Day 1: Friday 25th September
Just a few weeks ago, before college stole my life, I travelled to Reading, England for Sacrosanct Festival. This festival, resurrected from the 90’s and re-booted in 2013 is now in its third year and getting better all the time. Here’s what you need to know about it:
While other festivals are relying on the usual suspects and yesterday’s bands to draw interest or imploding under the weight of their own hype (remember Alt-Fest?), Sacrosanct has been quietly successful in its own right due to the old maxim; “Keep it simple, stupid.”
Organised by ex-Vendemmian guitarist ‘Vendemmian Dave’ and his partner, Simone Gasser, the two have excelled in drawing a line-up from as near as Brighton, England to as far-flung as Costa Rica and California, with a good smattering of Europeans in between. Boasting a line-up of 14 bands from 11 different countries, plus three club nights to keep everyone dancing into the small hours, we were literally spoiled for choice. All at the bargain price of £40.00. Yes, you heard right, all that for forty quid!
The line-up for the weekend was as follows:
Friday: Grooving in Green/NU:N/Horror Vacui/Age of Heaven
Saturday: Drama Queen/Winter Severity Index/The Stompcrash/October People/Long Night/The Last Cry
Sunday: Yabanci/Last Dusk/Whispers In The Shadow/The Last Dance
Tickets for this three-night extravaganza came to just £40 sterling. Yes, you heard me right. All these bands for a measly forty quid (or 60 euros). Where else would you get such a bargain?
A little word about Reading itself. It’s very easy to get to. Just a 45-minute bus ride from Heathrow, or a short train ride from ‘the big smoke’ (that’s London to you). The town is crammed full of shops, restaurants and hotels. Because it’s not a tourist town, prices for food and accommodation are reasonable and the two main hotels for Goths to stay in, the Penta Hotel and the Travelodge, are just a five-minute walk from the venue, The Face Bar. In addition, The Butler Pub is just two minutes down the road from the Face Bar and is the place to go for meet-ups, eat-ups, or a morning after curer.
The staff in the Face Bar are friendly and welcoming. There are no barriers, no overbearing security. The venue is known for hosting goth, metal and alternative nights and they even offer a range of reasonably-priced cocktails. The only downside was the very loud metal night in the room next door which was particularly pervasive between songs.
But on to the important stuff – the music.
Grooving In Green kicked off the festival in style with Stephen Carey and Simon Rippin of The Eden House guesting on guitar and drums respectively. (The band sadly lost drummer Thomas T Catt earlier this year.) The band continue, as powerful as ever, played a blistering set and set the pace for the evening ahead.
Next up was NU:N from Portugal. These guys were new to me and had a sound reminiscent of the Sisters Of Mercy, as many goth bands are wont to do. However, they had drive and energy enough to give any amphetamine-fuelled 80’s band a run for their money. The lead singer harangued the crowd as the band delivered a full-on set that left everyone cheering for more. Good choice, Dave and Simone!
Next were Horror Vacui from Bologna, Italy. Even playing on borrowed instruments, they played like seasoned pros and their huge energy was a breath of fresh air. More punk than goth, HV also managed to evoke the first ‘mosh’ of the night. Check out their album, ‘Return Of The Empire‘. You won’t regret it.
Age of Heaven, from Leipzig, Germany, were the final act of the evening. Around since 1991, this is a well-established band which drew a good following from its native country to see them in Reading. Very stylish visually, they played a tight set, throwing a few rock-star poses while they were at it. While a couple of songs sounded a bit ‘Fifty shades of Rammstein’ there were some stand-out tracks such as ‘In The Mirror’ and ‘The Providence’. The band went down very well with the audience and they made a good headliner for the first night.
But that wasn’t the end of the night. The partying continued into the small hours with Tanze Macabre clubnight for those who like to dance. I called it quits around 2am and headed for my hotel, ears still ringing but well satisfied. Two more nights to go, and if the first night was anything to go by, I was going to need all my energy!