bush doesn’t do greatest hits. Thank heavens for that. As much as it might have disappointed some people not to hear “Wuthering Heights” or “This Woman’s Work” or “Don’t Give Up” (in the months lead up to the show how many secretly hoped Peter Gabriel would be a special guest at some point?), what we got instead was pure Kate — all imagination, all passion — and a wholly conceived new work of art. I felt like I was seeing her in 1985, 2005 and 2014 all at once. It’s been over a week since the shows and I’ve been trying to figure out how to describe it. It’s easy to think words like marvellous and extraordinary and amazing, or to simply say “best concert of my life!” except you just can’t compare it to other concerts. It was as if a person you long thought dead returned from the grave, it was like as if someone wrote a musical about Kate Bush and Kate Bush showed up to star in it, it was as if a genie had granted you all your wishes at once. It was a magic show. It was unreal.

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New Music Writing: DFA and David J

I have been remiss. In posting my music writing here. Of course I want you to read it, but it’s like a hamster wheel sometimes, running around just getting assignments done…that I forget. Forgive me. I shall be better. Starting with these two articles, recently published, of which I am proud.

DFA Exclaim

Death From Above 1979: Friends Fatale. Exclaim! Magazine, September 2014

This was my second time interviewing Jesse Keeler and Sebastien Grainger. Way back in 2004 I talked to them for a magazine called Gasoline, which was put out by the folks behind the Bovine Sex Club. It wasn’t a great interview. Not their fault-mine. I remember feeling unprepared, and blindsided a bit by their interview tactic, which was to act like they didn’t give a shit about being interviewed. Not surprisingly perhaps, my story wasn’t great. I somehow thought it important to talk about their height (“they’re as loud as they are all tall!” or some such ridiculousness.) But I’ve always really dug their music, thought they were underrated in terms our country’s music history (I would argue they had as much influence on the world as any Canadian rock band since, oh I don’t know, Loverboy) and  have been as excited as anyone to hear their first record in 10 years, The Physical World. This time, the interview went quite smoothly. We talked about their break-up, their make-up, and why they turned down an offer to open for Daft Punk on that pyramid tour. This is my second feature article for Exclaim! It appears in print in the September issue (on streets now) and on-line at Exclaim.ca. They’re also touring, and you should go. Bring earplugs.

 
Aux34_DavidJTeaserDavid J, Auxiliary Magazine, June/July 2014

When I’m asked to interview a member of Bauhaus, the answer is always yes. This is for Auxliary, a high-quality goth fashion and lifestyle magazine out of, of all places, Buffalo. I’ve spoken to David J before, and he’s always been kind. He even gave me a lovely blurb for Encyclopedia Gothica. He has a new solo album out, inspired by and dedicated to the many female muses in his life. I talked to him about that, as well as his upcoming memoir. He then supplied us with a promo photo of him looking rather cool, with a naked lady. The article is not available on-line but you can purchase a digital download or printed magazine from the Auxiliary shoppe.

 
Coming soon: an interview with Anne Rice for Rue Morgue Magazine and Fucked Up for SOCAN’s Words and Music magazine.

 

I’m sitting here with the big book of movies playing at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. Even for someone who’s been attending for years, who’s even worked inside the festival (feel free to ask me about that time I danced with Cuba Gooding Jr., or what Brad Pitt looks like up close), it can be daunting to skim through hundreds of film titles and try to narrow down once’s choices to a reasonable (read: affordable) amount.  There are plenty of arts reporters offering their top picks, but those lists are usually dominated by what the masses want: A-list celebrities, the next big Oscar contenders, critical acclaim at Cannes, etc. What if you don’t care about any of that, if you prefer to spend your time at the movies with things that are dark, strange, offbeat? One way to choose is simply attend Midnight Madness — ten nights of soon-to-be cult classics programmed by my friend Colin Geddes, which is an experience in itself. But there are some neat things lurking in other programmes, so while I whittle down my Wish List I thought I’d share some of the films I’m most excited about that I think my friends and readers will dig.  See you there, in the dark….

WHAT WE DO IN SHADOWS

Vampires are hilarious. Too bad most comedies about bloodsuckers simply suck. But this one looks like the best thing to come our way since Vampire’s Kiss. Kind of like a really twisted Big Brother, this is billed as a “mockumentary” about three old world vamps sharing a flat in a New Zealand suburb. Co-directed by and starring Taika Waititi (Boy, Eagle vs Shark) and Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords), it seems to strike just the right notes of black humour and absurdity. Watch this trailer above for tips on how you get past a club bouncer when you need to be invited in….then come watch this with me at Midnight Madness on Friday September 12. I won’t bite you. (OK, no guarantees on that.)

 

ALLELUIA

One of my weirdest (read: best) TIFF experiences in recent years was Fabrice’s Du Welz’s Calvaire. (I also dug his Vinyan quite a lot.) Alleluia is thus my most anticipated film at this year’s festival, Du Welz’s take on the true story of the 1960s  “Lonely Hearts Killers” Martha Beck (a single mom) and Ray Fernandez (a handsome con man who preys on older women). Sure to be shocking and uncompromising and, if his past work is anything to go on, with a memorable, strong female lead.

THE EDITOR

The Canadians at Astron-6 have been hitting it out of the park in the low-budget, outrageous genre game (Manborg, Father’s Day). Their love letter to giallo comes in this sexy, stylish feature about an Italian film editor in the 1970s who becomes a prime suspect in the murders of some of the actors from the film he’s been working on. Did I mention the guy has a wooden prosthetic hand? And that The Editor has appearances from Udo Kier, Tristan Risk and Paz de la Huerta? This is sure to get weird. Also, my talented illustrator friend Justin Erickson at Phantom City Creative designed the wicked poster.

20130530175831-THE_EDITORposter_justin_erickson-1-1

THE DUKE OF BURGUNDY

If gore isn’t your thing, this erotic melodrama by Peter Strickland (Berberian Sound Studio) looks deliciously dark and sophisticated. It’s about a wealthy woman who digs butterflies, domination, and her new young housekeeper. TIFF calls it, “kinky, dryly comic, and compellingly surreal, and boasting gorgeous, gothic cinematography and an enveloping score by orchestral pop duo Cat’s Eyes.” Sold.

OVER YOUR DEAD BODY

Confession: I don’t worship Takashi Miike. I mean, mad respect to the man who made Ichi the Killer but I haven’t necessarily followed his work as much as my horror-loving friends. But this, Miike’s version of Yotsuya Kaidan, a kabuki play about murder and vengeance from beyond, seems like a must-see. Samurais and ghosts are usually Midnight Madness’s specialty, but this is screening in the Vanguard programme, which means it’s likely going to offer even more than you expect.

MAGGIE

It’s a zombie movie. Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.  I can’t think of a single way this won’t be worth your $25.

PASOLINI

Oh, Willem Dafoe.  You are not only my favourite film vampire, you are one of my favourite actors. It doesn’t look like you’re coming to town for this screening but I shall be there nonetheless. For you are playing the infamous, scandalous, Italian poet, on the last day of his life, directed by Abel Ferrara. These are the kinds of films TIFF was made for.

dafoe

THE TRIBE

Every year I try to see one kind of messed-up movie at TIFF. I’m still washing my hands after Snowtown, and shaking my head over Dogtooth. This year, my oddball pick is The Tribe, about a gang of deaf-mute teenagers into robbing, assault, prostitution and more. It’s made by a Ukrarian director but the whole thing has no dialogue or subtitles, only sign language. Because WTF? is pretty universal.

A LITTLE CHAOS

Finally, because sometimes you just need to watch something pretty and swoon, here’s one for the RomantiGoths: Kate Winslet is a landscape designer commissioned to work on the garden at Versailles. Cue romantic interest in the king’s chief architect (Matthias Schoenaerts).  Costumes and courtly love and historical drama to wash the blood out. Ahhhh.

In praise of ….. Nine Inch Nails

I couldn’t live tweet from the NIN show tonight. Not because my phone battery died. Not because my thoughts wouldn’t fit into 140 characters. (It really only needed three: OMG). But because I didn’t want to miss a thing, not even for the time it takes to put your head down and type. I have, by my count in the parking lot, seen Nine Inch Nails live 12 times (recount: 18 times!) before, and each tour is its own unique production, with beautiful, innovative set and lighting design that’s increasingly next-level in terms of theatrics and choreography and conceptually unparalleled amongst the band’s contemporaries. I know Trent constantly rearranges songs into new shapes, and that other than ending with “Hurt” you can never be sure what you’ll get. Hell, the last time they rolled through Toronto they had back-up singers. Most of the time, I am officially reviewing, and taking notes. (Here’s my professional take on the 2005 Koolhaus show and last year at the ACC.) Tonight I was not on duty. So I didn’t tweet. I watched. But sitting here now, hair and body soaked from a walk home in the rain, ears ringing, head spinning, heart and imagination afire, I can remember what was going through my head as they played. Here then, the tweets that never were:

Live photo from Red Rock show by Brandon Fuller

Live photo from Red Rock show by Brandon Fuller

Trent is wearing a skirt!!!!!

So, Trent just walked on stage with the lights up and started playing, alone. Basically, the exact opposite of what anyone expected.

Members join, one-by-one. Kind of like Swans last month. Forcing you to really listen. If it’s a trend, I dig it.

Ah, he’s playing “Copy of a” while standing in front of his shadow. #Lo-fi #High-concept.

Nothing is an accident.

I think he’s learned a lot from Bauhaus. #lightandshadow

Here come the drums. Hmmm. I miss Josh Freese.

Sanctified. Deconstructed. #oldisnew

1 Million kicks so much ass. The Slip is so underrated.

1-0-1-0-1-0-1-0 can be as just authentic as voice and acoustic guitar.

I think this entire show so far is commentary on authenticity in the digital age.

Is March of the Pigs their most metal song? (I’m standing next to my most metal friend.) It’s def more metal than Soundgarden.

So glad Robin Finck is still in this band. He’s like the Blixa/Ellis in Trent’s team.

End Act One.

Still. So. Fucking. Great. #terriblelie #rawpower

What city are they playing next? And how can I get there?

“Closer” is both the best and worst singalong song.

No, I think Gave Up is the most metal.

Dude in front of me is wearing a Jilly’s T-shirt and baseball cap. Grown woman beside me dressed as a goth schoolgirl. #crossover

End Act Two.

Widescreen. Minimalism. #oscarwinnerknowswhathesdoing

Now he’s dancing like Peter Murphy.

NIN was absolutely the best band of the 90s. Radiohead got all the credit. Where are they now?

The Great Destroyer devolves into pure industrial sight/sound. A reminder why I love this genre. And that haters who say NIN is not industrial make me laugh.

If this is the band that becomes my era’s U2/Aerosmith/Stones, I’m OK with that. But this is not yet nostalgia. It’s very much now.

God, what could he do with Bono’s budget?

If he’s not going to play Reptile or The Wretched I sure hope we get Eraser.

Eraser!!

WISH!!!!! #mostmetal #fistfuck

Dance break.

I should perhaps leave early to beat this soaking wet crowd and ensure I can get a cab. #not

Head Like a Hole was never my jam and it still fees silly. Still, not leaving early.

I love having an old favourite band that is still a current favourite band. #elixer

It’s 2014 and raining but the lighters are about to come out en masse.

Hurt is a song for the ages. Like this storm, it washes all the dirt away.

The sky unleashes its thunderous applause.

LIGHTNING.

Exit.

Post show. Soaked.

Post show. Soaked.

In praise of…The Grid (RIP)

I haven’t been writing here much lately, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been writing. I’m always writing. About something, for someone. And for the past three years, the place I wrote for most often was thegridto.com. The Grid is a weekly Toronto paper  and daily online publication that rose from the ashes of Eye Weekly, one of the many free urban alt.weeklies that didn’t survive the digital revolution. Well, it was one. Today, it’s done. Cease publication immediately. I found out yesterday like most people, on Twitter.

The Grid

I was sad to see Eye go when it folded in 2011, having written for them since 1996 (including two regular music news columns) and worked in their offices as a fill in editor on a regular basis. (Which means I got to enjoy the free donuts brought in by the sex workers who took out adult classifieds, amongst other perks.) But The Grid was the right move, the right paper for a city full of renewned civic activism and a new generation of hipsters, who were no longer too interested in counter-culture and no longer needed printed listings to plan a night out. Maybe it wasn’t really a paper for me and my demographic anymore. I sometimes joked it was Toronto Lite, a place for aspirational young Torontonians who cared more about chic restaurants, real estate and parenting than what art was going on in the galleries being torn down for their new lofty condos. But I read it anyway, because The Grid retained a very important part of Eye Weekly in some of its staff, who really turned the new paper into something. Edward Keenan in particular, a deputy editor and columnist, raised the bar for discussion of city politics. They worked with the best illustrators and graphic artists as well. The Grid was a fine looking paper, one that won multiple awards for its content and design. And still, its parent company couldn’t see a “path to profitability” that justified keeping it it around any longer. Maybe they shouldn’t have considered themselves too classy for sex classifieds. (Imagine the Dating Diaries and Hook-Up columns they could have had sponsored.) Maybe there was no way ever to overcome the headstart competing weekly NOW had for a grip on local ad dollars. (I’ve always found it frustratingly hilarious how the public perceives NOW as the grassroots paper because its independently owned, even while Eye/Grid employed and nurtured more local writers, columnists and artists compared to NOW’s syndicated American ones.) Maybe it was inevitable. But it’s still shitty that an award-winning publication with a big corporate backer can’t make enough money. This does not bode well for anyone in this town who cares about media diversity.

Toronto Goth History

I will really miss writing for The Grid, even if I was rarely in the printed version. I will miss working with my online editor Stuart Berman, a longtime colleague and fellow music obsessive who always found a place for me to write about great bands and do long music industry stories. He always let me say what was on my mind, and that counts for alot. Some of my favourite assignments were oral histories of local landmarks, like Toronto Goth and the 20th anniversary of Molson Amphitheatre (which turned out to be my final piece.) And especially my series The Plus One, where I took a musician with me to review a live concert – like NIN with Brian of Holy Fuck, Christian Death with Wade from Gallows, Beyonce with Odario from Grand Analog and Jay Z with Brendan Canning, because I think readers appreciated a different perspective on arts reviewing. And because it was really fun. (The Grid also published my only sports article, Five Reasons to Love Tennis, Especially if You Hate Sports.) I was always proud to be a contributor.

Mostly I will miss reading The Grid. It didn’t have the spit and sass of Eye Weekly but it was really smart and covered the heart and mind of this city (at least its downtown) better than any other local media. I will miss Denise Benson’s “Then and Now” series of extensive profiles of the defunct Toronto nightclubs that built this city on rock ‘n’ roll…and punk and house and techno and on and on…  (Thankfully it’s going to be a book soon.) Those stories weren’t just good memory lane for forty somethings but an important archiving of Toronto history and culture.  And on subject of nostalgia, I will miss the days when you could make a living reporting about your “scene” – whether that was music or food or city hall or whatever. When people wanted to read more about what was going on in their neighbourhood than you could find out on Twitter. When everyone, reader and writers alike, were dreaming together, about a great city and a space for conversation about how to make it even better. Because less media voices diminishes where we live, and how we live.  I really don’t know how any newspapers are going to survive these next few years. But I do know the great writers will keep on writing, somewhere, for someone.

Thanks everyone for reading me in Eye/Grid, 1996-2014.

 

World Goth Day 2014

I’m hosting this. See you in the dark.

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“The day that Skinny Puppy’s “Live Shapes for Arms” tour thundered into Toronto, February 18, 2014, the music news world was focused on the fact that date was the 40th anniversary of the release of the first KISS album. No doubt that debut was important to rock ’n’ roll. But when it comes to celebrating the impact and longevity of a group, I am personally much more excited that next month marks 30 years since Skinny Puppy released its first cassette, Back and Forth.”

Read the full review here.IMG_5347

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