Kings Theatre, located in the heart of Flatbush, Brooklyn, is the Borough’s jewel in the crown. The opulent late 1920s auditorium, gloriously renovated in the 2010s, is a wonderland of French Renaissance: gilt ceilings, murals, Corinthian columns, red velvet, mahogany, and sparkling crystal chandeliers.
What better setting, then, for a true Gathering of the Goths: every single one, it seemed, lurking in the tri-state area?
Despite four decades of Andrew Eldritch’s protesting that he is not an icon of the goth scene, to a humorous amount of derision (sometimes spoken like a German supervillain), there is a great irony in that the mind-blowing Sisters of Mercy show at Kings Theatre on the 2nd June proved to be a litmus test, as it were, of the vibrant alternative/goth scene that still exists in The Big Apple. Thousands of corpse-painted ghouls, fishnet-and-lace strutters, Siouxsie clones, leather daddies, elder goths, and other creatures of the night poured into the loving Rococo embrace of the Kings Theatre to watch the first NYC Sisters concert in fifteen years.
On my way to the sold-out show, I ran into another woman on the Q Train outfitted in a gossamer gown of black tulle, accented with fishnets and tall boots. “You must be going to The Sisters show,” I said, as she nodded. “We’re the only two goth girls on the train, we gotta stick together!”
“I am!” She introduced herself as she lit an American Spirit. It turned out we had mutual friends, and loved cemeteries. That’s about all it takes for me to make a new pal, so we walked down the gloomy, drizzly Brooklyn streets together, chuckling as we saw bigger and bigger clusters of goths emerging from every corner along Flatbush Avenue. We rounded the Reformed Church cemetery as others fell in line with us, bedecked in leather jackets, rosaries, and matching mohawks. There were also elder goth parents, relieved of kid duty for the evening, out canoodling on a spooky date night. More flamboyant figures filed in, such as a looming presence in a black jacket with enormous shoulder pads, looking like Nosferatu-meets-Grace Jones. The scenesters from Red Party and Synthicide all fluttered in together. Spiderweb and pentagram décolletages. Blue hair, pink hair, green hair, no hair. Band shirts advertising everyone from The Comsat Angels to Bootblacks to Slayer and Os Mutantes. There were even a couple of baby bats in the wings, clutching the torch for the next generation of Sisters fans.
Before the show, I had a pleasant chat with a dad on an outing with his daughter. Going to concerts was their form of bonding, he said. He proudly pointed at his progeny, artfully dressed in Strawberry Switchblade threads. “I introduced her to The Sisters of Mercy when she was in middle school,” he recounted. “So glad my kid loves good music.” She raised her can of Modelo and nodded at him with a black-lipsticked smile.
The Sisters of Mercy were in fine form as they took the stage, opening with Don’t Drive On Ice. Andrew Eldritch was flanked by duel guitarists Ben Christo and Dylan Smith, with Ravey Davey keeping Doktor Avalanche churning forward. For most of the show, the lights were dark, moody, and Expressionist, which gave Andrew Eldritch free rein to bark his way through new and old alike, with his booming baritone bellow having matured into a grumbling gargoyle growl. They brought out the old standards like Dominion/Mother Russia, Marian, and Alice, but with a set comprised of mostly newer material, they also introduced many of us to When I’m on Fire and But Genevieve. Christo and Smith took charge with Instrumental 86, firing through the number with screeching dual guitars.
The audience itself was as delightful as the performance, showering their adoration and singing along heartily. A strapping mohawked fellow in a ripped denim vest, looking like the son of Vyvyan from The Young Ones, repeatedly screamed, “THANK YOU DADDY,” pumping his meaty fist in the air with gusto. The encore, a triple threat of Lucretia My Reflection, Temple of Love, and This Corrosion, had the hallowed halls humming in haunted Kings Theatre. “SING!” never sounded so sweet.
But Andrew Eldritch was undoubtedly the star of the show, pacing around the pulpit like a panther; hamming it up for the crowd and photographers; basking in the love. Someone chucked an empty beer can at the stage at one point – but without missing a beat, Eldritch deftly punted it right back. Some things never change – and one thing’s for sure, while Andrew Eldritch might scoff at his goth titles, his presence certainly proved there’s still plenty of life yet in the NYC goth scene.
- Don’t Drive on Ice
- I Will Call You
- But Genevieve
- Dominion/Mother Russia
- Show Me
- Instrumental 86
- Doctor Jeep / Detonation Boulevard
- Eyes of Caligula
- Something Fast
- On The Beach
- When I’m on Fire
- Lucretia My Reflection
- Temple of Love
- This Corrosion
Photos: Alice Teeple
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