If you ask me, the monthly Thorn and Moon events at Avant Garden are the new home of Houston goth. If you haven’t been, it’s a mostly outdoor event that caters to pagans, artists and goth DJs that takes place the first Friday of every month down the street from the traditional goth venue of Numbers. I’ve had the chance to tour Thorn and Moon for work, and I vastly prefer the open-air, creator-oriented aspect of it to the smoky club.
Maybe I’m just getting older, but there’s something about centering an event on people who make things in a venue where you can actually have a conversation while still featuring an excellent bar and all the club hits that feels much more welcoming. Sure, it’s outside, and in the heat it’s a little brutal with the leather and velvet crowd. However, you can come and go as you please, buy magic amulets, paintings of Siouxsie and succulents grown in skulls, and all around have a low key good time.
One thing I think is missing from Thorn and Moon is live music. They’ve done some. Waking Fae did a set, for instance. I’m still on my quest to make the next phase of goth music acoustic-based rather than dance-based. The inside of Avant Garden is as perfect for acoustic sets by spooky musicians as the outside is for buying stuffed beetles that have been made into clocks.
So, here are some suggestions for acts that I would love to see do acoustic sets at Thorn and Moon. I’ve tried to keep this as realistic and Texas-based as possible. Obviously Robert Smith isn’t going to show up for less than 100 people at an old house.
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The Clown Prince of Goth has come through town before doing acoustic shows, so he seems like the most obvious choice. Thorn and Moon is a somewhat small venue for an artist of his caliber, but the atmosphere that would allow him to hawk his many other wares and be celebrated as a creator of multi-media would like make up for it. Plus, he’s just really nice and a lot of gun to hang out with.
9. Addisyn Madd
Madd is a local who you often see at the various comic conventions. His work tends toward more steampunk than goth, but generally fits right in wherever the weird gather. You can always count on a solid set for him, and he knows how to work a crowd.
8. Fiddle Witch
Okay, not technically acoustic, but Fiddle Witch is closer to what I’m aiming for than most. Jo Bird and Spike the Percussionist’s excellent act is also probably the closest we’ll get to a Rasputina show any time soon since they tour so rarely down this way. They’re the perfect macabre atmospheric band for a magical market.
This Texas neo-folk act I actually saw at Avant Garden back in the day. They absolutely dominate the stage with their dark minimalism, reaching through ether with mysticism and gloom. It’s a brilliant show they put on. Maybe in this current environment they shouldn’t use pistols firing blanks as percussion like they did when I caught them, though.
6. One-Eyed Doll
Austin’s goth punk duo kills when they unplug. They’re regular work is wonderful, but something about Kimberly Freeman’s banjo is just twice as intoxicating as the band’s heavier sound. It’s a less dramatic show, but it hits hard and beautiful.
5. Jessie Frye
Okay, Jessie Frye is more goth-adjacent than proper goth. She’s got the look though, and you can’t argue with that voice. There’s no doubt the Dallas-native would be right at home here.
Lycia is a dark wave act that has flown under the radar somewhat despite being around since the late ‘80s. As far as haunted soundscape bands go, they’re the best thing this side of the Legendary Pink Dots. If I had to pick a single band that summed up the serenity I feel at Thorn and Moon, Lycia would definitely be it.
3. Asmodeus X
Earlier this year Houston’s Asmodeus X dropped a surprise new album, Dark Ides of Summer. I loved it, but I complained because I was hoping that the band would expand on their acoustic repertoire. Well, Paul Fredric dropped me a line on Twitter to tell me that they’re doing exactly that. Thorn and Moon is where I hope to see it debut. At the very least maybe we’ll get to hear their insanely good cover of The Partridge Family’s “Point Me in the Direction of Albuquerque” live.
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This is my wish list band. The odds of getting them on a play from Norway are pretty small, but they’d fit like a glove at Thorn and Moon. I fell in love with Ulver based on this awesome video form “Magic Hollow, and literally everything I’ve heard from them since has been like the second coming of Pink Floyd for me.
Never trust a goth that doesn’t have at least one country artist on their iPod. For most of us that’s usually Johnny Cash, but with the Man in Black gone to the great beyond I’ve been trying to convert goths to alt-country master Lambchop. This cover of “This Corrosion” is legit one of my favorite things to ever be recorded. The man has a long discography full of strange acoustic wonders that should appeal to the darksome connoisseurs of H-Town. Here’s hoping.