3rd August 2019
Bergfest 2019 with Nitzer Ebb, Mesh, Neuroticfish, Solitary Experiments and S.P.O.C.K
The very first edition of Bergfest at the Harzer Bergtheater in Thale - a very special location - was a big success. The venue has space for nearly 1,500 and was sold-out. No wonder with such an amazing line-up for lovers of electronic music.
NITZER EBB, one of the scene greats and co-founder of a musical movement, was headlining the evening and gave a concert of extra class. But as if the event would not be classy enough, the organizers invited more bands who alone would be sufficient as a headliner. So we had the awesome location of the Bergtheater, five headliners and the chance to visit one of the beautiful nature reserves in the world. Furthermore, there was an after-show party after the concerts. What did you want more?
let me first tell you a little more about the location, since it is really very special. The Bergtheater is situated on the mountain above the little town Thale, famous for the “Roßtrappe”, “Teufelsmauer” and most of all the “Hexentanzplatz”, the place where the witches were coming together to celebrate Walpurgis night. Your way up to the mountain could be covered by foot (well, a quite long walk through the woods), by car or in the most amazing way, by funicular providing an amazing view but surely was a challenge for people with acrophobia.
There were a lot of leisure attractions around this place where you could spend the afternoon before entering the theater with its steep steps and amazing few onto the stage and the surrounding landscape. Also the weather on that afternoon was very nice to us. While it was still a bit rainy before the doors opened, all the time when the festival took place it stayed dry and it also was not too hot. Perfect conditions for a wonderful evening with great music. And music is what we are talking about, so let’s start with the first band of the day, Swedish star pilots S.P.O.C.K.
Science fiction, Star Trek and Synth Pop, that’s the business of Mr. Android, alias Alexander Hofman, Yo-Haan (Johan Malmgren) and Val Solo, alias Valdi Solemo. S.P.O.C.K, short for Star Pilot On Channel K, is surely the number one Sci-Fi boy band throughout the known universe. Their songs are funny and their shows amazing. The band is already spreading their Star Trek inspired Synth Pop into the world since 1999 and one of their first songs, ‘Never Trust A Klingon’, is still the highlight of their shows (and it surely was also at the Bergfest). Even though the band has not released new material for years, their live shows are still highly welcome and they have a true fan base.
At the Bergtheater, fans had prepared once again something special with Swedish Flags, blue and yellow balloons, inflatable letters forming the band’s name and last but not least lots of soap bubbles. Truly the perfect start into the night! // www.subspace.se/spock / https://www.facebook.com/StarPilotOnChannelK // Setlist: 01. Intro / 02. Borg / 03. E.T. Phone Home / 04. Astrogirl / 05. Dr. McCoy / 06. Trouble With Tribbles / 07. All E.T:s Aren’t Nice / 08. Not Human / 09. She’s An Alien / 10. In Space No One Can Hear You Scream / 11. Out There / Encore: 12. Star Pilot On Channel K / 13. Never Trust A Klingon
From Amphi Festival to Thale, here we are again with SOLITARY EXPERIMENTS and their Electro Future Pop party. The men in red - Dennis Schober (Vocals), Michael Thielemann (Keyboards), Markus Otto (Keyboards), Frank Glassl (Live-Drums) and Sebastian Gauff (Live-Toms) - set the theatre on fire right with their first song, the classic ‘Stars’. For sure the audience started dancing, what was not so easy because of the steep stairs. Some might miss a bit of variety in their music, but most of the fans in the theatre were loving it. And overall, each band had their own fans there and so, also SOLITARY had people in the audience coming especially for them. With the two drummers on stage, they surely have a plus in the rhythmic section. Especially Frank was smashing his drums, jumping and soon also taking off his shirt. Business as usual and as fans love it!
There’s no doubt that SOLITARY’s catchy melodies immediately take possession of bodies. ‘Pale Candle Light’ was once again one of the set’s highlights. With ‘Epiphany’, the almost too short show was already over. But as a fan of the band you’ll have another chance to see them live: SOLITARY are celebrating their 25th anniversary in Berlin on 8th and 9th November in Berlin with lots of friends and great bands. Earlier playing S.P.O.C.K are i.e. one of them. // www.solitaryexperiments.de / https://www.facebook.com/solitaryexperiments // Setlist: 01. Stars / 02. Die Zukunft / 03. Immortal / 04. Achromatic / 05. Point Of View / 06. Pale Candle Light / 07. Game Over / 08. Rise And Fall / 09. Epiphany
They are proclaiming “EBM is dead” and just before the show started, you heard shouts from the audience “EBM is NOT dead”, maybe referring to the later playing NITZER EBB. NEUROTICFISH - Sascha Mario Klein on vocals and Henning Verlage on keyboards - were now presenting their very own interpretation of electronic music. NEUROTICFISH was originally founded as alter ego of Sascha Mario Klein in the early 1990s, the project experiments with elements of Synth Pop, Industrial and EBM to create their own blend of electronic music, or as they call it “Music For A Paranormal Life”, a musical concept that observes life beyond normality. After a temporary hiatus from 2008 to 2015, the band was then back with the new studio album ‘A Sign Of Life’.
In Thale, they showed much more than only a “sign of life”. The clear and emotional vocal performance of Sascha with naive Pop melodies over harsh and technoid beats caught the audience right from the start. Surely there were a lot of classics in the set making people dance and sing along, like ‘Silence’ or ‘Wake Me Up’, but there was also new material with the new song ‘Fluchreflex’, just released at the beginning of July. Sing-along classic ‘Velocity’ finally ended the appearance at Bergfest. Your next chance to see NEUROTICFISH is already the upcoming M’era Luna festival. // www.neuroticfish.com / https://www.facebook.com/OfficialNeuroticfish // Setlist: 01. Colourblind / 02. Walk Alone / 03. Silence / 04. Civilized / 05. Is It Dead / 06. Wake Me Up / 07. Fluchtreflex / 08. Suffocating Right / 09. Hysteria / 10. Velocity
As second last band of the evening, British MESH presented Synth Pop at its best! The electronic alternative band from Bristol is consisting of Mark Hockings and Richard Silverthorn, supported during live shows by Sean Suleman (drums) and Richard Broadhead (keyboards). Also MESH just played at Amphi festival, or better on its opening event “Call The Ship To Port”, and were now spreading their Synth Pop charm over Thale. The band is really an old-stager. Founded already in 1991, they over the time created lots of Synth Pop hymns loved even by members of DEPECHE MODE or Robbie Williams, who were spotted at their concerts. But today, it was the audience in Thale being bewitched by the wonderful songs. The audience once more proved that it was text- and melody safe and elicited singer Mark Hockings more than just one smile.
Songs like ‘Trust you’, ‘Runway’, ‘From this height’ or the earwig ‘The fixer’ were celebrated. Due to the surrounding, the usual light- and video show was missing, but still the available lights underlined the mood of the songs very well. What I liked a lot was that the setlist was kind of different to the Amphi show. Already the first song, ‘Just Leave Us Alone’ was “new” and during the set, there were several changed and different song… just like the very last one, ‘Not Prepared’. Your next chance to see MESH is during the Pluswelt festivals end of October / beginning of November. // www.mesh.co.uk / https://www.facebook.com/meshtheband // Setlist: 01. Just Leave Us Alone / 02. Trust You / 03. Runway / 04. You Didn’t Want Me / 05. Leave You Nothing / 06. From This Height / 07. I Fall Over / 08. My Protector / 09. The Fixer / 10. Born to Lie / 11. Last One Standing / 12. Taken For Granted / Encore: 13. Not Prepared
Here we are again with the lately much discussed performance of NITZER EBB! Already after their show at this year’s WGT, there were a lot of discussions about the new way NEP are going, more into the technoid directions. And there were the same discussions by the same people after the Bergfest show - I really wonder why people go again to see NEP if they don’t like it anymore? Time is not standing still and any musician is developing… or should do. And so do NITZER EBB. There is no new material but still the band is moving forward, probably also including Douglas’ experiences with his FIXMER / MCCARTHY project. After all, a pioneer of a music that has decades of history behind was now entered the stage… and there were lots of fans loving the “new” way. The music and sound of this co-founders of Electronic Body Music has today undergone a transformation that has not only admirers but also critics, as already mentioned.
These were probably some old-school fanatics who do not allow renewals, never mind to accept that a band could develop. Just like after WGT of the latest Amphi show, there were silly insults and also some people angrily left the festival area. Completely incomprehensible, because NEP really delivered a great show, greater in my opinion than WGT and Amphi. Yes, the old songs do not sound like NITZER EBB of the old days, but damn it, may a song not be reinterpreted after more than 35 years? NITZER EBB are cult and have been eternally successful and I think they will stay that way. For this show, there were now pauses between some songs, there was a fast beat, there was shouting and there were the new influences. There was just “some lack of snare”, as a friend said besides me.
It was now dark in the theatre when NEP entered the stage, starting with ‘Getting Closer’ and Douglas Mc Carthy together with Bon Harris in the front, rushing over the stage and spitting the lyrics into the night. Even though the speed of the songs is now a bit equalled, means formerly faster tracks become slower, slower tracks faster and everything is backed by a thoroughly danceable beat, all songs are still danceable and it was kind of funny to see the whole technical crew at the FOH dancing along during the whole show. Even though old might be disappointed by the new direction of NEP, this might open the way to a new audience now. Not without a reason NEP are now also invited to play at Techno festivals…
The setlist is Thale was the same like at Amphi festival and it worked very well. Even though some stick-in-the-muds left the festival before the end, the fans in the theatre loved the show. It was already 23:00 when the last song of the main set, ‘Murderous’ sounded through the night and the band left the stage. We feared that due to the late hour maybe the band was not allowed to play any encored, but this fear was soon overcome when ‘Alarm’ raised the non-existing roof! With the old gem ‘Fitness To Purpose’ (I think they should place this song earlier into the set) a great day at the Bergtheater found its end. Already looking forward to seeing NITZER EBB at W-Fest in Belgium and during their club gigs end of the year! // http://www.nitzer-ebb.com / https://www.facebook.com/NitzerEbbOfficial // Setlist: 01. Getting Closer / 02. Shame / 03. Hearts & Minds / 04. Let Your Body Learn / 05. Lightning Man / 06. Blood Money / 07. For Fun / 08. Come Alive / 09. Ascend / 10. Captivate / 11. Fun To Be Had / 12. Join In The Chant / 13. Control I’m Here / 14. Murderous / Encores: 15. Alarm / 16. Fitness To Purpose
The end of NITZER EBB was not the end of the night. Down in the valley, at the Klubhaus Thale, the after-show party was taking place, named “Bergfixx”, a derivation from the words “Bergfest” (well, the festival’s name, you know) and “Electrofixx”, the famous electro-old-school party from Münster with DJ Niggels and DJ Paradroid, who were presenting you their favourite music until the early morning hours. Overall, the first edition of Bergfest was really successful and one can only with for another edition of the event in the Harz Mountains, hopefully with other great bands and maybe with a bit more variety when it comes to food… we had some problems as vegans to find something to eat… at the end there were only dry pretzels for us.
All pictures by Daniela Vorndran (http://www.vorndranphotography.com / http://www.facebook.com/blackcatnet)