Goth didn’t (no) die in the riot room
The Riot Room has long been a center of the Kansas City alternative scene. But since the pandemic, a more sinister, but surprisingly friendly crowd have chosen her for the Saturday night hangouts. This group – the Kansas City Goths, led by local organizer Bryant Waner – do wonderfully scary things on Saturday nights.
For those who don’t know, goth is a subculture and style of music that emphasizes the darker side of life. When we sat down with Bryant, he explained, “Gothic culture comes from punk and the idea of being opposed to authority and drawn to the macabre. Goths may find their interests to be a bit outside of society, such as being drawn to the afterlife, scary things, horror movies, serial killers, and skulls. For me, this is an aesthetic that exudes an appreciation and attraction to death and the dying part of life and being fascinated.
Mean. And wonderful.
So, you might be wondering what exactly is going on in the riot room? These events, orchestrated by Bryant and his team of DJs and organizers, are experiential musical events, with opportunities to dance and drink – socially remote of course. Bryant’s wife, Salyara The Red Queen, told us that in addition to Riot Room’s rigorous adherence to social distancing and sanitation protocols (they have hand and mouth sanitizer), “most goths love masks and already love to dance from a distance. one of the other.”
These events are truly spectacular. As well as being a one-of-a-kind musical experience, each of the themed events features an ambiance that makes you feel like you’ve died and gone into an afterlife which, while spooky, is majestic as Devil.
Currently, the KC Goths have an event every Saturday at Riot Room. These events are:
Vampire, the first Saturday, is a gothic night out for everyone. This is what most people instinctively know and fits into the Gothic subculture. Hot Topic, Bauhaus, anything scary and spoopy is welcome. People wear fangs, but it doesn’t have to be, come have a good time. Sometimes there is performance art.
The night of the 80s, the second Saturday is what you expect: big hair. Previously hosted at The Brick, the 80s party moved to Riot Room, where DJ Rico spins the new wave, the industry, the 80s, sometimes a little 90s. People come as they are, punk, goth and rock.
The Atomic Concubine party on the third Saturday of the month is where it starts to get weird. In the right direction. She’s the new beauty at the ball. Turning exclusively to dark synthwave and synthwave music, it recalls the sounds of the 80s with a new twist. Dark heavy grooves. Imagine if Goth went neon. Blade Runner and the post-apocalyptic future of the 1980s. The future is now, and Atomic Concubine is all you want to hear.
Finally, the fourth Saturday turns between two themes, the ritual and the industrial revolution. Ritual captures the occult and spooky vibe that has been embraced by the online goth community. Mixing EDM and EBM, as well as witchcraft, synthwave, Bryant and company have found a marriage of more recent dance grooves that hint at dark, oozing heavy bass with kick drums. Chances are you hear Crystal Castles as often as The Dead Can Dance. Alternative Saturday presents Industrial Revolution, where the DJ mixes gothic songs from the 90s and 2000s with gothic songs popularized by movie soundtracks.
But Bryant isn’t the only one making these events happen. He comes with a full cast of talented musical goths, including:
- Annabelle Evil who has spent the past 11 years working in New York City for Vampire Freaks.
- Skapegoat, which spins everything from synthwave to EDM, EBM and dubstep. You can tell it’s him by the goat mask.
- Rico, aka “The Boss Hooligan,” who runs the local record store, Boss Vintage Records. Rico has toured with Rancid, Morrisey and DJ’s internationally over the years.
- Joey Brunk has joined the Soft Leather BDSM community, and is the expert when it comes to drum and bass bands. He really likes things to have a bang!
- Commadore is the last born of the DJ collective. He shoots the Atomic Concubine Nights with Skapegoat and broadcasts his original music on Twitch. He can be found on Twitch here, (LINK)
- Additionally, Savannah Gabrielle is the artist who creates artwork and flyers and helps manage the group’s social media accounts.
And, as you’ve probably figured out, Bryant has a knack for drama and daring. As such, alongside his beautiful wife, Salyara The Red Queen, and his friend Joey Bahamundi, he created a lyrical vampiric musical group: Discord. The group, which opened for bands such as Voltaire, Covenant and Dance with the Dead have been described as ‘music vampires love f ***’ too.
Bryant explained, “We take classical music and infuse it with modern dance grooves. We create a new sound that accompanies the old world with the new. It’s a blend of opera, electronic dance music with the grandeur of an orchestra and the attitude of a rock band. This is the music we think millennial vampires would love.
And, after listening to a few of their songs, which feature voices from Salyara, we can confirm that they are quite amazing. You can find out more about the KC Goths by following them on Facebook and Discord on their website.