”4 years ago a new alternative music festival insinuated itself onto the annual festival calendar down in the middle of darkest Dorset. Holt Heath was the setting for the inaugural Alice’s Wicked Tea Party. Like all festivals you have to start somewhere and you have to be prepared for obstacles being put in your way regarding t licenses and objections from the locals. Obstacles overcome a varied selection of bands were willing to play and support this fledgling festival and the likes of Tunnelmental Experiment Assembly, The Vultures, Doghouse and Poisoned Electric Head all put on fine performances. I remember there being a campsite in one field and a bridge going over a small gully into the field where the stage was located. On the day that I was attended there weren’t that many people in attendance but many more arrived for the following days entertainment. What I do know is that in year two of the festival the attendance was noticeably more dense and enthusiastic. It helped that the stage area had been moved to the field previously occupied by the campsite, a cosier atmosphere was achieved by this and the enthusiastic aura did not dissipate into the trees….. This time around Luxury Stranger, The Underrunners and Pussycat and The Dirty Johnsons were on the bill along with Go Go Cult and Anarchistwood. Vultures and Doghouse returned to finish off where they left off from the previous year, all in all a great time was had by all!!. The 2017 event I did not attend due to a clash with another festival so I’ve no reminiscences for that year I’m afraid but a new venue was found near to Corfe Castle in Dorset which I’m reliably informed is a step up from the last venue. I’m looking forward to experiencing this for the first time so I hope it does not disappoint! 2018 is on course to surpass last year and continue on the path to greater and greater things. and over 20 bands have been booked to appear. Ticket sales have been very healthy and this years attendance is set to surpass last years with brass knobs on!! The festival I mentioned that I attended last year, Wave Gotik Treffen, started over 25 years ago with 8 bands and now regularly hosts over 200 over a 4 days. It has made mistakes, tried and tested ideas and formats and finally has got to the stage where a whole city embraces 4 days gothic darkness. With the same good management and eclectic roster of acts Alice’s Wicked Tea Party can become a regular and successful addition to the Festival calendar and a welcome two days of escapism for the Dorset area. Onwards and upwards.”
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!!”
”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!!
”I was having a short break in Belfast with a friend at the end of August which included a road trip around County Donegal and when i got back to Belfast it was suggested that i go to Dublin to attend this festival. I was reticent at first but after a short bout of coaxing i relented and bought a ticket. So 3 days after getting back from Donegal i was off again to the Irish Republic for an afternoon and evening of heavy psych!!”
”The Voodoo Lounge is a club/music venue situated on the north bank of the river Liffey with 2 bars, 2 stages and a woman selling flip flops and chuppa chups in the loo, my first port of call when i am feeling hungry!! And the sound system was very good, manned by attentive engineers!!”
”All of the bands on the bill sounded very Black Sabbath/Led Zeppelinesque except for Vulpynes, a female duo that were very L7 sounding with a hip thrusting and lip sneering attitude. Just drums and lead guitar with plenty of reverb and fuzz. In fact, apart from Solstafir i’d heard of none of the bands on the bill so this festival was in a sense a blind punt! A punt that turned out well!! The aforementioned Vulpynes were worth the listen along with Crowhammer and Lord Vicar, Gorilla Pulp and Witch Sorrow. If you like your music sludgy and the consistency of blackened treacle then check out the bands i have mentioned!!”
”And then there was Solstafir:- Very earthy and peaty in sound, with undertones of sulphur. It’s a sound that conjures up images of a sparse landscape scarred by millions of years of geological activity, i see geysers and sulphur clouds and windswept beaches overlooked by snow topped volcanoes. This is a sound that cannot be mistaken for anything else, no other band sounds like Solstafir, this sound is unique in flavour except perhaps for a hint of Fields Of The Nephilim in the bass sound , just a subtle hint though!! They are another band that conjure up images of open landscapes, feelings of desolation, isolation and introspective thought. When you watch a Solstafir video one gets the rawness and honesty of the landscape, the stripping away of pretence, you are in the moment where you can live and breath without restriction from without or within, there is a focus in my view, everything superfluous evaporates because it is exposed for what it is!! Superfluous!!! I think the track they opened with was ”Silfur – Refur” from the new album ”Berdreyminn” or ”Dreamer of Forthcoming Events”, which i have listened to a few times, it gets better and better with each listen though it’s not ”Otta” so don’t expect it to be!!”
”Solstafir played for around 60 minutes, an enjoyable 60 minutes i must say, the set felt like they had played for a lot longer, an hour and a half would’ve been great but i won’t grumble!!”
”As i said, this was a punt that paid off, i thoroughly enjoyed the festival and it’s offerings and i think i’ll pay a visit again in the future!! ”
”One of the festivals on the European metal/alternative circuit that i have always wanted to go to is the Wacken Open Air festival which is 50km north of Hamburg in the state of Schleswig Holstein. Over 3 days in August over 130 bands from various different metal subgenres will play on numerous stages to thousands of dedicated metal pilgrims, many of whom will be making their annual pilgrimage from all over the globe. It will be a time to party, to catch up will old friends,meet new ones and listen to some of the finest music created by some of the most influential acts from all over world, established acts and also new ones too!! All sub genres are catered for, from Hair Metal to Nu Metal all the way through to Black, Death, Thrash, Industrial etc etc! The average age of attendees is around 27 years old and 84, 000 tickets roughly are sold every year and for the past few years all the tickets have been sold out within 24/48 hours of them going on sale which is usually the day after the current festival ends. A nice touch is that approximately 1800 residents of the village of Wacken get free passes which is only fair considering that the village has to cater to thousands of people for 3 days, acting as guides, offering accommodation, catering/beer etc and of course putting up with a disruption to their peace and tranquillity!! In 2011 expansion to the festival was halted so as to not abuse the hospitality of the village and also for safely and logistical purposes. I personally think that was a good idea, obviously you want your event to be popular and grow but there comes a point at which the bigger you get the more problems you encounter and the unique vibe that makes an event what it is can end up being watered down and being totally ruined!!”
”The Seminal Wacken commenced on the 24th August 1990 with a band called Skyline and finished the following day with 5th Avenue, Ax’n Sex, Motoslug, Sacred Season and Wizzard (I assume this was not Roy Woods Wizzard but Wizzard from Sweden who were formed in 1985) The 26th Edition in 2016 commenced on Thursday 4th August and finished on Saturday 6th August and bands that played that year included Iron Maiden, Henry Rollins, Ministry, Borknagar and Twisted Sister Amongst others. In the intervening years there have been many bands that i have never heard of playing on the bill with plenty of familiar faces that have included the likes of Dimmu Borgir, Black Dahlia Murder, Motorhead, Cradle Of Filth, Therion, Saxon, Iced Earth, Celtic Frost, Gorgoroth, Mayhem and Amon Armath. This years iteration will include Alice Cooper, Marilyn Manson, Lacuna Coil and the Cavalaera Brothers to name but a few. So, in 26 years we’ve gone from humble beginnings with a handful of bands to the pulsing behemoth we have today with hundreds of artists who are part of the global metal family. May this years festival be a roaring success and for many years to come.”
All travel and accommodation information can be found here. Please do your research carefully and thoroughly, i shall not be held responsible for your mistakes!!:-
Venue:- The city Of Leipzig, Eastern Germany.
”Its that time of year again when the annual pilgrimage of Goths all converge on the city of Leipzig for 4 days of dark chicanery!! There will be bands, exhibitions, clubs, lectures, theatre and movies in over 50 venues across the four corners of the city. And there will be free travel on the trams and buses with your event pass as well, which means more bucks for your booze!!!! I will be here for a second time after an enjoyable jaunt last year. This year i shall get to see many new bands and old favourites and i’ll get to go to the venues i did not get to last year!! I said in a previous review that you need to go twice to get the full experience of the event plus the sights of Leipzig itself!! I remember last year getting lost a few times on the transport system and ending up taking a long trip to a venue that i could have gotten to more easily if only i’d taken a tram, ie The Felsenkeller. On the bright side i got to travel on a different rail line which will be handy for future use!! Who’s playing at this event i hear you ask!! Well we have a large assortment of sonic confectionery that includes The Mission, Desperate Journalist, Saigon Blue Rain, The Agnes Circle, VNV Nation, Revolting Cocks and Sex Gang Children to name but a few!! And of course loads of bands i’ve never heard of like Black Nail Cabaret and Bloody Dead and Sexy!! ” As of writing there are over 145 bands confirmed for this years festival, more will be added/or deleted as the events nears!! And again as of writing i do not know of what parties/clubs or DJ’s will be on the roster as yet but that should change over the coming days and weeks!!”
”Apart from the event the city of Leipzig has many things to keep you from descending into the cellar of boredom. You will probably have an exhibition at the central station, there is the Monument To The Battle Of Nations, The Panometer Leipzig, The Grassi Museum and if you are into football then there is the Redbull Arena!! There are Goths into football, i know cos i have met them : )”
See you there folks!!
Below are a few teasers for your aural delectation:-