And Also the Trees
Diary of Dreams
The Human League
Wave Gotik Treffen 2005
Central Germany in mid May is a very pleasant experience if you’re from a part of the world where the sun barely shows itself during the winter. When leaving Stockholm, spring was just starting and on arrival in Leipzig following evening summer was already in full bloom. Marvellous we said, forgetting all thoughts of heavy clothes and umbrellas. The latter would prove to be useful on one of the following days but who cares about some rain when visiting the world’s largest goth festival?
Friday started with us picking up our press-passes and then we we’re off to check out the gothic shopping mall at the “Agra”-area. It has become very typical at European goth festivals to have their own malls. A, most of the times, huge area where all big and small companies associated with goth in one way or another is represented with a full line of clothes, records, jewellery, home decorations, literature, medieval weaponry and armours and, of course, all kinds of tarot decks and other superstition. Everything you by the use of just a little fantasy can associate with goth and goth lifestyle is presented here. The mall at WGT is h-u-g-e! Records are quite cheap (at least compared with Swedish daylight robbery). Everything else ranges from expensive to extremely expensive. Outside the mall is a perfect spot for just chilling out and have a couple of beers, relaxing in the sun (now that’s not very goth is it?) and watch people as they walk by on their way to the camping-ground or the mall. It’s amazing to see all the effort some people put in their appearance. What is the point with loads of make-up and heavy black clothes when the weather is very hot and dry? Maybe it’s just their way of darkness, what do I know?
We’re off to the concert area at “Werk 2” to see Ikon after recommendations from a friend. That’s some serious waste of time. Neither Towe or I have ever heard Ikon before and we don’t regret it. It’s pretentious and depressive and probably very goth if you’re into occultism and vampire-chic fashion. It’s worth mentioning that Ikon, on their website, have the nerve to associate their music with such artists as Joy Division and Death In June. That’s quite far from the truth. I’d say it’s just a typical new generation gothband who doesn’t have a bloody clue about…anything. Only cool thing is they’re aussies.
Later that evening Apoptygma Berzerk enters the large stage at “Agra Halle 2” to the first chords of “Non-stop violence”. After that follows almost nothing but hits, mostly from the albums “7” and “Welcome to earth” It’s quite a good show but it’s hard to feel really engaged in it. Apoptygma Berzerk keep to the same old beaten track as usual except for the last song. The last song is a terrible little melody with cute pop guitars and Oasis-rhythms, which Stefan Groth claims will be a new single. He must be joking.
About half an hour later it’s time for 25-years celebrating Die Krupps. This concert is brilliant and will stay in our memories for a long time. Jürgen Engler & Co. takes us through (almost) the whole history of Die Krupps. Immortal pieces like “Wahre Arbeit-Wahrer Lohn”, “To the Hilt”, “Fatherland” and so on are performed with more energy than ever and it’s obvious that the band love being on stage. Remarkable is that even to this day Die Krupps are provoking. After playing “Germaniac”, Jügen Engler has to explain to certain parts of the audience, who has started booing, that the song is nothing but an antifascist statement. The only things negative is that the sound is lousy, just as it keeps on being at the Agra-stage for the rest of the festival and that the stage is too low for short people to see what’s going on.
On Saturday we take the tram to “Parkbühne” for a concert with the classic British band And Also the Trees. This is also a band that has been around for a very long time (since 1979 to be exact) and who are still going strong and better than ever. This is our first live experience of AATT and we are not disappointed. It’s just as clean and sober as expected and now we know for sure what we always thought; these are some great musicians. Everything is played live, from the easiest little keyboard line to the most complicated textures of intensive sound. And we also got the opportunity to hear “A room lives in Lucy” live. Hurrah! If you ever get the chance to see this fabulous act live, don’t miss it!
From classic romantic countryside gloom-pop to modern aggressive goth. Next stop on Saturdays trip is “Werk 2” and Scary Bitches. This is another don’t-miss-it-if-you-get-the-chance experience. Imagine two women in their late thirties. Dress them up in goth clothes. Add spiderweb, voodoo dolls, skulls, tombstones, strange hats (that looks very much like H.R. Geiger’s Alien) and general weirdness. Put them on a stage and let them sing to you about how they hate their ex-men and what they’d like to do with people they don’t like (it’s nothing nice) telling you it’s not a song but a curse. Vampire lesbians from outer space? Yes, probably. Is it good? Well, is the pope a catholic? It can’t fail! It’s humour, it’s a wild party, it’s everything your parents hate about goth and punk at the same time. And it’s bloody good music played by talented people. These ladies prove that goth doesn’t have to be about shattered hearts and suicide to the tones of tons of strings and church organs.
Hocico are playing at “Agra” the same evening. This Mexican duo hardly needs any further introduction; it’s heavy, brutal and as aggressive as electronic industrial can ever get. The show is not the best we’ve seen with the band. In fact we both agree that Hocico are better off with smaller audiences even though it’s really cool with approximately 20.000 persons in front of the stage. The size of the audience is obviously pushing the band to their limits. It’s an extremely energetic show but it’s a bit careless and unfocused.
Sunday, when waiting for he bands to start playing, is spent walking around the city of Leipzig. Yes, there is a city there too. It’s not just a festival. Downtown Leipzig is beautiful indeed. We find our way to Sixtina, a bar serving all kinds of absinthe and full of festivalvisitors. A very friendly bar and a nice place to just sit down for a chat and a drink. Just after that we once and for all realise that you don’t have to go to Italy to get a decent pizza. For the second time this weekend we find a restaurant serving the most delicious pizzas for just a penny.
At about half past eight Diary of Dreams take the stage at “Agra”, two times! The first try is interrupted by dead silence due to technical problems. The second try is better and DOD don’t seem to care about the technical failure. Instead they throw themselves into a bombastic live version of the title song from the latest minialbum “MenschFeind”. One of the heaviest and darkest songs they have made for years. And it’s even heavier live. Now, Diary of Dreams are Diary of Dreams, nothing more. The concert passes without any big surprises. It’s very good though. Interesting is that the fancy costumes are gone. Instead we see a straight rockband with nothing but their instruments. When playing this kind of music it’s sometimes hard to keep up the audience’s interest without the use of special effects and cool costumes, but for Adrian Hates and his associates it works out just fine. I even think I like it better this way. Towe’s opinion on the other hand is that the records are better than the live experience, which she finds a bit flat and without depth.
Later the bizarre German act Umbra Et Imago enters. This is a great live show in some aspects, in others it’s not. Vocalist Mozart enters stage dressed in a cardinal’s outfit and a hilarious wig. That is great fun. It’s not every day you hear a cardinal with long hair roaring “ecstasy!” On the other hand they pull off the same silly bondage performance as at last year’s Zillo festival. The only thing interesting with it is that the hair of one of the girls starts burning by accident. Talking about last years’ Zillo festival; the stage looks the same, the music is the same. Boooring!
Sunday’s main act and one of the festival’s headline bands are The Human League. OK, The Human League might have changed the sound of pop music and yes, they might have been very important. They might even have gone to heaven and resurrected for all we know. They are still dead boring!
The stage décor is all very cool and their costumes are nice and it all looks extremely professional but still, pop music was not better in the eighties. It’s now a proven fact.
Don’t you want me baby?
‘But festivals end like festivals must’ as Douglas P. Once said and Monday is the last day of this years’ treffen. We spend the afternoon at “Parkbühne” and the park outside, were we run into one of all the families that visit WGT. They tell us that WGT is a perfect festival to visit if you have small children. Their youngest child was just eleven months at its first treffen. And you think you’ve been around the scene for a long time. Ha!
N.F.D. is in my opinion probably the best live act at the whole festival. It was a very long time since I last saw such self-confident musicians on a stage. These guys know exactly what they are doing and why. The music is so powerful that the goths on the first row starts headbanging. Now, that’s something you don’t see very often. Some members of the audience are shouting for old Fields of the Nephilim songs since Tony Pettit is on stage. However cool it would be with a new version of “Moonchild” it’s not necessary. N.F.D.’s original material is of such high quality that Pettit’s old compositions would just fall to the floor unnoticed.
A little later it’s time for another goth classic: Skeletal Family. Skeletal Family were around the last time in the mid-eighties and were probably best known to the world for the song “Promised Land”. Back then they looked cool, today they don’t. On stage are four men about forty, fifty years old, looking no better than that and a very young girl singing. Or, at least she’s trying to sing. OK, Anne-Marie Hurst who was the original vocalist couldn’t sing either but it was much better than this. Skeletal Family 2005 is nothing but embarrassing except for maybe the vocalist’s charisma, which is quite impressive given the circumstances. It goes so far that a member of the audience shouts at them to ‘just play Promised Land and then piss off’. Say no more.
The last concert we visit this year is Chamber. This is interesting. Or it should be rather. It’s the usual folk-goth styled stuff with live strings and acoustic guitars. But the difference is the vocalist. He’s surprisingly good with a soft and deep voice with no problems reaching the low tones he’s trying to. The only problem is that the songs are really boring with just a few exceptions. It sounds just like any other folk-goth band, but with a good vocalist. Another problem is that the guy for some reason has to talk for several minutes between the songs. Makes it even more boring.
On the whole this years’ WGT is a good experience but there are a few things that makes us wonder what’s been going on during the planning. Is it hard to find decent sound engineers in Germany? The sound was bad or even really bad at all concerts we were to. And could someone please explain why an artist like Anne Clarke is making two gigs at really small venues where people who really want to can’t get in because it’s full? Same thing with Welle:Erdball. They might not be as big in Germany as in the rest of Europe but since so many foreign visitors are at the WGT it shouldn’t be that hard to figure out that “Parkbühne” is too small, not to mention “Moritzbastei” where Welle:Erdball were performing on Monday night. Outside Moritzbastei were hundreds of fans that couldn’t get in. And finally: haven’t anyone told the authorities in Leipzig that there will be a festival in the middle of May and that thousands of people will need public transportation in the middle of the night. Standing outside the central station for more than an hour waiting for the night bus is not fun.
Andreas Wandegren and Towe Rundgren
WGT Photos 1 (Katja Roselli)
WGT Photos 2 (Lina Carlsson)
WGT Photos 3 (Towe Rundgren)