”I arrived in Leipzig on a hot and sunny Thursday to get my wristband from the Agra Messpark and meet up with a few friends in the Bayerischer Bahnhoff for a few beers and a bite to eat.”
”To be honest i was feeling quite subdued in mood for some reason and also in the back of my mind i had thoughts of the terror attack in Manchester at the end of May. From the time i got off the Flixbus outside the central station i was looking around for suspicious activity and continued after the London Bridge attack on the Saturday. But there was a visible police presence in Leipzig that was not there last year. After finishing with my photography/gig duties i’d sit outside the Haupfbahnhoff by the taxi rank for a few moments of rest and reflection and i lost count of the armed police i saw walking about or patrolling in their vans!! I did not really start to relax and enjoy myself until the Sunday, i loosened up and dropped out of meerkat mode! The Thursday and the Friday were both very hot days (29/30 degrees) and for the life of me i have no idea how most of these goths got through the day caked in layers of make up, petticoats, corsets and pvc boots!! No! in fact i do because i used to spend hours and hours refining my look before i went out and i was prepared to tolerate extreme temperature as long as i looked good. Not any more though, i have less tolerance for that kind of thing and my time could best utilised elsewhere!! Having said that minimalist cotton was still not good enough to stay comfortable but i coped, i had too!!”
”The first act i saw on the Friday was Jarboe at Shauspiel in Bosestrase , a grand venue with red carpeted stairs and a long entrance hall/foyer, if one wanted to be seen here then you would be seen quite clearly. This venue would not be out of place in an episode of ”Once Upon A Time” I have visions of Lana Parilla in her wicked queen finery decending the stairs complete with full on scowl!! The sound was great, Jarboe had a great voice that was expressive and full of emotion. The feel was pensive and thoughtful. Every note was precise and with an economy in delivery, i thought that added to the performance rather than making it overbearing with pointless vocal gymnastics, i mean why show your full range unless it it is pertinent to the art?? The vocal has a passing resemblance to Diamanda Galas too but with a warmer bluesy tone, less strident i would say!! Also there was no talking between songs, which i liked. I get bored with pointless waffle, it does not add to the experience and i just end up saying ”yeah yeah just get on with it will you!!?” This was the first time i’ve seen Jarboe live and i must admit that her output is something i have not researched in a long time, since the 1980’s in fact when i was into the band Swans but as i say the voice is still great!!
”After Jarboe finished i had a glass of wine before getting a tram down to see Devilment at the Agra Messpark. Devilment are a metal band formed in 2011 by Daniel Finch and had problems finding a stable vocalist until Dani Filth of Cradle Of Filth joined. The sound was good for this venue, i know a lot of people have issues with the sound, last year i listened to people who had issues with it but i thought everything was ok with Pete Murphy and Nouveau Vague etc and there were no issues tonight! The mix was just about a perfect as you could get and Dani’s vocal screeching were a joy to witness in the flesh, the quick changes from screeches to clean vocals to death growls had me mesmerised!! Yeah i’ve heard many vocalists who paint aural pictures like this but this was on a different level, i’ve tried to vocalise like this and all i end up doing is retching!!”
”Saturday in Leipzig was sunny until around 5pm when the weather turned on a sixpence to dark, hot and humid with thunderstorms! The Altes Landratsampt where i spent all of my evening was warm and steamy, it was like a greenhouse inside. Fill it up with legions of people and the temperature for me was uncomfortable!! Lebanon Hanover were playing at Leipziger Stadbad and Rotting Christ were playing the Kohlrabiszirkus but due to scheduling issues and the weather i thought i’s stay put in one venue, the trams/buses would have been packed and most likely i’d have ended up hot, wet and extremely irritable!! One of those great bands was Paris outfit Saigon Blue Rain. They are a band of reverie, dreams and flights of fancy and have been in existence since 2012, if you know what The Chameleons and The Cocteau Twins sound like then you have a good gauge of SBR output. It is music that is easy on the ear but at the same time it sends a chill down the spine whilst recharging the batteries! They played a great set that went down well with the crowd and the sound was perfect. I think it is about time they were playing venues the size of the Altes Landratsampt more often, no bigger than this i think because the impact would be lost otherwise!!”
”And then came Italian band klimt 1918 who i have never heard of before, i was not that interested in them to be honest, they are a bit shoe gaze and i like shoe gaze but for some reason i was not that enamoured by the set or the sound so i went walkabout around the venue politely applauding now and again Sylvaine were good i thought, i’ve not heard before either but there was something in the sound that perked up my interest!! From Norway and Paris, i would describe them as sounding like All About Eve, ethereal, dreamy, Pre Raphaelite, images of pained dead bodies in water surrounded by flowers fill my head, Interspersed with the dreamy vocals are screams and screeches that i don’t think Julianne Reagan would have indulged in!! Think of Dani Filth like vocal contortions!! The track ”Earthbound” is an interesting listen!! So is ”A Ghost Trapped In Limbo”
”Finally i got to see Esben And The Witch!! There is a Doors/Ani Di Franco/Savages feel to this band, which consists of Daniel, Thomas and Rachel. The venue was by this time quite full and really steamy!! The band got appreciation throughout their set, the sound was somewhat darker than Sylvaine, thicker and more spicy with an eastern sprinkling in places like a dark chocolate laced with Aleppo Chilli flakes, the sludginess complimented the steamy humidity of the venue i think but the bass was a bit distorted. Apart from that the sound in the venue was pretty good!!”
”Gene loves Jezebel on Sunday at the Agra Messpark was a great set!!! The band came on late afternoon in a very light arena. The area around the front of the stage was busy all the way to the back where the mixing desks were but the areas outside of the Speaker positions were virtually empty. Jay Aston’s voice was very strong, another voice that is gymnastic and elastic and used to add tone colour to an aural painting with flourishes and accents etc. Arcturus, the band i saw afterwards at The Felsenkeller were just as good but in a different way! Again the vocals were tight but elastic with an expressive range!! If you have not heard any of Arcturus output before then the best way to describe them is spacey cosmic and astral. Just like the Gene Loves Jezebel show before there was a good crowd of appreciative die hards in the venue but it was not full
The Final Day!! Monday’s weather was warm and bearable!! After sleeping in late, showering and then packing my bags i made my way from Bad Lausick 15 miles south of Leipzig into the centre of the city where i left my luggage at the Absintheria Sixtina before making my way down to the Pagan Village which is located amongst the trees near Torhaus Dolitz and not far from the Agra Messpark. The weather took at turn for the worst and for the rest of the time i was there it was raining.There was a German band that played at set times throughout the day called Nachtwindheim but i was here to see Forndom even though i had to wait until 9pm. I was looking forward to this since arriving in Germany and the 50 minute set started out really well until the Tagelharp experienced tuning issues brought on by humidity/temperature changes. This caused many drawn out pauses to rectify the problem, Ludvig Sward was patient and did not show any signs of frustration with this predicament and the crowd were patient too for the most part. some people moaned and many left but the bulk of the people in the audience stayed and allowed the performance to conclude although in an abreviated form. I bet Ludvig was seething when backstage though? Maybe?
Anyway this was not the smoothest ending to my festival experience but hey ho!! I got a tram back to the Absintheria Sixtina, had wheat beer, took a photo of some goth girls still up for a party and then i headed over to the Haupfbahnhoff to get an early morning Flixbus back to Berlin.
To conclude, it took me a while to get into this years proceedings and i shall be back next year for round three!!