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046 Apop 03Turbinenhalle, Oberhausen, Germany
16th March 2019
E-Tropolis Festival 2019 with ES23, Priest, Rroyce, [X]-RX, Synthattack, Velvet Acid Christ, Future Lied To Us, Solar Fake, Centhron, Suicide Commando, [:SITD:], Die Krupps, Welle:Erdball, Apoptygma Berzerk

The 9th edition of the E-Tropolis festival is over and so a day full of loud electrifying music and dancing through all day and night. With such bands like ES23, RROYCE, SUICIDE COMMANDO, SOLAR FAKE, DIE KRUPPS and all the other electro stars along with the headliners of the day WELLE:ERDBALL and APOPTYGMA BERZERK it was about to be a long and unforgettable day.

The day started very early: alarm at 5 am, taking a train from Hamburg to Oberhausen at 7:46 am, finally arriving in Oberhausen around half past 11, getting some early lunch and heading over to the venue - Turbinenhalle - walking through the grey and rainy day. Less than half an hour later I am standing in front of the Turbinenhalle, waiting with already many others for the entrance. Just a few minutes after 1 pm we can enter the venue and the black crowd is taking over the venue with its industrial charm. Changing cash for the vouchers that are used at many of the food and beverage stands here, getting a locker and here we go: the E-Tropolis festival 2019 is about to start.

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The opener of the day on the main stage were ES23 who already opened the Amphi Festival 2018 on Sunday and there are good reasons that they were invited to play at E-Tropolis Festival as well. The fresh, energized and positive performance stood out and surprised as the first slot of the day. The band from Bochum was founded in 2004. In 2018 they were playing some of the biggest German Gothic & Dark Scene festivals with Wave Gotik Treffen and as already mentioned Amphi Festival. The band was in best form, the audience absolutely awake at this early time (2 pm) and the crowd in front of the stage actually pretty big for the first band of the day.

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The singer Daniel expressed his excitement to play at E-Tropolis as he was there just a year before as visitor in front of the stage. One of the first songs that stood out to me was ‘Wake Up’. Hard bass, fast and loud. That’s how we like it. If not already before, the audience was awake here. Also a new song was presented as “world live premiere” at E-Tropolis with ‘When I’m Gone’. The vocals are more melodic here than e. g. in ‘Wake Up’ (here they remind me somehow of SUICIDE COMMANDO in a positive way). Powerful chorus and more melancholic. All in a great surprise right from the start. // // Setlist: 01. Intro (Welcome To E-Tropolis) / 02. Destiny / 03. Wake Up / 04. Taking Me Down / 05. Erase My Heart / 06. When I’m Gone / 07. Get Out Of My Head / 08. SF Theme / 09. Once And For All

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The second band on the main stage started just about 20 minutes later. The day just started and there was so much on the list today. The Swedish band PRIEST performed with a new singer for the first time today, so a slight nervousness was recognizable, but no deal breaker at all. The trademark of the singer was the leather mask with pikes and that stayed the same with the new one. Just that the pikes got longer. The music by PRIEST is catchy Post Punk, Synth Pop & Electro sound, with a good touch of 80ies & Dark Wave.

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The first song after the intro was ‘The Pit’ from the 2017s debut album ‘New Flesh’. The chorus is really catchy in that one and so it’s exciting to listen to PRIEST and they get my full attention as for me it was the first time seeing them live. Song nr. 4 - ‘Obey’ - stayed the longest in my head. The 80ies vibes are really strong in this one. Salt, the new singer, was moving a lot around the stage and had a good stage presence. Also the other songs, like ‘Neuromancer’ and ‘Vaudeville’ were welcomed very warmly by the audience. // // Setlist: 01. Intro / 02. The Pit / 03. Nightmare Hotel / 04. Obey / 05. Populist / 06. Private Eye / 07. History In Black / 08. The Cross / 09. Neuromancer / 10. Vaudeville

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The time has come to open the 2nd stage as well and RROYCE did perfectly well. Finest Synth Pop, lots of good vibes on stage that were immediately transferred to the audience in the hall and songs to celebrate the day. The trio mastered their first live gig in 2013, followed by some contests that they actually won and festival slots, support gigs and own shows. In autumn 2019 they are going on tour as support with another band that is actually co-headlining this year’s E-Tropolis festival: WELLE:ERDBALL.

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It was lots of fun to watch RROYCE perform, as they obviously had lots of fun as well. With a nice sparkly pyro special effect they also brought something different to the stage performance. The song that definitely kept in my mind the longest was the third one ‘Parallel Worlds’ with the actually cute little choreography. Nice Synth Pop to party and absolutely authentic musicians. // // Setlist: 01. The Principle Of Grace / 02. Who Needs / 03. Parallel Worlds / 04. Full Speed, Half Sight / 05. Pyroclastic Flow / 06. Someone Elses Life / 07. My Dearest Enemy / 08. Running With The Sheep / 09. I Like It When You Lie / 10. Malacoda

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Back to the main stage: The next band was announced in German as “Eier sind Eier”, and for sure this is probably the oldest joke ever, but I didn’t know it yet and needed a second to realize that pronouncing the band’s name actually sounds like “eggs are eggs” which is “Eier sind Eier” translated to German. Alright, back to the show. The [X]-RX duo came on stage in almost dark carrying lamps in front of them. The songs that are a must at every Electro & Industrial party like ‘Kein Herz’ & ‘Stage 2’ guarantee also live a big party.

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Also songs from the last release ‘Gasoline And Fire’ (2017) like ‘Code Red’ were presented live and made clear that Industrial is not dead at all. Only downer was that the sound mix was not as balanced as it might have been. Some visitors also complained about the sound being not loud enough (that was the case at the point where I was standing, though). Nevertheless a solid gig and the Industrial smashers always work. //

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SYNTHATTACK is a pretty new Dark Electro / Industrial band from Hanover that was founded in 2015. The latest EP ‘Addicted To The Thrill’ was released just about a month ago and of course presented live on stage today during the first half of the show. The band got support by the two dancers Ciwana Black and La Dy Flauschig who brought an extra to the show with their Industrial dance moves. The Harsh Electro Sound and straight forward vocals prove that Industrial is not dead and the audience seemed to be more than convinced about it as well.

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Songs like ‘Life Is A Bitch’ or ‘Final Salvation’ mix Industrial and Trance influences. Curious about what’s more to come from SYNTHATTACK. // // Setlist: 01. One Force (Intro) / 02. Join Us / 03. Addicted To The Thrill / 04. Straight To Hell / 05. Final Salvation / 06. Enjoy The Pain / 07. Blood Dance 2.0 / 08. Until The Dawn / 09. Life Is A Bitch / 10. One Love, One Pain

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Velvet Acid Christ

When the next band entered the main stage, it got atmospheric and the vibes of a special gig very immediately noticeable. VELVET ACID CHRIST is an US-based Industrial & Electro band from Denver, founded by Bryan Erickson in 1990. Right away from the start we got the classic and well-known ‘Fun With Drugs’ from 1999. A song that immediately created that very special atmosphere. The change between male and female vocals and their interaction is almost hypnotizing. Another classic that stayed in my memory longer was ‘Slut’.

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A calm, as just mentioned hypnotizing song that turned the venue into a time capsule. For more beats again there were songs like ‘Caustic Disco’ or ‘Apflux’ that ensured that the feet didn’t stand still. A truly atmospheric and timeless performance. // // Setlist: 01. Fun With Drugs / 02. Parasite / 03. Adventures Babysitting / 04. Slut / 05. Apflux / 06. Speedball od / 07. Caustic Disco / 08. Blood

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Future Lied To Us

Back to the 2nd stage where FUTURE LIED TO US were welcoming the audience now. The trio was announced as seniors with a lot of experience with their other projects who decided to try something new at their “old age”. FUTURE LIED TO US are Tom Leczenski, Krischan Wesenberg and Vasi Vallis. Just a short mention of some of the projects that they are or were involved with: [:SITD:], ROTERSAND, FROZEN PLASMA and REAPER. The project debuted in 2017 with the single ‘Born In Silence’ that of course was performed as well tonight - right at the end of the slot.

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But before we got to hear finest Synth Pop songs like ‘Blaze In The Dark’, the almost dreamy 80ies influenced ‘Tellurian’ and playful ‘Intentions An Masks’. Though the band had some sound problems on stage, the problem was solved very fast and so the gig could go on without major delays. And so FUTURE LIED TO US could hopefully enjoy the gig and celebrate with the crowd. // // Setlist: 01. Blaze In The Dark / 02. Tellurian / 03. Fed By Anger / 04. Intentions And Masks / 05. Surrender And Pain / 06. Lost / 07. Falling / 08. Born In Silence

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Solar Fake

The time has come for one of my personal highlights as I just saw SOLAR FAKE a week before at the finale gig of the ‘You Win. Who Cares?’-tour in Hamburg and was absolutely blown away by the energy of the band and the crowd that was celebrating just from the first seconds until the very end. And so the audience in Oberhausen seemed to be very enthusiastic about the performance of SOLAR FAKE tonight. With ‘Not What I Wanted’ the trio got the visitors in front of the main stage in no time, just to continue as they started with the energetic ‘Under Control’ and one of the most outstanding songs of the (honestly well-done) current release - ‘Sick Of You’.

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Also the songs from precious albums like ‘Reset To Default’, the really catchy ‘Parasites’ or ‘More Than This’ that can already be called electro “classics” I’d say - turned the performance of SOLAR FAKE into a real highlight! // // Setlist: 01. Not What I Wanted / 02. Under Control / 03. Sick Of You / 04. All The Things You Say / 05. I Don’t Want You In Here / 06. Reset To Default / 07. The Pain That Kills You Too / 08. Invisible / 09. More Than This / 10. Parasites / 11. Just Like This / 12. Where Are You / 13. Observer

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And here we go. Second stage again, after the almost soft performance of FUTURE LIED TO US compared with what was about to come, this stage called with something really different: CENTHRON blew Turbinenhalle away with their Aggrotech & EBM songs. The more than explicit voice samples and shouting vocals are more than straightforward and the Beats are pumping up. Nothing for a squeamish audience, but the crowd that was standing there was obviously not from that kind.

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Impulsive beats and shout-outs with ‘Cunt’ and also many songs from the newer releases like ‘Skullfucker’, ‘Deutsches Land’ or the last song of the show ‘Hetzer’. For sure not for everyone, but a very impressive, powerful and provocative gig. // // Setlist: 01. Einheit C / 02. Skullfucker / 03. Fuck Off And Die / 04. Pornoqueen / 05. Dreckstück / 06. Blitzkrieg / 07. Allvater / 08. Asgard / 09. Deutsches Land / 10. Cunt / 11. 666 / 12. Hetzer

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Suicide Commando

Dark, darker, SUICIDE COMMANDO! Mastermind Johan van Roy and his band colleagues know how to create a morbid atmosphere wherever they appear. Neither the lyrics of SUICIDE COMMANDO, nor the live shows are something for squeamish people. The slot at the E-Tropolis festival started with the song ‘Mindstripper’ from the 2000s album ‘Mindstrip’… just to immediately travel in time to the very catchy and evil ‘The Pain That You Like’ from 2017. A song that became one of my personal favourites in no time. The Electro and Industrial legend shows over and over again that creating hits is no brainer for SUICIDE COMMANDO even after more than 30 years and the time doesn’t mean that the music needs to become softer or less provoking.

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Another song that totally burned itself into my mind was ‘Shizophrenia’. Like the mental disease, you cannot escape the insistent Electro beats and aggressive vocals. The next song on the list was the club classic ‘God Is In The Rain’ that is recognized by everyone in just a few seconds. You just wanna dance, when you hear that one. No excuses. ‘Cause Of Death: Suicide’ is that song that always confuses my mind. While I want to dance all the time, I cannot help myself but have to think a lot about the message of that song and it feels so totally weird and confusing to dance to such a truly important and dramatic message. Of course, if you think that way, you shouldn’t dance to any of the songs, which is just impossible. But that song has the deepest impact on me, especially live.

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The atmosphere was incredibly intense and the crowd merged more with the music, the more songs like ‘Unterwelt’ or my personal first song ‘Bind Torture Kill’ were played. With ‘Die Motherfucker Die’ a very special, intense, powerful, dark & creepy performance came to an end. See you in hell, hopefully very soon. // // Setlist: 01. Mindstripper / 02. The Pain That You Like / 03. Death Lies Waiting / 04. Raise Your God / 05. Shizophrenia / 06. God Is In The Rain / 07. Cause Of Death: Suicide / 08. The Devil / 09. Unterwelt / 10. Bind Torture Kill / 11. Love Breeds Suicide / 12. We Are Transitory / 13. Die Motherfucker Die

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While SUICIDE COMMANDO were still dominating the main stage, [:SITD:] started another electro set on the second stage that varied from the well-known club hits to also very new material from the just a few day earlier released album ‘Stunde X’. [:SITD:] are known for creating very dark and richly varied songs that have been dominating the dark scene clubs for over two decades now. With ‘Olymp’ a new song was presented live - straight, clear, quite minimalistic, EBM dominated song.

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Of course, Tom Leczenski who played just short before at the same stage with FUTURE LIED TO US, was on stage here again. With the other songs like ‘Dunkelziffer’ or ‘Rot’ etc. the crowd got what it wanted and of course one song could not be missed and as expected was performed at the end: the popular ‘Snuff Machinery’. // // Setlist: 01. Lebensborn / 02. Cicatrix / 03. Code:Red / 04. Dunkelziffer / 05. Genesis / 06. Olymp / 07. Kreuzgang / 08. Laughingstock / 09. Rot / 10. Richtfest / 11. Snuff Machinery

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Die Krupps

The feet are burning and there are still about 3.5 hours of finest Post Industrial & EBM live music to go! The next band on the schedule are DIE KRUPPS. Real EBM pioneers, founded in 1980 - I am just realizing that’s almost a decade before I even existed. DIE KRUPPS are often associated along with bands like KRAFTWERK and EINSTÜRZENDE NEUBAUTEN as the forerunners of Electronic and Industrial music. The combination of machine and steel sounds and influences is really unique - also the whole live set-up is more than impressive.

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The “Stahlophon” (like xylophone, just huge and out of steel, obviously) is an impressive instrument that is used by the band for some of the songs. The set was one hours and twenty minutes long and so there was plenty of time for some time travel. The amazing ‘To The Hilt’ could not be missed as well as ‘Wahre Arbeit - wahrer Lohn’ form 1981, ‘Germaniac’ from 1990 or ‘High Tech Low Life’. Impressive and extraordinary lifetime work and solid, energetic performance! //

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From Industrial work to computer era - just in a few minutes changing from main stage to the second stage - WELLE:ERDBALL were headlining the second stage on this evening in the Turbinenhalle and so they took us on an Electronic journey to the computer epoch. WELLE:ERDBALL are well-known for their extraordinaire and playful performances. Pick some retro & vintage, all kinds of Synth experiments, classy outfits and some big balloons for the adults to play with - and you get the unique WELLE:ERDBALL experience. D

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on’t think it’s necessary to mention all the hits they played - be it ‘23’, ‘Schweben, fliegen, fallen’ or ‘20.000 Meilen unter dem Meer’ - the 19-song-song setlist should have satisfied all the fans of the band. A truly special co-headliner and so WELLE:ERDBALL closed this year’s E-Tropolis edition on the 2nd stage. // // Setlist: 01. Intro / 02. Zurück zum Start / 03. 20.000 Meilen unter dem Meer / 04. 23 / 05. Des Wahnsinns fette Beute / 06. Die Liebe der 3. Art / 07. Arbeit adelt! / 08. Türspion / 09. Uns es geht ab / 10. Schweben, fliegen, fallen / 11. Deine Augen / 12. Der Telegraph / 13. VW-Käfer / 14. Hoch die Fahnen / 15. Fanfanfanatisch / 16. Ich bin nicht von dieser Welt / 17. Starfighter F-104G / 18. Monoton & Minimal / 19. Feierwerk

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Apoptygma Berzerk

With APOPTYGMA BERZERK the E-Tropolis festival 2019 got a headliner that I really don’t need to explain much about. If you haven’t heard of them yet, you’ve been living on Mars probably. The Norwegian Synth Rock and Future Pop project of mastermind Stephan L. Groth is popular world-wide. Live performances of APOPTYGMA BERZERK are usually a guarantee for a huge never-ending party and so it was this time. Actually we had another reason to celebrate as “just” the festival itself: the drummer Ted Skogmann celebrated into his birthday on stage, just when it turned midnight - which meant one more hour of party with APOPTYGMA BERZERK.

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The band seemed to be in a very fine mood and so the gig totally enjoyable for everyone. As you probably can imagine, after ten hours of concerts I had to fight with extreme fatigue at some point, but during the gig it faded away again and so I could enjoy the show as the whole audience at Turbinenhalle did. ‘Non-Stop Violence’, ‘Bitch’, ‘Unicorn’, ‘Kathy’s Song’, ‘Stitch’ or ‘Until The End Of The World’ - the list of hits is endless here and we got to hear many of them tonight. With ‘In This Together’ it got really romantic, many couples just focused on each other smiling and dancing together - lovely moment!

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APOPTYGMA BERZERK have been an absolutely worthy headliner for the 9th E-Tropolis Festival and to celebrate into the festival season 2019! // // Setlist: 01. Love Never Dies / 02. Burning Heretic / 03. Deep Red / 04. Non-Stop Violence / 05. Nearer / 06. Bitch / 07. Something I Should Know / 08. Shadow / 09. Starsign / 10. Mourn / 11. Eclipse / 12. Unicorn / 13. Stitch / 14. Kathy’s Song / 15. You Keep Me From Breaking / 16. In This Together / 17. Until The End Of The World / 18. Backdraft / 19. Outro

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Just after the live concert part, an after show party started at the second hall. I wish I could have stayed longer, but suddenly it was time for me to leave to catch my train back to the North, still 4.5 hours of journey ahead - but I loved the three songs that DJ Jeanny played and I had to chance to dance to a lot and it was really hard to leave. The atmosphere at the after show party was as great as it was during the whole day during the concerts. See you in 2020!

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All pictures by Silke Jochum

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