On May 18th another great edition of Wave Gotik Treffen is scheduled to start—with the German festival celebrating it’s 27th year.
The event which spans from pre-parties on Thursday on the 17th, to the festival’s closing during the early hours of Tuesday 22nd, has been reinvigorated in recent years, becoming more than just the world’s largest festival for goth music.
If you have bought tickets all ready, it is time to get ready your leather jacket, fishnets, eyeliner, and several cans of hairspray. If not, there is still time to book a hotel, and take train, plane, or automobile, and get your butt to Leipzig for the most fun you will have all year.
(If you are looking for a last minute flight from the US, WOW Air has some round trip tickets at around $500)
And in case you have any doubts, here are 7 reasons to get ready for a fantastic Wave Gotik Treffen 2018:
1. Last Year Was Great
Wave Gotik Treffen 2017 was the best festival period of 2017—celebrating its 26th year with a fantastic lineup of bands and subevents, that we once again too much for one person to take in, leaving attendees wishing they had that time turner from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
With each year the issue with scheduling gets more and more difficult as a fan and journalist, not to fault the organizers. The problem lies in there being too much of a good thing—as the quality of music curated at the festival has been increasing exponentially, especially since genres and subsections of the goth, industrial, and post-punk have been overlapping more and more in recent years.
In terms of big headliners, Skinny Puppy were the act everyone was eagerly anticipating, returning to the Europe for the first time since 2010. Nivek Ogre looked like some sort of post-apocalyptic messiah, pierced by swords and needles, as he sang like a witch in a set heavy with political undertones (as always!)
At one the Leipzig’s many parks— the day after their stunning collaborative performance, we were able to sit down and the friendship of Amanda Palmer—and her musical hero and friend Edward Ka-spel of The Legendary Pink Dots.
The pair recently released the fantastic surreal dreamscape LP that is I Can Spin A Rainbow, and gave of of the best live performances we had ever seen at WGT.
Sex Gang Children’s set was a return to form for Andy Sex Gang, being the best show many fans had seen in over a decade. The Mission also did not disappoint, living up to their legacy as being of the the most important bands in gothic rock.
Newer post-punk acts certainly dominated the weekend, with Whispering Sons festival debut at the Volkspalast blowing away all those who were able to catch the performance, or fit into the crowded hall.
Soft Kill also had a warm reception, as did Ritual Howls and Desperate Journalist, the later of which who played in the Cantine at the Volkspalast compensated for the dirtier sound of the PA with one of the most raw, passionate, and sincere sets this editor has even seen, gracefully continuing the complicated riff their trademark song “Control” even with a broken string.
Other highlights we enjoyed at the festival were Drab Majesty, Azar Swan, She Past Away, classic post-punk band BFG, and more.
Here is the the full list of Artists our team saw (or tried to see) at Wave Gotik Treffen 2017
- Amanda Palmer and Edward Ka-Spel
- Skinny Puppy
- The Mission
- Esben and the Witch
- Cabaret Voltaire
- Revolting Cocks
- Suicide Commando
- Lebanon Hanover
- Soviet Soviet
- She Past Away
- Drab Majesty
- Sex Gang Children
- Desperate Journalist
- Spiritual Front
- Sixth June
- Ritual Howls
- Bloody Dead and Sexy
- Whispering Sons
- Whispers In the Shadow
- Azar Swan
- The Agnes Circle
- Codex Empire
- The Devil and the Universe
- Die Selektion
It is not too late to make your plans to attend 2018’s edition of Wave Gotik Treffen, which occurs the May 18th until May 21st.
2. The Lineup This Year is Looking Awesome So Far
Who ever is doing the booking for the festival, we could kiss you! Big headliners announced this year are The Jesus and Mary Chain, whose brother’s Reid still kill it every time they play “April Skies” and “Happy When It Rains”.
For classic British post-punk acts, we recommend ofcourse Mark Burgess’ Chameleonsvox. as well as Modern English.
Three classic French bands are set to play this year—Norma Loy, Guerre Froide, and Trisomie 21, the latter of which is sure to be extremely popular in everyone’s festival itinerary, as who hasn’t been to a goth clubs where the dj closes his or her set with the cold-wave band’s classic club anthem “The Last Song”.
One of our top picks for this year, and also one of the most exciting exclusives for the festival lineup is a reunion show from classic Belgian post-punk band Siglo XX. The band, formed in 1978, had sound that was strongly influenced by music of Joy Division, Section 25, and Factory records.
Also strongly recommended, on the more punk side of things, is recently reunited punk band Crisis, whose recent gig in Berlin was a dream come true/bucket list concert for many seasoned dj’s, promoters, and music aficionados. This is also the highly political anti-Nazi band whose members would later go on to form Death In June.
If you are fan of Einsturzende Neubauten, and/or Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, we recommended you see Teho Teardo & Blixa Bargeld’s collaborative performance, which is closer in sound to the works of Coil, and Neubauten’s later output, but none the less extremely beautiful.
If you are looking for something more industrial/ebm, old-school Belgian band Vomito Negro is your number choice, as well as fellow countryman Dirk Iven’s project Dive. Naturally, there is the more mainstream electro industrial of Front Line Assembly, and Nitzer Ebb related EBM project Blackline but if you want something more dark noise, check out Trepaneringsritualen, and if you want something more ebm/techno, pencil in SARIN on things to see.
For the old-school deathrock and batcavers, Frank The Baptist make their return to Wave Gotik Treffen, as well as there being an exclusive reunion show from All Gone Dead. Also check out Sweden’s Then Comes Silence.
For new guitar bands, highly recommended is Autobahn, who have a sound that ranges from Leeds style gothic rock to shoegaze, and Toronto cold-wave band Traitrs, who at times have an experimental sound like The Cure circa Pornography.
Actors and Suir are also top picks, with the former having an uncannily authentic new-wave sound, and the latter dark and inexplicably good.
Also, let us not forget NYC’s amazing Bootblacks, who are beyond outstanding live. Definitely make an effort to see them, you will not be disappointed.
One of our top picks of course is Second Still, making their Wave Gotik Treffen debut—they were our pick for one of the best post-punk records of 2017, and we are eager to see their raw talent showcased in front of a large European audience.
Now, for those who want more synths, Aeon Rings is one of our picks, as well as the solo debut of Zanias (Keluar, Linea Aspera), and Australia’s Buzz Kull.
We can say already with certainty, that Boy Harsher’s Wave Gotik Treffen debut is going to be a festival highlight, so get there early, or else you will be standing at the entrance with the venue at full capacity while the Jae and Gus kill it with “Pain”.
As of this article’s publishcation, not all bands have been announced for the 2018 lineup, we will update this list as new announcements are made. In the meantime, below is our full list of confirmed artists we recommended you see at this year’s Wave Gotik Treffen:
- Actors (CDN)
- Aeon Rings (USA)
- All Gone Dead (USA) exclusive European reunion show
- Ash Code (I)
- Autobahn (GB)
- Black Line (GB/USA)
- Bootblacks (USA)
- Boy Harsher (USA)
- Buzz Kull (AUS)
- Chameleons Vox (GB)
- Confrontational (I)
- Crisis (GB)
- Dead Leaf Echo (USA)
- Dive (B) –
- Frank The Baptist (USA)
- Front Line Assembly (CDN)
- Guerre Froide (F)
- Japan Suicide (I)
- Joy/Disaster (F)
- Merciful Nuns (D)
- Modern English (GB)
- Monica Richards & Anthony Jones (USA)
- Mr. Kitty (USA)
- Principe Valiente (S)
- Readership Hostile (USA) –
- Rome (L)
- Sarin (IR)
- Scarlet And The Spooky Spiders (I)
- Second Still (USA)
- Siglo XX (B) exclusive reunion show
- Suir (D)
- Teho Teardo & Blixa Bargeld (I/D)
- The Jesus And Mary Chain (GB)
- The KVB (GB)
- Then Comes Silence (S)
- Traitrs (CDN)
- Trepaneringsritualen (S)
- Trisomie 21 (F)
- Vomito Negro (B)
- Zanias (AUS)
3. The Official Parties are Great This Year
On Friday, May 18th 2018, the 38th anniversary of Ian Curtis’s death, we will be celebrating the art and work of one of the most influential bands of all time at the official WGT 2018 Ceremony – A Tribute to Joy Division party at beautiful Noels Ballroom in Leipzig.
Mark Reeder is the special Guest DJ on this occasion. Mark worked with Joy Division as their Factory Records representative in Berlin, promoted their very first and only gig in Berlin on January 21st 1980 at Kant Kino in Charlottenburg, released fantastic records with his own bands Die Unbekannten and Shark Vegas in the 80s (as well as his still brand-new album “Mauerstadt” just a few months ago), and has most recently been the man behind and in the internationally critically acclaimed “B-Movie: Lust & Sound in West-Berlin 1979–1989” movie.
Joining forces with Mister Reeder behind the decks will be Leipzig’s own, Knüpfi (Vanity Noire/Schwarzes Leipzig Tanzt) – one of the biggest Joy Division- and New Order enthusiasts there is –, alongside Jakob (Cold Beat Berlin/Judgement Day Festival/Ex-Strobelight Records) and Thomas Thyssen (Pagan Love Songs/Darkness & Light).
At the event there will be spun a broad variety of Post-Punk, New, Indie, Goth and Classic tunes as well as – of course – lots of Joy Division and related material.
Since this is an official Wave-Gotik-Treffen event, admission with WGT wristbands is FREE. For those who want to attend, but don’t plan on buying a ticket for the festival, admission WITHOUT a WGT wristband will be 8 Euro at the door.
Additionally, there is the main post-punk party When We Were Young running 3 days during the festival, see the DJ schedule below:
- 18/05/18 with MadLyn (DE), Rickbats (USA), and Yggdrasil (PT)
- 19/05/18 with Nina Door (DE), Diego Lima (AR), Cassiel (UK)
- 20/05/18 Alessio (IT), Schlö (DE), JU Age (DE)
When We Were Young is wristband only!
On Thursday 17.05.2018 19:00 at the WGT Pre Opening Party at the Moritzbastei, our Editor Andi Harriman will be djing, along with Daniel Myer.
4. The Sense of Community
Wave Gotik Treffen is not only a gathering of people in black clad clothing, spanning just about all alternative music genres born from post-punk and industrial. WGT is not only a music festival, it is a gathering of friends worldwide who passionately believe in the art, music, and culture produced by a community of misfits who have been the black sheep since their earliest school days.
Regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, gender and sexuality, at Wave Gotik Treffen diversity and personal freedom are celebrated.
5. Beautiful People From All Over The World
Jonas Fransson from Sweden’s Then Comes Silence and some of his friends from KLUBB DÖD are just one of many groups of festival attendees you will see in Leipzig for Wave Gotik Treffen.
*Photos by Jonas Fransson, and feature: Hanna Carlsson, Adina Hargeby, Carl-Henrik Alm, Jonas Fransson, Erik Rydberg, Anna Viktoria Li Nordberg, Anders Eklund, Sophie Granlöf and more.
Tinder doesn’t have a filter that lets you swipe left or right those who have similar taste in art, cinema, and music. But with 20,000 people with similar interests in one place, you are bound to find someone attractive you can actually talk to—for a festival hookup at the very least.
Some people met their future life partners at WGT…and some people who have been attending since the festival’s early years now attend with their fully grown progeny.
7. Being Goth Is Cool Again And Means More Now than Ever
There is more great music coming out in the post-punk and industrial scenes right now than there has been in the past 2 decades, making the label “goth” something not epithet, or something said with irony, but rather an identification to be proud of, more so now than ever.
And the subculture is more unified now, being less about cliques, with industrial and ebm fans, and batcavers and deathrockers are open to a wider variety of music than the aesthetics of their clothes suggest, while still remaining true to the history behind the fashion and music.
And true goth is fashionable to the mainstream press, but for the first time, it is not a curiosity, but a celebration of the artistic merits of the best music in the world. Music that Wave Gotik Treffen has been celebrating for the past 27 years.