15th to 18th August 2019
W-Festival 2019 Day 1 with Irish Coffee, Twisted Nerve, The Trio Experience, Letz Zeppelin, Floyd, Empathy Test, Signal Aout 42, Tristesse Contemporaine, The Blow Monkeys, Time Bandits, Echo and the Bunnymen, The Stranglers, Der Klinke, In Strict Confidence, Solar Fake, The Cassandra Complex, Merciful Nuns, She Wants Revenge, The obsCURE (tribute to The Cure), Blaine L. Reininger plays Tuxedomoon, Kaelan Mikla, The Primitives
This year’s W-Festival was held in the EXPO Waregem and many felt at the beginning of the weekend that the charm of the festival, where the concerts took place in big circus tents before, had evaporated and dissatisfaction was spreading. At the end of the festival, there were hardly any voices that spoke out against the move anymore. People just need to be convinced!
For us, the festival began on Wednesday after a smooth journey from Münster. No traffic jams, no accidents just nothing. Our week in Belgium could not have started better. Our B + B was absolutely amazing, a real stroke of luck and even the toilet made a photogenic impression. Just as a side note ;) 4 days, 3 stages and over 70 artists were waiting for us and Wednesday should start with five bands on the Synth Stage with a kind of Woodstock revival. So off now to the festival area to have a quick look and after a short conversation we had our press belts in hand and could start the evening.
At the beginning, IRISH COFFEE from Belgium played their mix of cult Hard Rock and Blues. Founded in the 70s, the band played their own new and old songs as well as William Souffreau songs which were stripped down to the essence and sounded heavier than ever. A short changeover gave us the opportunity for the first Belgian beer before continuing with TWISTED NERVE. The Scottish Goth band from Edinburgh describes their music as “dark but dancey” and that’s just the way the crowd got in. Next up was the Jimi Hendrix tribute band THE TRIO EXPERIENCE who took us to a journey through the beautiful world of Psychedelic Rock. As penultimate for today LETZ ZEPPELIN came as a tribute band for LED ZEPPELIN just before the tribute band FLOYD who made their namesake both credit. A successful approach to the festival even if not quite 500 people had found their way into the hall… it was those people who already built up their tents on the camp ground and wanted to spend a nice evening with friends, music and some fun.
Thursday morning at 11:30 was the time for the first press meeting. We were greeted by Yves and Dominique, who looked after us absolutely fantastic during the whole weekend. That must be emphasized at this point! With every little request we could come to both and they made every effort to make everything possible for us. After a brief introduction, several coffees and chocolates, the day began on the Synth Stage with EMPATHY TEST and ended on the Wave Cave with SHE WANTS REVENGE late at night.
EMPATH TEST opened the first official festival day at high noon with a bombastic show. Singer Isaac Howlett and drummer Christina Lopez were this time supported (just like during M’era Luna festival) by Elliot Berlin (AESTHETIC PERFECTION) on keys. Songs like ‘Holy Rivers’, ‘Empty Handed’ or ‘Losing Touch’ are realy Synth Pop gems and made people sing along already during the very first band of the day. SIGNAL AOUT 42 from Belgium are already making music since 1981. After several hit singles and successful albums, the 5th album ‘Vae Victis’ (2010) and the 6th album ‘Inspiration’ (2013) completed the discography. Singer Jacky Meurisse this time brought his daughter as support on the keys with him. SA42 as usually delivered a good show with cool video projections. Unfortunately it was a bit too short for most in the room. TRISTESSE CONTEMPORAINE, who were next on the Synth Scene, produce raw and minimalist, mesmeric and catchy, poppy melancholic music. They seized the hazes of Shoegaze, Krautrock and Madchester to compose the soundtrack of an era lost in the night.
Next on the stage were THE BLOW MONKEYS. What? The schedule said something different. But screens in the hall announces a change of THE PRIMITIVES and them. We learned later that THE PRIMITIVES had some travelling issues and played as last band on the Olivier Daout Stage. THE BLOW MONKEYS were already formed in 1981 and delivered British New Wave / Sophisti-Pop in a calm way but also with enthusiasms. Their first hit song was ‘Digging Your Scene’, which hit No. 12 on the UK Singles Chart and No. 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in August 1986, and of course they played this song at W-Festival as well. Next band on the Synth Scene were TIME BANDITS, known for such hits as ‘I’m Specialized in You’, ‘Endless Road’ and ‘I’m Only Shooting Love’. The Dutch raised consistently positive reactions within the audience and made one or the other leg moving.
It is now 20:45 and ECHO AND THE BUNNYMEN are in the limelight. Founded in 1978, the Rock band was received with great excitement. The band has a very long history. Their 1980 debut album, ‘Crocodiles’, went into the top 20 of the UK Albums Charts. With the release of ‘The Cutter’ in 1983, the band gained first mainstream success. The band has been touring since, releasing several albums since the late 1990s and now paid a visit to the W-Festival where they impressed with songs like ‘Rescue’, ‘Bring On the Dancing Horses’ or ‘The Killing Moon’, latter one known from the ‘Donnie Darko’ soundtrack. In my opinion, the band still could not fully live up to its reputation before releasing the stage for THE STRANGLERS, one of the longest-surviving and most “continuously successful” bands that have originated in the UK Punk scene and who delivered an impressive and enrapturing live show. ‘Always the Sun’ of course was played, one of the best known songs of THE STRANGLERS and finally they left with ‘No More Heroes’.
The Wave stage was opened by DER KLINKE, a New Wave band from Belgium. They combine the pure atmosphere of the eighties with nowadays influences. Indeed is their sound a quite unique variety of dark Industrial, Coldwave and classical Post-Punk. Nice opening on the Wave Cave! Next up were IN STRICT CONFIDENCE from Germany with their very own style of Electro-Industrial with a special video for nearly every song. I was quite surprised not to see Jörg Schelte on keyboards but some unknown player. Guess Jörg just could not make it? With songs like ‘Kiss Your Shadow’, ‘Mercy’, ‘Engelsstaub’ or the classic ‘Zauberschloss’ at the end of the set, they left a good impression on the Belgium audience. After that, SOLAR FAKE did a fantastic show with multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Sven Friedrich (also known for ZERAPHINE and DREADFUL SHADOWS) in the front. They catchy electronic music made the audience dance and sing along.
THE CASSANDRA COMPLEX continued the day on the Wave Cave stage. The Electronic Rock group was formed by Rodney Orpheus and Paul Dillon in 1980 in Leeds. If you need a style they fit in, try to place them between EBM, Industrial, Goth Rock, New Wave and Synth Pop. You might describe them as a blend of JOY DIVISION, THE RAMONES and KRAFTWERK. Sounds good? It is good! Once more the band could convince with a rousing show. MERCIFUL NUNS were up next and the band is currently playing its last shows before finally closing the chapter MERCIFUL NUNS with their concert at this year’s Autumn Moon Festival in October. No other band has covered so much ground within the Goth realm in such a short time. They are an insatiable beast with more ideas in it than you could imagine. MERCIFUL NUNS galvanized us to scan whether inwardly or beyond in search for clues upon which to base our own views on the ages-old human questions. Tis was indeed a gloomy show and I will truly miss them.
The last one for this evening was SHE WANTS REVENGE from USA, unfortunately without JASON PAYNE on the drums but with so much energy that it shook the hall. It was a while since I have seen them live. It must have been a Blackfield Festival many years ago and I was eager to see them finally back on stage. The American Rock band, based in San Fernando Valley, California, was formed in 2004. The group’s debut album, ‘She Wants Revenge’, was released in early 2006, with three singles to follow, ‘These Things’, ‘Out of Control’ and ‘Tear You Apart’. Still this first album is my favourite one and to my joy all of the mentioned singles have been played during the evening. The band has sold more than 300,000 records in the US and was really successful. Too sad that you see them so rarely on European stages. So this was a nice end to the first day.
Olivier Daout Stage
Outside behind the Expo hall, there was a little stage hidden. Fun fact: it looked like a huge inflatable bouncy castle. The stage was opened by THE OBSCURE, a THE CURE tribute band. Sometimes you actually felt like you were standing in front of the original since the voice was so close to Robert Smith… but only almost. BLAINE L. REINIGER playing TUXEDOMOON songs was up next. He is a busy man who has many bands and other solo projects. Unfortunately, the TUXEDOMOON concept did not light up today, but it appeared several times at the festival, so we should get another chance. At least it was great to finally hear ‘No Tears’ live. KAELAN MIKLA are a new Icelandic band, armed with thundering bass, hypnotic drums and minimal synth waves, Sólveig Kristjánsdóttir, Margrét Harrysdóttir and Laufey Soffía soundtrack the apocalypse, with threatening Dark Wave rumblings beneath ominous monologues broadcast in their mother tongue and the occasional cathartic, blood-curdling banshee wail. I was really happy ti finally see them live on stage after so many missed chances. THE PRIMITIVES were finally closing the day on the outdoor stage. The English Indie Pop band from Coventry is best known for their 1988 international hit single ‘Crash’.
Finally after so many bands, Belgium beer and fries, good chats and meeting many friends, it was time for bed. Another three days were in ahead of us promising fantastic music!
All pictures by Daniela Vorndran (http://www.vorndranphotography.com / http://www.facebook.com/blackcatnet)