Whether one calls it goth, dark punk, darkwave or deathrock, there’s no denying the enduring appeal of music from the bleaker end of the spectrum. It’s a scene that continues to attract plenty of new fans and bands, even four decades after its emergence.
Oakland's darkwave scene is much more than a niche pocket of fandom. The upcoming Near Dark Festival connects local bands like Adrenochrome and Mystic Priestess to an international tribe stretching from the U.K. to Chile. Co-organizers Gina Marie Scardino and Brianne Hanshaw (both of Adrenochrome) booked a diverse array of darkwave veterans and emerging bands for three nights of shows taking place Sept. 13–15 at The Golden Bull, The Uptown and Eli's Mile High Club.
“Our main goal is bringing bands and people to Oakland who have never played or been here,” says Scardino, who also plays in post-punk trio Ötzi and owns Near Dark Records and King Kog bike shop. Last year, she helped book the West Coast Women’s Darkwave Festival as well as the first edition of Near Dark. She says she's proud to provide this rare opportunity to see international legends in Oakland’s own backyard.
There’s a conscious effort on Scardino and Hanshaw's part to ensure that their festival is as inclusive as possible. The website and show flyers include clear statements against racist, sexist and transphobic behavior; all three show venues are wheelchair accessible; and band members reflect a plurality of identities and musical genres.
“It’s important to make sure there’s a place for marginalized people in any scene: queer people, women, people of color," she says. "Considering the whole big picture when you put a show together is really important." Scardino’s main regret? That she couldn’t find an all-ages venue for this year’s festival.