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!!
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:-
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!!!”