Friday 13th May to Monday 16th May
Leipzig, The Federal State Of Saxony, Germany.
”My first experience of Wave Gotik Treffen, or WGT for short was an interesting, fascinating but overall tiring one!! A lot of walking was done and as i sit here writing this i can feel the aches and pains in my muscles quite acutely! Where do i start? Well, Leipzig is a nice city 99 miles south of Berlin that you can get to either by Deutsche Bahn (DB) train or by Flixbus. My Flixbus ticket was 6.90 euros one way from SudKreuz in Berlin and i can say that the journey was a much more enjoyable one than an equivalent journey on National Express. The internet actually works, you can press a button on the overhead consul if you need refreshments and the seats are very comfortable! It was a hot sunny day when i arrived in Leipzig and the first thing i saw, apart from trams was a humungously long queue of goths, some dressed in their best finery in the stifling heat waiting to collect their wristbands. Unfortunately i could not collect my wristband opposite the Hauptbahnhof, i had to get a number 11 tram down to the Agra Messpark on Bornaische Strase. After being met on Goethestrase by Richard, my first stop was at The Absintherie Sixtina. The Absintherie Sixtina is well known haunt in Leipzig that not only sells beer but as you’d expect from the name it sells absinthe. 100 types of absinthe can be bought varying in strength from 45%abv to over 80%abv! if you want to try an absinthe devil at 62%, a cannabis absinthe at 80% or a segarra absenta at 44% then this is the place to go! Leipzig is a nice city. Around 500,000 people live here, it’s a mixture of old German architecture and modern,with an excellent transport system which is efficient and quick, non of this stop start bullshit you get in London!!. The Hauptbahnhof is an impressive building so is the Augusteum and Paulinum! You can even buy bottles of beer on some commuter trains and as i experienced after becoming familiar with one of the guards, when i took the last train back to my digs early in the morning the guard would pipe up with ” Beer!! beer??” She’d even open it for me!! I love Leipzig!!”
”There is a nice market in Leipzig also selling fresh produce, meat, fish, vegetables etc surrounded by all the usual stuff you’d expect to see in London but the only recognisable names i saw were Subway, Burger King and Primark. The Primark there did not have that cough inducing dust floating around in the air after you’d pick up a garment to scrutinise it’s polyester content so i did not leave retching like a smoker on 60 a day after my visit! The Gothic Shops i saw had some interesting stuff in them, items from Dracula Clothing, New Rock and Killstar to name but a few! A bit pricey but no more pricey than you’d expect to pay for stuff in London. For company i had the pleasure of an lady from Hampstead, London called Cathy, we were chalk and cheese in regards to musical tastes but having another person to speak to in english was a godsend!! We had a walk about through the city centre taking in the sun and the sights, watching the goths watching each other, preening like peacocks in the mid May Sun whilst the locals went about their business with a mixture of fascination, bemusement and indifference! After all they have had 25 years to get used, assimilate and embrace the festival which brings in a lot of money over a four day period, give the city a bit of spice and at the same time bring in your conventional tourist who also take in the spectacle!! Leipzig is a city that i will be visiting again, maybe in December for the Christmas Market.”
”Speaking of Markets, The market at the agra park was a case of merchandise overload for me!! Everything and anything that i would have bought if i had an unlimited budget was there! New Rock boots, hoodies and tops from Anki Designs Berlin, Andrea Hamer handmade bags, The quality of a lot of the garments was top notch and there was a lot more flair in design than products i’ve seen back in London, I felt invigorated because the designs had vigour!! To take everything in and try on a few of the wares would require me to have spent a few hours over a couple of days but i had a job to do and that was take in as much of the festival as possible and get an overview, my overview was positive!!”
”One thing that did not impress me one jot was the graffiti in some of the streets encircling the city centre. Take Bornaische Strase for example!! Everything was covered in this god awful tagging!! Bus stops, tram stops, windows, lamp posts, door steps, seats, you name it and it was graffitied. It made the place look dirty, like an unwashed posh lady who had had way to much to drink and decided that it was a great idea to have some other pissed person doodle on her arm!!! Not nice!!”
”In regards to the festival a lot of travelling/walking was involved to get around the city so if you wanted to see a lot of bands at different venues then things could become a logistical nightmare! I was staying 30 odd miles outside the city so i either had to be at the central station for 1:20am or stay at a club all night. I don’t have the stamina that i used to have so all nighters were a no no!! Luckily all armband wearers had free travel on the trams and buses which was a great bonus!! I got lost a few times so knowing i’d not be out of pocket for getting lost was a very welcome indeed!! Nice touch Leipzig, maybe you could give festivals in the UK a few tips!!?? As an example, i wanted to see Dark Fortress and My Dying Bride at The Felsenkeller (Trams 3/14) but due to a decision which involved me taking an S Bahn train from the Hauptbahnhof to Lindenau instead of the number 14 tram i turned up late, missed Dark Fortress and then was was told by Richard, who i was staying with, that Monday was a bank holiday and if i wanted to get home i’d have to get back to the Hauptbahnhof for 12:10am. Why did they have to have a bloody bank holiday in the middle of a goth festival?? : ) My Dying Bride were brilliant by the way!!!
They played on the Saturday night! Sound wise they were no different to when i saw them back in April at The Islington Assembly Rooms! The performance was energetic and rich with no scent of tiredness at all!! And the crowd were well up for their set. Whilst i sat in the photographers pit waiting for them to come on i could here ”Oh my god, oh my god!!” along with screams of anticipation from fans who had travelled far and wide to see the band!! The venue was packed to the rafters, which is nice to see!! I like the venue, i’ll be back there in the future!! Another venue i went to is The Taubchenthal in Markranstadter Strases (Trams 1/2). Another nice venue with a balcony around the stage, a bar and a terrace overlooking a courtyard, i was here to experience the delights of Lena Lovich!! Again, the venue was packed to the rafters and there was no room to get anywhere near to the stage so i stood on the balcony and took a few shots after asking someone to move for a few moments!! Lena’s set was a vigorous one for someone of her advanced years, it’s nice to see artists actually enjoying their sets and giving their all instead of going through the motions. I’m not really au fait with her music apart from ”Lucky Number” and ”Money” which i heard way back when i was at school. The album ”March” is worth a listen methinks!!”
”Pete Murphy was good, i enjoyed him.His set at The Agra Hall was a good one! Some people did not think it was that good due to the size of the venue but i disagree. There was too much delay on the violin though in my opinion.But the arena was packed with adoring goths with more arriving all the time and the atmosphere was a good one, i got chatted to by a few people but alas the language barrier put the shutters down quite quickly. The photographers pit was a pit of vipers with photographers from god knows where vying for position to get the best shots, some had no idea of photographers etiquette which does annoy me on occasions but most were considerate if not aloof with other snappers!! One photographer seemed to have the same itinary as me because what ever gig i went to she was there, apart from Lena Lovich and Christine Plays Viola! There was a begrudging respect coming from her but no friendliness!!”
”Nouveau Vague just before Pete Murphy were really good also in my opinion!! I think that their set would have gone down well in the Absintherie Sixtina if it was a bit larger or the Altes Landratsamt, which is near to the Hauptbahnhof. This is because their laid back, nonchalant, Bossa Nova tone would have gone down well with a nice glass of absinthe and the sound would have been obviously more intimate!! All the Goth classics such as ”Marian”, ”A Forest” and ”Bela Lugozi’s Dead” were airy but with a subtle dark overtone that reminds the listener of it’s original incarnation!! Billy Idols ”Dancing With Myself!” has a ”whatever” feel vibe to it, brilliant! This was a very good set indeed!!”
”Enslaved were good at the Kohlrabizirkus (S1 Train from Hauptbahnhof to Leipzig MDR) but the venue was too big! The Kohlrabizirkus is a former market that reiminds me of the Roundhouse in London, it is a large cavernous space used for music, comedy and trade events! The band before Enslaved, i think they were called Crematory had a larger crowd that fanned out to the back of the venue behind the mixing desk, this fullness soon thinned out when their set finished, they were German so i suspect that is why the crowd was bigger! Enslaved, for those who don’t know are a Norwegian band formed in 1991 in Haugesund, they now reside in Bergen. Their name was inspired by an Immortal Demo called ”Enslaved in Rot” I’m not really familiar with their output, everything on this night was experienced for the first time! The enthusiasm from the crowd was a little more subdued throughout Enslaved in comparison to the previous band but they put on a good show that all in all went down with the crowd.”
”The last band i saw before making the two hour trip back to Berlin was Christine Plays Viola were very good too, played in a venue near to the Hauptbahnhof called The Landratsamt! I’d say this place is the size of Dingwalls in London or maybe the Electric Ballroom and is used as a conference hall, restaurant and entertainment venue. Tonight, Christina Plays Viola were the first band on a bill which included German band Lament, Swedish band The Mary Onettes, the Uk’s And Also The Trees and Germany’s Pink Turns Blue. It’s a shame i could not hang around for the full nights entertainment but Christine Plays Viola’s Joy Division crossed with early Simple Minds infused with a Billy Mackenzie topping was a good aperitif!! Haunting, hard and melodic, the soundscapes insinuated themselves into my pores with an intensity that sent shivers down the spine on occasions especially the track ”Slaughter Of The Black Sun” from the album ”Vacua” I enjoyed their offerings and the crowd, which was quite large enjoyed it too, thoroughly warmed up i hope they enjoyed the rest of the evening!!”
”To sum up, this was my first Wave Gotik Treffen, there was a lot to see and a lot of places to go.To take in the city, its sights on the outskirts and the festival would need 2 days either side of the festival. Travelling around from venue to venue was a pain if you needed to get to venues in polar opposite to each other but once once you have your bearings and are familiar with the tram routes scheduling times are cut down considerably! Next year, if there is a next year my experience will be significantly improved now i know the lay of the land, i’ll see more bands, more exhibitions, more landmarks and hopefully more Goths!!!” Would London embrace a Goth festival on this scale and offer free buses for fours days??? Hahahahahaha, What a stupid question!!!”