One of the points of urban subcultures is that you all look the same. It’s like a safety net in a jungle of fashions and musical styles: if I put on my skinny jeans and band T-shirt and go to one of those things called brit parties around here, I can safely bet I’ll listen to some indie guitar music with my lager and meet fellow minded people with whom, before the beers kick in a bit too much, I can expostulate on the intricacies of which Foals album is the best after all, and why.
Every now and then, of course, you get tired of the safety net, and indulge in something that it, let’s say, on the fringes. Goth culture is probably as friendly to indie as it gets, since some of the music is shared between the crowds: case in point, dark wave, which often, if not always, sounds like the long lost child of Joy Division. It can can get a bit tiring to listen to the umpteenth singer trying (and alternatively succeeding or failing) to sound like Ian Curtis, but Saturday’s offering, She Past Away, at least sound like Ian Curtis if he were Turkish, which is intriguing, to say the least.
I have always felt sympathy for acts that get into some exotic niche that is not particularly typical for their geographical region- these days it’s of course much easier to connect globally with anything your heart desires, but, back in the days, being a die hard, say, Stone Roses fan in an Eastern European backwater, required passion, patience and dedication.
Turkey on the other hand is big and diverse enough to harbour pretty much anything, and the local culture is strong enough to leave a trace on the most alien of imports: so while the melodic backbone of She Past Away’s music is as joy division-y as it gets, and the singer’s voice strikes you as totally Ian Curtis at first hearing, it slowly dawns on you that he actually sounds much closer to a typical Turkish rock singer than to any Western counterpart. (For this you should of course have some prior knowledge of how Turkish rock sounds, but in the always useful bathroom queue I was informed by several people that he ’sounds familiar and yet a bit off’, but they can’t put their finger on the exact nature of the offness.)
Before She Past Away we were also treated to Pornography (that sounds supicious, I know)- but they’re ’merely’ the Hungarian Cure tribute band, with a lead singer who very much looks the part of Robert Smith, as he should. Tribute bands are another ’pet curiosity’ of mine, for I could never really understand the need to become completely submerged in the music of another artist, and would often think that becoming a tribute band is basically admitting the defeat of your own creative ambitions. I can’t say to having been enamoured by this one either- the first couple of songs were quite alright, but in the longer run a sort of tetchy boredom set in, with people chatting over their beer or going for a smoke outside.
This downtime did however allow for a closer inspection of those in attendance- they were pretty much what we would call goths alright, but in general, goths strike me as a rather diverse sub culture. They might be clad in black as a rule, but they come in all shapes and sizes, giving the impression of a community that is welcoming of anyone who might feel a bit of an outsider for any reason. As a further soothing fact, none of them felt the need to put on any ridiculously gory Halloween costumes, they kind of look the part everyday anyways.
And as a short final remark. It was of course hard to go to a concert on the 31st of October and not think of the people who had died a day before in the blaze in Bucharest’s Colectiv club. Besides the tremendous sadness of so many young lives lost, I did however also feel grateful that the club scene in Budapest is generally safe, and lessons have been learned from the West Balkan tragedy. Whenever people complain of security staff being overzealous, attendance limitations and space restrictions- just keep in mind that we need all those rules and regulations to be kept safe, and ultimately, to be kept alive.