15th to 18th August 2019
W-Festival 2019 Day 4 with Je T’aime, Lavvi Ebbel, Peter Hook & The Light, Red Zebra, China Crisis, Jimmy Somerville, The Foreign Resort, Kowalski, Pink Turns Blue, Whispering Sons, Apoptygma Berzerk, New Model Army, And One, Fehlfarben, Astrasonic, State of the Union
There it was already, the last day of the festival. Even though we wanted to be up later than the past days, we were early at the venue. Strange thing that you cannot sleep. Must be adrenaline and joy. Of course there were coffee, chocolate and nice people already waiting for us. Sunday started with Wave from Denmark, THE FOREIGN RESORT, and ended with AND ONE’s fluffy Synth Pop.
JE T’AIME from France were opening the stage today. The sound is a Post-Punk Cold Wave hybrid, reminiscent of the great Mancunian Factory era and suffused with hints of THE SMITHS. The band from Paris is very new. They released their debut single, ‘The Sound’, in the spring of 2018. Following the enthusiastic public reception of this first recording, the band chose a secluded spot on the coast of Brittany to focus on a more major work. Weeks of sleepless summer nights in the pursuit of new sounds result in the creation of eleven new tracks. The album was released in May 2019 with Manic Depression and Icy Cold Records. Nice to have such a new band opening the stage. Following the newcomer was a Belgium classic, LAVVI EBBEL (speak La vie est belle - Life is beautiful), a Belgian Funk-Rock band from the 80s and they transformed the visitors into dancers. Their most famous hits are ‘Give Me a Gun’ and ‘Victoria’.
Next one was PETER HOOK & THE LIGHT with a set presenting JOY DIVISION and NEW ORDER songs. You might wonder why we don’t show you pictures of the concert here. Well, Peter once more presented a total rights-grab photo contract which we at RoD refused to sign. We still wonder why people sign such a shit, but we never will. So no pics, sorry! Next on the stage were RED ZEBRA, a band founded in 1978 under the name THE BUNGALOWS and their style of Post-Punk is more Punk than “Post” and maybe a little bit less superficial than songs like ‘I Can not Live in a Living Room’ give the impression. This one is their biggest hit until now and a real classic. After the group split up end of 2010, they reunited in 2017, much to our luck since we could experience a great show now. English Pop / Rock band CHINA CRISIS, who were part of a wave of new Liverpool acts in the late 1970s and early 1980s, followed. CHINA CRISIS had moderate success in the United Kingdom in the 1980s with five Top 40 singles and three Top 40 albums. Today they reached their old level of coolness and made for a good mood.
The day on the Synth Scene was closed by JIMMY SOMERVILLE, a Scottish Pop singer and songwriter. He sang in the 1980s with the Pop groups BRONSKI BEAT and THE COMMUNARDS, and has also had a solo career. He is known in particular for his powerful and soulful countertenor/ falsetto singing voice. He is openly gay; many of his songs, such as ‘Smalltown Boy’, contain political commentary on gay-related issues. Also today he made it to the last row with his kind of cheerfulness. Of course we got to hear lots of his classics, like the mentioned BRONSKI BEAT song ‘Smalltown Boy’, ‘You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)’, ‘Why’, ‘Never Can Say Goodbye’, ‘Don’t Leave Me This Way’ or at the very end of the set ‘I Feel Love’, mixed with AC/DCs ‘Highway To Hell’. This was really a great and colourful end of the Synth Scene day!
Wave music from Denmark opened the day and the Wave Cave. THE FOREIGN RESORT are sonically expressive, catchy and up-beat with their mix of dark New Wave and explosive Post-Punk. The best opening you can imagine for today. Did we already mention that the first bands are the best? Well, those Danish guys belong definitely to the best bands we saw on the last festival day. We still need to stress that it is good to be up early… HENRIC DE LA COEUR would say “KOWALSKI was here”, but I think he meant another guy. German band KOWALSKI consists of four befriended musicians from Germany. The group’s powerful Industrial Rock sound, infused with an off-beat psycho-pop effect, is enhanced by an individual display of creativity. The band has lost nothing of the original extra-terrestrial force and dynamism associated with that intelligent human wrecking ball! The use of metal rings to hit on and other stuff reminded a bit of EINSTÜRZENDE NEUBAUTEN. Cool stuff!
PINK TURNS BLUE followed on that stage. They are an influential band from Cologne, Germany. Formed in 1985, they quickly put out their first LP, ‘If Two Worlds Kiss’, expressing a sound reminiscent of New Wave with very dark undertones and use of synthesizers, only to become one of the pioneers of the developing subgenre of Dark Wave. After many hits like ‘Michelle’, ‘Walking on Both Sides’, ‘Your Master Is Calling’, ‘The First’, ‘I Coldly Stare Out’, ‘Touch the Skies’, ‘Catholic Sunday’, ‘Missing You’, ‘If Two Worlds Kiss’, ‘Moon’ and ‘Seven Years’, they split up in 1995 but reformed in 2003 to appear in a few festivals. Because of the success of the reunion, they released a “Best Of” album called ‘Re-Union’, and in 2005 their studio album, ‘Phoenix’. At W-Fest, they could fully convince once again and of course the audience got to hear several of the mentioned classics.
Their show was followed by another Belgium band, who were already guests at W-fest before. In fact, their appearance there was my first contact with their music and already impressed me a few years ago. Post-Punk band WHISPERING SONS unveils feelings of alienation, propelled by an urging and ominous sound. Their live performance feels agitated and uneasy, yet remains raw and honest. Another amazing show by the young band! Afterwards, the guys from APOPTYGMA BERZERK entered the stage with a brand of Synth Pop and ballads backed with electronic rhythms and referring to themselves as “Future Pop”. APOPTYGMA BERZERK has over 30 releases and won awards and Top 10 spots in Germany and Scandinavia. The W-Fest show was once again very powerful and packed with lots of classics like ‘Love never dies’, ‘Kathy’s Song’, ‘Non-Stop Violence’, ‘Eclipse’ or ‘Until The End Of The World’.
From electronic music to Rock and NEW MODEL ARMY, an English band formed in 1980. Their music draws on influences across the musical spectrum, from Punk and Folk to Soul, Metal and Classical. Sullivan’s lyrics, which range from directly political through to spiritual and personal, have always been considered as a key part of the band’s appeal. W-Fest saw them delivering a solid show. AND ONE were finally closing the festival. The Germans do Synth Pop, Future Pop and EBM. AND ONE began in 1989 when Steve Naghavi and Chris Ruiz met at a Berlin club. They decided to follow in the footsteps of DEPECHE MODE by using two keyboards and a beat box. Naghavi has also cited NINE INCH NAILS and KRAFTWERK as early influences, which reflect on their musical style. They tend to sing in both German and English, luckily lead singer Naghavi pulls both languages off well. Steve was once again running across the stage like a whirlwind. Song like ‘Get You Closer’, ‘Metalhammer’, ‘Panzermensch’, ‘Deutschmaschine’ or ‘Techno Man’ spread lots of energy and made people sing along loudly! The perfect ending for a perfect festival.
The Olivier Daout Stage
The outdoor stage presented three bands today, starting with FEHLFARBEN, a Neue Deutsche Welle band from Germany. The old guys looked a little bit too old for their shit, but they mastered their craft. Next were ASTRASONIC, who propose a repertory mixing Coldwave, American Rock and Electro. For me a little bit too slow and inconspicuous stage presence. The day at this stage was closed by STATE OF THE UNION, who did another great concert. The music is inspired by the electronic bands movement of the 80s & 90s. Johann Sebastian, Jimmy Nimra and Jérémie Venganza are pure energy that radiates from the stage.
That was it, the W-Festival 2019 at a new location. Of course not everything was perfect. Main critics we heard were the camping situation, that there was too much plastic on the festival and not enough healthy food, especially vegan or vegetarian, to choose from. Big plus was the hall which was always dry, no matter if it was raining outside, and of course the amazing band selection. It was a great mix of dark music but also 80s stuff with old classics and new bands. The 2020 edition of the festival will already take place in May 2020, from 21st to 24th. Big parts of the line-up are already revealed: https://www.w-festival.com/en/line-up. Headliners will be announced in December 2019. So watch out and get your tickets! Currently, you get a special price!
All pictures by Daniela Vorndran (http://www.vorndranphotography.com / http://www.facebook.com/blackcatnet)