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The Last Dance

Where: El Corazon

When: June 18

Why: First (and likely only) Seattle show

 

The Last Dance has been playing since the early '90s, but

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The Last Dance, El Corazon, June 18

L.A. Goth band plays to small but appreciative crowd, and reporter spends night wandering the streets of downtown Seattle.

lastdance1.jpg

The Last Dance

Where: El Corazon

When: June 18

Why: First (and likely only) Seattle show

 

The Last Dance has been playing since the early '90s, but this was there first show ever in Seattle. They hit Sacramento and Portland on their way up the coast. It was night that could be easily forgotten or forever unforgettable, depending on who you are.

The show began late, with no one allowed inside El Corazon until 8:30, the scheduled start time. This cut Simple Shelter's set down to a ten minute acoustic set. More would have been nice, as the best song, a cover of The Cult's "Edie (Ciao, Baby)" could be heard from outside.

Idiot Stare, a six-piece industrial group, made things loud again, and thank goth for that. 

TLD took the stage slightly after 11 p.m., and the crowd had filled out to 20 people. Maybe it will be like that infamous Manchester Sex Pistols in 1976. Somewhere amongst the less than two dozen audience members could be the next great Goth band. 

It might be local group Abney Park, whose members did attend.

TLD started off with "Whispers in Rage" the title track from their 2002 CD. Vocalist Jeff Diehm did his best not to seem disappointed at the size of the crowd, and delivered a lot of banter about the state of the goth scene (see interview for more). At one point, he came off the stage to get people to dance.

The live versions  are just as good as the recorded, and Diehm has a strong frontman presence. He knows who his predecessors are -- Bowie, Iggy, Peter Murphy-- and uses their teachings well.  Bassist Peter J. Gorritz held his own, keeping it cool like bass players seem to do. He and Diehm left the visual flash to guitarist Rick Joyce, who did not disappoint in the visual or musical areas.

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TLD finished their set with a cover of Oingo Boingo's "Dead Man's Party" which sent the small crowd home happy. As happy as any goth kid can be, that is.

Follow the link for an interview with Jeff Diehm, and the overnight adventures of our brave (stupid) reporter. 

The goth kids of the '80s and '90s aren't exactly kids anymore. The Last Dance know this and are growing up with it. They've faced the fires of record labels and distribution deals, the tragic loss of a band member, and the continued ignorance of their chosen genre by the mainstream. Not all of those things are bad, if you talk to vocalist Jeff Diehm. He's been playing music in the scene for 14 years, and while some things have changed for him, others have not. The one constant is the music.

"This is our first show in Seattle," Diehm said. "It's easier to go through Salt Lake, then the Midwest, and down the the coast and back home. We've never made it up here. It's not because we didn't want to, there just hasn't been the promoter interest in bringing us here."

Some of that may be due to the lack of a goth scene as there are in other cities, or the absence of a dedicated venue.

"Other places have a loyalty to a venue, kids will show up because that's what they do," Diehm said. Still speaking of Salt Lake, Diehm continued, "it's a church-like mentality. There's people who've been in the scene for 20 years and now they are in it with their teenage kids."

The kids seem to be the key. Goth has lost ground to emo and neo-punk in the last few years.

"Goth, punk, country and western, those never change. They'll always be the same and always be someone to listen to it," Diehm said. "That pussy emo shit will come and go."

As for punk, well,"...at 38, there's no such thing as punk as I knew it. No offense to those bands. 'New-punk,' they need a new word for it. You can go to the mall and buy punk stuff and not just at Hot Topic. You can go to Nordstrom's and buy a shirt that says 'punk' on it or to Target and get a shirt that says 'Ramones.' Green Day is Britney Spears with boys. That's cool if that's what they want to do, but that's not punk."

While "punk" may have gone mainstream, goth has remained on the fringes, and Diehm likes it that way.

"I don't want goth to be mainstream," he said. "I don't want Budweiser as a sponsor because they'd take all the good beer out of goth. Clubs like this (El Corazon, where TLD performed) can define a scene and keep the music underground."

TLD have built a following through underground means. By appearing on numerous compilation CDs, many released by goth forerunner Cleopatra Records, they've gained fans one song and one show at a time.

"We've gotten a lot of mileage out of those compilations," Diehm said. Eventually, it came time to get bigger and better distribution than what mail order could offer. The group signed with Dancing Ferret after recording Whispers in Rage.

"That was our first official U.S. release. Everything else was in the U.K. or Europe and then imported," Diehm said.

The label change, which finally brought TLD into records stores, came on the heels of a tragedy. Drummer Ivan Dominguez was killed before Whispers was written and the album is dedicated to him.

"When Ivan died we decided to really go for music. Whispers in Rage wrote itself. We recorded it and then signed to Dancing Ferret. That whole era was a huge turning point. It let me know that I don't have to give a shit about how things turn out."

While there is a renewed dedication to the music, it is not all-consuming, like it can be for some bands.

"The downside is the day job," Diehm says. "We were offered the permanent opener spot for the Cruxshadows tour. We could have had that and decided it wasn't what we wanted. I like sitting on my patio. I have a girlfriend that wouldn't like me being on the road nine months of the year. Rick (Joyce, guitarist) has two kids and another on the way."

While some goths might be surprised that one of their heroes does indeed go out into the light, Diehm smiles at the thought. "I've never met anyone that seriously goth that they never come out in the day."

 

Reporter's notebook: This is one of those stories that there is more to than just the story. I was one of those kids who first heard TLD on a compilation album but never had the chance to see them live. They put on a great show, but you could feel how saddened they were that so few people showed up. Those who were there, including a young woman whose sister drove from Tri-Cities and picked her up in Ellensburg, really wanted to be there. It was fun for me to get that woman, along with her sister, to take the chance to say hello to Jeff Diehm. After the show, however, was when the real fun began.

I live in Tacoma and ride the bus. Do you see where this is going?

The show started late and finished somewhat later than it should have. I couldn't leave until the end, not after waiting ten years to see the Last Dance. So I missed my bus home. I didn't have enough money for a cab (how much is a cab from downtown to Tacoma, anyway?) and no one to call who would be awake enough to drive into Seattle and then drive home.

There is a fine line between bravery and stupidity. Last night, I straddled the line and, fortunately, came out on top.

I walked into the better-lit area of downtown and kept walking. I had intended to walk to the Denny's on Lander, but changed my mind when I reached 4th and Columbia. That was far enough and it was only 1 a.m. The first bus back to Tacoma heads out at 5:38. Four and a half hours...no problem.

So I wandered around downtown, sometimes sitting at bus stops or in places where I could see what might come at me from all directions. I may be stupid sometimes, but that doe snot diminish my caution level.

It was cold, sure, and more than one person asked me for change or smokes. I had little of one and none of the other.

At 4 a.m., just as the sky began to lighten, I saw a man ride down Spring Street on a unicycle. At 5:40, I was on the bus, headed back to my bed. While this made for an interesting adventure, it isn't something I want to do again.

Just don't tell my mom. She'll freak out.

Random Detail: Before the show, TLD vocalist Jeff Diehm informed guitarist Rick Joyce that Washington is a "no smoking indoors" state, the lit one up himself. Bassist Peter J. Gorritz could be seen eating a candy bar during their set.
 

 
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