[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he beginning of November saw Goths, Metalheads, Moshers, Punks, Steampunks and assorted hangers-on all descend upon the small seaside town of Whitby, North Yorkshire, for the unique bi-annual music and fashion festival Whitby Goth Weekend.
Almost twenty years ago the festival began as a small gathering for a group of Gothic pen pals, and grew on from there with no signs of stopping. With its romantically rugged landscape and architecture, and its connections to Bram Stoker’s most famous novel Dracula (the ruined Abbey looms forbiddingly on the East Cliff above the town, and Lucy Westenra is first accosted by the Transylvanian terror on a bench nearby), Whitby was and still is a very appropriate setting.
With everything there is to take in across the whole of WGW – such as the Bizarre Bazaar Alternative Market where you can buy anything from a leather corset to a sword, or simply exploring the town and gawking at each other’s darkly fabulous fashion sense – it is sometimes easy to forget that the nucleus of the whole affair is the gigs at the Spa Pavilion.
Perched atop Whitby’s West Cliff and facing out into the chilly North Sea, the Spa makes for a rather decent sized venue (it’s always good to have a choice of bars, after all), and this time around ticket holders were treated to eight bands. The Friday night was headlined by William Control, the side project of Aiden’s Wil Francis. An aesthetic mash-up of Johnny Cash and Gomez Addams, with a full repertoire of pulsing darkwave tunes encompassing everything from true love to S & M, William Control’s gleeful performance and catchy lyrics were a standout moment of the festival.
Supporting William Control were Bristol based Gothic rockers Ashestoangels, who brought a true old school enthusiasm to their stage performance, as did enthusiastic punkers Fearless Vampire Killers. However, it was the first band to take to the stage that evening who made the most striking bid to steal the show – Bad Pollyanna, fronted by fuchsia-haired songstress Olivia Hyde (incidentally, the only woman on the bill, barring DJ Caroline Vain), captivated listeners with their particular brand of melodic metal, and struck a chord with their song Invincible Girl, dedicated to Sophie Lancaster (a theme which always resonates throughout WGW).
The Saturday night was dominated by German metallers Diary of Dreams, whose epic landscapes of songs drew what felt like the biggest crowd of the festival into the Spa. Their powerful performance was supported by electronic Goth rockers Bella Morte and Rabia Sorda (the solo project of Hocico lead singer Erk Aicrag), and the danceably energetic offerings of UK synthcore band Method Cell.
With the 20th anniversary of WGW looming in 2014, we hear that the organisers are planning something a bit special for next November – attendees may be treated to three nights of bands instead of two. The festival is likely to be even more popular next year due to the anniversary excitement, so we’d advise nabbing your tickets early; keep an eye on the WGW website for the dates (tickets for next year’s April WGW are already on sale).