April 4th and 5th 2015
Black Easter Festival 2015 with Goethes Erben, Qntal, Rosa Crvx, Ataraxia, Sieben, The Breath of Life, Schneewittchen, Grausame Töchter, Lisa Morgenstern, Lizard Smile, Dark Poem, Hatchling
BodyBeats productions is perhaps best known for the BIMFEST festivals, covering mainly the electronic and industrial oriented bands. This year, however, they organised a completely new two day festival called Black Easter Festival and you don’t have to have a college degree to know it took place during Easter.
The festival was located in the Zappa, Antwerp and covered no more than twelve bands that shared just one single stage. But instead of the electronic and industrial sound we see so often, BodyBeats has chosen to go back to the Darkwave and Gothic music, something that can be called unique nowadays. Zappa is capable to accommodate about 400 visitors and as expected the festival was not sold out. Especially the first day started not that crowded, probably due to the choice of artists that took their turn on stage. But the second day the venue was filled with perhaps 300 visitors making it a very successful day. With bands like ROSA CRUX, ATARAXIA, QNTAL and the return of GOETHES ERBEN, the festival certainly had an appeal for the darker side of music lovers.
Saturday, 4th April 2015
The doubtful honour of being the first band of the festival is for HATCHLING. Their music is an old-school new wave, influenced by THE HUMAN LEAGUE and GARY NEWMAN. Although the music of HATCHLING is not that bad, the performance is quickly forgotten. There is no contact with the audience except for an almost unnoticeable “goodbye” just before they leave the stage. http://www.htchlng.com / https://www.facebook.com/hatchlingofficial
With a stage full of attributes like masks and the necessary instruments, DARK POEM is up next. Two young girls that go by the almost magical names Raya Schaduwjaagster (e.g. Raya Shadowhunter) and Sophie Drakenvleugels (e.g. Sophie Dragonwings) make a great performance with catchy music, experimental by times but always with a strong influence by ritual and tribal elements. The two girls never stand still, constantly dancing with concentrating looks on their faces, especially Sophie who is dressed with feather wings on her back. The songs are very divers and never dull or monotonous, making the concert of DARK POEM an enjoyable experience. http://www.wix.com/darkpoem/home / https://www.facebook.com/darkpoemmusic
This young German girl on piano surprises the audience with her beautiful voice. Her songs are delicate, full with emotions and personal elements that eventually brings tears in her own eyes. The music of LISA MORGENSTERN is not dark or gothic, she tells us while looking at the audience. It like black and white, light and dark, LISA with her white dress behind the piano while almost all of the audience is dressed in black. But nevertheless her songs seem to intrigue everyone. All are listening breathless - except some in the back who keep talking too loud according to her. She likes to talk with her soft blushful voice in-between songs, telling us about the moon, her love and the things that brought inspiration. Although the festival is but a few artist old, this will clearly be one of the best performances of the day. http://www.lisamorgenstern.de / https://www.facebook.com/LisaMorgensternSongs
When the stage is cleared and completely emptied it is time for Matt Howden in the role of his project SIEBEN. Armed with nothing more than his violin and a devise that enables him to create different overlapping sound loops he builds his music on the fly, right in front of the audience. His violin and voice are the instruments he uses to make layer upon layer until a complete orchestra of sounds is formed in a tantalizing way, full of emotion. His voice is part of that canvas of sounds. Listening to SIEBEN is nothing without the experience of seeing him create every songs from scratch. http://www.matthowden.com / https://www.facebook.com/TheMightySieben
The expectations of ATARAXIA were high. The last album ‘Winds at Mount Elo’ that was released in 2014 can be called responsible for that. And yes, when the band appears we see old traditional instruments as well as modern ones. The music is founded in Celtic and Mediterranean cultures with a strong classical ring to it. Singer Francesca Nicoli has a wonderful capable voice that fits the music like a glove. But unfortunately the music and her voice cannot keep us interested for long. There is only little variation between the songs so they sound all alike eventually. The stage performance itself, with Nicoli mostly hidden behind her lectern is not that exciting. Ironically part of the audience has left the venue when ATARAXIA plays the opening tracks of ‘Winds at Mount Elo’ and right at that moment the performance is elevated to a higher level. We get an idea what she can do with her stunning voice. Unfortunately it does not rescue the concert. http://www.ataraxia.net / https://www.facebook.com/AtaraxiaFB
ROSA CRVX has not released an album since ‘In Tenebris’ back in 2002. But they are performing live shows from time to time. These shows are always the same, containing the same songs and performances that only have a bit of variation but not much. A concert of ROSA CRVX is special nevertheless, with large church bells and an automated drum machine that hasn’t got its equal anywhere else. Candles accompany the lights on stage and the images on the background screen adds a medieval feel to the songs. Perhaps the highlight of the concert is the “Danse de la Terre” during the song ‘ELi Elo’; two woman perform a tantalizing dance with sand amidst the audience. It is hypnotizing, unearthly, while witnessing a ritual that seems to have its roots in long forgotten times. The concert is not flawless. There are some problems with sound but ROSA CRVX manages to keep the magic going, even long after singer Olivier Tarabo announces the end of the concert. With loud and long applause they finally end a successful first day of the Black Easter Festival. http://www.rosacrux.org / https://www.facebook.com/rosacrux
Sunday, 5th April 2015
The second day starts with LIZARD SMILE, a band that already exists for ten years. The roots of this band lies with the gothic new wave like THE SISTERS OF MERCY, BAUHAUS and THE MISSION but with a little more rock to it. Their show is energetic and this has its effect on everyone at venue. A perfect start of day two. http://www.lizardsmile.be / https://www.facebook.com/pages/lizard-Smile/272283015661
A first experience with a concert of GRAUSAME TOECHTER can be shocking. The BDSM elements and nudity can distract you from the music itself. But if you have seen the performance already and you know what’s coming, than it is easier to listen while watching the show. Then you realise the show of GRAUSAME TOECHTER is well thought through, with a flawless choreography that adds to the experience Aranea Peel brings us. Beyond the nudity, the shocking and sometimes disgusting moments, you find songs about greed, lust and everyday evil dressed in music that is a mixture of industrial, punk, classical elements and variety. But most of all, Aranea Peel is a striking artist with big eyes and a lustful smile that enjoys the things around her and manages to play not only with her slave Era Kreuz, but also with her audience. When seen in perspective you can only have admiration for Aranea Peel as GRAUSAME TOECHTER. http://www.grausame-toechter.de / https://www.facebook.com/GrausameToechter
The Breath of Life
After the industrial BDSM act the courses are changed dramatically as we are treated with the melodious Darkwave of THE BREATH OF LIFE. That change couldn’t be bigger when we hear the voice of Isabelle Dekeyser. It is easy to compare the music to COCTEAU TWINS, DEAD CAN DANCE, CRANES and FAITH AND THE MUSE, but with a distinct own touch to it. The looks on Dekysers face are somewhat painfully, difficult with a constant frown, perhaps due to the concentration or emotions that can be heart in the songs. The music itself is a perfect balance that brings memories of the mentioned influences. Well done. http://www.the-breath-of-life.com / https://www.facebook.com/TBOL.official
With SCHNEEWITTCHEN we return to Germany again. We are treated with Marianne Iser that looks like a playful Gothic Barbie. She is very theatrical, giving way to emotions in an exaggerating manner. I heard someone mention the act as “Schlager Metal Gothic” and perhaps that is the best way to bring the act to words. SCHNEEWITTCHEN is fun, never to be taken seriously but just to enjoy the chanson like music in combination with the theatrical act on stage. Not all performed songs work well. Only the ones in which Iser screams and provokes. And that she does well. http://www.schneewittchenmusik.de / https://www.facebook.com/schneewittchenmusik
After all the fun it is time for the modest music of QNTAL. They are happy to be at the festival and are clearly enjoying every minute while performing not only their songs from the latest album, but also older work. It is notable when Syrah tells us she doesn’t understand what she is singing when the songs are in old forgotten languages. But she knows what the songs are about. The theme has almost always to do with love, so it seems. But it does not really matter since the songs are performed flawless. QNTAL is asked to return for an encore after the show is finished and of course this happens to be the moment they perform the one track that made them famous, ‘Ad Mortem Festinamus’. http://www.qntal.de / https://www.facebook.com/qntalmusic
Last band of the festival is GOETHES ERBEN. The stage is transformed to make way for the ten members of the band that joins him. But also to give founder Oswald Henke enough space for his performance. And he needs every little bit of space, singing, screaming and acting accordingly to emphasise the lyrics and meaning of the songs. The border between poetry and music is never been this thin. Only too bad the pages he uses to rip and tear apart at one time are completely empty, although that could be the point. This is the only problem with the performance of GOETHES ERBEN; it is difficult to follow the lyrics and stories he is telling. Not only because of the noise around, but also because German is not my native language. It needs come concentration to understand the lyrics, something that I find essential to understand the deeper meaning of it all. Besides that the GOETHES ERBEN concert is full of emotion, pain, fun, a laugh, a cry, visualised by Henke in a way that sometimes makes you smile, but more often leaves goose bumps behind. There is a small role for Jule Klimpel and Sonja Kraushofer in the act, but most of the time they stay in the back as background singers. Also GOETHES ERBEN is asked back for an encore in which he concedes. Afterwards there is a distinct feeling we have witnessed something special. http://www.goetheserben.de / https://www.facebook.com/goetheserbenoffical
Just a little thought afterwards. I did not give any rating for the individual bands that played at this festival. They all added their own contribution to the two days of dark wave, gothic and more. The band were also very divers, from the industrial punk-like performance from GRAUSAME TOECHTER and the melodious THE BREATH OF LIFE, to the experimental tribal ritual-like music of DARK POEM. We had a dark and critical view of life from GOETHES ERBEN but also the light and delicate songs from LISA MORGENSTERN. Each had their own weaknesses but better yet, their own strength which made this festival very worthwhile. There was no need for large crowd gathering bands, just a selection of names of which perhaps GOETHES ERBEN, QNTAL and ROSA CRUX could be called the bigger ones. Although these sort of festivals were more common in the previous millennium, the Black Easter Festival can truly be called unique. And what is the best thing of all; just one stage so no need for choices. I think it is worth a compliment for the organisation and sponsors that made the Black Easter Festival possible. If any rating should be given, than I give the festival an 8 out of 10. Well done.
All pictures by Nando Harmsen (http://www.nandoonline.com)