Incredibly obvious in retrospect, Goth Prom, held Thursday night at Talbott Street and headlined by the dark troubadour Voltaire, is nonetheless the cleverest gothic innovation since ripped fishnets. Since those in the goth scene treat every night out as worthy of senior-prom-level preparation, the prom metaphor works perfectly. For bonus points, prom probably sucked for most goths (or other outsiders) who went to it, so the prom is the opportunity to retroactively fill that void. Just for kicks, add Voltaire, he of the jauntily cocked top hat and folksy comedic tunes, and you have the perfect recipe for cheerily black-clad fun. Hell, if Voltaire had played at my prom, I'd have probably gone.
The night opened with the alt 1990s stylings of Xenocult and the wacked-out fun of the Super Secret Sideshow. Sideshows have been a part of Indy culture for more than a decade now, which means these neo-carnies have to come up with interesting new ways to keep an audience's attention. The sideshow used to begin performances with the old body-through-a-tennis-racket trick, and that's still part of the group's repertoire. But now they've also added the old throw-metal-darts-at-a-guy's-back routine. In other words, Super Secret Sideshow is just as fun as it's always been, with a little extra shock value for good measure.
But it was Voltaire, the dark-and-groovy answer to Prince, and his Skeletal Orchestra who commanded the most attention from the evening-gowns-and-fishnets crowd - and with good reason. Voltaire usually performs on his own, and even then he can totally dominate a stage. But Thursday was his first time playing Indiana with a backing band - accordion, drums, cello and violin. The set featured Voltaire's originals with added oomph supplied by the backing band; his signature song "When You're Evil" is a lot of fun solo, but it's much improved by adding a mournful violin to the mix. This is, by my count, the third time Voltaire has played the state, but I very much doubt it'll be the last.