2nd - 5th June 2017
Wave Gotik Treffen 2017 (Day 2): Soviet Soviet, Rotersand, Peter Bjärgö, V2A, Hamferð, MGT & Friends, Klangstabil
In spite of the 28 degrees outside, the Steampunk picnic was definitely not to be missed. It took place at the “German Allotment Gardener's Museum” this year and how beautiful the greenery was. You could also get something nice to eat and drink at the beer garden. In contrast to the Victorian picnic, there were some rules for the photographers posted and we appreciated that you had to register if you wanted to take pictures.
It was indeed more pleasant than in the Clara Zetkin Park. There was a performance of an a capella group of nice people, one could take a stroll from one beautiful sale stand to another, and it even didn't rain on us - considering that the sun disappeared at some point and we heard a distant roll of thunder. Band-wise, our second WGT day was under the banner of the post punk revivalists SOVIET SOVIET, electro super act ROTERSAND, ambient artist PETER BJÄRGÖ, EMB troupe V2A, doom metal masters HAMFERð, guitar hero MGT & FRIENDS, and the “klangpop” duo KLANGSTABIL.
Soviet Soviet – Täubchental
Revivals are the order of the day. Whichever the reason for their existence, they are here to stay. And with a twist, better tools and better skills, they aim to be the same yet reloaded and with less ideals. More open to other influences, one key revival has been the post-punk one. Conversing with dream-pop and synth-pop all in one hectic yet unmistakable combination. And one of the many revivalists is SOVIET SOVIET. An Italian band which did their WGT debut this year on Saturday, 3rd June, at Täubchental. Once the Finish band MASQUERADE finished, the Italians are up. After a lengthy sound check that fooled more than one into thinking the concert had started, SOVIET SOVIET takes the stage strong and loud! Through their opening song the remaining audience fills the venue dancing as they step in. All the while, Andrea Giometti´s voice reminds us of early PLACEBO. By the time ‘1990’, glides through, late comers are still pouring and the music is pounding. Truth be told, recorded music does not do justice to the potency of SOVIET SOVIET's sound live. This second track is interesting. It is as if the guitar follows one speed and the rhythm section another, the former continuously surrounding the latter and, the resulting awkwardness of this dance is hypnotising.
Once the third song is on, the venue is full and the flux of people in and out provide a parade of many different tastes and fashions. The only thing we've got in common is the colour black. We are still the big black stain, we don't give up nor give in, we are here through the ages and generations and we’ll stay. Is this a scene? A movement? We collide for the love and pleasure of this hectic music. The next song only shows the press photographers out, they’ve got their time and their images will tell us a piece of the story. And these words another… yet they are but traces of what actually takes place, because as usual, you just had to be there! The music thrives. Speedy post-punk with a sweet tinge we all enjoy. The ones at the front dance within their constraints, and the wave of human heat spreads all the way to the back. Yet it also embraces as if it were another conduit through which music is transmitted, received and internalised. Half the gig is through. Another song starts with a delay. It is a reflection of the flux of energy that seems to be key for SOVIET SOVIET. And all the while, some people are buying the merchandise. Whatever be the media of reproduction, the live show is what proves what the band’s capable of. First let them convince us and further we’ll get the souvenir to remember the explosion. These people have been converted.
By that moment I am engaged in conversation with a Belgian citizen who confirms that this band is a version of PLACEBO, and urges me to stand up to get the sound better. Indeed, at this point the sound is damped cause I am sitting down but the music ain’t losing its strength. Unfortunately, it is the same throughout the rest of the gig. Thus making me wonder, as much as we appreciate the revivals, when everything sounds so similar, how can we fall in love with a song or many, if by listening to one you’ve heard them all? And on the other side of the spectrum: when the change is too dramatic, we dislike a band cause it no longer feeds our known tastes - what are musicians to do? Though path for musicians, tough path for our brains. The spell has been relatively broken and the flux of people starts moving once more. Almost 50 minutes have passed and only once has the singer tried to make contact with the audience. The language barrier is clear, yet it is not an excuse. Lately, more and more bands, are quitting the opportunity to talk with the audience in lieu of mere playing. Many examples go through the post-punk revival, forgetting that the original post-punkers teased and rebelled against apathy, something the new generation seems to encourage. Whenever a band follows the “shoe-gazing” example, I think they shouldn't bother and just sing and air-play in their showers…
Before the last song hits the waves, Andrea Giometti breaks the trance in which he’s immersed to promote the band’s merchandise. We ain’t trying to change the world. That is clear, but perpetuating passive consumerism. The singer then thanks the audience and the WGT organisers. The night is over and, although on their FB they thank even more for a great night. Was it really? // https://www.facebook.com/sovietsovietband / http://sovietsoviet.bigcartel.com // Rating: 7 / 10
Rotersand - agra-Treffenpark
Since a storm was forecasted, we got quickly to our location of the day, the agra venue. At about 6 pm, we arrived right on time to see the future pop heroes ROTERSAND. The German duo was formed in 2002, has by now successful six albums under its belt, and has established itself a powerful live act. Vocalist Rascal Nikov and Krischan J. E. Wesenberg on keys were to celebrate an electro smasher of a show with a quite big crowd. Rasc, who has an enormous stage presence, played skilfully with the audience which was heated up very quickly from the beginning on and in good spirits.
The singer also impressed us with his extravagant accessories when he, for instance, appeared with a feather boa and a melon on his head during ‘Capitalism TM / Electric Elephant’. All in all, it was a damn good “industrial pop” show and a great start of the evening. In the meantime, it had probably rained so heavily that the path across the agra site and the campground were flooded. People had a blast fighting in the mud and sliding on their bellies over the water. // https://www.facebook.com/rotersand/ / http://rotersand.net
Peter Bjärgö - Schauspielhaus
Those good people who work tirelessly on the timetables and organisation of the annual WGT in Leipzig absolutely matched artist to venue by allowing PETER BJÄRGÖ to play the glorious, evocative Schauspielhaus this year. The ARCANA frontman was perfectly suited to this environment, his patient, brooding, darkly atmospheric mood pieces and songs were allowed time to ebb and flow from the stage to the seated audience. The lighting was superb throughout - in fact it was a real feature at all the shows in this venue - thoughtfully tracking the various shades of light and dark that the music evoked, and the sound quality was also absolutely top notch. A large back projection also added to the sense of this being a real performance, and not just a gig - various scenes of flowing water, falling leaves and blurred road trips, whereas not highly original, added calm and serenity where appropriate, something slightly more edgy when needed. There were no surprises musically, and it's hard to see much difference between this solo project and its parent band ARCANA, but the hypnotic percussion, muted guitar, and mixture of male and female voices created an otherworldly distraction and an immersive experience that was to be highly commended. // https://peterbjargo.bandcamp.com / https://www.facebook.com/Peter-Bjärgö-222007654479605
V2A - agra-Treffenpark
Next, at 7:45 pm, the tough and energetic V2A were up to tear apart the agra stage. V2A is a British / German EBM / industrial / electro project brought to life by Kevin Stewart (alias 304) and Ines Lehmann (alias 316). They released their debut titled ‘EBM’ in 2002 and have filled the international dance floors ever since. With their last album ‘Destroyer of Worlds’, which has been out since 2015, they entered the German DAC Charts at number three. Surely, their hard electro sounds enthralled their fans; it wasn't my cup of tea, though. // http://www.v2a.co.uk/ / https://www.facebook.com/v2amusic/
Hamferð - Schauspielhaus
Doom metal at WGT might seem a somewhat odd choice, especially when housed in the auspicious Schauspielhaus, but there was something darkly magical about the performance of HAMFERD. Hailing from the Faroe Islands, their patient, brooding, progressive metal feels intimately shaped by their environment, one of extremes, isolation, brutal beauty and wildly differing landscape. Dressed in black suits and ties, and on the whole entirely static, the band allowed the music to play out and tell it's stories, aided majestically by a stunning light show. A few people left after the first couple of songs, clearly feeling this wasn't for them, but for everyone else this was a complete performance, a real show, and they sat transfixed throughout. Singer Jón Aldará has one of the best live growls I've heard, but it's when he breaks into his operatic alter-ego that the real chemistry begins, swooping and soaring around the notes, dramatically posing himself around the microphone stand like a funereal-metal Freddie Mercury. Time seemed suspended during this truly special show, and there was no doubt the audience genuinely wanted more - good that the band quietly and respectfully bowed out and left us all with that feeling. Definitely an act to watch out for in the future. // https://www.facebook.com/Hamferd/ / http://www.hamferd.com/
MGT & Friends - Felsenkeller
Saturday, 3rd of June, was a sad day for WGT and for the Goth scene. Not only was a very good band with amazing musicians snubbed, playing impeccably to only a few people. But also it was clear that the new Goth/ Dark audience prefers to be ignored than excited and empowered through meaningful performances. At exactly nine o'clock, MGT (acronym for British musician Mark Gemini Twaithe) & FRIENDS, fired up the stage of Felsenkeller to just over a hundred attendees. Fronting the line-up South-African musician Ashton Nyte (THE AWAKENING and solo projects) took the role of main singer, and oh boy!, were we delighted by it! Rounding up the set, Rich Vernon on bass (THE MISSION) and Belle Star on drums (NOSFERATU). The strength was palpable courtesy of Nyte’s powerful delivery. Standing out was Nyte's impressive wide vocal range. Something that for those who have only known his work with THE AWAKENING, have totally missed out. Coupled with a very good histrionic presence, Ashton Nyte on stage is beyond enjoyable. And definitely a relatable persona to follow, sing with, and dance beyond our eyes. MGT is another strong presence on stage, and yet they do not clash. A full pro with a big history behind, he knows how to lift the singer. And thrive during the solos to establish his unmistakable style while juggling with the audience. Letting us know we are together in this, and the success or failure depends on all of us.
Yet, because of the rain, or the love of apathy that seems to shroud the Gothic scene lately, too, only few people were there to learn what a great performance is. Indeed it seems the scene will rather go for any other band or musician that will not give a damn about them. A band that will turn their backs to the audience. That will hardly lift their heads from the set of pedals. And will keep a constrained voice tessitura that ranges in boredom as they go in cycles of the same. This is what the Goth audience seems to like and crave for. It is shameful. We need to question ourselves once more. We are not supposed to be passive consumers, but active producers. How can we do that when the music is but an ongoing droning-buzz, that stuns rather than inspires? But beyond the crass mistakes in judgements. For the ones that were there, they were treated with a spectrum of old, new, and not even recorded tracks from MGT’s wide history. And thanks to Nyte’s, songs from MGT’s solo album ‘Volumes’ acquired an even more romantic tint. Now, giving respect, to whom respect deserves, great performances were delivered of ‘You can’t go back’, ‘Another day back’, ‘Coming clean’, and of course, the two tracks composed together with Ashton Nyte: ‘Jessamine’, and ‘The Reaping’.
Memorable was the delivery of ‘Seconds’. A cover from THE HUMAN LEAGUE which not many people actually knew. And when MGT tried to make a funny introduction, even singing “Don’t you love me baby” line chorus, it seemed like he was speaking a complete different language. It is understandable that the language barrier can present a constraint. I would even accept that his brit accent might present a level of complexity to disentangle the words. But then again, it might have only been the apathy of the people. Still, Tim Vic tried his best at singing a lower tune from REPUBLICA's Saffron. And although Nyte gave way to his fellow band mate, in the end he jumped in to make the song shine as it does, and as it should. Looking forward to MGT and Nyte's future joint work, we were treated with a version of ‘Fault’, originally from THE AWAKENING. On a lighter tune, a song titled ‘Berliner Döner’ (pun intended) made its way through the setlist. And although MGT tried hard to make the audience laugh, the joke was maybe too belated to land beyond a few.
For the ones whose only focus are the hits, almost to the gig's closure, ‘Knowing me, Knowing you’ hit the sound waves. Thanks to Ashton Nyte, Ville Valo’s voice was definitely not missed. And for the old schoolers, after 60 marvellous yet tense minutes in between dullness from the audience and hard work from the performers, ‘Butterfly on a Wheel’ was the perfect close for a beautiful night full of strength and professionalism. MGT & FRIENDS demonstrated that it doesn’t matter if you play for big or small crowds. It doesn’t matter if the crowd connects or opts to be apathetic. When you are a professional musician, when you are married to your music, you can never give less than the best. Thank you Mark Gemini Thwaite for putting up with so much rubbish from the audience! Thank you Ashton Nyte for being the surprise of the night! And thank you Rich Vernon and Belle Star for not giving up! From the ones that genuinely enjoyed and appreciated your performance, we were treated through a repertoire of flabbergasting music! // https://www.facebook.com/mark.gemini.thwaite/ / Rating: 10 / 10
Klangstabil - agra-Treffenpark
KLANGSTABIL was my personal WGT highlight that I was looking forward to a lot. The “klangpop” duo, consisting of Maurizio Blanco and Boris May, has been around since 1994. As always, Boris May came on stage barefoot. He told us about the evolution of their dark electro pop songs and animated to live the scene more consciously for it a is a very good and tolerant one. Unfortunately, the sound in the hall wasn't that great, so that one couldn't make out every word. That's, however, well known of the Agra venue. The musical evening was filled with quiet and spherical sounds, fragility and hard elements next to each other. Boris and Maurizio played songs from their latest album ‘One Step Back, Two Steps Forward’ as well as older tunes alternating between standing behind the mike or the keyboard.
As usual, Boris celebrated his music venting his emotions freely and his gestures spoke volumes. The concert as a whole was very expressive, soulful and full of energy. People danced, sang along loudly, and clapped their hands – what a culmination of the evening in Leipzig. // https://www.facebook.com/Klangstabil-7403019660/ / http://www.klangstabil.com/ // Setlist: 1. Fighting Colours / 2. Math & Emotion - The square root of one / 3. Pay with friendship (Disco mix by Sonic Area) / 4. Gloomy day / 5. Twisted words / 6. Lauf, lauf! / 7. Push yourself / 8. End of us / 9. Schattentanz / 10. Math & Emotion - The square root of three / 11. Bottom of your list / 12. Vertraut
Pictures by Betty & Karsten Schulze and Daniela Vorndran (http://www.vorndranphotography.com / http://www.facebook.com/blackcatnet)