SUPER EGO Despite its fixation on a fathomless past, the goth scene has endured — and sometimes embraced — a cadaverous host of contemporary challenges and styles. From mall-joke commercialization and media scapegoating to cyberpunk, steampunk, Burning Man Mad Maxiness, gamer chic, and now Facebook (not to mention a deliciously strange marriage to industrial music's macho posturing throughout), goth has seen it all and lived to tell.
"The scene has grown, evolved, and changed but it will always be the same," DJ Decay told me over e-mail, invoking goth's efficient way with paradox. He should know — his 18+ Monday night club, Death Guild (www.deathguild.com), has been holding Bay Area ground for the goth and industrial subculture for 18 years now, and will host a three-day black celebration March 13-15.
Death Guild started in 1992 (on the Ides of March, no less) as an offshoot of the Krash Klub goth party at the old Pit club, moving around a little bit before finding a home at DNA Lounge. Now it's become the longest-running weekly party in San Francisco. And Decay — along with resident DJs Melting Girl, Joe Radio, Sage, Intoner, and Lexor — reflects that span in his excellent choice of music, which runs a chilly gamut from Siouxsie the Banshees' 1980 "Red Light" and Sisters of Mercy's 1983 "Temple of Love" to more recent tracks by And One, Helium Vola, VNV Nation, Stromkern, and Aesthetic Perfection. Death Guild also helps host that infamous Burning Man fixture, Thunderdome.
"Eighteen years is a lifetime for some of our patrons, and it seems so long since it all began 935 Mondays ago," Decay told me. Yet, in high goth style, his celebration is mixed with rue.
"The biggest effect on the crowd in my opinion has been the advent of social networking sites," Decay responded when I asked for his thoughts on the current scene. "It used to be that Death Guild was the place you came to see what people were wearing, and to find new music, and meet people with similar tastes. It used to be that if you saw someone on the street with a nose piercing and blue hair. there was a really good chance that you shared similar tastes.
"Now, with the instant ability to hear a new song on your phone seconds after it is released and to buy your dress and boots from opposite ends of the earth before that song has played all the way through, the world is a much faster place. This has also allowed for microgenres. You can decide that you like some obscure Inuit tribal drummer who specializes in inaudible vibrations, friend his other four fans on 'facespace,' and you are now in a scene with people you'll never meet. And you don't need to like anything else because you have your scene. Those physical identifiers of old are no longer a strong tribal marking — but hey, your profile is similar to mine so let's be friends."
DEATH GUILD EIGHTEENTH ANNIVERSARY
Sun/13 with Assemblage 23, System Syn, and FGFC820, 7 p.m., $18/$22, all ages.
Mon/14 with Dearth Guild resident DJs, 9 p.m., $5 before 10 p.m., $10, 18+.
Tue/15 with Imperative Reaction, and Ayria and The Panic Lift, 7 p.m., $18/$22, all ages.
DNA Lounge, 375 11th St., SF. www.dnalounge.com
Why not start this week's dark carnival off in the presence of the "godfather of goth," Peter Murphy, the former Bauhaus frontman with that unearthly baritone, whose ninth solo album comes out this year. He'll cut you up, but you're dead, you're dead, you're dead. (Also, he's a vegan Muslim now.)