The Antichrist Just Hijacked The High School Dance
When THE LAST PROM first appeared as part of 2011's You Are Here festival at Smith Dick – the appropriately-named, then-empty shopfront in the bus interchange (formerly home to Dick Smith) – the concept of both the band and the event had not fully crystallised. At that show, punters were encouraged to dress up in the twin themes of 'Prom Night' and 'The End of the World' and a host of local acts performed, with the evening being closed by the eponymous group The Last Prom. A little over a year on, founder and helmsman of both group and event, Nick Delatovic (The Missing Lincolns, Cracked Actor) reflects on the subsequent conceptual development of The Last Prom.
"We were blessed at that show. The crowd was great in developing their characters. The bill was all excellent Canberra bands but it was designed to be a super-eclectic mix and super-abrasive," he says. "Although I'd sat down and fleshed out the concept beforehand, that first show was very much a gig with a costume theme and a slight narrative. Since then I've wanted to keep pushing it."
'Pushing it' is a slight disservice to Delatovic's development of The Last Prom from its 2011 inception to its 2012 manifestation. In 2012 The Last Prom will stage four events, each themed around one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. A famine-themed show took place earlier this year and this month's show at the White Eagle Polish Club will be pestilence and 'nuclear winter' themed. According to Delatovic, the third show – war-themed – will most likely take place in September at The Front, with the final show – "a huge cross-art theatrical pop-opera" – being held in November. The Last Prom's blog (www.thelastprom.com) sets the scene for each show in the form of dramatic, sweeping narrative; not only a means of promotion and entertainment but, as Delatovic says, a means of "getting the audience excited and being part of the story before the show." As before, audience members are invited to dress in theme and they should prepare themselves for a show where they will be subjected to a duet of grandiose pop music and immersive narrative.
"We're ultimately moving towards our final show where there won't be any support acts. It will go for an hour and will completely delineate the concept," Delatovic says. "The one thing that worked for [the You Are Here show] was that it was very short. I want intense emotion again at all these shows. Not only from the band but also from the crowd."
Intense emotion, you may have guessed, is a pivotal element of The Last Prom. The idea of the band and its narrative concept – the latter born "close on the heels" of the former – both sprung from Delatovic's desire for a grand emotional venture where there would be no place for restraint, inhibitions or hipster-esque irony.
"I wanted to put a band together that was very melodramatic and did melodramatic pop music in big, sweeping ballads. I needed an excuse to go over the top with emotions," he says. "It was a very cherry-picked band. I had an idea of the music I wanted it to be and I went to the people I knew could do it. Luckily they all said ‘Yes’ and once I had that all locked down I just needed lyrical and musical content that could take me to the required level. I just came up with the two most melodramatic concepts I could, which were high school and the end of the world, and I put them together."
The aforementioned "cherry-picked" members include Julia of Julia and the Deep Sea Sirens, together with notaries from a number of other local groups. The premise for the group and their shows is that the Antichrist and the Four Horsemen have joined forces to end the world. In the words of the group, "since the Antichrist is a fixated pop music fan and a hopeless romantic, he has recreated the Horsemen into a pop band and combined the world-ending ritual into his idea of the ultimate life-affirming experience, the high school dance."
Delatovic explains that the pop focus has taken centre stage this year, with all shows now purely pop-music driven and with all support acts being "accessible, fun and dance-oriented." In the same vein, The Last Prom is designed to encourage people to completely lose their inhibitions; to submit to the physical enjoyment of the music for the time of the show. "While you're there, you're there to fully engage with the event," Delatovic says. However, the physical submission to celestial pop ballads is coupled with the ongoing narrative of The Last Prom. Delatovic admits he's fan of musicals but denies The Last Prom could be described as such. "At the heart of it, the band is playing a set," he says. "But the audience members can engage with it as music and performance and costume, or the story as well." He cites a number of concept albums and rock operas but concludes there aren't many from which you can discern a clear story just by listening to the lyrics. "For years I've wanted to see if you could write stories that express themselves purely through pop songs. We're concentrating on making sure the songs are strong enough but we're also trying to write a show where even if you don't speak English you can follow the character story."
The Last Prom's Nuclear Winter Ball will be held at the White Eagle Polish Club, Turner, on Saturday June 16 from 8pm-11pm, with Space Party and more supporting. Tickets $10 on the door.