Who says romance is dead?
Certainly none of the dark, romantic, neo-goth artists playing this year's special Valentine's Day show at Berbati's Pan would consider amour deceased—though they might be inclined to romanticize death itself. Although there are few similarities between the groups, this gathering showcases four bands that shed light on the darker side of desire.
The Rose City's own demure and obtuse cabaret trio Get Hustle creates its visceral and theatrical songs using the simple elements of drums, organ and vocals—no guitars, no bass, no frills. Its unique mosaic of influences ranges from antique cabaret to Krautrock, frenzied hardcore, French pop and free jazz. The resulting creation sounds like Jacques Brel and Kurt Weill tunes interpreted for a film by low-budget, off-kilter fetishist filmmaker Ed Wood.
Romantic moment: Dream Eagle sounds vaguely akin to Nina Simone performing in a haunted house, as vocalist Valentine Falcon yelps, "Please take this rose as an offering to the virtues/ Tame the vision war!"
Scarling's debut EP, Sweet Heart Dealer, follows the heavy-rock-meets-impassioned-whisper tack of Jane's Addiction and Interpol. The band wears its dark heart on its sleeve, as such song titles like "Band Aid Covers the Bullet Hole," "Baby Dracula" and "Can't (Halloween Valentine)" might suggest. The quintet is led by former Jack-Off Jill singer Jessicka, whose impassioned coos and yelps sound downright predatory when paired up with the band's layers of distorted guitars and rollicking drums.
Romantic moment: On "Baby Dracula," Jessicka sweetly intones, "Stop your nonsense my dear, I know you need attention/ So slash an artery."
Beep Beep is an Omaha, Neb., quartet featuring bassist Joel Peterson of dark synth-popsters the Faint. While the quartet eschews the glissando keyboard gloss of Peterson's other band, its debut, Business Casual, is equally as passionate and bleak.
Romantic moment: Beep Beep's bio aptly describes its music as "a steamy, triple-canopy jungle filled with sounds of howling animals in heat."
Fact or Fiction is a new Olympia, Wash., band featuring the very, very active drummer Radio Sloan, formerly of the Need, Two Ton Boa and about 10 other bands. Sloan's penchant for the lore of haunted hearts seems duly suited to the evening's events.
Romantic moment: Apparently, each of Sloan's many band affairs has met an early demise. We'll wish Fact or Fiction well…bless their dark hearts.
The Get Hustle, Beep Beep, Scarling, and Fact or Fiction play Monday, Feb. 14, at Berbati's Pan, 10 SW 3rd Ave., 248-4579. 9:30 pm. Cover. 21+.