A rocker who missed performing to a live crowd during lockdown found a captive audience by playing to the dead instead – staging secret concerts in graveyards.
When Covid shut-down normal life, singer Brocarde, 38, whose real name is Alayna Salter, sneaked into cemeteries under the cover of night to host impromptu gigs for the ‘grateful dead.’
Based in rural Oxfordshire, she took a PA system and a microphone with her to entertain the dearly departed, saying: “I gave myself a mini tour of graveyards, performing at different ones on a regular basis. It was something I did on several occasions.”
She added: “It felt like a distraction from the real world and was at a time when the streets were empty during lockdown. I found a lot of peace in singing to the dead.”
Braving the trips alone – mindful of Covid rules – she sang some of her favourite tunes, including Last Supper, a song Brocarde wrote herself, imagining the people the headstones were dedicated to as she performed.
She said: “I always get goosebumps singing the opening line to Last Supper as the lyrics are ‘screaming in silence, au revoir belongs to me’.”
She added: “Singing those lyrics across the tombstones made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, as it felt like a nod to the dearly departed. I really felt like I was screaming into the silence of the graveyard, so it was very fitting.
“I had a little PA system and I would set up a mic stand. I was so claustrophobic stuck in the house, so this just felt natural.
“I’m a bit of a free spirit, so the whole feeling of being confined inside and unable to do anything during lockdown was something I found really, really difficult.”
She added: “Performing to the dead gave me a focus, somewhere to channel my energy.”
To comply with Covid restrictions, Brocarde gave her graveyard concerts alone.
She said: “I couldn’t socialise with the living, but there was no rule against spending time with the dead.”
She added: “It felt like a secret adventure and I found it to be quite a liberating thing to do.
“As a performer, you can get very wrapped up in what people are going to think and how they are going to respond and that takes the enjoyment and freedom out of performing.
“This was amazing because, obviously, there was no response.”
Devoid of hecklers, Brocarde gave her all – with only owls to compete with in the eerie darkness.
She said: “I’m a spiritual person but no one knows for sure what happens after you die.
“Everyone assumes that the dead want to rest, but maybe they want to rock and roll.”
Under the Graveyard - Ozzy Osbourne
Ungrateful are the Dead - Hsingen Blues
Pet Semetary - The Ramones
Graveyard Smash - Cosmic Brownie
Walk Like a Zombie - Horrorpops
Tripping Over Tombstones - Winter Kills
House of 1000 Corpses - The Sinister Urge
At the Graves - King Diamond
Zombie Autopilot - Unearth
Party in the Cemetery - Alex Stewart
She added: “Maybe you don’t want peace when you die, maybe you want to rock out to some music.
“And I do find comfort in going to graveyards or places that other people would see as quite sad.”
But Brocarde’s secret concerts did not come without their problems.
“I’ve been caught a couple of times,” she said. “And I’ve been chased out of the cemetery.
“I got told off by a pensioner once who was out walking her dog one night.
“She was really unhappy with me and threatened to phone the police if I didn’t turn the music down.”
She added: “I didn’t want to upset anyone so, out of respect, I left.
“I didn’t want to have a massive argument with an old woman in a graveyard next to someone’s great uncle’s tomb. That would be just absurd.”
With restrictions lifted and life now returning to normal, Brocarde hopes to soon be performing to live audiences again.
She said: “I’m on hiatus from my cemetery gigs.
“Now that things are open and life is busier again, it’s harder for me to perform in graveyards unnoticed.
“There are more people about on the streets and I don’t want to cause issues with my music. It was just a moment in time for me, a way to get through the lockdowns.”
She added: “There’s less of a need for me to perform in the dead of night now that I’m able to go back to the studio and rehearse for upcoming performances.
“It’s a scary thought to be returning to live audiences and people with opinions, but it’s also really exciting and I’m looking forward to it.”
With bigger venues now reopened, Brocarde does not plan to continue her graveyard shows.
She said: “By next year, I’ll be back on the road properly and putting out a new EP and album.
“I’m looking forward to rocking out with crowds of people. It’ll be completely different to the eerily quiet concerts I did during lockdown.
“It might seem weird or even spooky to others, but I found solace in singing to the dead.”
She added: “I didn’t have any paranormal experiences while I performed, so I’m taking that as a sign that they enjoyed the show and really were the grateful dead!”
For more information on Brocarde’s music, visit: www.brocarde.com