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THE SILENT LAND: Coronavirus and the tragic demise of live music


If you’ve ever wondered what human civilisation teetering on the brink of inevitable collapse might look like, our present state of affairs should give you a pretty frighteningly accurate impression. A concept that was once the preserve of wildly imaginative flights of fancy, of sci-fi horror flicks and post-apocalyptic comic books has, in the year 2020, now become a disquietingly concrete and tangible reality. And, here in the UK at least, it’s only going to get worse.

Prior to this juncture in a thus far thoroughly catastrophic year we could, at least, have once sought a puny modicum of solace in the visceral and violently energised catharsis of live music. Indeed, less than a fortnight ago, our beloved capital was utterly awash with a rich, international plethora of talented performers. But as steadily mounting fear and paranoia reached a terrifying fever pitch earlier this month as news of a nationwide pandemic officially broke, this once vibrantly creative scene was silenced with a violent abruptness that sent shockwaves of terror through every disease-ravaged corner of our broken nation. For Team Dark Matter, this horrifying realisation officially hit home on the eve of Necrophobic’s hotly anticipated London show when an entire line-up of bands - bar local black metal talents, Fen - were abruptly scrapped from the bill. Precipitating catastrophic losses at all levels, the aforementioned remaining act valiantly did their utmost to mitigate the irrevocable damage incurred, easing fractured nerves and raising spirits with an extended set of savagely enthralling extreme metal. But theirs is but one of countless troubled narratives in a nationwide crisis that’s showing little sign of abating any time soon. From once-thriving venues forced to shut their doors indefinitely to bitterly disappointed fans and bands who’ve travelled hundreds of miles only to be turned away from their scheduled gig slots, Dark Matter webzine explores the full extent of this thoroughly ruinous recent fallout, and what’s being done to salvage some hope in these uncommonly bleak and uncertain times…

THE MUSICIANS

Joakim Sterner of Necrophobic

With the Swedish black metallers' European tour having been brought to a sudden and shockingly abrupt halt earlier this month, founder Joakim Sterner explains how the band managed to rescue this potentially ruinous situation with a live performance stream that saw thousands of listeners tuning in from all corners of the globe...

DM: Following on from the extremely unfortunate cancellation of your remaining European tour dates, it was a pleasure to have the opportunity to tune in and watch the live stream of your recent online performance. What can you tell us about the whole process and experience?

JS: From the idea to the actual broadcast, it took one week. We brainstormed on how and where we could do it, what people could help us and so on. The local venue we found, that had internet, is a rock club, but they said that if we accepted being there, we had to be finished by 12 noon. We said yes, of course, because we didn’t find another suitable place. Our rehearsal studio, for instance, has very, very poor internet.

When Saturday came, all things had checked and worked as it should. The limited shirt was available in the shop, we had made a soundcheck and camera check (we had two cameras) and the link was put up on our Facebook page.

It felt a bit weird, since it was no audience there. And then, at 10.53 or so…a few minutes 'til broadcasting live, a bearing equipment died. Panic!

We said that we give 10 minutes maximum to try to fix it and then go with our backup plan, which was to live stream it through my iPhone directly to Facebook. We said that this is better than not doing it at all, to not let waiting fans, from all corners of the world, sitting in very different time zones, and let them down. So we went through with the promised event and seeing all the great words and great feedback afterwards made us all feel we did the right choice.

I just want to thank each and everyone that saw the live stream and special thanks to all those who also bought our ultra limited t-shirt/girlie shirt. Our f