Flughafen Drispenstedt, Hildesheim, Germany
7th & 8th August 2010
M’era Luna 2010 Day 2 Hangar Stage: Combichrist, Skinny Puppy, Feindflug, Agonoize, Amduscia, Celine And Nite Wreckage, Colony 5, Ambassador21, Eyes Shut Tight
As little electronic music we had the day before at the hangar, as many hard beats we got today. Headlined by COMBICHRIST, the hangar program offered anything from TBM over Hellectro with AGONOIZE and AMDUSCIA to Future/Synth Pop with COLONY 5 and even pure electronic pop. Highlight for many at the hangar of course was the show of Canadian electro pioneers SKINNY PUPPY.
Trashed Soul, who’s roused attention already with his exhibition at Wave Gotik Treffen, has given birth to the band EYES SHUT TIGHT. The band he gathered around him has been working hard already to get the debut album ‘Secret Destroyer’ done, which was released already to good reviews in this year’s June. EYES SHUT TIGHT is Trashed Soul, Kria, Jolene, dP and goyathlay. http://www.eyesshuttight.com/ / http://www.myspace.com/eyesshuttight7
Music & Performance
Pretentious statements were given by the label about the qualities about the band’s music in the press text about the debut album ‘Secret Destroyer’. A label does that to channel attention to the artist. It’s just not every time that the body of work does live up entirely to the expectations raised beforehand. The guys opening the hangar program in Sunday were a visual treat to photograph due to their styling and the fact that they were doing some considerable stage action to wake up the little crowd. Musically, however, the thing remained at a pretty standard level in my opinion with an industrial-flavoured Metal style and ferociously screamed vocals. The interesting element comes in with the nightmarish lyrical outbursts of Thrashed Soul that give insight to a scarred soul. Others did enjoy the stuff much more; even some from the front man’s hometown Hamburg were in attendance which raised a bright smile on his face.
04. Apocalypse Generation
05. Puppet bitch
06. Childlike face
07. Eat my fist
Total: 6.6 / 10
Ambassador21 (Sebastian Huhn)
Hailing from Belarus is the duo AMBASSADOR21, which was founded in 2001, has become known for its uncompromising sound I got to know with their output ‘Fuck All Systems’ with which they had celebrated their 5th anniversary as well. In the meantime, the duo wasn’t lazy at all and put out a little string of new releases with ‘Justified Thirst for Blood’ (2008) and ‘Power Rage’ (2009). The duo has recently announced that their newest album ‘Riot Death (Face Your Future Dealers)’ will be out at the beginning of October. AMBASSADOR21 is Natasha and Alexey Protasov. http://www.ambassador21.com/ / http://www.myspace.com/ambassador21
Music & Performance
The Belarusian duo’s performance started violently with ‘A La Guerre Comme A La Guerre’, seeing the duo rushing all over the stage, blasting their shouts into the crowd to harsh, high-speed and distorted electronics. ‘Power Rage Riot Death’ continued from where it left off with a fierce break beat mayhem. Occasionally, Alexey would switch duties to twiddle the knobs on the synths built up on a table. ’Turn Yourself’ then got something to look at for the male part of the partially dancing audience with Natasha dropping her jacket. After this song I opted for leaving the scenery for severe reasons. Volume is a very subjective thing. Everyone perceives it differently! I’m wearing my earplugs for a good reason, that is, to protect my hearing. But if my ears start to ache while wearing the plugs due to the sheer volume of the music something’s not right.
01. A La Guerre Comme A La Guerre
02. Power Rage Riot Death
03. Turn Yourself
04. In Love
05. Russian Roulette
06. Fuck All Systems
07. Face Your Future Killers
Total: 5.6 / 10
Colony 5 (J. “Niggels” Uhlenbruch)
COLONY 5 from Sweden started in 1999 as a mere hobby of the two friends P-O Svensson and Magnus Löfdahl. After a couple of compilation appearances and Johan Nilsson joining the band in 2001, it was about time for COLONY 5 to release their first full-length album. ´Lifeline` was released in 2002 and became an insider’s tip among Synth Pop and EBM lovers, and after the release, Magnus Kalnins joined the band as well. After another album, ´Structures`, and the club hit ´Black` released as a single in 2003, Johan Nilsson left the band again, and COLONY 5 spent a lot of time with touring, especially Scandinavia and East Europe. The success continued, a compilation of early singles was released, and after being nominated as Best Newcomer at the Swedish Alternative Music Awards in 2003 and 2004 COLONY 5 won in the category Best Song with their single ´Plastic World` in 2005 and Best Band in 2006. COLONY 5 was working as a duo now, and released the harder sounding album ´Buried Again` in 2008. The band is working on a new album currently but also had a number of gigs this year, including the M’era Luna in Hildesheim. COLONY 5 is P-O Svensson (vocals) and Magnus Kalnins (synths, programming). http://www.colony5.com/ / www.myspace.com/weseekcolony5
Music & Performance
A video screen, a guy behind the keyboard, a guy at the microphone - too many times we saw this kind of setup at gigs of electronic acts. Considering these parameters only, the show by COLONY 5 was bound to be rather unspectacular, maybe even bland and boring! But it wasn’t! This was not only due to a surprisingly packed hangar and an audience which was more than willing to party with the band. This was also due to a very enthusiastic band, especially singer P-O Svensson. More than pleased with the huge crowd and the feedback, Svensson really hit it up (despite a few issues with his vocal delivery) and made use of the rather empty stage by refusing to stand still for more than one second. A quite energetic boy, and he really managed to push the crowd even a little more. The M’era Luna audience also got a little teaser from the forthcoming COLONY 5 album with the new song ´Little Unit`, followed by the band’s arguably biggest hit to date, ´Plastic World`. The direction towards an edgier and harder sound suits COLONY 5 very well and adds some power to their live performances. Music and stage setup are nothing revolutionary, if we’re honest, but at the M’era Luna COLNY 5 won over through verve and passion.
04. Little Unit
05. Plastic World
06. Absolute Religion
Total: 6.9 / 10
Celine And Nite Wreckage (Sebastian Huhn)
One member of this relatively new collaboration Dave Grohl is known to many as the former second member of SOFT CELL who’s working together with Celine Hispiche. The first single of CELINE & NIGHT WRECKAGE called ‘POPABAWA’ will be available in September as a digital only release, followed by the debut album ‘Evolution? Revolution!’ in early 2011. http://www.celineandnitewreckage.com/ / http://www.myspace.com/celineandnitewreckage
Music & Performance
Well, none of us really knew what we would get to see, even though the name Dave Ball is familiar of course. When lively Celine started her vocal performance I felt instantly reminded of a mix of ALISON MOYET and ANNE CLARK and I was not the only one who thought so. But then again the British artist was only one part of the picture. Celine fully put her personality into the showcase. She was living the stories the songs were telling, did grimaces if it was necessary and enjoyed dancing to the tunes. Stylistically, it was not exclusively electronic driven, incorporating real instruments which wouldn’t be seen too much on this electro Sunday at the hangar stage. But to narrow it down to one particular style is simply impossible. The only thing I can say definitely is that it has potential and makes the upcoming debut album ‘Evolution? Revolution!’ something to look forward to!
Total: 7 / 10
Amduscia (J. “Niggels” Uhlenbruch)
Next to HOCICO and all its spin-offs, AMDUSCIA is Mexico’s best known Electro export. Founded in 1999 in Mexico City, AMDUSCIA had five releases on Out Of Line between 2003 and 2008. In early 2010, AMDUSCIA founding member Edgar Acevedo (synth programming, sampling, mixing) sadly died of leukaemia. The remaining members decided to continue the work on the new album, and to play the already booked concerts as a duo in honour of his late band mate. The future of AMDUSCIA after that is, however, uncertain. As of now, AMDUSCIA are Polo Amduscia (vocals, lyrics, sampling) and Raul Montelongo (lyrics and live keyboards). http://www.amduscia.de/ / www.myspace.com/amduscia
Music & Performance
AMDUSCIA brought their “Perverse Party” to the M’era Luna, and they obviously intended to bring the whole house down. With monotonous beats at maximum volume and Polo’s distorted vocals they started a sonic attack which was not without an effect on the fans in front of the stage. In the back of the hangar venue the sound was rather terrible, unfortunately, and when you’re not dancing and sweating AMDUSCIA’s music offers little to keep up your interest. A female dancer in full CyberGoth outfit completed the show, and she did her best to compete with Polo’s hyperactive stage presence. Hellectro stompers like ´Absolution`, ´Beyond The Darkness` or ´Animal Instinct` got the crowd in the front going but in contrast to some CyberGoth kids next to me the spark of enthusiasm, which Polo ignited on stage, didn’t jump across to me. With all respect, it sounded way too generic to me! And the bad acoustics in the back surely didn’t help to better the impression.
Total: 5.6 / 10
Agonoize (J. “Niggels” Uhlenbruch)
Berlin-based AGONOIZE is surely the most popular Aggrotech / Hellectro act of the German scene. Since AGONOIZE started in 2002 / 2003 their following is ever growing, and the industrious trio released six albums and six EPs in the last seven years. Last year’s AGONOIZE album, a double CD with the unpronounceable title ´Hexakosioihexekontahexa`, was just another success in the German Alternative Charts and spawned several club hits like `Bis das Blut gefriert`. AGONOIZE is Chris L (lyrics & vocals), Mike Johnson (composition, programming, production & mastering), and Oliver Senger (composition & programming). http://www.agonoize.de/ / www.myspace.com/agonoize
Music & Performance
I don’t mind the odd AGONOIZE track at a club as their music is designed for the dance floors of the underground. AGONOIZE is good club fodder, so two or three of their songs in the course of a whole night can be fun. A dozen of AGONOIZE songs can be a pain in the neck because this is bound demonstrate that AGONOIZE is produced with some cleverness but nevertheless pretty one-dimensional and musically rather insubstantial. But the massive following of AGONOIZE doesn’t care about such ponderings, and that their following is *really* massive proved the hangar stage at the M’era Luna.
The place was packed to the roof, so packed that the security refused a few hundred fans to get inside. After the disaster of the Love Parade in Duisburg, where a jam-packed tunnel led caused 21 casualties and over 500 injured people, German authorities are quite touchy when it comes to overcrowded places. And they are quite right with this attitude! Safety is surely more important than having fun. AGONOIZE vocalist Chris L demonstrated some lack of insight to such a simple cognition by making a remark after the very first song that the promoters of the M’era Luna would “piss their pants” because of Duisburg but that the AGONOIZE fans would show that they are “the better scene” than the Rave kids of the Love Parade. Well, I’m not sure if this remark was very helpful. But AGONOIZE love to provoke - or rather what they see as “provoking”. Being rude and disrespectful is just stupid when that’s all you have to offer. Compiling stereotypes and sexisms to make up lyrics is not provocative, either. People are not offended by that in the year 2010; they just give it a shrug. If at all, they feel offended by the stupidity behind it. AGONOIZE also love to provoke with their live shows, e.g. by using fake blood and the likes. Before the AGONOIZE show word of mouth had it that the M’era Luna promoters didn’t approve certain elements of AGOINOIZE’s show, and that they would stop the show if the band would go ahead with them anyway. Well, nothing like that happened, but front man Chris L couldn’t do without fake blood and simulated cutting his arteries and spilled a few drops. Plus a young girl in lingerie rubbing her body at Chris L, plus a dildo, and so on and so forth.
In a time when our Moms go to see RAMMSTEIN this is surely not shocking or provocative, it’s just same old same old. AGONOIZE fans do not care about such ponderings, they just celebrate the band and their own “being different” and the packed hangar rocked big time and if you had place enough to dance, you danced! That is, if you didn’t spend your time pondering about certain things. For the track ´Staatsfeind` Chris L sported a shirt with the words “Fuck Censorship - Fuck M’era Luna” as a comment on the restrictions the M’era Luna team (allegedly) assigned to AGONOIZE.* This just raised two questions: First of all, who the hell knows if there are very good reasons for the restrictions? Perhaps the strict schedule simply didn’t allow time to clean a blood-covered stage after AGONOIZE’s show? Secondly, how the heck Chris L got a shirt with such a print in such a short time? But the AGONOIZE fans do not care about such things and rather celebrated self-pleasingly their “being different” with a band which has not more to offer than one or two really nice club tracks. But if you don’t care about ponderings at all you probably see more in AGONOIZE than what they actually have to offer!
*Note: Meanwhile a M'era Luna spokesman confirmed that in the end there were no restrictions for AGONOIZE whatsoever. Prior the festival there were discussions if the full show incl. fake blood would be operable in terms of new legal safety-at-work regulations and cleaning the stage after the show, and with a view to the short changeover times and the following bands. A few days before the festival the fake blood was banned but this ban was taken back before the show. So no restrictions at all, and least of all censorship! It was all about federal law...
01. Intro / Earpain
03. Alarmstufe Rot
04. BängBäng Goodbye
06. To Paradise
10. Bis das Blut gefriert
11. Femme Fatale
Total: 5.7 / 10
Feindflug (J. “Niggels” Uhlenbruch)
The instrumental Industrial project FEINDFLUG is one of the most controversial acts of the German scene. Their heavy use of World War II imagery often led to accusations of being right-wing, and that FEINDFLUG released their first single via VAWS just added to such accusations - according to the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution of Germany the label VAWS is clearly a right-wing extremists’ organization. FEINDFLUG quickly regretted their collaboration with VAWS and stated that they simply weren’t aware of the background of VAWS (which is for outsiders not too obvious, to be fair). Anyway, FEINDFLUG released a clear statement that they do not promote right-wing views, and FEINDFLUG founders DJ Felix and DJ Banane signed to Black Rain, which meant the start of an astonishing popularity in the Goth and Industrial scene. Four albums and five singles have been released so far, and each one managed to raise the popularity of the band. FEINDFLUG is DJ Felix (production), DJ Banane (samples), Zero Kelvin (guitars) plus the additional live musicians Matze (electronic drums), Prosac (analogue drums) and Soli (walking drum). http://www.feindflug.info/ / www.myspace.com/feindflug
Music & Performance
One striking thing about FEINDFLUG is that not only their records are popular but obviously also their merchandise. Walking around at the M’era Luna (or any other festival of the dark scene, for that matter) just proves that. FEINDFLUG shirts, hoodies and vests seem to be everywhere. So it was no surprise that that the hangar was similarly packed as during AGONOIZE’s show, and again there were quite a few people who couldn’t get inside anymore because the security closed doors. FEINDFLUG started with a brand new and yet untitled track from their forthcoming album but it got their fans going anyway. Before the show - which was my first FEINDFLUG live experience - I wondered how a completely instrumental act would work as a live band, and I feared it might be a little static. But the three extra musicians and guitarist Zero Kelvin delivered a lot of stage action, and of course there was also the video screen. The projections were as you’d expect them to be at a FEINDFLUG show, with lots of World War and Third Reich imagery. Unfortunately my spot at the very left side of the stage didn’t allow a clear view so I missed most of the visuals.
But this spot allowed a good view on the crowd in front of the stage, and somehow it was like a big Techno Rave, just with more distortion and a guitar on top of it. FEINDFLUG’s following surely doesn’t have a problem with the lack of vocals and just gave in to the marching grooves of tracks like ´Roter Schnee` or ´Truppenschau`. While the club hits `Kahle Bedrohung` and ´Leitbild` were not in the setlist FEINDFLUG closed the show with the classic ´Stukas im Visier`. All in all a rather strange but interesting experience for me, and their fans clearly absolutely loved it!
01. NEU01 (New song from upcoming album, no title yet)
04. Roter Schnee
07. Neue Sieger
Total: 7.2 / 10
Skinny Puppy (J. “Niggels” Uhlenbruch)
2010 was the third M’era Luna appearance for Canadian legends SKINNY PUPPY, and over the years they went from headlining the main stage (2005) to playing the main stage in the afternoon (2007) to co-headlining the second stage of this festival. Many fans find this development pretty scurrilous and inappropriate but on the other hand there was a time when no-one dared to hope to see SKINNY PUPPY on any stage again. After many groundbreaking records (and live shows) in the 1980s and early 1990s the death of long-time member Dwayne R. Goettel and the erratic relationship between cEvin Key and Nivek Ogre, plus the drug problems of the latter, meant that the band went on a hiatus. And all signs indicated that it might last forever. But in the year 2000, SKINNY PUPPY returned with an unexpected re-union show at the Doomsday Festival in Dresden, Germany. And even more than that, Ogre and Key started to produce music together again, with the results being the album `Greater Wrong of the Right` (2004) and ´Mythmaker` (2007) plus respective world tours. The shows of the new chapter of SKINNY PUPPY were nothing but awe-inspiring, and co-headlining a crammed hangar at some German air-field (and without a current release to back it up) isn’t bad at all for a band 28 years into its career, if you think about it. SKINNY PUPPY 2010 is Nivek Ogre (vocals), cEvin Key (keyboards), and Justin Bennet (drums). http://www.skinnypuppy.com/ / www.myspace.com/skinnypuppy
Music & Performance
Two weeks before the M’era Luna I had the pleasure to witness their recent show at the Gothic Festival in Waregem, Belgium. What I saw and heard was jaw-dropping, and in my opinion probably the best SKINNY PUPPY live show since their reunion. So without a doubt I truly looked forward to their M’era Luna gig. And SKINNY PUPPY never disappoint! I knew that they would have to cut down their setlist a little as they were granted less time than in Belgium, unfortunately. But when I watched the stage hands getting the drum kit, Ogre’s metal cage and cEvin Key’s keyboard racks on stage the excitement began to stir. In normal light the stage design really looks relatively simple but when the lights go out and four video projectors cause a flood of light and colour from different angles, then it’s nothing short of breath-taking! As usual, the show started with ´Love In Vein` and Ogre appeared on the left wearing all white including a huge sharp hat. The visuals of SKINNY PUPPY’s show always came across best when Ogre moved and acted in the cross fire of the various video projectors. Awesome! The show didn’t need any other lights like the usual spots and lasers you see at every other show. Surprisingly ´Hatekill` remained in the set, a rare track recorded for 1995’s ‘The Process’ album but which didn’t make the final cut, so it was only released later as part of the ‘Back & Forth’ compilation series. SKINNY PUPPY rather ditched the 1980s anthem ´Addiction`, much to my regret I have to admit as it’s my fave, but this proved that SKINNY PUPPY’s live performances are more about concept than about pleasing a crowd. Ogre’s stage persona somehow regressed from an old person to a young one. He entered the stage with walkers, staggering and stumbling in front of his metal cage. In this metal cage he made some sort of metamorphosis, his head being only visible via the monitor at the top of the cage. For the last song, Ogre got rid of his mask and we saw a fresh-faced and energetic Ogre looking directly at the crowd.
But whatever your own interpretation of the SKINNY PUPPY show is, you embark on audiovisual journey extraordinaire in any case. While the sound at the second stage of the M’era Luna was often a bit so-so during the weekend, SKINNY PUPPY had a rather crystal clear sound in this, from an acoustic point of view, pretty tricky location. Ken Marshall, in charge at the mixing desk for the band’s sound, did quite a job here! I think I also noticed quite a few differences and variations by cEvin Key compared to the Waregem gig - the legendary “braps” between songs, but also some new and different sounds in the songs themselves. The standards ‘Tormentor’ and ‘Pro-Test’ were out of the set as well due to the mentioned time restrictions, but at some point I stopped thinking about such details and allowed myself to get carried away by the stunning visuals and the brilliant performance. Then ´Assimilate` kicked in, and at the end of an intense show the straight beats of this classic club anthem were like a “Thanks for your attention, here’s some candy and some fun for you!”. And there was yet another treat in store... no SKINNY PUPPY gig without ´Worlock`, to me (and many others) one of the most epic songs in alternative music! Goosebumps! Unfortunately there was no encore, due to the strict time table of the festival. Ogre apparently didn’t realize that his two band mates already left the stage; it seemed he waited for another song to begin, but a stage hand asked him to leave the stage. What a pity! I would have loved to hear `Shore Lined Poison´ again, or even ´Far Too Frail`.
But anyway, another brilliant performance by SKINNY PUPPY which was hands down the best show of the M'era Luna weekend. Perhaps their performance in Belgium was even a little better but then they had a longer playing time and a bigger stage there. And, for me personnally, it had the excitement of being my first SKINNY PUPPY show of the current tour. However, watching this excellent, artful and well-honed performance at the M'era Luna proved that SKINNY PUPPY are miles above other bands from their genre, and puts certain "Hellectro" bands to shame. SKINNY PUPPY is simply the real deal!
01. Love In Vein
08. Morpheus Laughing
Total: 9.9 / 10
Combichrist (J. “Niggels” Uhlenbruch)
The headliner at the hangar was on the second day of the M’eera Luna weekend Andy LaPlegua’s COMBICHRIST. After various musical projects - including the Electro / EBM act ICON OF COIL - LaPlegua started his newest brainchild in 2003 in Norway. COMBICHRIST combines hardcore Techno elements with harsh EBM and Industrial influences, and this two-fisted mix of energetic styles made COMBICHRIST one of the best-selling acts of the dark scene. COMBICHRIST created even their own sub-subgenre with “Techno Body Music”, and the name makes the two major influences of the project quite clear. COMBICHRIST has also a reputation as one of the best and wildest live acts around. While COMBICHRIST is in the studio more or less LaPlegua’s solo project, the band is live on stage complete with Joe Letz (drums), Z_Marr (keyboard), and Trevor Friedrich (drums, percussion). http://www.combichrist.com/ / www.myspace.com/combichrist
Music & Performance
Party! Party! Party! And please a wild one, a really wild one! Actually that would be enough to describe COMBICHRIST’s live show. And the crowd at the hangar, which was once again packed to the roof, was more than willing to have a big, wild party with Andy LaPlegua and his band mates. The opener ´All Pain is Gone` already caused a massive mosh pit in the crowd, and almost everyone up to the back walls of the hangar was dancing. Of course a COMBICHRIST concert has to be LOUD but fortunately the technical team managed to mix a better sound than during AGONOIZE’s gig, for example. Muscle-bound Andy LaPlegua is full of bursting energy, and the admiration and rapture from the crowd pushed him even more. Tracks like ´Electrohead`, ´Get Your Body Beat` or ´Blut Royale` pushed back and set the house on fire with their in-yer-face attitude. A big dance fest but when you stood still for a second you quickly realized the patterns behind COMBICHRIST. You will have a hard time to find variety, depth or artistic sophistication in their music and live show, but who the hell would search for such things in COMBICHRIST? That’s totally beside the point, it’s all about energy, and the energy has to get out, out, out or LaPlegua runs danger to explode!
No surprise that many fans left the hangar as if they came from a battlefield or at least from an Olympic run over a long distance. At the main stage PLACEBO played their radio-friendly Indie Rock anthems, and perhaps that was a welcome breather for the COMBICHRIST fans. Or a cultural shock, who knows?
01. All Pain Is Gone
02. Rain Of Blood
05. Without Emotions
07. Get Your Body Beat
08. Blut Royale
09. Fuck That Shit
10. Never Surrender
11. What The Fuck Is Wrong With You
Total: 7.6 / 10
When COMBICHRIST finished their set, PLACEBO’s show was still on the run and I for myself already on the way to my car for a few hours ride on the highway. So, that was another M’era Luna festival. A festival with lots of good memories for me, one of the best M’era Luna festivals I ever had, even though it was hell of a torture working hard the whole weekend. Many people I knew were rather disappointed by the line-up, I guess they did not find it Goth and Electro enough. In my opinion it was a rather clever choice of the promoter to invite such acts as PLACEBO or EDITORS. Bands I really love by the way and so I was more than happy seeing them at the festival’s billing. Another big plus for me was that they cut down the number of pure electro acts a bit to increase the ones using “real” instruments.
Organisation-wise anything ran very smooth, at least as far as I can tell, even though I heard of some problems and long queues at the ticket check. A big compliment also to the security girls and guys! Anyone of them was friendly, helpful and always good for a little joke. So, what’s left to say? I’ll be back in the next year...
All pictures by Daniela Vorndran (http://www.vorndranphotography.com/ / http://www.black-cat-net.de/ / www.myspace.com/vorndranphotography)
Written by Daniela Vorndran (common parts), J. “Niggels” Uhlenbruch and Sebastian Huhn