2nd - 5th June 2017
Wave Gotik Treffen 2017 (Day 1) with Box and The Twins, Pouppée Fabrikk, Devilment, Amanda Palmer & Edward Ka-Spel
The absinthe bar “Sixtina” was the first to open its doors in the morning inviting WGT folks to their Absinthe breakfast at around 8am. Also the “Heidnisches Dorf” (transl. “Heathen Village”) and the shopping mile in the Agra hall opened around midday. We, however, when there was too much scorching sun and about 30 degrees at about 3pm, drove to the first highlight of the day: the Victorian picnic in the Clara-Zetkin park. As in the last years, it was very crowded there since also the Leipzig inhabitants without a festival wristband had free entrance and the chance to admire the finely dressed WGT visitors in their marvellous gowns and robes. Unfortunately, peepers and photographers couldn't get around a few etiquette rules at some point when badgering the WGT audience with too many flash lights. At around 1:30pm, the concerts in the NonTox began and shows at the Volkspalast got started early as well. We've reviewed the gigs of BOX AND THE TWINS, POUPPÈE FABRIKK, DEVILMENT, and AMANDA PALMER & EDWARD KA-SPEL for you.
Box and The Twins - Stadtbad (Helena)
If you look up the word “cool” in the dictionary, in relation to a person’s behaviour, it defines an action “marked by steady dispassionate calmness and self/control” or “lacking ardour or friendliness” or “marked by deliberate effrontery or lack of due respect of discretion”. All these, are a perfect description of the Dark / Goth audience at the BOX AND THE TWINS concert on Friday, 2nd June, at the Stadtbad during the 26th Wave Gotik Treffen Festival. The opposite of being cool is being a dork. And one of the many rights that Riot Grrrl fought for. The capacity of being who we were as girls, not repressing ourselves, and being free to tell people how we feel. And this is almost the perfect description not only for Box, singer of the band, but also applies to Mark and Mike (the Twins). Serenading through her mesmerising voice, Box dances and moves awkwardly while pouring her darkness out and proudly. Contrary to most of the audience, her simplicity stands out. White t-shirt, incredibly long hair, and thick-rimmed glasses, we welcome the post-punk dork! We welcome the new cool as we are convinced and enthralled by the music and the sound.
This is music to be delighted by. To be danced to. To be enraptured by the electricity running through our bodies and souls. But this can only take place, if we halt the stream of consciousness and leave the music fill in the gaps. As the songs go by, we are on for a trip, not only of memories and nostalgia, but also of reflection. Let the limbs go and the mind wander... Yet, the audience betrays the new definition of cool for the old one. They seem to care about something else and I cannot help but wonder what it is. What does it take to grasp their ears? What does it take to break the indifference? What does it take to become dorks too? On the stage Box preaches, reproaches, mirrors the frustrations. She is a woman with a message, with a voice to empower. Do we feel empowered though? Are we changing something in our micro-cosmos? Unlikely, when the audience responds politely after each song, but hard it is to tell what they are saying beyond the clapping.
‘Gravity’, the hit song of their debut album ‘Everywhere I Go Is Silence’, seems to strike a chord in the room, followed by ‘Western Horizon’, a song that summons our memories of JOY DIVISION’s ‘Atmosphere’ and THE CURE's ‘Plainsong’. This is a lullaby that thrives in nostalgia, where are the tears? Maybe the problem is the spectacle. BOX AND THE TWINS' sound is bigger than them. It's imposing, it's heavy and great. And the spectacle falls almost disappointing in the face of such a powerful sound. And the coolness is but the way to manage the confusion. A confusion resulting from the sound and the performance not matching: tremendous sound - disappointing spectacle. Despite of the wonderings, and beyond them, BOX AND THE TWINS live is sweet and emotional dream pop overflowing in a sea of darkness. And after almost 60 minutes of exhilarating reverie, by the time they play their last song, the sound is a reproach to the audience’s aloofness. It is brash and harsh, screaming and anguished. A sound landscape that accomplishes its purpose in a quite twisted way: the people loved it!! // http://www.boxandthetwins.com / https://www.facebook.com/boxandthetwins // Rating: 9 / 10
Pouppée Fabrikk - Agra-Treffenpark (Betty)
Our destination today was the Agra-Halle. Unfortunately, we missed the band UMBRA ET IMAGO and reached the site when POUPPÈE FABRIKK were on. ‘The Dirt’, which came out on May 31, 2013, is the band's last album. The record mainly consists of newly recorded demo tracks from 1988 to 1990. What a bummer that they didn't bring along new album. At 8:45 pm, the Swedish Old School EBM act with front man giant Henrik Björkk came up on stage right on time. They immediately set off and inspired the crowd with their EKM (Electric Kropp Music). // https://myspace.com/pouppeefabrikk / https://www.facebook.com/Pouppée-Fabrikk-100329766260
Devilment - Agra-Treffenpark (Betty)
After the EMB act POUPPÈE FABRIKK, the metal band DEVILMENT took over the stage with front man Dani Filth of CRADLE OF FILTH and TEMPLE OF THE BLACK MOON. It was Daniel Finch who originally formed the band back in 2011. In the beginning Mr. Filth just wanted to help out as a vocalist for a few tracks: “When I heard what Dan Finch was doing, I just had to get my claws into it. It had a unique sound to it that was both creepy and heavy, but indelibly groovy. I instantly saw where we could take this beast...” After the band's demo ‘Grotescapology’, their debut album entitled ‘The Great And Secret Show’ was unleashed on mankind in 2014. Now lead guitarist Colin Parks, bassist Nick Johnson, drummer Matt Alston, and co-vocalist Lauren Francis at the keys complete the crew. In Leipzig, they mainly presented their second opus ‘Devilment II: The Mephisto Waltzes’, which was released last year. Dani Filth let his multi-facetted voice play and also presented his high-pitched trademark shrieks. The WGT audience celebrated the band, their heavy anthems and groove-laden riffs, and a devilish good show. // www.nuclearblast.de/devilment / https://www.facebook.com/devilmentcorps
All in all, we found that the Agra-Halle wasn't really overcrowded till now and hoped that this wouldn't be a sign for a dropping number of WGT visitors this year. Gladly this wasn't the case at all, as we realised when it was finally time for the midnight special at the venue: AMANDA PALMER & EDWARD KA-SPEL.
Amanda Palmer & Edward Ka-Spel - Agra-Treffenpark (Helena)
We listen to music for many reasons. And one of them is to discover and recognise what is hidden within ourselves, in a past lived, or a past imagined, longing for what never was... It is easier, however, to do this in the comfort of our bedroom with good sound system. Hence, it is a pleasant surprise when musicians are able to grant us the same experience live and much more. Yes, many would say it’s in the ears of the beholder, but seldom can music played live be better than the recording, to the point of transmutation. This is, however, the flabbergasting experience with PALMER & KA-SPEL... Never before have neither THE DRESDEN DOLLS nor Amanda Palmer played WGT, making this performance quite special in many levels. For starters, it was not THE DRESDEN DOLLS, nor only Amanda Palmer. It was the long awaited project of THE LEGENDARY PINK DOTS' Edward Ka-Spel and THE DRESDEN DOLL’s Amanda Palmer. A project that took many years to see the light, and was placed on hold twice during the years, to finally be accomplished this year! ‘I Can Spin a Rainbow’ is a set of fairy tales from the underground. Something you can feel while listening to the album. But played live? You will be taken down the rabbit hole, if you just dare to follow them... Although, with such beautiful compositions and the skills of both performers, impossible it was to escape, as the crowd assembled on Friday at the Agra Halle could attest...
It is 00:30am and on the clock, the presenter introduces the pair to the great expectation of the audience. It’s been a long day for some and not easy to stay awake, but this promises to be an unforgettable night... or morning. The pair enters the stage with a third performer, Patrick Q. Wright, violinist of THE LEGENDARY PINK DOTS. The audience awaits. Less than a minute later, creating the right amount of expectation, the music starts. Violin and piano embrace us, placing the red carpet for the voice to enter. Palmer behind the piano on the left, Ka-Spel on synths to the right, and in the middle Wright holding his soul, the violin. The trio waits to dance their instruments in this piece of reverie. A technical glitch happens though. Yet the performers manage to brush it away as if it was planned giving more air time to the mesmerising violinist. Ka-Spel sings, describing the incident and making a satire of it and the audience cannot do anything but loving it. The issue is that the piano’s sustained pedal is being replaced on the spot. The violinist keeps framing and knitting the atmosphere.
“Never have I played such shit to so many people” sings Ka-Spel and the comedy evolves. What happens when a core instrument is broken? Which other band is playing the piano that could lend a pedal in this moment? What can the performers do? “Something without a piano,” they say. And because of that, “the atmosphere requires to be darker and depressive,” they state and ask the lights engineer to comply. And so the music begins. You’ve gotta give it to this pair, they rise to the challenge and succeed. Nothing sets them back; through a beautiful delivery of ‘Pulp Fiction’, roadies are doing their best next to them to remove the piano. This is a happening performed on the spot. Amanda seduces, Ka-Spel induces... and little bells awaken us from the dream. Suddenly a miracle takes place! A piano, with a working sustained pedal enters the stage by the second song, ‘Shahla’s Missing Page’ to be welcomed by one of Palmer´s vocalisations of joy. Here we go complete! Ka-Spel serenades while Palmer embraces him through the notes from the fourth member of the band: a working piano. A track which summons Roger Water’s as the Judge in ‘The Trial’ from the Wall.
Through ‘The Shock of Kontakt’ it's Palmer's time to seduce once more, but is the violin that brings tears to our eyes. It is a dialogue turning into a soliloquy when the drama befits the key character… the strings reverberate! Palmer's voice has a strength that makes us skip a heartbeat. In cycles you are expectant for her vocals to come again and save you. Before the next song, Palmer regrets the fact of having waited so many years to play WGT. But she is grateful for the affectionate reception of her voice, her partner, and their project. She apologises and promises that tonight, they will make it up to the expectant audience. ‘Beyond the Beach’ is dedicated to the fake news media. It is enthralling and yet, the person next to me is too absorbed to care, reading the newspaper on his mobile phone. How can this happen? I just want to start dancing in circles while following Palmer´s steps and sing beyond my imagination. This is exactly what she brings out of us, the encouragement of doing what she does... Ka-Spel's turn is up with the album’s hit track ‘The Clock at the Back of the Cage’. We are back to staccato and sombre atmospheres. Until a ray of light intercedes, like a ghost, it then disappears.
Led by Palmer’s voice, ‘The Changing Room’ is the entrance to a fairy-tale of the underworld. It is like an imposing echo, yet difficult to pin down. ‘The Jack of Hands’ is a piece of spoken word by Ka-Spel only interrupted by bouts of singing lines like choruses. “I don´t believe in angels” he rebuffs! And then joins Palmer’s voice; it's a scary and thrilling emotion. A ‘Good Morning’ salutation gives way to ‘Prithee / Liquidation Day’, a song they do make in two parts. It is 01:29 and the sun will come up in about three hours. This is what we call the witching hour and Palmer takes the allegory to the extreme pounding the keys and our hearts like a machine-gun. Reaching a stand still point of sweet sounds and harmonies... the lights engineer makes a combination of the sunlight through heavy foliage... then, there's pounding again and finally a resting sound for our hearts to be warmed. The second part of the song takes us yonder in our dreams. 60 minutes have passed and we can hardly feel it.
They say goodbye and thank the audience for staying up so late. While repeating many sweet expressions of gratitude in German as well. Among the groans of Ka-Spel, ‘Rainbow’s End’ is delivered. Through the sadness it comes around thanks to Palmer’s embracing howls. The audience is completely enthralled... they have been given a treat, for their sleep and for their dreams... // http://amandapalmer.net/icanspinarainbow / https://www.facebook.com/amandapalmer / https://www.facebook.com/Edward-Ka-Spel-298070890211009 / http://legendarypinkdots.org
Pictures by Betty & Karsten Schulze and Daniela Vorndran (http://www.vorndranphotography.com / http://www.facebook.com/blackcatnet)