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reliq, SYMBOLCLUB and More: Berlin Goths Keep It Up All Night

photo by Adi Parvulescu
photo by Adi Parvulescu
grayl growls

Our writer Drew Denny traveled from L.A. to Lithuania, Germany, Poland and Denmark meeting artists and musicians for her "Overseas Underground" series. Her next stop was a goth club in Berlin, where she met the band reliq.

Despite their myriad references to horror and all the pain they channel, reliq's performance is downright sexy. Re-performing hallucinations, inciting shamanic spells, hypnotizing, eroticizing, and spectacularizing - reliq is a concept band for the post-apocalyptic conceptual art world.

Gay dance parties at the legendary Tape club, a city-wide reading featuring improvisational comics and jazz, performances by home-town-ish hits like Ty Segall and Gang Gang Dance, and Sun-Ra tape cuts from ingenious DJ Mike Huckaby (not to be confused with preacher turned Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee). Thanks to him, Berlin feels like one never-ending night.

reliq, SYMBOLCLUB and More: Berlin Goths Keep It Up All Night
photo by Viviana Druga

Just in time for World Goth Day, I was lucky enough to experience the third iteration of SYMBOLCLUB. A recurring nomadic night conceived by Berlin-based doomscape performers reliq and ANIAETLEPROGRAMMEUR, SYMBOLCLUB is a celebratory ritual of ecstatic darkness. We arrived around 2 am to find the party in full swing- homemade costumes and haircuts recalled the brilliance of Edward Scissorhands while the music demonstrated the arena potential of Berlin bedroom goth.

ANIAETLEPROGRAMMEUR filled our bodies with thumping beats, thrilling synths, and guitars that wailed so hard they raised goosebumps on the back of our necks- all with just two members! They credit their Parisian beginnings for the hints of ambience and nuanced melodies imbued throughout their Berlin Wall of Sound.

reliq, SYMBOLCLUB and More: Berlin Goths Keep It Up All Night
photo by Adi Parvulescu

Ceremonial collaborators reliq followed at 3 am to close the night with an epic performance of primal transcendence. Employing an all-analog set-up for the first time, reliq truly reveled in the experimental, community-oriented mission of SYMBOLCLUB. Drummer xorzyzt (who's got some LA roots!) built a haunted house of pulse and throb, swelling rhythms one to the next with a masterful mixture of strength and sensitivity. Synth wizard pH and guitar guru valquire played cops and robbers- or, rather, spirits and mediums- dressing their haunted house in textures, melodies, harmonies, and distortion. Head-banging and thrusting her body against the audience, red-lipped long-haired vocalist grayl could be the love child of Nosferatu and the woman Marilyn Manson wishes he could be. Expertly woven throughout the morbid milieu, her screams, moans, whinnies, and chants express angst and agony with power and poise.

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