8th to 10th September 2017
NCN 2017 Day 1 with Red Mecca, Arise-X, ACL, Me the Tiger, Schonwald, Sturm Café, Spiritual Front, Dark Door, Ruined Conflict, Girls under Glass, Last Dominion Lost, Zeraphine, Mr. Kitty, Covenant, Zanias
Nocturnal Culture Night is the last festival of the summer season and actually the first festival of the winter season. I was there twice before and both times it was great atmosphere with a lot of good shows, interesting bands in good place and many positive emotions. The line-up this year was interesting also. Some of the bands I saw on other events and some of them was one of the best on Wave Gothic Treffen. For some of the bands I was looking for a while and finally founded them on NCN this year. And of course I expected several shows, which can surprise me. So with expectancy of a great weekend I went to the beloved Leipzig to hunt the emotions.
First NCN festival took place in the year 2005. 11 bands, two days and several DJs. With the time the amount of performing bands grew. In 2006, NCN took a break to be back in 2007 for three days and 22 bands. NCN nowadays includes the most known bands from dark scene music, indie-scene and some metal bands as well. Different bands from all over the world coming to Deutzen to be part of the festival. The place is called Kulturpark Deutzen in the town Deutzen 40 minutes by train from Leipzig. The Kulturpark Deutzen, was a substitute for the devastated castle park of Alt-Deutzen. In 1930s it was the cultural centre of the Deutzen municipality. After the war the reconstruction was needed so a large open-air stage was build. In 60s the park turned to pass another reconstruction project and became the sport centre of the region. In 1967 the Kulturpark Deutzen was handed over to its population as a leisure and recreation facility. In the 80s folk festivals and holidays took place here. Now Kulturpark Deutzen is used as recreation and leisure centre and a place for festivals. One of them is NCN.
The NCN festival map is divided into four stages. The main one is called Amphibühne (Amphi stage) and is actually the first stage built after the war. The second stage near is called Parkbühne (park stage) mostly with indie music artists. Other stage is called Kulturbühne (culture stage) and is located in the grill place with comfortable summer houses and small stage. Dark and neo-folk bands usually perform here. And the last stage Weidenbogenbühne (willow-bow stage) was the new one used for the first time on the previous NCN. The stage was pretty big and was located instead of the medieval village from the previous festivals. The audience was mostly from Germany, but visitors from other countries were present also from time to time. The fashion was not so colourful and various as on WGT, but interesting images and amazing costumes were detected also. But the weather was not as good as we wanted, so all the beautiful costumes were hidden under the warm clothes. So after joining my friends, colleagues and other human beings we moved to the Parkbühne for the first show of NCN 2017.
Red Mecca – Parkbühne (Count_Death)
First band of the festival was RED MECCA from Sweden on the Parkbühne. The duo consists of Jan Strandqvist and Frida Madeleine and started its way in music in the beginning of 2010s. Till now RED MECCA released three full-length albums. The last way was released in 2015. The band plays some kind of electro pop music with variations from indie-scene with post-punk and Darkwave influence. Jan was on the stage on the keyboards, Frida joined him immediately and the duo started to play not really powerful mix of different electronic genres with female vocals. The vocalist was wearing weird sport pants with weird white fluffy coat that looked like a bit glamour. Her voice was not really notable, but from time to time it turned to be nice, but nothing more. In total the show of RED MECCA was just the show with no own features and nothing to remember. I didn’t expect nothing from that Swedish band, so have nothing more to say. // http://www.redmecca.se / https://www.facebook.com/redmeccasundsvall
Arise-X – Amphibühne (Count_Death)
The German project, which opened concerts on the biggest stage of the festival, was called ARISE-X and appeared on the dark scene in 2003, but for a long period of existing the project produced only two full-length albums, and their debut work came out six years after the establishing. Musically it is a mixture of danceable dark electro with gothic electro. It combines heavy beats and distorted male vocals with light melodies and beautiful pure female vocals. I tried to catch their performance for few years on WGT, but didn’t manage. They perform there pretty often not as an official WGT line-up, but in the different clubs during the WGT dates. But for the first time I hit the Germans at NCN. Three people, dressed in a standard set of cyber-Goth, consisting of masks of chemical attack, make-up of Cybers and colourful contrasting clothes, ran out onto the stage. After such a beginning, which continued with high-quality, but rustic music with standard distorted vocals, I already thought that I made a mistake about the band. And to this, the female vocalist did not appear so often. But the performance with not so good start turned to be better close to its middle. The female vocalist started to sing more and more, the main vocalist showed more drive, and music became not so banal. And if the Swedes of Red Mecca became just a band at the festival, then for me ARISE-X claimed the start of NCN. // http://www.arise-x.de / https://www.facebook.com/official.AriseX // Setlist: 01. Angel in Bondage / 02. Weg ins Lich / 03. Bestraf mich / 04. Nekromanie / 05. Grab für die Liebe / 06. Headshoot / 07. Digitale Kampfmaschine
ACL (Anti Child League) – Kulturbühne (Dani)
ACL is an experimental Do-It-Yourself solo project by Gaya Donadio and was born in 1997. The singer is also known for underground music live events in London. With ACL the listener gets a bucket full of irritating hatred, which leaves speechless. The perfect combination of rhythmic beats, nasty high-frequency tones and these infernal vowels ultimately generates an intensity and density that does not leave the listener any breathing space. But it was also really disturbing and left the audience kind of confused. // http://hagshadow.wixsite.com/antichildleague / https://www.facebook.com/Antichildleague
Me the Tiger – Weidenbogenbühne (Count_Death)
Another Swedish band of the festival opened concerts on stage Weidenbogenbühne. I didn’t know the project ME THE TIGER so deep before although I heard the name and music. The young trio was formed at the beginning of 10s and the first album was released on its own. After that, they were noticed and received an offer from the label RepoRecords, on which their next two albums were released. The last album was released two weeks before the festival, so most of the performance consisted of songs from there. Visitors heard from the stage interesting synth-rock with female vocals. In addition to songs from the last album and known hits, the Swedes also performed new songs that were not yet released. The light guitar parts, Gabriella Åström's great vocals and simple melodies made this performance for me as the main discovery of the first day and one of the discoveries of the whole festival. ME THE TIGER left a good impression and probably now they have at least one fan more. // http://methetiger.com / https://www.facebook.com/MeTheTiger
Schonwald – Parkbühne (Anastasia)
SCHONWALD is a band from Ravenna, Italy. The duo is formed by Alessandra Gismondi (vocals, bass) and Luca Bandini (guitar, synth and drum machine). SCHONWALD is all about atmospheres: hypnotic minimalist mood and a noise inclination with echoes of SUICIDE, NEW ORDER, THE CURE, mingling with synth melodies straight from the ’80. European post punk at its finest, Alessandra and Luca of SCHONWALD create a pulsing, black-lit atmospheric electronic vibration so cold and hypnotic - the music of synthetic chiaroscuros, a hypnotic melancholy streaked by pulsations with heavy intense, pulsating synths and psychedelic guitars over the driving drums. Fans of the heavy reverb found in Shoegaze, various related noise projects and dark and intense cold wave bands enjoyed this band. // https://schonwald.bandcamp.com / https://www.facebook.com/schonwald.music
Sturm Café – Amphibühne (Count_Death)
I already saw Swedes STURM CAFÉ at the E-Only festival, and then they did not make an impression, but I hoped that at a larger festival everything would be different. The Swedish project was formed in 2001 in the town of Gävle and became one of the leaders on the scene of old-school EBM under the brand name “Anhalt EBM”. The duo released many mini-albums, but only two full-length albums were released during the project’s existence. Gustav appeared on the stage for keyboards and Jonatan Löfstedt joined him with a microphone. The performance began with hit songs and got the push from the beginning. And this push kept to the very end, although towards the end it became a bit boring. But the performance was much better than in February on E-Only festival. The dry sound of the modern interpretation of EBM with lyrics in German made dancing and moving not only the band members themselves, but also the visitors. STURM CAFÉ didn’t reach the level of headliners, although they could, but the warm-up turned out to be excellent. Especially with their hit ‘Scheissnormal’. // http://sturmcafe.se / https://www.facebook.com/sturmcafe
Spiritual Front – Kulturbühne (Anastasia)
Are you ready for nihilist suicide pop? Live performances and the charisma of Simone "Hellvis" Salvatori, the front man of SPIRITUAL FRONT who tells his gloomy stories about serious seriousness with disarmed sincerity. The texts of Salvatori are characterized by such topics as the search for one's own ego, sexuality, the hardships of life and unsuccessful relationships wrapped in sarcasm, nihilism and biting humour. The music of elegant Italians is Art Rock, Tango, New wave und Country, through the modern prism. For their show at NCN, they prepared a very special set: they were playing songs of MORRISSEY and THE SMITHS only. Fantastic! The area in front of stage was packed! People loved it, were dancing and singing. An amazing concert! // http://www.spiritualfront.com / https://www.facebook.com/spiritualfrontofficialpage // Setlist: 01. You’ve killed me / 02. What Difference Does It Make? / 03. Panic / 04. Everyday is like Sunday / 05. First of the Gang to die / 06. Barbarism Begins at Home / 07. The Last of the Famous International Playboys / 08. Bigmouth Strikes Again / 09. This Charming Man / 10. There Is a Light That Never Goes Out
Dark Door – Parkbühne (Dani)
Ready for another Wave band from Italy? The remarkable duo DARK DOOR is formed by Mario D'Aniello (vocals, bass, synths) and Federica Velenia (synths) and was founded in 2012 by Mario D'Aniello and Salvatore Verde (drums) who later left the band and was replaced by Federica. The synths are minimal and singer Mario uses a memorable baritone voice, and that is the special thing about the Italian duo from Naples - beating electro sounds create a minimal and mystical atmosphere. // http://www.darkdoor.eu / https://www.facebook.com/darkdoorband
Ruined Conflict – Weidenbogenbühne (Count_Death)
I have been following the American project RUINED CONFLICT for a long time actually since the very beginning. So by coincidence I was on every of their gigs in Europe. Xavier Morales created the project in 2011 and since then managed to release four full-length albums, three of which were released on the well-known label named Infacted Recordings. At first, RUINED CONFLICT sounded like an American copy of the early VNV NATION. Good, high quality and interesting, but a copy. Over time, Xavier became more various in creating music, and the work of RUINED CONFLICT has become more diverse and different. The same can be said about the shows. Kind of weak performance on the WGT was completely forgotten after the massacre in a good sense on the NCN. Xavier himself already behaved differently, two keyboard players were present on the stage, and sometimes there was a guitar that did not kill the meaning of the future pop music genre. Classy dance slaughter, consisting of a quality rhythmic future pop with excellent sound and good vocal of Xavier in the middle of the festival day was just what was needed. The legs were not yet enough to dance, there was not enough alcohol in the blood to fall down dead, and from the stage there was not complicated music to think and understand the essence. Excellent performance of the good project was a great success. // http://www.ruinedconflict.com / https://www.facebook.com/RuinedConflict
Girls under Glass – Amphibühne (Count_Death)
The first old-timers of the gothic scene at the festival were Germans GIRLS UNDER GLASS. The project was formed in 1986 and since then released more than 20 albums, performed at many festivals and became popular among many fans of both the guitar part of the dark scene and its electronic followers. Many well-known musicians collaborated with the project in the past. Despite such a long career, GIRLS UNDER GLASS cannot be called superstars, but their songs were part of gothic dance floors of Europe, band was invited to festivals and solo gigs all over Europe. Keyboard player, two guitarists and a drummer on stage did their job, playing music in the almost dead electro-Goth style. The lyrics were mostly in English, and mostly songs from the last material were performed. In general, it was a good performance, which is quickly forgotten. This kind of performance is only for the fans of the band and the fans of that genre, which I am not. // https://www.facebook.com/GIRLS-UNDER-GLASS-195953997109759 // Setlist: 01. Long Forgotten Room / 02. Wall of Sound / 03. Tomorrow Evening / 04. Lucky / 05. Strong Heart / 06. Flowers / 07. When I think about you / 08. Never go / 09. Die Zeit / 10. Reach for the Stars / 11. Frozen (Madonna Cover) / 12. Burning Eyes / 13. Ohne Dich / 14. Du Tier
Last Dominion Lost – Kulturbühne (Dani)
This was another really strange band entering the Kulturbühne on early evening. If you be exact, LAST DOMINION LOST actually exist since the beginning of the 90s. All band members have now pitched their tents in Berlin - next to Evans himself and likewise from the beginning, industrial icon John Murphy and for some years Julian Percy on the guitar. The special strength of their songs is their decidedly old-school sound. Their music is authentic, indeed very original, and unusually rich in content and irrespective of his doubtless stupid basic mood. Above all, they are characterized by an unusual facet richness in the musical expression and in the instrumental implementation. There is a wide range of analogue equipment, all kinds of bells, whistles, flutes, stringed instruments, gongs and of course a miscellany of percussion instruments. On stage, they’ve built up a shitload of stuff they used during the show to create the strangest sounds. Special! // https://www.facebook.com/LastDominionLost
Zeraphine – Weidenbogenbühne (Anastasia)
Definitely the best completion of the festival day for me! To hear and not to die. Do you know what the desperate pleasure is? This way all projects of Sven Friedrich are perceived. The phenomenon of Sven in his eternal youth, enchanting vocals, and movements and of course certainly the music, which becomes beautiful at any manifestations: starting with a gothic rock band DREADFUL SHADOWS and ending with an electronic project SOLAR FAKE. Despite not the best light for the performance of ZERAPHINE, the audience was happy with the beloved band. The density of people in clothes with the names of Sven's groups talked about what the guys were waiting for. After a long break, the songs of the ZERAPHINE project are not forgotten. We wish Sven to remain forever young and go to rest before the next musical day. // http://www.zeraphine.de / https://www.facebook.com/ZeraphineBand // Setlist: 01. Lieber allein / 02. Die Macht In Dir / 03. Niemand kann es sehen / 04. Ohne Dich / 05. Louisa / 06. River of you / 07. Still / 08. Halbes Ende / 09. Be my Rain / 10. No Tears / 11. Tomorrow morning / 12. Jede Wahrheit / 13. Fang mich / 14. United and Lost / 15. Inside your Arms / 16. Die Wirklichkeit / 17. Sterne Sehen / (18. Whoteout)
Mr. Kitty – Parkbühne (Count_Death)
Another American guest on the first day of NCN was a project from Austin called MR. KITTY. The project was formed at the beginning of the 00s by one participant named Forrest Avery Carney. Initially, the musician released all the material on his own in the network. An endless series of mini-albums was interrupted at last with the debut full-length album in 2011. After that, the musician was noticed by labels, so his next works were already released on CDs. But not only popularity grew, but also understanding and comprehension of his own creativity. Forrest played a variety of electronic genres of the synth-scene and related styles. You can hear classical synth pop, electro pop, new wave, chip tune elements and even witch house in his music. In recent works, the American has already begun to use other musical styles from drum-and-bass, dubstep, techno and other electronic genres. There were two participants on the stage, but it was clearly noticeable that Forrest did the main work. MR. KITTY started in some kind of pop electro-industrial style, which at first seemed closer to FADERHEAD than to the synth scene. However, with each composition MR. KITTY became like himself. On himself in the record. And in the end I already understood that MR. KITTY in the recording and on the stage is essentially the same thing. I would not say that it's straight very well, but it's not exactly bad. However, the feelings and the emotions of listening to the recording and listening to the concert were identical. Not that I expected something from the performance, but I wanted a stronger atmosphere. But it did not work out. But I want to see MR. KITTY live again to give him or actually to give another chance to myself. // https://mrkittydm.bandcamp.com / https://www.facebook.com/mrkittydm
Covenant – Amphibühne (Count_Death)
The evening was slowly coming to an end, and it was time for the headliner of the day, which was the Swedish band COVENANT. The project was formed in 1986 and since then has always been the main on the scene. After the debut works, the Swedes created their style and became one of the three pillars of the future pop style next to APOPTYGMA BERZERK and VNV NATION. Nowadays the material of the known Swedes is not as mono-semantic as it was in the beginning. Their music became more complex for understanding and not always danceable and with hits, which upset old fans, but attracted new ones. But the concert action is something else. Eskil Simonsson at the concert is charisma, and the performance of famous bands is well-known hits. I was already at the COVENANT’s concert in Prague, but it was a solo performance, so at the festival I was expecting something different. But unfortunately I did not get it. The sound was much better, the atmosphere was different, but the performance itself was the same.
Yes, there were a lot of hits, there was a drive, and there was energy. But there was a feeling that I had already experienced all this and for the second time to live it again simply has no sense. Yes, Eskil ran around the stage, warmed the audience, talked and worked hard. The performance was professional and qualitative for fans of this band and interesting for those who saw COVENANT live for the first time, but I got bored somewhere in the middle. Therefore, I periodically left the stage for alcohol consumption, but I listened from afar and returned to look in the hope of seeing something new for myself. I did not see. And did not see surprises till the end of the show. COVENANT unfortunately became another headliner who passed me by. And by which I will pass in the future. But it doesn’t mean, that the show bad. // http://www.covenant.se / https://www.facebook.com/Covenant-OFFICIAL-156626197713557 // Setlist: 01. Intro: Death of Identity / 02. Der Leiermann (ext Intro) / 03. Go Film (2011) / 04. Figurehead / 05. Edge of Dawn / 06. Shelter / 07. I Close My Eyes / 08. The Men (ext) / 09. Sound Mirrors (Daniel Meyer RMX II) / 10. Ritual Noise + Noise improvisation / 11. Stalker (ext Intro) / 12. Morning Star / 13. We Stand Alone / Encore: 14. Babel / 15. Call the Ships to Port
Zanias – Parkbühne (Dani)
The final show of the evening was delivered at the small Parkbühne by Zoè Zanias, born is Australia, grown up in South-East Asia and living in Berlin now. She was once known as the voice of LINEA ASPERA and KELUAR. Zoè has been playing under the name ZANIAS since recently. Their debut EP ‘To the Core’ was produced in collaboration with Alex Akers of the band FORCES, a process that was completed in a dilapidated beach house on Australia's desolate and wild south coast in February 2016 and finally released in September on the Austrian label Noiztank. Along with industrial rhythms, distorted synth melodies, and eerie vocals, her music tells a journey through loss and upheaval, exploring the depths of human emotional turmoil and shamanic catharsis. In addition to the performance and production, ZANIAS is a member of the Berlin Meat Collective, a group of DJs, musicians and designers who produce EBM, Industrial, Acid and Darkwave techno. Her calm sounds were a perfect end of the concert day before the after-show party started. // https://soundcloud.com/zanias / https://www.facebook.com/zoe.zanias
The first day of the festival came to an end. Strange as it may sound, but the first day of the festival was mostly Swedish. To disperse, not quite powerful, but not very weak, the first day went well. New acquaintances, old meetings, new drinks, old taste, new bands, old emotions, new surprises. And that was only the first day. The second day promises to be much richer in new discoveries and new emotions. Therefore, in anticipation and with a slightly misty head, everyone left for their burrows in search of rest and strength.
All pictures by Daniela Vorndran (http://www.vorndranphotography.com / http://www.facebook.com/blackcatnet) except Impressions gallery, Arise-X, Me the Tiger, Schonwald, Spiritual Front and Zeraphine by Anastasia Filippova