LOVESONG The Cure Tribute brings dark holiday cheer to Victory North with 'A Nightmare Before Curemas'

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Show me, show me, show me how you do Christmas!

LOVESONG The Cure Tribute are returning to Victory North with a festively goth mash-up of post-punk and Christmas music called "A Nightmare Before CUREmas." LOVESONG are one of many tribute acts assembled by Switch, a tribute band based in Florida that for more than 20 years has accurately covered popular music from the '80s and '90s including rock, alternative, new wave, hip-hop, industrial, heavy metal, and synth pop.

Switch found that they are especially adept at recreating the signature sound of The Cure, particularly with singer and guitarist Rusty Wilmot’s uncanny portrayal of Cure front-man Robert Smith and his unique vocal style and stage presence.

“I didn’t want to be a guy with an obvious American accent who walks on stage and pretends to be British and make fun of Robert and wear an awful wig,” said Wilmot. “The biggest thing to overcome is how are we going to come at this visually, how are we going to come at this respectfully? I decided that when I’m singing, I’m going to sing it like Robert recorded it, but when I talk to the audience, I’m going to talk to them just like I really am—a fan.”

LOVESONG: The Cure Tribute comes to Victory North, Dec. 23.
LOVESONG: The Cure Tribute comes to Victory North, Dec. 23.

Homage, not mimicry

Wilmot and his LOVESONG bandmates learned quickly that there are ways to pay tribute to a band without resorting to mimicry.

“Our first gig, our bass player shows up with a wig on,” recalled Wilmot. “We snatched it off his head and said, ‘Never again.’ He bought an entire outfit that looked like Simon Gallup, from the sleeveless Iron Maiden t-shirt to the boots. He just doesn’t look like Simon Gallup. He looks like Telly Savalas.”

Instead of relying on a costume, LOVESONG’s bassist switched from a five-string finger style of bass playing to a four-string picking style that more accurately matches The Cure sound. Using the same guitars and sound equipment as The Cure also helps capture the experience of them performing live.

“How do we emulate them to the closest of our ability without mocking them or trying to act like them, but genuinely perform like them, which is a big difference,” said LOVESONG’s guitarist and Switch co-founder Nick Bomleny. “We’ve acquired over the last few years the signature or authentic guitars The Cure use then or now. We’re not using the same amps that they use, but we use pedal modelers. I’ve got spreadsheets and images from doing lots of research watching videos, figuring out the settings they used, and trying to clone that stuff in a virtual sense.”

Bomleny owns the same signature guitars of The Cure’s former guitarist Pearl Thompson, as well as current guitarist Reeves Gabrels (David Bowie, Tin Machine), which allows him to emulate nearly every era of The Cure’s 45-year career. It also doesn’t hurt that Bomleny happens to look a lot like Reeves Gabrels when he’s on stage.

After performing dozens of LOVESONG shows in the last few years, Bomleny finally got to see The Cure live for the first time on their most recent tour.

“After all these hours of analyzing and performing their music, it was moving.”

Over the years, LOVESONG has add more visual elements to tell the story of The Cure including large televisions and lights.

“We reference the Hall of Fame induction with Trent Reznor introducing them, some other clips from Cure history are in there,” said Bomleny. “There’s a clip from South Park in some shows. It’s more than just a band playing the songs. Our full Cure show is over an hour and a half and it’s a non-stop concert experience with no dead space.”

LOVESONG’s special show, A Nightmare Before CUREmas, is like everyone’s favorite goth elements thrown together into a big Christmas party. The show is split into two halves—Halloween Town and Christmas Town. LOVESONG wear skeleton costumes with Tim Burton inspired make-up by artist Brittani Manock, and play songs by Ministry, Echo and the Bunnymen, The Misfits, Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails, and Radiohead, as well as music from A Nightmare Before Christmas and The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Of course, there will be plenty Christmas tunes, as well, including a special reworking of an '80s classic.

“There’s not really any good goth or post-punk covers of Christmas music, so I said, ‘What if The Cure wrote ‘Last Christmas’ instead of George Michael.’,” said Wilmot. “We completely stripped it apart, rewrote it, and actually recorded it. You can see how much people love it.”

In the spirit of giving, LOVESONG is selling posters and t-shirts featuring a Jack Skellington-Robert Smith hybrid designed by John Johnson (who did artwork for Cheap Trick and Mötley Crüe) with 100% of the proceeds going to the National Down Syndrome Society.

There will also be an ugly sweater contest and special holiday cocktails at the bar. Audiences have been known to dress up for these events, and LOVESONG are looking forward to seeing everyone in their holiday goth finest.

“We highly encourage it and, so far it’s been fantastic,” said Wilmot. “We had Edward Scissorhands show up. It’s ugly sweater meets Halloween.”

If You Go >>

What: LOVESONG The Cure Tribute: A Nightmare Before CUREmas Special

When: 8 pm, Dec. 23

Where: Victory North, 2603 Whitaker St.

Cost: $18-25


This article originally appeared on Savannah Morning News: LOVESONG The Cure Tribute brings goth holiday cheer to Victory North