On the last song of his 2017 album, Goths, John Darnielle sings a paean to the goth talents of the past, assuring us that Robert Smith, Siouxsie Sioux and even Richard Blade are doing just fine. But the band that “Abandoned Flesh” truly focuses on is Gene Loves Jezebel, the group behind the hit single “The Motion of Love.” Formed by identical twin brothers Jay and Michael Aston, the mostly forgotten group is now most famous for its acrimonious split and rebirth as two separate Gene Loves Jezebels. “One for each brother,” Darnielle sings.

Though Jay still tours with his own incarnation of Gene Loves Jezebel, a band favorably compared to all the goth greats, he played a short, solo set opening for Chameleons Vox that sounded more like the emotive, introspective work of Robyn Hitchcock. In 30 minutes, Aston played some new material, capping with a version of the GLJ favorite “When We Were One.” Still looking lean and energetic, Aston spent the set interacting with fans, touting his veganism and abstention from alcohol. Beyond a handful of dedicated fans upfront, the rest of the venue was abuzz with people just arriving or chatting. Aston made a comment or two about the lack of respect, but dutifully completed his set for the fans who came early.

The Star Theater did fill in with a good amount of Portland’s goth scene to see Chameleons Vox. Featuring original vocalist and bassist Mark Burgess, the guitar-heavy post punk group stuck to songs from its classic trio of records from 1983-1986: Script of the Bridge, What Does Anything Mean? Basically and Strange Times. And unlike other acts that glom to a brand name despite featuring only one or two original members, Burgess is humble enough to add the ever-important “Vox” to the end of this recent iteration.

Like Gene Loves Jezebel, the Chameleons were a group that never got their due, straddling the line between darker sounds such as the Cure and anthemic singalongs of early U2. Less theatrical and heavier than GLJ, the Chameleons are primed for a reevaluation. Too bad their LPs are really damned hard to find!

Surrounded by a trio of much younger musicians, Burgess fed off the energy of both the crowd and his bandmates to play an invigorating and affirming set of 13 songs. Beginning with “A Person Isn’t Safe Anywhere These Days,” Burgess used the set as an evaluation of his music, playing a few from each of the albums in order before culminating with “Swamp Thing,” the band’s most popular song. His voice sounds just as great today as it did on record.

“Soul in Isolation” was easily the highlight of the evening as Burgess pushed it in new directions live, even incorporating snatches of “The End” by the Doors. By the time the band finished its two-song encore of “In Shreds” and “Don’t Fall,” Burgess was a sweaty, euphoric mess. Though Chameleons Vox proves you don’t need an original lineup to put on a great show, being upfront about the name really goes a long way.

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