Black Rose Ball – Night One

York’s annual gothic masquerade charity ball, Black Rose Ball, returned on Saturday 10 September 2016 in aid of The Sophie Lancaster Foundation.

By Graeme Smith

Photos by Chris Mackins

Now in its 4th year, the annual charity event The Black Rose Ball returned this weekend, kicking off on Friday night at The Fulford Arms with a concert.

This year’s fundraiser was in aid of The Sophie Lancaster Foundation, which was set up following the tragic loss of the foundation’s namesake, who was attacked simply for the way she looked. It was apt, then, that the atmosphere on arrival was a welcoming one. Though the Black Rose Ball is a Goth event, there was nothing exclusive about the event. Everyone was there to simply have a good time.


And the good times started with Leeds-based Quasimodo. They started their set with a serene, classical intro which was very quickly juxtaposed with the noise of roaring guitars. Their set was one of dirgy rock and roll, drawing from inspirations as diverse as political unrest to the Black Rose Ball itself in Land of the Vamps, a song written especially for the event. J’accuse was the set highlight, written for ‘the current regime and execution fantasies thereof.’ It started with an uncomfortable high-pitched drone that was met with a pulsating bass riff that proved the perfect backdrop to protest.

Zeitgeist Zero

Next up were Zeitgeist Zero, also from Leeds. They kicked off their set with an electronic, industrial beat. However, after a few songs it became clear that, genre-wise, Zeitgeist Zero were not easily categorised. They drew in elements of glam rock, disco and 90s trance, to name a few, and the depth of their sound was remarkable. Coupled with this complexity was a real crowd-pleasing show. Frontwoman Teresa felt every beat of every song and brought out just the right level of props, including a megaphone (in Heart to Black), bubble guns (in Don’t Pop My Bubble) and a sailor hat (in Loose Lips Sink Ships.)

Saigon Blue Rain

Closing the night was Parisian three-piece Saigon Blue Rain. In contrast to Zeitgeist Zero, they were somewhat more chilled and ethereal, with whispered vocals, sultry ‘80s riffs and fantastical backing tracks. Perhaps it was because of their European origins, but there was a similarity with Within Temptation to be drawn, but with less heavy metal and more electronics. Their performance was capivating, particularly singer Ophelia, but it felt the sound was ideal for getting lost in at home, so get a hold of their records and strap on your headphones.

Quasimodo, Zeitgeist Zero and Saigon Blue Rain played at The Fulford Arms on Friday 9 September 2016