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Darkwave In The West: Clan Of Xymox Live In San Francisco

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All photographs by Judy Lyon

The legendary Dutch darkwave pioneers Clan of Xymox, played a sold-out show at The Chapel in San Francisco recently as part of their ‘Spider On The Wall Tour,” USA 2020.

The band was set to play a dozen U.S. dates but sadly had to cancel the second half of the tour due to the COVID-19 epidemic outbreak. According to the Clan of Xymox Facebook page, “The only sensible thing to do is to refrain from public gatherings until further notice. All our shows are postponed to a later date in the year or into next year. We hope you will stay well and healthy. Keep watching our tour page for updates. Most shows will be re scheduled.”

On that note, I feel very fortunate to have been able to witness this show–The Chapel brought about a very dark and moody setting that made for the perfect goth/alternative/darkwave new and old school firestorm to come together that included Clan of Xymox along with support acts The Bellwether Syndicate, Curse Mackey, and Twin Tribes.

Brownsville, TX Post-Punk/Darkwave artists Twin Tribes was the first act to warm up the stage for the evening. Formed by Luis Navarro (vocals, guitar, synth, drum machines) and Joel Niño, Jr. (bass, synth, vocals) in 2017, they’ve quickly established themselves as one of the best up and coming young artists within the scene today. I felt like I was stepping into a time capsule with Twin Tribes as they conjured up dark melodic sounds, lyrics of the undead, the occult and parallel universes, reminiscent of their predecessors from the dark ’80s. The duo released their sophomore album Ceremony late last year via Negative Gain (North America) which followed the acclaimed debut Shadows.

Curse Mackey, a self proclaimed “shadow figure” of the electronic-industrial underground came on next in support of his acclaimed debut solo album Instant Exorcism that was released last year via Negative Gain. Mackey’s live show was a fusion of dark dystopian style industrial electronics along with a dynamic stage performance and hypnotic vocals. It was intensely mesmerizing. The set consisted of songs from his debut album highlighting the first single “Somewhat Possessed.” Curse Mackey’s new album Instant Exorcism is currently available for purchase through his bandcamp page.

The Bellwether Syndicate, fronted by veteran artist William Faith (of Faith and the Muse) and Sarah Rose (aka DJ Scary Lady Sarah) were up next. Their live lineup also includes Paul Sin (bass) and Philly Peroxide (keyboards/percussion) and Stevyn Grey (drums). This would be my very first time seeing this Chicago based band live and I was pleasantly surprised. Their set included the bands newest single “Rebublik,” released in 2018 via bandcamp–it’s a very upbeat track that includes all of the old school goth elements with a twist of rockabilly that made me want to jump up and pogo. This band is known for bending genres and the walls have definitely been successfully breached. Look for their new full-length album to be released in the Summer of 2020.

Headliners, Clan of Xymox would start their live set with the classic song “Stranger” off their debut self-titled album, originally released in 1985 by Ivo Watts-Russell’s 4AD label. They would also go onto play “A Day” later in the set, another iconic track off the same album (“Stranger” and “A Day” were mixed and produced by the legendary John Fryer). Both singles have stood the test of time and still grace the alternative airwaves and dark dancehalls to this very day. This album, in my opinion, defines the emerging goth darkwave sound of the era that remains just as influential today as it was back in the ’80s. Clan of Xymox frontman, Ronny Moorings, along with his charismatic bandmates instantly pulled the audience into a brilliant melancholic state with their darkly enchanting soundscape filled with nostalgia and inspiration. Other highlights of the evening included “Muscoviet Musquito,” “Louise,” and the new single “She” off the recently released EP featuring remixes from Ash Code, She Past Away, Antipole, and Bragolin. After being released in February, “She” has already  climbed to Number One in a very short period of time in the Deutsche Alternative Charts.

Clan of Xymox plans to release the next single in April off the upcoming album Spider on the Wall which is set to be released in July this year.