Date:- Friday 18th May until Monday 21st May 2018
”Its nearing that time of year again where the annual pilgrimage to Leipzig gets under way and a large section of the worlds Goth community, around 20,000 people go see a large eclectic selection of bands and performing artists along with the experiencing of numerous exhibitions at various museums in and around the city!! Just think, 1992 was the first year of annual darkness with only 8 Artists on the bill including Das Ich and 25 years later 231 bands played! The organisers started small, worked hard with the groundwork and we finally get to where we’ve ended up today, a festival that has become an integral part of the Leipzig calendar. Whatever your musical tastes you’re sure to find something that satiates the palate be it EBM, darkwave, post punk, neo folk, metal or shoegaze. And there’s sure to be some theatre, comedy and burlesque for variety. The festival is a city-wide experience and is not just concentrated in the central area so you can get a flavour of the whole city if you so wish!! I’ve been twice and i think it is a great place to hold an event like this because the city embraces all things dark and you are made to feel very welcome! And because Leipzig is not a sprawling conurbation like London it is within capability of getting around fairly easily!! Places to visit while in Leipzig include:- The Museum Of The Printing Arts, The Natural History Museum, The Museum Of Applied Arts and the Monument To The Battle Of Nations! Also check out the Alter Johannisfriedhof (St Johns Cemetery) or Südfriedhof if you have time”
”Usually people start preparing for the following years festival not long after the current one has wrapped up so if you have not sorted out accommodation yet then i suggest you get on to that asap!! Many places won’t accept bookings for less than 5 days and i suspect most of those have gone already but you may be lucky especially if you decide to go the hostel/Air BnB route!!”
”Bands so far confirmed for this year include:- Australian outfit Buzz Kull, Trepaneringsritualen, Front Line Assembly, Jesus And Mary Chain, Tiamat, Einar Selvik and God Module.You have to go to this festival at least once in your lifetime and trust me when i say you’ll not regret it!!”
”That Fucking gig was probably one of the best i’ve ever went to!!”
”I’m going to their next gig in London, whenever that is!!”
”My friend said the above!! She has summed up my experience in a nutshell!! That gig was brilliant. The first act on were called Trepaneringritualen, this was a slow ponderous introspective set that at times felt like i was having my intestines pulled from my body, twisted and then wrapped around a gnarled tree. This reminded me of Skinny Puppy/Throbbing Gristle and Performed by a Swedishman from Gotland going by the name of Th.oth XIX and his gadgets, i got the feel of the performance and when i was not having my guts twisted and wrapped around trees it felt soporific, something i could have been more attentive too if i was not standing in amongst a crowd of strangers constantly shifting my weight from one leg to the other to alleviate the aches!! This gave me the feeling of some prehistorical ritual staged in a cave, paintings all over the walls and fire burning in the centre of things, smoke billowing upwards , orange embers floating in the heated updraft. Figures with bones and shrouded in furs sit transfixed by the hypnotic proceedings take journeys into the other world to coax out answers to the mysteries of life. This can be a healing experience if given the chance…”
And then there was Schammasch…
”First we had a shaman and next we have monk priests who conduct the second act of the liturgy replete with candles and incense to invoke the spirits of anticipation and to fine tune the atmosphere. I have been listen to The Maldoror Chants at home and this gives an idea of what to expect at a Schammasch live show!! Big, The album is inspired by a surrealist/Misanthropic book written in the late 1860’s by The Comte De Lautremont and is about a character who denounces god and conventional morality! If this was a photograph i’d liken it to a melding of Horst P Horst, Billy Brandt and Ansel Adams. The tones and colours are deep blacks through to bright whites with muted colours to accent. The drums are heavy and menacing and demand attention and the guitars set the hairs on the back of your neck on edge. The production is not over done, but what is there is put together in just about the right proportions to evoke the feelings i expect are intended!!There are sludgy moments interspersed with simple but effective riffing that succeed in getting across the feeling of menace, dread, transgression, the ”warped” joy of transgression and the cathartic transformation of being!! Schammasch hail from Switzerland just like Triptykon and i find them sounding similar to them in places which isn’t a bad thing to soud like in my view!!”
”Batushka, the Coptic ”anti Popes” are the final act on tonight’s bill of Triptych entertainment!! They were the crescendo of this experience, hailing from Poland, being somewhat mysterious is as much as i know of this band at the moment along with the fact that Batushka means ”Father” in Cyrillic and the chanting is a subversion of Russian Orthodox Traditions, or so I’ve read. What Schammasch did Batushka cranked it up a notch further. This was dark Orthodox Mass with lecterns and sensors and candles galore. Another demand on the attention which was given without reserve. You could feel the awe and admiration in the room, The music is not overtly technical in my view but it is well produced and put together in the right proportions!! Everything is choreographed according to its place and point in the proceedings and nothing seemed to be there for no reason. The point was to seduce the senses and keep hold of your attention until the ritual has run its course and at the end you are not thinking ”Is that it??” When i left i felt like i had been fortified by something incorporeal, like a dose of cosmic Vitamin D.”
”Like my friend said, I’m going to their next gig in London, whenever that is!!”
Venue: _ Shepherds Bush Empire, London, UK
”I’ve never seen Michael Schenker live before although i have listened to his music now and again either as a solo artist or when he was in The Scorpions. When i came across a competition online to win tickets to see him live i thought ”Fuck it, what have i to lose??” I won a ticket!! Off i trundle down to Shepherds Bush on the Circle line and arrive at the venue just as support band The Departed are taking to the stage!! I’ve never heard of them before and to be honest on first exposure they were not my thing. My fires were lit but they only flickered not roared, that had to do with the extreme belly ache i acquired once i had found a suitable spot stage left to stand. Anyway the sound was hard rock 80’s style, a bit Bon Jovi, a bit David Coverdale, well executed and well rehearsed and confident onstage, something you’d expect from a band that i read afterwards had played on bills with the likes of Graham Bonnet, Status quo and Ginger Wildheart. As i write this my view of The Departed is one of comme si comme ca, something to try again at a later date sans belly ache!!”
”From where i stood stage left there were people who had no interest in The Departed whatsoever, they stood impatiently waiting for the main act of the evening, when the intro music started playing these guys were shaken out of their chats, their eyes pulled away from their phones and an air of life and excitement meandered through the tightly packed throngs!! My experience of the Michael Schenker set was, like for The Departed, sullied by a, at this point, worsening belly ache. But the musicianship and charisma was not lost on me!! There were 5 guys onstage but my eyes were constantly drawn to the right hand side of said stage only offering cursory glances to the rest of the band, sometimes it was as if they were invisible. he could have stood at the back of the stage in the shadows and the charisma would have lit him up like a firecracker. As i am not familiar with any of the tracks played tonight i’m unable to pick a stand out track that wowed me or the crowd, all i can say is that it was a great 90 odd minutes of musicianship that did on occasion become tedious, i mean some of the guitar solos just went on for way too long and my inner voice kept piping up and saying ”Oh FFS get with it, you can play, i know!!”
”And then about 45 minutes to an hour into the set the sound in the venue cut out for 15 or so minutes, i took the time to freshen up and mitigate against the effects of my belly ache to no avail. When the band came back onstage i stood right at the back behind a crowded bar for the remainder of the set. And then i left….”
Venue:- The Lock Tavern, Chalk Farm Road, Camden, London.
”The other night i was asked by Shaun, one of the dj’s at Wicked Spins Radio, if i’d pop along to the Lock Tavern in Camden to check out a band called Crows, he said they are a good band that are on the up and destined for great things so i said i would go,check them out and write this review. I turned up around 7:45pm where i met a friend and chatted for a while before the support, a band called Krushed Puppies took to the stage. Sounding a bit like L7 or Hole but with weak vocals in want of energy and to be honest a bit ”whiney teenager”. There was a lack of oomph in said vocals and on occasions it was way out of tune. The drums were to high in the mix and the bass didn’t sound poignant enough in my view!! I was glad when they left the stage to be honest!!”
”The tables were removed for Crows and i can see why now because within 10 minutes of Krush Puppies leaving the stage the pub was already filling up for the headline!! The vocalist took to the stage in a dress/wig and dressing gown and mainly performed back at the band and not to the audience. or if not doing that spent a lot of time actually in the audience or standing on the bar. There was a fair bit of crowd surfing too. The set on this Halloween night consisted of only covers from bands of pedigree such as Black Sabbath/The Ramones/The Damned and The Cramps with the last track a cover of the Hives ”Hate to say i told you so” !! A band full of energy that is reciprocated by a crowd that is as raucous as the sound. obnoxiously so on occasions, a total antithesis to other gigs i have been to where everyone just stand around politely or is too scared to let themselves go. I went to gig last week and everyone in the crowd just stood passively with arms folded apart from one guy who stood in the middle of everyone going absolutely mental!! Tonight there were many more going mental!!”
”Anyway, this was a good covers set, i shall make a date to see them perform their own stuff soon. a good band!!”
Venue:- The Queen Of Hoxton, The Junction of Worship Street and Curtain Road, Shoreditch London.
Date: – 20/12/2014
Update:- Since writing this review and forgetting to post it (How professional of me!!) a tower of characterless glass has been erected opposite the venue!!
”The night before i had one of my usual boozy binges and i overdid it as per usual! One should have stopped after the first bottle of wine but no i had to ruin everything!! Saturday afternoon i woke up with no memory of the night before and with the early stages of flu setting in. The flat was a mess, there were bottles everywhere along with empty plates replete with chicken bones, bread and indecipherable vegetables! I was in no state to go out Saturday night, i had no energy and my face looked like i’d been slapped around with spatulas simultaneously on each cheek!! ”I must make an effort” i said to myself!! So after numerous black coffees, paracetamol and rounds of toast i got ready in a half arsed fashion and then dragged my barely alive carcass down to The Queen Of Hoxton.”
”The Venue was located on a corner at the far end of Worship Street in the city of London opposite, well opposite nothing really, there was a building there but it’s not there now, another part of old London pulverised to nothing probably to be replace by more characterless glass. After negotiating the barriers and if i may say so, very accommodating staff, i entered the venue and descended the stairs to the stage/bar area!! I was just in time. Cauldronated were the stage and getting ready for the forthcoming set. Eva going through her pre set routines whilst Dave Barbarossa made final adjustments to his drums. The crowd was not an alternative crowd tonight. Totally different people to the crowd i am used to but there was plenty of them. A mixture of locals and out of towners readied themselves for the force that is Cauldronated!!”
”I have seen Cauldronated many times this year and as the year has progressed so has the confidence and presence of Eva Menon on each stage. Each gig is a progression, a letting go, an opening up, a statement of intent!! She uses the stage with much for fluidity, marking her territory with the the words that are spat forth with a subtle hint of ”don’t mess with me!!” If Cauldronated were a F1 car engine they would be this past seasons V6 that won the championship for Mercedes!! Well oiled, all the components working in perfect harmony with each other and fuel/air mix just right to facilitate the perfect explosion!!’
”Ibossa, Ring Of Khan, the new single ”BUY THIS THING!!” all went down well with the ”normals” in the crowd, there was a lot of foot tapping in front of me i noticed whilst the group of girls sat behind me on the left side of the stage looked on with expressionless faces but the feet tapping under the tables showed their true emotions!! As i have noticed from other gigs that Cauldronated have played, the venue is packed for their performance and thins out like an Arctic Foxes winter coat in the summer sun when they finish!!”
”These Guys have got something, if you’ve not noticed!!”
They know that!!
”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!!