An evening of haunting tales from a count, a witch and a siren

We’ve gone down the steps to the basement of Aces& Eights countless times but the vibe that was generated that night, a few days ago cast a dark veil over the space and made it feel much darker than usual. From the first second, the feeling was that of stepping into a post-ceremonial macabre celebration. The intimate arrangement of tables and chairs set the tone for something austere and measured, requiring a composed ‘aristocratic’ behaviour. At that moment, we had the feeling that we were not just attening a gig but that rather, we had been summoned there.

A waltz macabre loupe came from the speakers, playing games with our concentration, creating a sonic labyrinth whose exit was only visible once Down From Above appeared on stage.

Anastasia Resurrection and a gothic rock side created by Rob Ackerman on guitar. Bringing influences from both Blondie, whose song ‘Hanging Down From Above stage photoon the telephone‘ they covered, and deathrock bands such as Xmal Deutschland, Down From Above captured everyone’s attention. Rob’s quintessentially rock ‘n roll guitar riffs sometimesDown From Above stage photo seemed to compete with the rather summoning stage presence of Anastasia but overall the band left a lasting impression – ‘Electric Blue‘ our favourite song  – and we are already looking forward to the band’s next appearance.

Last July stage photo

Next up were Last July. Always enchanting on stage and with a great energy between them, they filled the space with electro/darkwave rhythms and a dark romantic aesthetic. We loved it when some more evidently rock guitar riffs cut through the otherwise ‘opaque’Last July stage photo darkwave veil. We also loved the fact that, on  closer inspection, their songs manage to marry subtle pop elements with darkwave sonic textures. We learned that their keyboard is named Aurora, and that they managed to film a video clip on a deserted street just as a fire emergency Last July stage photowas about to unfold in that same spot! We had the pleasure of enjoying older songs such as ‘Glorious Parasite‘, ‘Scars‘, ‘Further From Reason‘ and ‘Nothing Else But You‘ as well as songs such as ‘Beautiful‘ from their latest EP ‘Forever’ (released in 2023) and we can’t wait to seem them again in the near future.

I sometimes think we must be all mad and that we shall wake to sanity in strait-waistcoats” (Dracula)

After a brief intermission, the time had come for the vampire of the night to capture us with his stories. Joel Hayes filled the stage with gothic mystery and a feeling of Byronic Sex & Exile stage photoanticipation seemed to fill the room, just like the one created before a fascinating story is read. The set this time was short and sweet without much fuss. Despite the fact that the recently released album seemed to have a theme created in a haunted castle, that atmosphere was not recreated during the live set. However, we still got a headful of Shakespearean allegory and a captivating gothic rock performance that could easily entertain Count Dracula himself on a cold night in Transylvania. The setlist focused on the latest album ‘Everything But The Ghoul‘,Byronic Sex & Exile stage photo laced with a few songs taking us as far back as ‘Cu Foc‘. Watching Byronic Sex & Exile live at least once, especially since gothic rock music seems to have been abandoned, is imperative. The theatrical element and the literary tradition that fascinated musicians in the past so much that they strived to give sound to the writings of Edgar Allan Poe, the Bronte sisters, and Mary Shelley, seem to have stopped inspiring a younger generation of dark alternative bands and this Byronic Sex & Exile stage phototruly makes the scene much poorer. It is fascinating and truly inspiring to be able to imagine worlds and stories that deal with energies much larger than the ones that surround us, and which attempt to communicate them through music. This is what Byronic Sex & Exile have been doing since 2015 through their band and their label based in Leeds – without forgetting the rich rock music tradition of the Doors and by finding ways within the guitar riffs to celebrate the rock element, this is a band that does not copy others and whose lyrics have conceptual depth beyond our small everyday lives.

There is one more element that is unique to the gigs of Byronic Sex & Exile, and that is the senseStage photo Byronic Sex & Exile that we have all been invited into someone’s house for a soirée of intellectual stimulation through music and words. There is a sense that each of us is welcomed and respected and that we are not seen as walking wallets. The commercial/corporate impersonal element of most of the intimate gigs we attend these days seems to be the very thing that Byronic Sex & Exile is fighting against, a noble quality that has disappeared from the music industry altogether.


You can see more photos from this gig here.

Blaue Rosen box

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