Altar de Fey w/ New Skeletal Faces at Corazón del Barrio, San Diego, CA, 06/10/2013

Of all the awesome clubs in the San Diego dark music scene, one thing that sets Club Nothing apart is the inclusion of live music into their events. So I was looking forward to this double bill at Corazón del Barrio. The venue itself is set within a bustling stretch of Logan Avenue in San Diego’s Barrio Logan neighborhood and works as a combination of music venue and meeting hall. I even remember attending an art show there a few years ago. The layout, size, and location are ideal for a music venue for fans south of downtown who may not always want to go clear across town to check out some live music. The smoking patio does get crowded and old-timers like myself would have appreciated a few more spots to sit down, but the crowd had a great vibe and the atmosphere was perfect for a Deathrock show. Such was the setting to welcome San Francisco’s Altar de Fey with San Diego’s own New Skeletal Faces.

The DJs were on fire this night, doing some of the best beat matching I’ve heard in Goth/Industrial since, well, EVER! Mixes including Siouxsie & The Banshees and Nitzer Ebb stood out particularly in my mind. And while the playlist included plenty of classic favorites, the song selection ran deep enough to have me playing the guessing game of “which band is this deep cut from?”.

There was one scary moment as the security guard made a stage announcement warning club goers to stay inside the venue due to a disturbance outside. (We later found broken glass along the street.) But, thankfully, there were no incidents inside the club aside from a few drunks who got a little too rambunctious in the mosh pit.

New Skeletal Faces started the live portion of the evening off right. Their elaborate, shrine-like stage decor – complete with runes and candles – created just the right setting. I’ve seen NSF live a few times and they can always be counted on for a solid live set. And they were in excellent form. Fans of NSF know that the band rarely takes breaks between songs, making the show one continuous flow of songs with wailing vocals that seem to be haunting the songs more than driving them.

Singer/guitarist Errol Fritz worked the crowd with his innate rockstar bravado while KRO and Don (bass and drums respectively) went through their set with lockstep tightness. Fans up near the stage where I was were losing their minds. Fists were pumped. Heads were banged. It was at this point that I looked behind me to see that a sizable mosh pit had broken out. Truly a rock ‘n’ roll spectacle for the books.

It seems that the NSF following made up a substantial portion of the crowd. I would have liked to see more of them stick around after the set. But a respectable number of partiers stuck around to see Altar de Fey, so it was all good.

AdF took the stage amid what seemed like a ritual, complete with incense and blessings to the crowd, and fully looking the part: teased Mohawks, tight black jeans, and ghostly makeup. Singer Jake Hout’s black feather arrangement was an especially nice touch. The rhythm section was filled out by Kent Cates on guitar, Aleph Kali on drums, and bassist Skot Brown.

It took a few songs for the sound to get fully dialed in, but the performance didn’t suffer for it as they went into selections from their back catalog. It is worth mentioning that, while the band first formed in 1983, most of their releases date from the 2000s and 2010s.

The crowd seemed devoted to welcoming these veteran Deathrockers to not-so sunny San Diego. (It was raining outside.) And everyone young and old we’re getting into the old school vibe.

These are the kinds of nights that, as a music fan and musician, I live for. It is my sincere hope that we San Diegans will see more from Club Nothing and the top notch entertainment they’re bringing to town.