RoD header


dark Storm Festival 2023Stadthalle, Chemnitz, Germany
25th December 2023
Dark Storm Festival with VNV Nation, Blutengel, Hocico, Diary of Dreams, Solar Fake, Tanzwut, Enemy Inside, Agonoize, Solitary Experiments, Rue Oberkampf, Dive and Intent:Outtake

Every year on the 1st Christmas holiday, Chemnitz turns dark and traditionally welcomes visitors from all over Germany and neighbouring European countries. Over two and a half decades, the Dark Storm Festival has evolved into the largest indoor scene gathering and has been able to showcase countless renowned artists. For its 25th anniversary, the festival presents a worthy line-up with plenty to offer on two stages throughout the entire area of the Stadthalle Chemnitz.

Apparently, many visitors see it exactly the same way, and the organizer’s team can announce at the beginning of December that the 25th Dark Storm Festival is sold out. A small ticket contingent for the box office has been retained, for which one can register via email and reserve their ticket. Even this contingent is quickly sold out. Nonetheless, some last-minute decision-makers still show up at the box office. Some haven’t heard about it, while others simply hope that not all tickets will be collected or that someone still needs to get rid of one. However, most of them have to go home empty-handed today. By the way, the presale for the 26th "Dark Storm Festival 2024" has already started, and the headliner has already been confirmed. Next year, FRONT 242 will rock the Headquarter stage with a full-time show. But let’s go back to 2023, where VNV NATION is making up for their headline performance. They are making up for their performance from last year today, which had to be cancelled at short notice due to illness of singer Ronan Harris. But first things first, but not necessarily in that order.

dark storm festival 2023

The 25th Dark Storm Festival is also something special for me. At Dark Storm, I saw some of the bands performing today live for the first time. But above all, I almost had to skip attending. Covid had knocked me down a few days ago, and I’m still not completely recovered. But I was fortunate. Just in time for Christmas, I only have cold symptoms now and tested negative again. After a hearty breakfast, I am indeed heading to Chemnitz on Christmas Day. Still feeling a bit under the weather, I’ll have to skip a band or two today. Somehow, everything seems more exhausting than usual, and I need more breaks. Twelve acts are a bit too much for me in my current condition, so I decide to focus on individual performances.

dark storm festival 2023

As mentioned before, some can still pick up their pre-ordered tickets at the box office. Consequently, the line at the separate entrance is quite long. I’m also queuing here for my press pass. It takes a while until all the pre-ordered tickets find their new owners, and after about half an hour, I finally have my card in hand. While there is a direct entrance from the box office to the foyer and there is security staff stationed there, they don’t check tickets. This means going back outside and queuing again at the main entrance. There’s already a large crowd waiting there for entry into the Stadthalle Chemnitz. Thankfully, things move swiftly at the main entrance, and we’re back inside in the warmth fairly quickly.

dark storm festival 2023

In the foyer, we are greeted by a wonderful Christmas atmosphere. The city hall is festively embellished everywhere. Decorated Christmas trees are placed between the stands, shining Christmas stars are hung up, and there’s even a large Christmas pyramid to see. Apart from the merchandise stands of the performing bands, there are some food stalls, cocktail bars, and market stands where one can stock up on jewellery and other more or less useful treasuries. Many seating areas invite people to rest and offer the opportunity to eat or drink at rest. That’s my cue. Breakfast was a long ago, and I need a base for the long evening. Despite the many stalls, the food selection is quite limited and heavily meat-oriented. I’m glad to at least discover one alternative. Anyone who looks closely at the ingredient list for the “vegan schnitzel with bread roll” will, however, spot egg. The vegan schnitzel is sold on a bread roll soaked with remoulade. The only remaining alternative for non-animal dietary preferences is gherkin, as even the pretzels are filled with butter. Very disappointing. The will seems to be there, but the execution is lacking. You can do better, dudes.

impression4 D4S4141 klein

It’s now half past four, and ENEMY INSIDE are rocking the main stage in the large hall (Headquarter) while I’m searching for something to eat. Modern metal with intense, partly metalcore-like parts blasts outside, interspersed with emotional moments. The hall is already buzzing, quite packed by now. Yet, I manage to catch a glimpse of singer Giulia, dressed in a white latex suit, energetically engaging the audience. The band from Aschaffenburg seems to be kicking things off in full swing, and the atmosphere in the hall appears to be fantastic. But for us, the action really starts on the 2nd Floor. Shortly after five, moderator Peter Faber kicks off the evening, better known as DJ Elvis. Later, Oliver Klein joins the hosting team.

enemyinside D4S3627 klein

Today, I’m not only impressed by the wonderfully Christmas-themed decoration of the venue but also by the stage lighting in both halls. There’s a lot happening visually today, and the lighting technicians are doing an excellent job, from the first to the last band. However, the story changes when it comes to sound. While it’s very good in the headquarter, the acoustics in the small hall (2nd Floor) is rather underwhelming. At least on the side or towards the back, you can almost only hear the bass from the music and very little of the vocals. The announcements by the artists between songs are hardly, if at all, understandable there. Right at the front and relatively central to the stage, it’s much better. There’s still too much reverb, but the sound itself is okay, and the highs and mid-ranges are clearer. The vocals are also well audible. So, for a musical treat, the right spot in the venue matters a lot.

blutengel D4S4284 klein

INTENT:OUTTAKE are the first ones on the 2nd Floor. The Dark-Electro-Future-Pop duo, now based in Leipzig, was founded in 2011 by Andreas Engleitner. Bastian Polak became the right vocalist in 2014. With their lyrics, Bastian and Andreas aim to stir things up and provoke thought. The stage setup supports the apocalyptic mood of their lyrics and could be straight out of the last Mad Max movie. This applies to the futuristic design of the microphone stand, as well as the car front where the keyboard is hidden, and from its exhaust pipes welded onto the hood, smoke rises intermittently. Smoke also comes from two barrels on the left and right of the stage. The stage outfits of the two musicians also fit into the post-apocalyptic scenario. INTENT:OUTTAKE kick off with ‘Moloch’ and quickly get the well-filled 2nd Floor rocking, immediately engaging the audience. With songs like ‘Paved,’ ‘Tabula Rasa,’ ‘GOTT:INNEN,’ or ‘Endtime Prophets,’ Bastian and Andreas keep the tempo high. The audience is encouraged to dance and readily supports the duo by singing along and clapping. Then it’s time for a ‘Neustart’ before ‘Tic Toc Tod’ and ‘Der Mammon’ conclude the successful opening performance.

intentouttake D4S3647 klein

We make our way towards the Headquarter just before the end. Not an easy task, as not only is the 2nd Floor packed and some are watching from outside, but it’s also quite crowded in the foyer and at the sales booths. In the Headquarter, where TANZWUT is currently playing the final notes, the audience stretches outside as well. Only at the side entrance by the market stands are people not packed as tightly, and we manage to sneak our way into the hall. The Medieval-Rockers are just bidding farewell with ‘Hymnus Cerberi’ from the stage, and we struggle to move a bit towards the centre. It’s almost six o’clock, and we’re waiting for SOLAR FAKE, set to take the main stage at quarter past six. Meanwhile, Dirk Ivens is performing with DIVE on the 2nd Floor. The frontman of the Belgian EBM pioneers THE KLINIK started his solo project at the beginning of the ‘90s. The more minimalist approach of DIVE is evident not only in terms of equipment and the generated sounds between industrial, EBM, and noise. Dirk performs on stage solely with himself, his recordings, and minimal visual presentation.

dive D4S3769 klein

Space is made on the Headquarter stage, and André is already being cheered during the soundcheck. “It’s so wonderful to spend this end of the year with you all. Amazing. Next year, we’ll release a new album. And the first single will probably come out in February. We’ll play it now.” ‘This generation ends’ remains the only track from the upcoming SOLAR FAKE album today. This song has already been performed live at several concerts this year and is already being sung along by many. However, SOLAR FAKE kick off with ‘Sick of you’. Once again, it’s incredibly crowded, leaving barely any room to move. Within the limits, people are still dancing and jumping. And singing along is always possible. The audience does so enthusiastically throughout the entire set. Sven, as usual, enters the stage in a coat, which he discards by the second song ‘Under Control’. André alternates between keyboard and bass during the set, switching places with Sven. ‘This pretty life’ and ‘All The Things You Say’ are celebrated hard. Anyone trying to join now has hardly a chance to get in. The audience extends all the way outside into the foyer.

solarfake1 D4S3731 klein

SOLAR FAKE has opted for an extremely high-energy set today. The atmosphere is remarkably good, and there’s exuberant celebration. Sven often holds the mic out to the audience, letting the fans take over the chorus for songs like ‘Not What I Wanted’, ‘Es geht dich nichts an’, ‘It’s who you are’ or ‘The pain that kills...’. “Many, many, many thanks! We have one last song for you.” Time for the big finale with ‘Observer’, where everyone amps up the energy, and SOLAR FAKE bid their thanks. "Dear people, a thousand thanks! Enjoy the exciting acts that are coming up now. Have a great start to the new year. We’ll see you next year. Many, many, many thanks. You are incredible." Sven, André, and Jeans embrace each other one more time, waving goodbye to the enthusiastic crowd. It’s now seven in the evening, and we’re staying right here because DIARY OF DREAMS is coming up next.

solarfake2 D3S9907 klein

Twenty past seven, DIARY OF DREAMS welcomes us with ‘Viva la bestia’ and Adrian immediately fires up the cheering crowd. It remains packed, and I’m incredibly warm. It feels extremely crowded. Even DIARY OF DREAMS only have time for nine songs. Alongside the opener, with ‘the Secret’ and ‘the Fatalist’, two more songs from the current album ‘Melancholin’ are included in the setlist. Adrian and Hilger keep switching positions, and Adrian rallies the masses. He also holds the mic out to the audience during some songs, asking for vocal support, which the audience willingly provides. It doesn’t matter whether they’re new songs or well-known classics like ‘Menschfeind’ or ‘the Curse’ - the audience sings along eagerly. However, it’s precisely these classics that trigger bursts of cheers and bring the hall to a boiling point. After ‘the Secret’ Felix straps on the keytar, becoming mobile too. Initially, he moves forward to the centre. The “conductor”, Hilger, and Adrian continually change positions. There’s dynamism on stage and within the audience, given the limited space available. As mentioned, there’s not much room.

dod1 D4S3831 klein

The audience is tightly packed and sways more to the beat than actually dancing. ‘Endless nights’, let’s see if I can really last until the end today. “Thank you very much! I believe if we counted correctly, this is the seventh time we’ve been with you today. And that’s seriously cool. Thank you for allowing us to do this. Thank you so much for that. ‘Undividable’ now!” Adrian once again directs the audience, who enthusiastically clap and sing along loudly to ‘kindrom’. As I’m running out of breath, we start making our way toward the side entrance. The audience is packed tightly up to the doors; apparently, not everyone made it into the hall. DIARY OF DREAMS still have one last song in store. The decision about which song in an acoustic version will conclude the show today is left to the audience. There’s a vote. At first, there’s some disagreement about whether the audience is cheering louder and applauding more for ‘Traumtänzer’ or ‘She and her darkness’. There’s a bit of back and forth. But one thing is clear, DIARY OF DREAMS bid an emotional farewell from the stage as always. Today, it’s with ‘Traumtänzer’, which wins the vote.

dod2 D4S4077 klein

RUE OBERKAMPF, who are playing on the 2nd floor simultaneously, I would have liked to see a bit as well. However, it’s also incredibly crowded there, making it almost impossible to get through. When we arrive, the musicians are already saying goodbye from the stage. Fortunately, I recently had the pleasure of attending RUE OBERKAMPF at the NEUROTICFISH Heimspiel in Oberhausen. Today, unfortunately, we only hear the very last notes, from outside. At the headquarters, HOCICO is already starting at half-past eight. However, I urgently need a short break and something to drink. Therefore, we’ll stay right here, where SOLITARY EXPERIMENTS take the stage at quarter to nine. We’ll get to see a little bit of HOCICO here as well, but more on that later. It’s going to be momentarily empty here, giving us the chance to secure a spot in the front row and catch our breath.

hocico D4S4127 klein

However, during the break, it quickly gets crowded again. Before SOLITARY EXPERIMENTS take the stage, the hosting team has a small surprise. A young man has brought a large bouquet of flowers for his partner. The couple met exactly a year ago right here, and the young man wants to express his love for his girlfriend. Some people are a bit disappointed because it wasn’t a marriage proposal. But the beloved one surely appreciated the beautiful flowers, and who knows, maybe the proposal will come next year. And then it’s time for ‘Brace Yourself’. “We are SOLITARY EXPERIMENTS from Berlin. Welcome to Dark Storm 2023. Are you in the Christmas spirit? We have an hour for you.” The atmosphere here is fantastic as well. People are singing, dancing, clapping, and celebrating. The hall is once again packed to capacity. Some have to stay outside and experience the show from the corridor. Dennis whirls from left to right across the stage and back. Micha and Markus at the keys encourage the audience, while the two drummers, Frank and Seppo, as usual, joke around. Whether it’s a festival gig, a tour, or a club concert, SOLITARY EXPERIMENTS are always a highlight for me, and they always know how to captivate the audience and throw a huge party. There’s no holding back.

solitaryexperiments1 D4S4162 klein

The new songs are celebrated just as much as the classics. And there are quite a few: ‘Crash and Burn’, ‘Immortal’ and ‘Epithany’, interspersed with ‘Head Over Heels’ from the current album ‘Transcendent’. The atmosphere is gigantic. “So, I don’t know if everyone’s caught wind of this yet. But next year, we’re celebrating - though we don’t quite look like it - we’re celebrating our 30th band anniversary. Over two days, with two different sets. I don’t know how long it’ll last. It’s going to hurt. But it’ll be beautiful. Check out who’s playing. Many of our well-known friends. Really awesome bands. And we thought, for the occasion today, let’s play something older, something we don’t often play and maybe not everyone knows, but it was definitely a cool number from the past. Let’s give it a shot.” ‘Odyssey Of Mind’ starts playing, and the hall is boiling. Most people know this one. And Dennis is absolutely right. It’s a cool number and even after almost 20 years, it still rocks live. Even though Dennis currently doesn’t have any music playing in his left ear.

solitaryexperiments2 D4S4234 klein

“That was something old just now. Now, here comes something new from the current album. It bangs a bit harder. For all those who are here today and not over there with HOCICO. Great to have you here!” ‘Discipline’ makes the floor vibrate. People are jumping in front of the stage. “So, for those who got a bit startled just now, here’s something more refined. In the past, we used to say, ladies’ choice. That still works.” ‘Delight’ prompts cheers and applause from the audience (not just the ladies), and then ‘Stars’ begins. “I’d say this is our Christmas song.” And then we get our little bit of HOCICO. Front man Erk Aicrag comes on stage after their performance, warmly embraces Dennis, and then disappears again. “Here’s something new. This is something beautiful. I think this might be the second-to-last. So, one more push.” ‘Every Now and Then’ is always a hit and is loudly sung along to. “Alright, Chemnitz. Give it your all one more time!” Micha demands. And Chemnitz gives it everything once more. During ‘Rise and Fall’, everyone’s hands are up again, and the audience doesn’t really want to let the guys go. But that’s it for today, really. There’s just enough time for a quick farewell photo, and then amidst intense cheers and applause, the guys are guided off the stage.

solitaryexperiments3 D4S4240 klein

At this moment, BLUTENGEL continues on the main stage. However, there’s no way into the Headquarter anymore, so we decide it’s better to visit SOLITARY EXPERIMENTS’ merchandise stand instead. On the way, we run into SOLAR FAKE drummer Jeans (Jens Halbauer), who willingly signs autographs and takes photos with fans. Upon reaching the merchandise area, Dennis, Markus, Micha, Seppo, and Frank have also gathered to chat with their fans and sign autographs. While AGONOIZE stirs up the 2nd floor and performs their final set in the smaller venue, we decide to take a short break. My feet are in dire need of a rest, and so are my lungs. With a drink in hand, we find a quiet spot to rest our tired feet and gather strength for the showdown.

agonoize D4S4332 klein

That starts at twenty past eleven in the extremely packed Headquarter. VNV NATION was supposed to conclude the festival last year as headliners with a full-time show. Unfortunately, due to illness of singer Ronan Harris, the performance had to be cancelled at short notice. It’s being made up for today, and with power. The new album ‘Electric Sun’ was released in April, and back in March, I had the pleasure of hearing some of the new songs live. As in Leipzig, the lighting today is also incredibly impressive, emphasizing the powerful and high-energy set. Ronan seems to be determined. ‘Before the Rain’, ‘Space & Time’, ‘The Farthest Star’, ‘Retaliate’, ‘Chrome’, ‘Control’, ‘When Is the Future?’, ‘Gratitude’... - it’s one hit after another.

vnv1 D4S4466 klein

Ronan whirls across the stage, repeatedly making space by pushing the microphone stand aside. The audience celebrates exuberantly. The atmosphere is fantastic. There’s dancing, singing, cheering, and celebration galore. But emotional moments are also a staple of any VNV NATION concert. For instance, during ‘Illusion’, Ronan encourages the audience to sing as loudly as they can, as loudly as possible. “This is your song down there.” And even ‘Nova’ or ‘All Our Sins’ don’t fail to have their impact, leaving a happy and content audience just before one in the morning. For those who still haven’t had enough, the celebration continues at the Fuchsbau for the after-show party. However, we, exhausted, fall into our beds, granting our tired bodies some much-needed sleep.

vnv2 D4S4518 klein

All pictures by Daniela Vorndran ( /

See also (all categories):

Comments powered by CComment