When I learned I was getting a press pass to Ankh Funeral, the biggest Gulf Coast goth festival, I was tickled black. I had been six or seven years ago, but it ended disastrously when Bonesaw, the goth magician, clearly had not tested his new equipment. The festival is still recovering and now it starts in the damning light of afternoon to bring in normcore kids.
I was excited to go back anyway. When I arrived, I had a bit of vertigo from sitting in my bus seat backwards. I wanted to do my part to reverse any hexes or “bad vibes” that I might encounter at the festival. They used to hold Ankh Funeral in this neat old theatre with disproportionate gargoyles, but that theatre got taken down because of black mold or asbestos or something. I wouldn’t have minded being there anyway. I mean, we all breathe in something, right? As long as we’re living, I mean. Now the Funeral is at a convention center sponsored by a bunch of orange farmers. It kind of smells like Sunny Delite.
I flashed my press pass, and they gave me a drink ticket as they ushered me into the festival hall. I was wearing hair falls I had bought for my brief raver phase. They were candy-colored and I am so not a pastel goth, so I upcycled them with the help of a black Sharpie and a lot of White-Out. The falls felt chic on my back as I went to the bar. They had a special cocktail menu for the Funeral. I went with an Atrophy, which was elderflower liqueur and lemon-lime Gatorade.
Vendors had tables set up, mostly jewelry and crafts. I looked at the jewelry on the first table and thought the Evil Eye locket was kind of cool. I could put lip balm in there, but just a little bit. Then I saw this scarab ring she had there. One, it was confusing because the scarab represents the Egyptian sun god Ra, and what do goths need with a solar deity? Second, it wasn’t even anatomically correct. Its back had three thingies instead of just two. I thought about saying something to her, but when I looked at her I realized she’d briefly been a d-list fetish model back in the day. Naturally, the situation was changed. I went to see what kind of food they had, and a couple guys dressed like vampires were eating veggie burgers, so I rolled my eyes and left.
I went to find the stage. The auditorium was already packed with more than a dozen people. Sunken Hope Chest was the first band to play. They have a decent following around the panhandle. Their lead singer uses a lot of hair gel and doesn’t have any pores. I thought they sounded like early X-Ray Scenario, but everybody knows that early X-Ray Scenario was just ripping off mid-career Hypoxia. Sunken Hope Chest’s bassist had been in Cherub Scab, though, so it was nice that someone was experienced even though Cherub Scab, of course, was notorious for canceling shows because of in-fighting and bad acid trips. Next up was the Juju Babies. I guess their kinderwhore belle thing is okay, but I’m pretty sure they’re going to sell out soon enough. A rep from Bleak Iris has been at their shows, and we all remember what happened when Daguerreotype O signed with them. That might have been when I first started to doubt that eternity existed, come to think of it. Their first album on Bleak Iris even had a radio edit. As if they needed to change rather than the radio stations who have something against nine minute dirges with grisly lyrics.
There was some down time then before the headliner, Carcass of Loneliness, came out. Roadies brought out all their instruments and draped them in black cloths right away. In the back of the stage was an open casket with a rocking chair upright in it. I made a mental note to try that out in my room. I could paint a rocking chair with some Old Testament scripture to lighten the mood.
I looked around then to see who all had come in. There was me and the veggie burger vampires, some really young goth girls who were just wearing Target sportswear that they’d cut to look more punk. We have all been there. I thought about telling them about my upcycled hair falls but they looked deep in conversation.
Then the lights dimmed, but it was still daylight so it wasn’t all that dramatic, really. I got excited to see Carcass of Loneliness make the stage. When people ask me to describe them, I say “wry ink coarse masturbation heights beacon rage weeping nimbus frond.” And I am pleased to say their live show lived up to every word. It was hard to get back on the bus and go home, for my loneliness was throbbing by then, as perfect as a tear.