1st to 3rd September 2023
Nocturnal Culture Night 16 Day 3 with Lakeside X, Versus Goliath, The Nosferatu, Sigue Sigue Sputnik, Die Krupps, TC75, Prager Handgriff, The Other, S.P.O.C.K, Thatcher, Parade Ground, Rosi, DAF - Robert Görl, Maschinenkrieger KR52, Skadis Odem, Greyhound, Ain Soph, Robert Meyer - Signalfarbe Schwarz, Christian Von Aster
On Day 3 of Nocturnal Culture Night 16, we can once again expect some highlights and new discoveries, all under the best festival weather. We’re motivated and on time, with enough time to sit down for a few minutes with a coffee. After all, the last two days have taken quite a toll on us (we’re not in our twenties anymore), and the lack of sleep is starting to show.
Unfortunately, our plans for coffee and a leisurely break are dashed. Today again, there are delays at the entrance, and instead, we find ourselves waiting in front of closed gates. Around half past eleven, impatience starts to grow among those waiting. It seems that the stages are not quite ready yet, so they’re making us wait outside. It’s hard to understand why, as the vendors could have been making some sales in the meantime. Finally, at ten to twelve, they have mercy on us and let us in. We don’t have time for coffee now because things are about to kick off on the Kulturbühne. By the way, I won’t make it to Christian von Aster’s third reading today, and I’ll miss GREYHOUND on the Kulturbühne as well…
MASCHINENKRIEGER KR 52 starts promptly on the Kulturbühne 20 minutes past twelve. Rico Weber’s Rhythm and Noise project lives up to its name - awake! The coffee, for which there was no time, is immediately unnecessary. The name says it all because the club-worthy beats ranging between Industrial and Noise are pounding us with brutal rhythms and intense basslines so hard that if there were walls, they would crack. It’s a good thing we’re outdoors.
The visitors at the Amphibühne, where the last day of the festival starts ten minutes later, are awakened more gently. I’ve had LAKESIDE X on my list since the release of their last album ‘Love Disappears.’ To be precise, they’ve been on my Bandcamp wish list. Somehow, though, this trio from Prague has always slipped through my fingers. It’s the perfect opportunity to take a closer look at these gentlemen who shared the stage with DEPECHE MODE in July. Unfortunately, not many people have made it to the grounds yet, and the space in front of the Amphibühne is still relatively sparsely occupied. LAKESIDE X is having their first performance in Germany today, and in my opinion, they deserve more attention. At least the audience starts to fill in a bit during their set, and people are already dancing. The trio, led by singer Janne Marvannen, earns an upgrade with their synth-based sound and powerful vocals (at least for me) and will move later from being on the wish list to “you own this.”
At the Waldbühne, TC75 takes the stage. It’s still quite relaxed here at noon. Tino Claus, with his solo project, entices the guests present to leave the surrounding benches and come closer to the stage. The artist has been a regular at NCN with various projects and has been here ten times already. With TC75, he has been indulging in his love for Belgian EBM from the 80s and 90s since 2007. The almost minimalist song structures and the rough, gritty sound are intentional and complement the equally minimalistic lyrics.
Meanwhile, on the Parkbühne, THATCHER takes the stage. The Leipzig-based band has dedicated themselves to Post Punk since 2020, which, in my ears, sounds a bit like a mix of Indie Rock and Punk. The sound, consisting of drums, guitars, bass, and occasional synth accents, is extremely refreshing. The sometimes more subdued vocal passages seem to convey a sense of inner turmoil that is expressed in the lyrics. However, I can’t quite connect with the slow, droning German vocals. Somehow, it just doesn’t resonate with me.
On the Kulturbühne, things take on a mystical tone once again. Here, there’s Neofolk with SKADIS ODEM. Mika Wilhelmson is supported by flutist Nelinke Hrafnsdôttir and various guest musicians. It’s a bit too experimental for my taste, so I opt for the contrasting program on the Amphibühne. Over there, with VERSUS GOLIATH, it’s like a power infusion, so to speak. I’m kind of torn, and I’m not quite sure how to categorize it. It’s a blend of Rock, Metal, and Rap - Dark-Hip-Hop with German lyrics. Musically, it’s enjoyable and quite intense. However, combining it with Rap feels a bit unusual. On one hand, I can’t really get into it, but on the other hand, it’s somehow cool. It’s definitely fun to experience live.
Today, on the Waldbühne, there’s another band that polarizes. PRAGER HANDGRIFF seems to attract some unusual characters in the audience today. Judging by some of the tattoos, their political leanings are quite clear. I can’t relate to that. When you listen to the songs by Stefan Schäfer and Volker Rathmann, you quickly realize where the duo stands on Nazis. Actually, I like the fusion of EBM, Electro, Electro Pop, and intelligent lyrics from these Electro veterans. But somehow, I don’t feel entirely comfortable in front of the stage today.
It’s not the fault of the two musicians, but I decide to give PARADE GROUND on the Parkbühne another chance for now. I struggled with the pioneers of Belgian Cold Wave and EBM at this year’s WGT (Wave Gotik Treffen). I find images of marching soldiers on the screen throughout almost the entire show a bit challenging, and I also had my issues with the vocals. Today, I prefer to make my escape once again and take the opportunity to visit the Lesebühne. The brothers Pierre and Jean-Marc Pauly and I probably won’t become friends, at least not musically.
‘Der Mond’ (the moon) by Robert Meyer is being complemented musically by SIGNALFARBE SCHWARZ with drums and a theremin, which I find pretty cool. Even though this is technically a reading, I’m more hooked by the music right now than the performance on the Parkbühne, and the audience here is more pleasant too. So, I’ll just linger here for a while before heading back to the Amphibühne.
Over there, the musical journey continues with Goth-Rock. The origins of THE NOSFERATU can be traced back to the British Goth Rock band NOSFERATU, which was founded in the late 1980s, but they should not be confused with this band. Louis De Wray was the lead singer of NOSFERATU in the early 1990s and re-joined the band about 10 years after his departure. During this time, he was a guest at NCN in 2012 alongside NOSFERATU founding member Damian De Ville. Vlad Janicek, on the other hand, had permanently left NOSFERATU in 1994. Louis De Wray and Vlad Janicek have since reunited under the name THE NOSFERATU, while Damian De Ville continues to be active with NOSFERATU. Before the Goth Rockers take the stage, there’s some bad news for all BRAGOLIN fans. The band had to cancel their performance at short notice due to health reasons. Instead, ROSI will take over later on the Parkbühne.
The editorial team takes a short break with some delicious crepes after a quick round of Goth Rock before continuing with Horror Punk from THE OTHER on the Waldbühne. The blend of Punk, Metal, and Goth feels like MISFITS on speed to me. And I mean that as a huge compliment. Songs like ‘Bloodsucker’, ‘Turn It Louder’, ‘Dreaming Of The Devil’ or ‘Back To The Cemetery’ are a lot of fun. The guys put on an awesome show. And finally, some good old-fashioned pogoing.
And ROSI, who stepped in at the last minute for BRAGOLIN on the Parkbühne, also rock the stage. The Post-Punk from Bielefeld is well received and consoles some of the visitors for the cancellation. The singer impresses with expressive vocals and facial expressions. A bit eccentric yet charming. The influences of DAF are unmistakable. And with ‘Kaltes Land,’ there’s even a new song that hasn’t been released yet.
Founded in the 1980s in Rome as an art project, AIN SOPH on the Kulturbühne offer something like psychedelic Folk with theremin and guitar. In front of the Amphibühne, it’s packed to the brim. Here, we have another 80s classic with SIGUE SIGUE SPUTNIK, offering a complete contrast. The eccentric Electro-Punks from London made a huge impact in the mid-80s. Today, they perform in a slightly altered form with original frontman Martin Degville for the second time at NCN. The band was last here seven years ago, and they create an incredible atmosphere. ‘Rock it USA,’ ‘Phoenix Thunder,’ ‘Satellite,’ ‘Sex bomb boogie’; the audience is going wild. Everyone is singing, and dancing, from the youngest to the oldest ones. It’s simply one big party.
Today, the festival doesn’t conclude on the Parkbühne. That honour will be reserved for DIE KRUPPS later on the Amphibühne. Closing thing out here is Robert Görl & DAF. It’s crowded in front of the Parkbühne as well. In the early 80s, Robert Görl and Gabi Delgado achieved great success as DEUTSCH AMERIKANISCHE FREUNDSCHAFT (DAF). With provocative songs and their distinctive sound, they are considered pioneers of Electropunk, Techno, and Neue Deutsche Welle. Gabi Delgado-López passed away in 2020 while planning for a new DAF album. The work on the album helped Robert Görl in coping, and he released ‘Nur Noch Einer’ with the assistance of producer Sylvie Marks, using previously unreleased DAF sound sequences in 2021.
STAR PILOT ON CHANNEL K (S.P.O.C.K) are celebrating their 35th band anniversary this year, and they’re marking it with several unique shows throughout the year. Today, S.P.O.C.K is performing their longest show on their Anniversary Tour and announces a special show for their performance in “Leipzsch” (Leipzig in Saxon). There will be two hours of songs that aren’t played live as often. However, today they are providing the grand finale on the Waldbühne. Before the show, small Swedish flags are distributed to the audience, along with blue and yellow balloons. But that’s not all; there are also 1-meter-tall letters and numbers that spell out “S P O C K 3 5” during the opener, along with the yellow and blue balloons and flags. What a sight, it’s so delightful.
Some fans have dressed up especially today. They are dressed as if they are “sitting” on green aliens. Even 10 minutes before the show, there are already chants from the audience. In front of the Waldbühne, it’s packed. The letters are held up again during the third song, even though the “K” was already damaged during the first song. S.P.O.C.K announces the “Party Sunday” " stating they are here “to celebrate 35 years of S.P.O.C.K”. Now, not only the small balloons but also the letter display is flying through the air. There are frequent “S.P.O.C.K” chants from the crowd. Singer Alexander Hofman (called Android) has been forbidden by the doctor from jumping and running around because he has a slightly injured leg. Therefore, they ask the audience to take over, and during ‘Trouble with tribbles,’ everyone jumps up and down. The Swedes deliver a “Hitparade” that (as expected) ends with ‘Never Trust A Klingon.’
Next door in front of the Amphibühne, it’s already packed, and gradually more spectators, who were just partying in front of the Waldbühne, are pushing in. Finally, to close the evening on the Amphibühne, the Industrial pioneers DIE KRUPPS take the stage. So, for the conclusion, there’s another heavy dose of Industrial music and occasionally some Stahlofon (steel percussion). “For everyone from the Ruhr area, but not just them”, there’s ‘Schmutzfabrik’ from the folks in Düsseldorf. Singer Jürgen Engler is often at the front on the speakers and the barricade with the fans. Even at the farewell, there are handshakes. Fortunately, no one is in the photo pit when the Stahlofon is dismantled and disposed of there. DIE KRUPPS ignite top-notch Industrial fireworks display to close out NCN 16. What a successful conclusion to this impressive festival weekend.
Before heading home, the entire NCN crew is brought onto the stage. All those involved deserve a hearty round of applause, and that’s exactly what they get. For me, one of the most relaxed, interesting, and satisfying festivals of the year. Once again, a big thank you to the NCN crew, who did a fantastic job. I’ll be back. That’s for sure.
All pictures by Dani Vorndran (http://www.vorndranphotography.com / http://www.facebook.com/blackcatnet)