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introKulttempel, Oberhausen, Germany
5th February 2016
Solar Fake, Beyond Obsession

February 5, 2016: All dark electro maniacs and SOLAR FAKE freaks have awaited eagerly this day. Since the release of ‘Another Manic Episode’ on October 30 last year and the sold out release show at Berlin's Frannz Club, we've been counting the nights for the kick-off of the “Manic Episodes Tour 2016” in Oberhausen, Germany. Why? – To celebrate the latest and truly diverse, melodic, and intense electro opus by mastermind and vocalist Sven Friedrich (DREADFUL SHADOWS, ZERAPHINE) and his partner in crime, keyboardist André Feller (DREADFUL SHADOWS, HERZFEIND). Many fans had unwrapped their concert tickets at Christmas or found them hanging on the Christmas tree; and finally, the day had come to make a pilgrimage to the Kulttempel, an atmospheric club with candles here and there and huge pictures of angels, saints, and the saviour, which remind one of colourful church windows, decorating its brick walls. In favour of a Gothic touch, there's also a crucified skeleton on a large wooden cross in white. Despite its size, I wasn't the only one noticing this décor only later during the gig. Clearly, we had eyes and ears only for SOLAR FAKE. But first, there was the special guest BEYOND OBSESSION, another duo that was sounding the bell for a promising musical evening.

Beyond Obsession

Since 2012, singer and songwriter Nils Upahl and sound engineer André Wylar have been creating harmonic melodies and driving beats for their synth pop electro project called BEYOND OBSESSION. To be honest, I haven't heard of them until SOLAR FAKE started to bring them along, but instantly liked their simple and straight-lined logo: a white ear – ear as you find it in botany, not anatomy. When giving BEYOND OBSESSION's albums ‘Listen, Learn and Speak’ from 2013 and ‘Pieces of Machinery’ from 2015 a listen before the gig, I could clearly hear their biggest musical inspiration: DEPECHE MODE, of course. So it wasn't a surprise to learn later on that Nils' idol is Martin L. Gore. BEYOND OBSESSION's catchy tunes stick in your head immediately after listening to them for the first time. Which songs would they choose to perform live at the Kulttempel? / 


Music & Performance
Exactly ten minutes after 9pm the duo entered the stage and their intro resounded. Even though there were already a lot people in front of the stage in the beginning, some folks were still chatting at top of their voice while others were simply staring at BEYOND OBSESSION obviously checking them out for the first time as they played their first song, the title track of ‘Pieces of Machinery’. There was just lukewarm applause, however, as the show went on, BEYOND OBSESSION had no difficulties to win over the audience convincing us with clear and powerful vocals on top of their straightforward but indeed effective synth soundscapes and infectious beats. A smiling and cheerful Nils tried to animate the crowd by saying “Dance music!” spreading his arms and entertained them by singing into the cell phones of the fans in the first rows.


For the second track, Nils and André went back to their debut playing ‘On My Way’, which builds up nicely in the refrain and presents a quite positive message: “As long as I have a voice / As long as I find the words / I can breathe / I will speak / As long as I have a choice / I'll be fine / Cause you'll be mine”. Then the audience could enjoy three tracks from the last album: ‘Song for the Dead’, ‘Black White Hearts’ and ‘Unwinnable War’. I was particularly happy about ‘Song for the Dead’ and ‘Black White Hearts’ as they're the strongest on the record and simply have to be liked, if you have a soft spot DEPECHE MODE & Co. After the slightly more mellow ‘Unwinnable War’, which was presented in the Rob Dust Mix, it was time for something new. On their Facebook page, BEYOND OBSESSION promised to come to Oberhausen bringing some fresh material as they've already made great plans for this year: End of summer or in fall, BEYOND OBSESSION are going to release their third record. Since they aren't fond of the idea of making their fans wait that long, the new single entitled ‘Moment of Truth’ is going to be released this month. And so we got the chance to hear the new track in its entirety that night. The Hartung & Schleinitz mix of the atmospheric ‘Tokio Underground’ from ‘Listen, Learn and Speak’, marked the end of a 35-minute long electro pop set full of catchy melodies.


On the whole, BEYOND OBSESSION were wonderful special guests; their danceable and at the same soothing sounds and charismatic performance show great potential to win over even more synth pop lovers as they proceed on their musical journey. And the way they put their heart and soul into it shows how fitting their band name is and makes them really likeable. What's next for BEYOND OBESSION after touring with SOLAR FAKE? Well, in addition the already mentioned new album, they're gonna play at the Black Beach Festival on June 4, and then join AND ONE once again in September/ October to be part of their “Trilogie 2 – The Megashow” tour.

01. Pieces of Machinery
02. On My Way
03. Song for the Dead
04. Black White Hearts
05. Unwinnable War (Rob Dust Mix)
06. The Moment of Truth
07. Tokio Underground (Hartung & Schleinitz Mix)

Music: 7
Performance: 8
Sound: 7
Light: 6
Total: 7 / 10


Solar Fake

Characterized by their talent to create manifold moods and Sven’s incredible voice, SOLAR FAKE are widely celebrated for creating floor filler anthems as well as emotional tunes. With their dark and thought provoking lyrics in combination with melodies and beats that actually make you wanna dance in spite of all the melancholia, cynicism, pain, and suffering, the act has enriched the dark scene since the release of their debut album ‘Broken Grid’ in 2008. ‘Another Manic Episode’ is SOLAR FAKE's fourth record presenting various powerful club hits full of energy and emotion; faster and more aggressive tracks of the industrial kind stand next to beautifully melancholic synth pop sounds and there's also the beseeching ballad ‘Stay’, which a lot of fans requested to be played on tour. The album centred around the theme of mental illness and emotional distress, as its title already implies, entered the German album charts on rank 31.


Their single ‘All the Things You Say’ made it to #5 at the Deutsche Alternative Charts and #1 at the German Electronic Webcharts. SOLAR FAKE have supported VNV NATION, PROJECT PITCHFORK, COVENANT, PETER HEPPNER, and CAMOUFLAGE, they've played around the world (for example, Israel, Mexico, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, Finland, Czech Republic, Austria, Denmark, Italy), and appeared at several German festivals such as the Amphi-Festival, Blackfield, E-Tropolis, E-Only Festival, Nocturnal Culture Nights and M’era Luna, or the Orus-Fest in Mexico City. On March 20, Sven and André will play at the Out of Line Weekender, a club festival put on by the Berlin based independent label “Out of Line”, which they signed a contract with last year. Prior to this, however, the two of them are on the road for their second and much-anticipated headliner tour under the banner of ‘Another Manic Episode’. / 


Music & Performance
Five minutes after 10pm, André hit the stage heading for one of his keyboards as the powerful ‘Not What I Wanted’, also the first track on the new album, was raised in the musical "temple" which was flooded with blue and white lights. Amid the applause of a overjoyed crowd, Sven joined him shortly thereafter and began singing the first verse. For the following ‘Fake to be Alive’, also the second track on the record, the venue was aflame in red light fitting the slightly more aggressive and faster song while the first lines “Wake up, it’s time / And let’s cross the red line” resounded. Sven greeted the audience with the words: “Coming from Berlin, we aren't really into carnival, but we've been told that it's actually important over here, so thank you for being here tonight!” A fan standing close to me, who would sing along every single line throughout the entire show as I would notice, screamed at the top of her lungs: “You're better than carnival!” Well, that's for sure!


After the crimson atmosphere of ‘Fake to be Alive’ a contrastive green was setting the mood for the jump-along-track ‘No Apologies’ from album number two, ‘Frontiers’. When the following mid tempo stunner, the indeed quite atmospheric ‘Here I Stand’, set in, Sven initiated us to clap along while we've been drowning in red light once again. The light show, in general, was beautifully done for this tour; actually, quite simple but having a great effect: in the centre, right behind the vocalist, there was a rectangular grid of white incandescent bulbs that were glittering during this wonderful song from the first album ‘Broken Grid’. Later on in the set, these white lights would frantically throb according to the beat or Sven would be back-lit by its long white beams spreading out like rays of electric sunshine – quite solar! Returning to ‘Another Manic Episode’, the melancholic and yet danceable single ‘All the Things You Say’ was presented. Sven introduced the poppy song by telling us about the corresponding video clip.


On we went with the gritty ‘Parasites’ for which the vocal stomp box was called into action and the anthemic ‘More than This’, both from the ‘Frontiers’ album. Not just SOLAR FAKE, but also the audience gave their best in Oberhausen. Particularly the new songs were celebrated excessively: Next up on the setlist were the beautiful ‘Under Control’, the fast-paced ‘Observer’, and the grippingly gorgeous melodies of ‘I Don't Want You in Here’. For the latter one the second clip has been recently released and Sven pondered on the fact that there're “so many videos lately” and promised that “there will be another one also with André in it,” which made the audience cheer. In an interview he already revealed that it's going to be a “funny” one – so, of course the energetic keyboardist better be in it. So far, the crowd was the opposite of “under control”, “well sedated”, or “out of passion”, but rather mad with joy after the first ten songs: They were clapping along, stomping their feet, nodding their heads, swaying their hips, letting off cries of joy or just smiling blissfully, singing along, and jumping and dancing around to the music. I simply had to whistle with my fingers as loud as I could. The duo seemed impressed with the concertgoer's great response and hurricanes of applause: Sven thanked and applauded to the audience almost after every song himself while André held his thumbs up and showed us the hand heart.


Let me sum up the second part of the set as follows: Winning team Friedrich & Feller performed a great mix of the current album, the previous one called ‘Reasons to Kill’, and a couple of cover versions alternating between calmer songs of the sentimental kind and in-your-face party hits. We all had a blast with the smasher ‘I Hate You More than my Life’ (from ‘Reasons to Kill’), a cover of ‘Somebody Told Me’ by THE KILLERS which “all of you know who have the deluxe double disc version” of the latest album which made everybody jump, the harsh up-tempo firecracker ‘The Race of the Rats’, and the classic banger ‘My Spaces’ with its melancholic stanzas leading to an explosive chorus – arms were thrown up in the air as we screamed along the lyrics on “lost control”. Two further amazing covers contributed to the calmer notes and tones. The dreamy ‘Gods and Monsters’, originally by LANA DEL REY, actually should've been the cover on the new album, but SOLAR FAKE weren't allowed to bring it out, as Sven explained. He came across the song on the TV series “American Horror Story: Freak Show”, on which actress Jessica Lange also covered the song.


Sven and André's sombre version was outstanding as they mesmerised the audience with this hauntingly beautiful piece. SOLAR FAKE simply slayed the song and the theme of sickness – mind the line “You got that medicine I need...” – isn't far off and also suits the “Manic Episodes Tour” well. Still, the highlight of the evening was another timeless masterpiece: ‘Heroes’ by DAVID BOWIE. This was a premiere and, therefore, the crowd in Oberhausen was “serving as guinea pigs” as Sven said – “We'll see, if we keep on playing this in the other cities.” I hope they'll do so because they nailed it the way they developed the song and, needless to say, it was a very special moment sending shivers down our spines. The mid tempo tune ‘Reset to Default’ with its stunning chorus (from ‘Reasons to Kill’) and especially the poppy ‘Until it's Over’ as well as the ballad ‘Stay’, with which SOLAR FAKE concluded the set, ensured further super melodic and melancholic “episodes” during which Sven's soulful singing left many petrified and speechless in awe.


But then again, we didn't want SOLAR FAKE to leave and made some noise bringing them back on stage. Sven realised that we were “still not fed up with them” and thanked their loyal following - “Awesome, you've been incredible this year!” - before presenting ‘Under the Skies’ (from ‘Frontiers’), yet another song that got under the skin due to its melodies of lovely sorrow, if may put it like that, poetic lyrics, and amazing vocals that are at times lower in pitch. SOLAR FAKE went then full speed ahead with the forceful ‘(You Think You're) Radical’ and its harsher vocals (from the debut album); outbursts of energy filled the “temple” as the music was blasted out. Then, it was time for the “last song number two: there can't be a SOLAR FAKE show without this song,” Sven commented referring to the achingly beautiful ‘Where are You’.


When the duo went off the stage after this amazing encore there was once again loud applause, cheers, and whistling calling them back on stage for the third and final time. I asked myself whether things could get any better and had to answer “Yes, indeed!” when one of my (many) favourites from ‘Broken Grid’ was played: the sublime ‘Hiding Memories from the Sun’. Sven announced it as “an honest song” and, as always, it was performed in an expressive manner. By now, every single song from ‘Another Manic Episode’ had been celebrated apart from one: ‘If I Were You’, which leads up to the catchy and content wise accusatory chorus (“You still owe me an answer!”), made the entire crowd jump and dance around full of vim and vigour for the last time. And finally, it was time to say goodbye for real, which we all did by soaking ourselves in SOLAR FAKE's music and the lyrical vocals of the classic ‘The Pages’.


All in all, the duo's joy of playing and singing was undeniable and since enthusiasm is contagious, the SOLAR FAKE fans had a hell of a party at the jam-packed Kulttempel. Similar to the release show in Berlin last year, the new album had been performed in its entirety, which was much appreciated. On top of that, SOLAR FAKE made us happy with, altogether, three songs from the ‘Broken Grid’ album, five from ‘Frontiers’, and four from ‘Reasons to Kill’. This stellar set lasted for exactly two hours and truly stirred our blood! To those who still couldn't get enough, or rather, can never get enough of SF: “Maybe we'll see each other again in the nearby Cologne or Hannover,” Sven said when making his farewells. I'm positive that I'm not the only one who's going to accept this invite. My heartfelt thanks and congrats to SOLAR FAKE on a memorable first show of the “Manic Episodes Tour”! So, come out, come out, wherever you are, to enjoy this electro act's brilliant union of wonderfully beautiful melodies and driving, harsh beats, in-your-face aggression and touching gloom and bloom, live on this long-awaited tour!


01. Not What I Wanted
02. Fake to be Alive
03. No Apologies
04. Here I Stand
05. All the Things You Say
06. Parasites
07. More than this
08. Under Control
09. Observer
10. I Don't Want You in Here
11. Gods and Monsters (Lana del Rey cover)
12. I Hate You More than my Life
13. Reset to Default
14. Somebody Told Me (The Killers cover)
15. The Race of the Rats
16. Until it's Over
17. Heroes (David Bowie cover)
18. My Spaces
19. Stay
20. Under the Skies
21. (You Think You're) Radical
22. Where are You
23. Hiding Memories from the Sun
24. If I Were You
25. The Pages

Music: 10
Performance: 10
Sound: 8
Light: 10
Total: 9.5 / 10


All pictures by Daniela Vorndran ( /

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