Clan of Xymox perform at Baltimore Soundstage on March 11, 2023. (Photos by Jason Nicholson; Words by Mickey McCarter)
Clan of Xymox will be forever known at the least for several songs from their 1985 self-titled debut album — “Stranger” and “A Day.” These racing, pulsing synthpop tracks perennially fill indie club dance floors, and they did so once again live when Clan of Xymox performed live at Baltimore Soundstage in a very packed show.
People turned out in droves to hear classic Xymox but also for new songs from the cool-headed dark wave quartet from The Netherlands. Clan of Xymox have been quite prolific lately, publishing recent albums via Metropolis Records. And so at Baltimore Soundstage on March 11, four songs of the roughly 17-selection set was drawn from Spider on the Wall, an album released by Clan of Xymox in 2020. Also included in the set was “Lockdown” — one song from Xymox’s 2021 record, Limbo.
Interestingly, “Lockdown” expresses frustration about being shut in, presumably during pandemic periods where citizens were not able to patronize businesses and were encouraged, or even forced, to remain in their homes. Frontman Ronny Moorings sang the song with cool detachment while the band kept a really chill if slightly menacing rhythm behind him.
Watch the official music video for “Lockdown” by Clan of Xymox on YouTube:
The appeal of Clan of Xymox really hinges on Ronny, the band’s sole founding member today. At 61 years old, the singer and guitarist still appeared fresh and vital. A large percentage of the Baltimore crowd consisted of self-identified goth women, who were clearly there to get a glimpse of one of the original heroes of the dark synthesizer set. For them, Ronny holds as much starpower as Robert Smith of The Cure. But while Robert expanded his sonic palette, Ronny remained steadfast in his dark-wave footing. While Robert has clearly grown older, Ronny seemed ageless.
Clan of Xymox opened the set at Baltimore Soundstage with “Stranger,” and the crowd was immediately thrilled. The song’s cascading beats were instantly recognizable, and the number served as a mission statement: This is who we are, and this is what we do. Fabulously futuristic even in 1985, the song today stands as a crystalline opus. Ronny sounded as mysterious and aloof on Saturday as he undoubtedly did when he first sang the song almost 40 years ago.
Xymox closed the main set with “A Day,” and its shining synth lines were positively uplifting despite the song’s lyrical message of loneliness and isolation. Here, as throughout the show, the entire Xymox band really impressed. On bass, Mario Usai played off Ronny well, and there was great stage chemistry between the two men. On synths/laptops, Sean Goebel and Daniel Hoffman really drove home the beats in a way that deserves special recognition. Sean and Daniel were like twin engines that really powered the lively and gripping atmosphere of the show.
Watch the official music video for “A Day” by Clan of Xymox on YouTube:
Clan of Xymox alone made for a fantastic show. But Xymox also brought along two worthy opening acts, which ensured Baltimore Soundstage was crowded early in the night. Ronny and company recruited longtime friends William Faith and Sarah Rose Faith (aka DJ Scary Lady Sarah) — talented Chicago goth veterans — and their band The Bellwether Syndicate to share the tour with them. I first encountered William Faith as bassist for The March Violets, an underrated ’80s dark-wave act, but many know him for his project Faith & the Muse.
The Bellwether Syndicate played an eight-song set that drew in part from a series of very strong singles that the band have released over the last several months — “Beacons,” “We All Rise,” “Dystopian Mirror,” and “Repubik.” On these numbers, William’s voice was smooth and seductive, and he may remind you on occasion of Peter Murphy. But William is no imitator, nor is he so easily pigeonholed. In performance, he could easily slide from relaxed to enraged. The Bellwether Syndicate’s melodies were resplendent and stirring, and frontman and band proved to be an intoxicating mix.
Watch the official music video for “We All Rise” by The Bellwether Syndicate on YouTube:
The Bellwether Syndicate also came with full cognizance of its past — the band added a well-received rendition of “Sovereign” by Faith & the Muse to the set. And they closed with a cover of “Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)” by David Bowie — which was totally awesome. It was a nod to a clear influence on their own sound without being reductive or predictable.
The entire show opened with rising goth star Vosh, hailing from DC! Led by frontwoman Josephine Olivia, Vosh aims to follow in the footsteps of industrial acts ranging from Ministry to Nine Inch Nails. Vosh released a debut full-length album, Vessel, on March 3, so this show was something of a local celebration of new music for the band.
Vosh play an official record release show at The Runaway in DC on April 1!
At Baltimore Soundstage, Vosh performed a seven-song set that drew from the new 12-track LP. Josephine and her band recently released a video for the standout song “Bleed as One,” which has driving beats, atmospheric rhythms, and ear-catching chord changes — all hallmarks of good industrial dance music. Josephine took the song to the next level with her deft and alluring vocal.
Watch the official music video for “Bleed as One” by Vosh on YouTube:
Overall, this concert was a really great showcase for all three bands, and a pleasing evolution of the same lineup as a 2019 concert at Union Stage in DC. Clan of Xymox were as cool as ever, and The Bellwether Syndicate and Vosh both grew remarkably in the past four years. All in all, they made for a formidable bill!
Here are some photos of Vosh, The Bellwether Syndicate, and headliners Clan of Xymox performing at the Baltimore Soundstage on March 11, 2023. All pictures copyright and courtesy of Jason Nicholson.
Clan of Xymox