Negative Gain Productions: Destination NOLA 2023

By: Vanessa Saw- Producer of Ratio Strain, Drummer for W.A.S.T.E, writer for STATIK magazine.

I was fortunate enough to be asked by Sounds and Shadows creator Ken Magerman to conduct a review of one of the most anticipated events of the summer, NGP’s Destination NOLA. Everyone I know was excited when the announcement came that NGP and the Gothic Cruise collaborated together to create the ultimate summer adventure. I have never been to a Gothic Cruise event myself and thought what better initiation than to go to NOLA in the heat and humidity of summer. I imagine the meeting for NGP and the Gothic Cruise went something like this:

“Hey, instead of being on a boat during the summer, let’s mix it up! Let’s do a land thing.”

“Sounds great! You know what place would be amazing to get a bunch of goth/industrial people who wear black to go? NOLA!” Let’s do it in August!”

“OMG! you’re a genius! I’m in!”

Thus, many including myself, bought tickets and made the trek over to NOLA with all our black clothes and stompy boots with little regard for mother nature in the name of music and fun.

NGP has been a force to be reckoned with and has been home to a variety of our favorite artists from Bestial Mouths, Josie Pace, to ESA. Celebrating 25 years is not an easy feat, especially as the scene and it’s needs change over time. Yet Micah and Roger have managed to not only create a household name in the scene but have assisted with facilitating diversity and growth. The fact that NGP was able to create a two-day festival that many attended from around the world shows the caliber of artists they support. Every artist brought their all to the stage, and you have to hand it to Atari Nite, Wire Spine, Carrellee, Total Chroma, and Heavy Halo who played night one in a venue with no AC.

It would be easy to review every artist’s performance, but in thinking about the event, I kept reflecting on what events like these mean to the scene. The first thing I noticed was just how many people from all over the world were in attendance. One of my favorite aspects about these types of events is connecting with friends and fellow musicians that I get to see so rarely. While we all love the music, we appreciate the connection to others in the scene. In speaking with many of the performing artists, this was a common theme. Rob from Order of the Static Temple (who absolutely crushed it and was a highlight performance) had this to say:

“We’ve been very lucky to play at two NGP showcases, last year at SXSW in Austin TX and now in NOLA. NEW ORLEANS!! The French Quarter is another world. Walking the streets at close to midnight with literally no one around, marveling at the 1700’s architecture, gas lights and horse hitches. Two nights of amazing artists, friendship and community. We played our brand of electronic cult music alongside the best. Happy 25th anniversary to Negative Gain, and much gratitude to Micah and Roger for making this happen!”

I have to wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment as one of my favorite parts of the weekend was exploring the local culture, checking out the local goth club, and the afterhours set from Daniel Myer that made my noise loving heart so happy. Seriously, don’t ever sleep on a Daniel Myer set! Another highlight for me personally was being able to drum for Ivardensphere and share the stage with two of my favorite people in the world, Scott and Jamie. Very few people can message me the day of a performance and say “Hey, do you want to play with us?” and with no hesitation I somehow say yes to an entire set.

Night one of the festival was a good introduction to the weekend with Carrellee’s perfectly moody voice and Heavy Halo’s grungy synth sounds. The venue was more intimate, so it allowed for the artists to really interact with their audience and showcase their talent. I enjoyed the dive bar feel of the venue mixed with Total Chroma’s post punk groove and the sight of so many familiar faces. What I always fail to remember about NOLA is just how late the party goes, so several of us ended up at the Goat for their goth night. I always enjoy checking out the local scenes and seeing what the city has to bring.

Day two of the festival kicked off just as amazing as day one, albeit on slightly less sleep and probably too much of the local cuisine in my belly. As expected, every performer brought their all and the crowd was amped throughout the entire night. I had never seen several of the acts live so it was great to see them all in one place. I honestly can’t say that any one performance was better than the other as they all brought something unique to the table. The biggest highlight was Daniel Myer making everyone dance and sing, because who can say no to Daniel.

In speaking with Roger and Micah themselves, I could sense their excitement and disbelief that something they had envisioned in their heads had finally come to fruition. When I asked them what their plans were moving forward, they collectively agreed that they are beyond thankful to the community to have made it this far and that they want to continue to foster what they have built.

It was truly a pleasure to sit back and watch all the performances. Watching Total Chroma’s drummer be in the pocket like a boss, the total rockstar energy of Josie Pace, Curse Mackey who just gives his performance his absolute soul, Bestial Mouth’s moody hypnotizing vibes, ESA’s shirtless “It’s too hot for clothes”, DSTR’s heckling for us not knowing the lyrics, being able to drum with Ivardensphere, and the crowd’s unwavering energy for every performance made me thankful for our mighty community. So thanks NGP and the Gothic Cruise for making us sweat, eat amazing food, laugh with good friends, and remind us that we are a strong community built on good music and friendship.