SAN FRANCISCO — Cold Cave released its new single, “Promised Land,” on Friday and fans at The Chapel on Sunday were the first to hear it in an energetic performance that kept defining the band’s music within the goth genre really, really difficult.
With roots in hardcore punk, Cold Cave’s music is a blend of post-punk, synth-pop and even kill-wave. Sunday’s performance, added another couple of layers to Cold Cave’s sound; part darkwave, part shoegaze. The crowd was mixed between fans of singer Wesley Eisold’s old hardcore band, American Nightmare, and people who just want to dance to songs like “Confetti” and “Underworld USA.” Others gave the man in the Motorhead vest a wide berth to dance, while just a few feet away was another man in a Nike track suit.
By the time the band played their 2017 fan-favorite “Glory,” three songs in, the crowd was moving in unison.
Consistently compared to Joy Division but darker than New Order, Cold Cave transitioned seamlessly from that sound to that of shoegazing goths like Black Ryder, with “People Are Poison” with Eisold and Amy Lee sharing lead.
When Cold Cave broke into “Confetti” the dancing became more fervent. Eisold flashed to the front of the stage, bathed in gray and white striped lighting, backed by a screen of fuzzy black and white. The singer’s voice held up to the hit song and pace didn’t stop through to the next song.
Duo VOWWS opened the concert with a set of melodic goth. ADULT. followed and pushed the tempo across the spooky spectrum from goth to punk and new wave. The duo, which formed in 1998, drove 35 hours from Detroit to get to Sunday night’s show, singer Nicola Kuperus, said.
Kurperus sang with two microphones and dangled them above the heads of fans. Kurperus and bandmate Adam Lee Miller were thoroughly engaging and leaned equally on industrial and goth music as they did on punk rock.
— Laura Casey