Five years ago, Vancouver’s Verboden Festival began as a small celebration of blacker-than-midnight alternative music.
“Starting out in 2016 in DIY fashion, events were held at the Astoria and Red Gate,” organizer Robert Katerwol told the Straight. “We hosted 30 bands over three days and had rough attendance of 250 people.”
That there was interest right from the first year shouldn’t surprise anyone who knows their local music history. Vancouver has a long tradition of producing bands who’ve made goth, electro, and postpunk waves not only locally but around the world.
Start at the beginning with the legendary I, Braineater and then work your way through the decades with a list including, but not limited to, Front Line Assembly, Numb, Download, Left Spine Down, Myths, Mode Moderne, and endlessly influential giants Skinny Puppy.
This year, with the vibe still very much underground even as the profile of the festival grows. Katerwol notes that attendance has built each year, to where 2,000 dark-music fans are expected to attend events across the city over a five-day period from April 8 to 12.
Clubs participating in the 2020 edition of Verboden Festival will be the Fox Cabaret, Rickshaw Theatre, Astoria, and WISE Hall.
Headliners will include British darkwave duo the KVB, Montreal synth pioneer Trans-X, and blackhearted Vancouver upstarts Actors, who spent much of 2019 touring North America and Europe.
Over 50 acts will perform at Verboden 2020, including Pastel Ghost, Automelodi, Grave Babies, Police Des Moeurs, Stockhaussen, Wire Spine, and SRSQ. There will also be, for the first time, food trucks at select shows.
“Verboden Festival is a celebration of Vancouver’s relationship to dark alternative music,” Katerwol said. “Since the 1980s our city has been home to some of the most influential dark alternative acts on the planet.”
For more Verboden information, including the full lineup, festival-pass prices, and ticket information, go here.