[dropcap]W[/dropcap]ave Gotik Treffen 2015 was the best event worldwide of 2015, hands down. All the best musical performances of the year were seen editorial team at Post-Punk.com saw at the 24th annual festival hosted in the city. In fact, just about every performance we saw was ranked undeniably good to amazing, save for a very weak Friday night program, with one disappointment, and another enjoyable, but perhaps not palatable performance.
It is possible to have too much of a good thing? Yes, and 2015’s festival made it physically impossible to see every band you wanted to see without the aid of a Tardis, The standout performances of the festival were certainly Motorama, Youth Code, and Agent Side Grinder, among many others included headlining legends like DAF, Front 242, and Fields of the Nephilm.
We made a list, day by day of all the performances we saw, and if you were not there, you had better book your tickets now for the special lineup that is in store for the festival’s 25th Anniversary May 13th-16th. Get your tickets here.
So let’s get started…
Death in Rome
Death in Rome were supposed to be a nice start off for 2015’s WGT. Saving numerous house parties with their excellently made covers of pop songs like Miley Cyrus’ Wrecking Ball, Barbie Girl (whoever that was) or Pat Benanar’s Love is a Battlefield, the band decided to perform at Wave Gotik Treffen and that show was as close to comedy as a Neofolk show could possibly be.
Playing with every cliché possible, the band entered the stage masked, their faces covered by caps drawn deeply into their faces, remaining anonymous and they managed to deliver amazing musical quality, a really good performance and they did not even smile (visibly) while covering Barbie Girl; I’d burst into laughter after the first two chords. Who certainly didn’t burst into laughter was the audience that gave me the shit for singing along to a cover of Rihanna’s Diamonds. “Shh, we want to listen”. I kind of doubt that this was the intention of Death in Rome, but their performance was genuinely enjoyable.
Kirlian Camera unfortunately managed to perform the anti-gig of 2015. I do not want to say too much about it because if you cannot say anything nice, you better keep silent. What unfortuantely wasn’t silent were Rammstein-like guitars destroying Blue Room.
THE PRESENT MOMENT
The US band was a victim of a well known WGT phenomenon—bands traveling over sea on a low budget can have difficulty adjusting their sound to an unfamiliar venue. This can be especially frustrating if you are a band with a Depeche Mode like charisma. Howeer, What could be heard through poor calibration carried through,and was really good, remarkably good. Indeed, the band had a great set, that bodes potential to grow big.
CRASH COURSE IN SCIENCE (Photos not available)
Post Punk/Synth veterans Crash Course In Science made their very first WGT appearance at Stadtbad. The cult band, founded in 1979, is responsible for a good number of hits, Flying Turns or Cardboard Lamb, to name two of the most prominent ones. Delivering at that very early hour, the veterans reinforced their reputation as a cult band.
Minuit Machine, as Hante. and Leave The Planet, rose from the ashes of Phosphor. Hélene de Thoury and Amandine Stioui formed Minuit Machine, whose debut album Live and Destroy followed the path the Parisiennes took with Phosphor—eerie Synth Wave. Certainly the band sound travels back to the era of when the doomsday clock was a minute til midnight , but the way they capture this Cold War Era French sound far exceeds what anyone else is doing these days.
Synth Wave, with a very french undertone, pt. II: Automelodi came to heat up things. Xavier Paradis’ recent project, that released two amazing albums, entered the stage after Minuit Machine and continued the synth-driven wavyness. Integrating guitars into the plucky, analogue and very warm sound aesthetics, Automelodi delivered a really heart-warming performance.
AGENT SIDE GRINDER
One word: Great. Shortly after releasing their best album so far the band announced their appearance at Wave Gotik Treffen and god, they killed it. That’s as much of a headliner as a headliner can be. With an album full of hits, the recently issued Alkimia, it isn’t really too hard to deliver a thoroughly entertaining show, but alas—they can’t help but be just great!
Youth Code are THE EBM discovery of the past few years, and with their two releases, the self-titled debut album and the Consuming Guilt EP, they created a huge buzz. Sara Taylor and Ryan Williams created a real storm of hammering beats and heavy bass lines, and Sara’s screaming abilities are beyond imagination. Filling AGRA at this early stage is a great deal, and that proves Youth Code’s status in the current EBM scene.
The forefathers of EBM followed immediately after, and tick tock, the party didn’t stop. There are certain debates about DAF’s current live qualities, since they definitely do not sound like 1981 any more, but that is alright – they are way beyond their early 20s and their back then unique, fresh and innovative sounds have been copied to death by a lot of bands. The innovators are still worth being watched though, and party fuel like Verschwende Deine Jugend or Der Mussolini are still great, even after being around longer than most people in the audience.
After watching DAF, my pogo capacities were pretty much nonexistant, but still, a Best Of set of Front 242 is a pretty good thing to watch. Being known for their exceptional live qualities, they rounded up the evening very very well, and what can you possibly do wrong when your Best Of set contains songs like Tragedy for You, Quite Unusual or Masterhit? Not very much arguably. Outstanding sound, together with an energetic performance and a rock solid back catalogue make an amazing gig, and another EBM innovator proved to be a pleasing watch.
Russia’s Doppleganger were a fine start to an evening of Deathrock and Gothic Rock over at the Täubchenthal.
Continuing the theme of the evening were Edinburgh’s Dark Post-Punk heroes Twisted Nerve, who kept the Batcave spirit alive.
FRANK THE BAPTIST
Frank the Baptist returned to Wave Gotik Treffen in promotion of their latest LP As The Camp Burns. They were fantastic, as always. Did the crowd sing along? Yes they did!
THE MARCH VIOLETS
Religious as Hell, really pious!. Our Gothic Rocker friends from Leeds, The March Violets performed a fantastic, returning to WGT for the second time in 5 years, featuring William Faith on Bass, along with Si, Rosie, and Tom.
FIELDS OF THE NEPHILIM
Carl McCoy and The Nephilim are the best traditional Gothic Rock band performing today,and everyone at the festival seemed to know it, as this gig at Kohlrabizirkus was hard to get into, and seemingly at capacity (A really huge venue by the way). Well worth waiting in line for though!
Plain Techno at WGT? Yes, sure. The Canadian duo Orphx’s performance was absolutely outstanding and a very pleasant alteration from the festival’s remaining line-up, but they fitted into the puzzle excellently. Modular-driven and analogue techno sounds, always a bit gritty, always with a good amount of dirt, is right up my alley, and visibly it struck a chord with those who came to see them perform as well. Who says that Techno is dull never listened to Orphx.
Erik van Wonterghem’s Dark Ambient/Noise project Monolith delivered a very minimal performance, but once captured in the endless layers of sound, you didn’t watch much anyway. It was more about listening, and the time just flew by. Monolith just doesn’t get boring. Slowly swelling up from Ambient-driven songs to Techno and Rhythm’n’Noise, there was no room for boredom.
Ash Code’s debut release Oblivion was a very pleasant surprise in 2014, with its onward-driving Dark Wave tunes influenced by Xymox and The Frozen Autumn without turning into a mid tempo bore. The italian three-piece performed excellently, and I observed Volkspalast to be extremely packed for a 5pm set on sunday. Rounding up their set full of amazing songs like Crucifiction, Dry Your Eyes or Waves With No Shores with an excellent cover of The Sound’s I Can’t Escape Myself, Ash Code were an excellent start for a very busy sunday.
The Italian dreamgaze of Schonwald was a lovely highlight of WGT 2015.
Zoè Zanias, formerly of Linea Aspera, and Sid Lamar, mastermind behind the German EBM/New Wave band Schwefelgelb, made a name of their own with their project Keluar. Playing at Wave Gotik Treffen in a packed Volkspalast certainly isn’t a bad thing for a band, and the performance justified the interest that arose after the releae of their two EPs Ennoea and Vitreum, that were out at that time. Certainly, Zoè Zanias has the potential to be a new role model for Goth girls that are too cool for Amy Lee, and I would certainly approve that since her eerie and energetic performance struck a chord in many people including me. The songwriting qualities of Sid Lamar should not be unnoticed, because to get a singer’s best, you need excellent songs.
VEIL OF LIGHT
The Swiss project came with guitars, reminiscent to The Cure’s Pornography era, a reverb laden drum machine and a truck load of dry ice. I cannot really say much about the performance as I haven’t seen it because of that dry ice, but what I’ve heard and vaguely observed is a good live band with excellent songs and great live qualities.
King Dude is one of the best neofolk acts of this decade, and though as he didn’t really match the line up he filled the quite big Kuppelhalle with a sleight of hand. Contrary to his recent tour, T.J. Cowgill performed solo, and thus, concentrated on the acoustic moments and put the rock show aside—and delivered an intimate and captivating folky show that managed to shut up a whole bunch of people, that were actually just listening.
Tempers were not on my watchlist for that night, but somehow I stayed at Volkspalast and that was a very good decision—they were really good! Previously unknown to me (though as I kind of recognised some of their songs), they made me curious and will be checked out as soon as I have time to do that; their debut album Services is out now and one of the best records of this year, something you could have had a peek into when going to this very show.
I loved Motorama before, but I love them even more now. After having to ironically cancel their gig at WGT last year due to their transport breaking down on the motorway, our friends from Rostov-on-Don killed it Sunday night at the Volkspalast Kuppelhalle. One of the best performances at WGT I have even seen.
Terence Fixmer and Douglas McCarthy should be very familiar names in the Electronic Music scene. While Fixmer is a pioneering French Techno producer, Douglas McCarthy’s best known project Nitzer Ebb doesn’t need any introduction. Energetic and straightforward, the duo made the machines sweat, and the audience as well, and this wasn’t really on the hot weather’s behalf.
Hayden Payne, best known for Dream Affair, is a multitalent. Aside from making amazing Synth-Wave tunes, he is apparently a really good Techno producer as well, and Phase Fatale, his newest project, seriously kicked some butts; unfortunately not with much resonance, but who was there didn’t go unsatisfied.
The dutch two-piece release significantly increased their fan base with their album debut Puur and the Nord EP.
Fuck me (in case you’re hot and female), that was great. How to keep a legend alive? This is the way. Great sounds, retro-futuristic visuals that blended well with the band’s performance, they did not lose the live feeling despite their very electronic approach. I stood there an hour with my ears wide open. Chapeau. I am still impressed when I think of it; the goosebumps will not go away that soon hopefully, and I hope to catch them again. Really.
THE FROZEN AUTUMN
Italian Darkwavers The Frozen Autumn are the best classic Dark Wave performance live, and the duo did not disapoint at this year’s WGT.
THE EXPLODING BOY
Sweden’s The Exploading Boy returned to WGT to fill at capacity Altes Landratsamt, and were better than their last gig at Parkbühne.
ESCAPE WITH ROMEO
The last gig seen at Wave Gotik Treffen 2015 captivating the crowd with terrific renditions of classic Post-Punk and Gothic Rock tracks such as Somebody, Serious, and Helicopters In The Falling Rain. What a great way to end another year and the greatest festival in the world.