With summer officially behind us, and the chill of early October fully immersing itself into our surroundings, it’s hard not to have our thoughts shift to darker imagery as we trade the warmth of the summer sun for the glowing heat of candles illuminating the expressions etched into the flesh of Jack-O-lanterns resting upon the porches of nondescript neighborhoods. The days are shorter, and with darkness overtaking the light, it only feels fitting to find myself spending a Sunday evening at a Void Church event. Void Church is a growing community in the QCA that revolves around the darker musical culture defined as goth, shoegaze, darkwave, or some other word that defines an idea of a genre more than the music that falls under those labels. This community is far from new but is starting to show a greater significance within these strung-together cities straddling state lines we call home, thanks greatly in part to Void Church, and those involved in its creation and continuation, notably Adam Wesconsin and Devin Alexander, who greeted me as I entered the Raccoon on Sunday and were front and center when both acts graced the stage yesterday evening.
Get spooky with D-port gothgazers GIALLOWS, loud QC post-psych darlings MOUNTAIN SWALLOWER, Denver dark prog rockers GLASS HUMAN, and DJ DOUBLEYOU at the turntables. Deck yourself darkly and get profane, on Friday, October 13 at Raccoon Motel. Doors at 7, music at 8. $15 advance, $18 door. Click here for more info.
Void Church a collective of self-described worshippers of the dark, dreamy, and occulted, put on a variety of events, from hosting dark dance parties at Wake Brewing on the final Thursday of each month, to shoegaze sermons, as well as bringing local favorites, like Mountain Swallower and Giallows, which feature’s Void Church’s own Adam and Devin (October 13th at Raccoon Motel). Void Church also brings in more nationally known touring acts including New York Gothic Darkwave quartet Activity who took over the Raccoon Motel stage for a Sunday session of musical praise yesterday. The dropping temperatures brought an autumn chill through the front door, but it was nowhere to be felt in the depths of the motel. Shadows shifted along buildings, a mix of highlights chasing outlines along the sidewalk and adding to a mind already fixated on this season and the holiday haunts which rest just on the horizon a few weeks from full view.
The night began with Iowa City duo Moscow Puzzles, who brought a hypnotic wave of melodic noise to the Raccoon Motel, surprising me that this was my first exposure to this group. The pink hues falling on the stage spilled through the open door and into the bar where it battled the teal tones highlighting the hallway parallel to the space being filled with a sound far more expansive than most would expect from only 2 musicians. Following the layered looping of Moscow Puzzles, the curtain was cleared and Activity took the stage. This tour coincides with the August 4th, 2023 release of their latest LP, Spirit In The Room. This is this band’s sophomore LP and follow-up to 2020’s Unmask Whoever. It’s dark, but it begs one to dance along to the ambient angles which are laid over a mixture of vocals from Travis Johnson and Jess Reed, that fall perfectly in line with the ethereal atmosphere produced and built upon by the instrumentation. While at moments there’s a welcome meandering to the songs, that would play a perfect soundtrack to late nights underneath the glow of street lights, they hit the stage with an immediate intensity, and I found myself forgetting to shoot as I, along with the rest of the individuals standing among the glow of “Void” headstones hanging from the wall, was fully engaged in the expressive energy unfolding upon the stage.
There’s more to the Quad City music scene than many of us recognize, and while it is too easy to get caught up in all that things seem to lack, sometimes all we need to do is open an unfamiliar door and allow ourselves to get lost amid foreign sounds within the sonic spaces of our backyard. Things are only as unoriginal and closed off as we allow them to be in our minds, and communities like Void Church bring a different energy to an area many people falsely view as burnt out. Communities that build upon that are eternally important, because while everything must belong somewhere, and everything has its role, this area has a depth that extends far beyond the standard blues/bar bands covering the forgotten hits of an equally forgotten youth which it has become associated with.