Whenever a musician levels my spirit, I immediately conceptualize a vision where I experience the feeling of that artist in real life. I then add the venue and fantasize about the energy I’ll conjure and emit with other humans drawn to the same music. It’s cathartic for me.
There is nothing like experiencing a musician or band unleash in their hometown. But, when the band or musician brings a sense of belonging or home on tour, the music experience becomes much more than a concert.
During my time doing my podcast and vlog, my objective was always to ensure the artist I was speaking with felt like they were talking to a lifelong friend and ensure they know that I am not a music journalist or typical media person looking for a story. I aim to show the musicians how much their craft, melody, and story affected my spirit. It’s to let them know that someone listening needed their song, voice, poetry, and sound to balm a broken heart, release rage, evoke the tears necessary to heal, dance like no one is watching, and move to remove. Their music healed someone somewhere.
Often, the music a musician releases comes from a place of experience more than just imagination. This is especially true with independent artists like Élishia Sharie, Urban Heat, Vision Video, Creux Lies, and Matte Blvck. They write their music from a place within them and their experiences. I am just Michelle Halloween, a wild-spirited moss-covered pumpkin/mushroom who brings a loud intrigue and emotional experience to everything I love, as all the artists mentioned above.
As August began, I made it a point to direct my focus on Matte Blvck headlining at the Coffin Club. It was a show I heavily anticipated as their songs Pure and Monumental have been the needle and thread that kept stitching up my emotional and mental wounds since last Fall. I needed to experience the songs live and release stagnant energy to enjoy the harvest in my small little world. In other words, I didn’t want to get burned out before the show and ruin the experience for myself.
It was a big deal when Alex Gonzales asked me if there was a Portland street team I knew willing to put up posters and fliers for their show with local artists –ism and DreamReaper at the Coffin Club on August 18, 2023. I willingly volunteered as tribute. Once I received the heavy box, I constructed a plan and planted posters up and down Portland’s popular and heavily artist-trafficked streets like Mississippi. Hub Bub and I had a blast putting the red and black shadowed images of Alex, Bidi, and Daniel on car windshields. It was like living the nineties all over again, and hell, I felt part of the Matte Blvck magic.
However, that didn’t eradicate the fears outside my control. What could have affected the band’s headlining experience at the Coffin Club in Portland? Though that has nothing to do with me (my brain doesn’t work that way), I hope that the artists who give Portland a chance feel the same sense of unique community and support as I do when in the goth scene here. Dusty of Vision Video may be the Goth Dad of the world, but alongside Yvette Velasquez, we are like the Hot Goth Mommas of Portland. We want the bands to feel at home when they come here. I also want to show my appreciation for the gifts they give without knowing it.
So, I won’t sugar coat that I was a bit freaked out about what Matte Blvck’s experience would be like because the night before, August 17, when Vision Video, Urban Heat, and Creux Lies sold out Portland’s favorite place to dance; things kept going wrong for the bands sound wise. This isn’t uncommon with Coffin Club or any club for that matter. Still, it’s hard not to take it personally when the venue is so legendary and a”must-play here” for indie and local bands, and I hype it up only to possibly disappoint an artist.
Fortunately, despite the issues and concerns that unfolded, it was a sold-out show, and Portland Goths showed up and were hypnotized, unfazed by the technical difficulties, and were moved by all three bands I have the honor or the privilege of being friends with; Vision Video and Urban Heat. I saw physically and mentally wary musicians genuinely embracing each fan with unfeigned gratitude that night. The sound issues didn’t affect their energy on-stage or off. For me, that’s everything, and I view such connections as assurances from the universe that moments like such make life worthwhile.
The energy was undoubtedly different the night of Matte Blvck’s show. Many of the same fans from the night before showed up, and I loved seeing so many local artists there. Many came to support DreamReaper and -ism, and rightfully so! Both embody the dark delights and groove only Portland goths can procure in sound. I still encourage you to peep them out if you’re curious, and if you’re lucky enough, you’ll be tantalized.
I noticed the sound was different, louder, and more under control than the night before, and that put me at ease for Matte Blvck’s sake. I was still high from the vibes the night before. And, then, as if the fact I was about to see Matte Blvck live wasn’t enough to fill my spirit, just before they took the main stage I facetimed HubBub to check his whereabouts when not only did his face appear on the screen, but so did Ean’s from Cruex Lies. They ended up staying in Portland, rested, and returned to the Coffin to support Matte Blvck and hang out as they understand and love the Portland goth community.
When it came time for Matte Blvck, I had no doubts the Coffin wouldn’t be able to handle the epic setup and lights we were all about to experience. The band has a crew that reminded me a bit of how Author & Punisher and of corpse; A&P doesn’t just play a live show; he puts ON a show. Not wanting to take advantage of any moment, I took in the focused effort and impressive setup. I tried to insert myself into the on-stage Matte Blvck dynamic.
Still a bit traumatized from the 2020 Clan of Xymox Echo Park, Los Angeles set-list incident (IYKYK), I refrained from reaching toward the list of songs. I tried to be inconspicuous while looking at the songs to be played, which included the new song ‘I’m Not Afraid,’ or at least what I think the song title is. I wear smudged glasses for a reason. But that’s when the trio went into ‘Rye Fire.’
Then there was nothing but the music only Matte Blvck could belt out. Alex’s voice was impeccable and moved me to tears. He has this way of executing and then projecting the vision within his mind, and it shows on his face and with his movements from mic to drum to synth. Daniel was stage left, but I captured the handsome passion of his guitar playing and keyboard and vocals.
And then, Bidi blew me away unexpectedly. The multi-instrumentalist was performing on the astral plane and this one. He was seducing someone unseen or perhaps conveying a heartfelt message. It was unexpected and a moment better than I could have ever envisioned. Bidi is a fucking dark star.
I don’t know what else to say about Matte Blvck’s show. I’m proud to proclaim I was there for it. As much as I’m sure the vibe will be emotional and sexy and will undoubtedly level audiences in Los Angeles and especially San Diego. It will be a treasured memory of mine to have connected with Alex regarding Matte Blvck’s vision throughout 2023. I feel as if I am again witnessing and being part of a music revolution that transcends the impactful concerts of our past.
Matte Blvck is a music experience that was meant to headline. I’m grateful they allowed the Coffin Club and Portland the opportunity to show up for them and hopefully propel them to dance in that place Bidi went to on stage. Take us with you!