Goth and Industrial

Dress To Depress At Tristan Iseult's Darkwave Showcase at Rebel Lounge

A0N performing at Crescent Ballroom
A0N performing at Crescent Ballroom Ashley Naftule

Most people wouldn’t think a state as bright and sun-drenched as Arizona would also be a haven for Goths, but they’d be wrong. The Valley of the Sun has long been a vale of tears and shadows for music lovers drawn to the dark side. The fine fiends behind Count Orlok Presents have been doing their part to keep Arizona blacker than a saguaro’s shadow by producing a series of goth dance nights at venues like The Rebel Lounge, Crescent Ballroom, and Stacy’s at Melrose.

The mastermind behind Count Orlock is DJ Tristan Iseult, a longtime fixture in the local dark music community. In addition to having DJed at Palazzo's seminal goth night Tranzylvania back in the day, Iseult has been hosting a weekly Wednesday dance night called Sour Times at Stacy's for years (kicking off the weekly back when it was still Sanctum). A tireless show promoter and party-starter, he now runs multiple monthly dance nights like Melancholia and Haxan in addition to his Wednesday weekly.

As if all that wasn't enough, Iseult's Count Orlok Presents also organizes live concerts. He's been responsible for bringing goth star Cold Cave to the Valley last year, playing shows at Crescent Ballroom as well as doing guest DJ spots at Iseult's Haxan. 2017 promises to be just as busy a year in the concerts department for Count Orlok Presents.

"We're bringing in TR/ST to play Haxan in February," says Iseult. "And we're also bringing
Liebknecht in to play a few days before the Darkwave showcase."

The darkwave showcase has been a new venture for Iseult. If the phrase darkwave doesn't ring a bell, imagine it as being a heavier, even more depressed version of new wave. Darkwave marries the pulsing synth-pop sounds of new wave with the grim subject matter and brooding sensuality of postpunk, creating menacing midnight music that you can slit a wrist or make out to.

And it turns out, it's a lot more popular than you'd think.

"The first one we did at Crescent Ballroom. It was all locals on the lineup, and we drew about 200 people to the show," he says.

The first showcase featured Iseult performing as his on-stage alter ego A0N, along with Bella Lune, Body of Light and Alter Der Ruine.

"I wanted to show how there were different audiences for this kind of music," Iseult says. "Bands like Bella Lune and Alter Der Ruine brought in a club crowd, while Body of Light brought their Phoenix-Tempe underground D.I.Y. following.  We brought different crowds together."

The next darkwave showcase, happening at The Rebel Lounge on Thursday, January 19, will feature touring headliners in addition to local acts.

"We've got two headliners: Tempers, from NYC; the other one is Tropic of Cancer, from Los Angeles. Neither of them have played Phoenix before," he says.

Neither band is currently touring; Iseult personally booked them to come down and make their Arizona debuts.

They'll be playing with Iseult's A0N, as well as noise artist Lana Del Rabies (who wowed audiences last year when opening for legendary sound artists Negativland).

Doors for this dark night of music open at 7:30 p.m., with the festivities kicking off at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance and $18 at the door. If previous Count Orlok events are anything to go by, you should come dressed to depress, with your best pair of dancing shoes on. Darkwave isn't the kind of music you can stand still for: It will sweep you up and carry you away, just as swiftly as the surf pounding on the shore.
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Ashley Naftule