9th June 2018
Review & photography by Thomas James Henry Saunders
Taking up residence in club Kolis over in London’s Archway as a monthly respite from the likes of Slimelight, Reptile has been offering its potent mixture of live music & performance together with a host of DJs covering everything from 80’s darkwave to contemporary synth-pop and gothic-tinged metal for the past 10 years to an ever increasing core base of night-flowers, metal-heads and fans of everything gothic!
Having celebrated their 10th year anniversary in April, the night has been feeling more energetic and electric of late and I was surprised that the crowd were already relatively gathered as Reptile is often a ghost-town of sorts before the witching hour strikes.
Kicking off the live music are the East London synth-punk duo composed of Martin & Nadège – We Are Replica – debuting their new ep “The Answer”. Their onstage gear alone is impressive to see with no less than 5 keyboards and 2 microphones arranged together, being lit by a solitary spotlight among the seeping fog.
They sound equally impressive as their twin vocals cut through the synth-heavy noise, creating a rare but powerful mix of experimental, obscure post-punk vibes. Their sorrowful melodies and bass-rich ambience certainly contribute to darkening the atmosphere of the night.
By the end of their short set, We Are Replica thank the audience profusely before embarking on the task of dismantling their stack of instrumentation.
Between acts, the crowd begins to dance as legendary club kid Dj Rusty Egan takes over the decks, playing a host of new wave & dark pop classics to the delight of the audience. The dance floor darkens as the fog is heavily deployed, giving the room the feel of a graveyard. Fitting!
Taking over the stage is the second band of the night, They Called Him Zone. A 3-piece new wave ensemble from Bradford. Their attitude is very much a “don’t give a fuck” one, as they saunter upon the stage chewing gum in some strange group ritual as they gaze out over the bemused crowd.
Lead vocalist Mik Davis fronts the band with his gruff dark-pop infused tones whilst being backed up by Cat McLaughlan and her higher notes that add an extra layer whilst simultaneously dancing to her heart’s content.
The crowd is a little divided at these sure-footed goth rockers, although they put on a good show, filling the room with their audacity and full-bodied tracks. Their set feels a little prolonged yet they end on a high note, and overall they are well received by the now eager-to-dance crowd.
We’re getting closer to midnight and the queue at the bar grows, with great cackles of laughter being heard through the crowds.
After another bout of dancing, the music dims to signal Betty Machete’s arrival on stage, donned in a bloodied cheerleader costume and she begins her set.
Starting off by seemingly setting fire to the entire floor around her, Betty dances among the flames with a wicked grin while licking at the flames to the fully enveloped audience. She has heaps of confidence here, which really helps to captivate all of us with her choreographed fire dance, running her burning sticks up her arms before blowing them out.
As the second part of her act, Betty theatrically lights her fire-hoop and becomes a swirling dazzle of fire and pigtails. It was immense fun to watch as she expertly danced and playfully engaged with the audience.
As she blows out each poi and takes her bow, there is a great cheer rose from us all while the fog machine and DJ set resumes and the dance floor becomes full of revellers once more.
With the performances now out of the way, the audience eagerly takes back its dancing positions. As the music shifts towards a more “Reptile regular” metal tone – Rammstein, Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie.. – so does the crowd, and the full spectrum of nighttime revellers can be seen.
With plenty of lace, latex, leather and hair-spray, this is a microcosm of London’s alternative music community: goths, metalheads, scene kids and club kids all mingling and dancing the night away. Overall, another fantastic night of great performances, music, booze and company… same again next month, please?