A masterclass in musical escapism, gothic rock band Creeper kicked off their Sacred Blasphemy tour in Bristol in style.
Creeper – Save Face – The Nightmares
O2 Academy, Bristol – 5 November 2023
Words: Gabriella Bosticco
Photography: Phoebe Sinclair
If there’s one thing that Creeper are good at, it’s committing to a bit. Even the 30-minute build-up is part of the performance, with pre-show announcements and tense music, much like waiting for a theme park ride.
Tongue-in-cheek mascot Darcia, The Vampire Familiar, comes out first. Her sarcasm and melodramatic contempt for the band make one thing clear: while Creeper are theatrical, they don’t take themselves too seriously.
The curtain falls, and the band opens with the full nine minutes of Further Than Forever. Sanguivore’s opening track is the high-energy start needed after creating so much anticipation. Watching frontman Will Gould perform is like being in the presence of a 1950s heartthrob. With all his posing and preening, Gould has the audience in the palm of his hand.
Creeper’s commitment to performance extends to sketches and scenes peppered throughout the show. Drummer Jake Fogarty’s solo is accompanied by a back-and-forth face-off with keyboardist, guitarist and lyricist Hannah Greenwood.
Later, Gould appears to suck a woman’s blood, throwing her aside to be dragged off stage by the long-suffering Darcia. Every minute of the show brims with nostalgia for classic, low-budget horror.
Sporting black and white makeup and returning to their signature leather jackets with matching back patches, their look puts a classic rock spin on their emo-punk image. The rock ‘n’ roll vampires fire off nearly all of the dramatic tracks from the new album, celebrating its retro sound.
Greenwood steals the show with the acoustic song Crickets. With a complete tone shift, the bitter break-up song is delivered with a sincerity that keeps the crowd just as engaged as the fast-paced numbers. Her vocals are so powerful and so emotive that it’s hardly noticeable when Ian Miles’ guitar has technical issues.
For a band with such a macabre aesthetic, they have an incredibly wholesome relationship with fans and each other. Visibly affectionate towards each other, the closeness amongst the band is palpable.
During both Down Below and Misery, the band goes quiet and encourages the audience to sing to them. When the audience does so enthusiastically, Gould jokes about ruining his makeup by becoming emotional. Rather than shattering the illusions of their morbid image, it feels as though the audience is playing along, like we’re in on a joke.
Even the outro, Science Fiction/Double Feature (from The Rocky Horror Picture Show), perfectly summarises the campy, spooky spectacle as Darcia parades Gould’s prosthetic severed head.
Every inch of the tour is distinctly Creeper-esque, once again bringing fans exactly the kind of bite they expect.
First opener, The Nightmares, are a dark indie rock quartet from Newport. They provide a softer warm-up compared to what’s to come. Many of their songs are laid back, with electronic elements that begin the evening’s descent into hell slowly.
The New Jersey outfit claims to be ‘Gay Slipknot’ on their merch, setting a high expectation for anyone unfamiliar with them. They’re one of the most charismatic openers imaginable, led by hyperactive vocalist Tyler Povanda, who jumps up and down and races back and forth.
With an emo-punk sound reminiscent of My Chemical Romance, their murderous aesthetic makes them an ingenious pairing with Creeper.