The room fills up with a dense fog only really appropriate for haunted houses and this outfit, an industrial/ horror/ synth band called Gatekeeper from Chicago. As my friend Justin calls it, the best thing out of Chicago since deep-dish pizza and another reference I can’t hear over the noise. Red lights glow over a crowd of people dancing like zombie Germans. An intense strobe light capable of blinding a person snaps behind them like lightening. Talk about setting the mood.
As we walk towards the front of the room, I pass a pseudo-goth chick with dark, penciled-in lips mouthing a purple laser beam being pointed into her cavernous mouth by some dude as though it were, well, you can imagine. This is both confusing and unattractive and strangely comparable to what it looks like when the dentist is putting anti-cavity sealants on your teeth.
The music has a density that hasn’t been popular for a long time, maybe the nineties when it was okay to be dark. Sometimes I feel like there’s this post-9/11 subconscious cultural obligation to be chipper and happy in the face of the disintegration of a nation. But I suppose music has always attempted to counter reality. I feel like the pill-popping, rave-going, self-destructive nature of the 90s was a probably counter to all of the positive things going on. Humans are surely a sick breed.
Gatekeeper is a relic from a darker age, one that brings to mind dancing with your fists in some windowless basement, sweating the day out somewhere Berlin. In fact, Justin notes that Le Bain is probably the oddest place to see this type of music, surrounded by walls of windows and beautiful views of Manhattan being laid before your fortunate feet. Gatekeeper was made for S&M clubs and horror movies with hardcore zombie sex scenes.
While I’m dancing with my eyes closed, jamming my shoulders and hips in convergent directions with the beat, a scene Blade comes to mind. Blade was that super awesome movie from 1998 that I can’t vouch to be super awesome now because I haven’t seen it in over ten years. Anyway, it starred Stephen Dorff as some demonic super vampire and Wesley Snipes was the ass-kicking vampire slaughterhouse. The opening scene features a bunch of 90s-era hookers rubbing up against each other, gay-looking men in snug shirts, and a creepy dude getting a blow jobs on a the couch…and everyone’s dancing to hard Euro house music. Eventually the sprinkler system starts leaking red stuff (uh oh) and the words “BLOOD BATH” are illuminated behind the DJ booth, at which point blood starts raining from the ceiling onto the supple flesh of dancing vampires. Wesley Snipes arrives, he kicks some ass, blah blah blah. Anyway, Gatekeeper is like the reintroduction of that vibe…and haven’t we all missed it so?
What’s sort of refreshing about Gatekeeper is that it is in such direct opposition to everything going on in indie rock right now. It’s hard and unforgiving and dark and sometimes that’s what you need to dance to, just to exercise that side of your personality. Gatekeeper wants you to know it’s okay to be creepy. Go ahead; dance like a bloodthirsty Euro vampire and, hell, if you like getting your hair pulled, just ask for it.