Wave-Gotik-Treffen 2019: 5 bands you should see.

It’s that time of year again – my favourite festival of the year, Wave-Gotik-Treffen, is upon us. Every year, on Whitsun weekend, Leipzig is invaded by some 20,000 black-clad fans of dark music, from gothic rock to synthpop, from cold wave to post punk, from industrial to neofolk. What started as a small gathering of like-minded individuals is now the largest festival of its kind.

Whatever you’re into, you’ll find something for you – with almost 200 bands on the lineup, you’ll be hard pressed not to. Here are my personal favourites on this year’s lineup.

Kaelan Mikla

This Icelandic trio was formed in 2013, and their music reminds me of the landscape of their country of origin: cold, desolate and heartbreakingly beautiful. Lead singer Sólveig Matthildur’s voice goes from screaming to whispering in the span of seconds. Their music could be described as synth-punk, their latest album, ‘Nótt eftir nótt’, is an absolute masterpiece, and their performances are consistently brilliant.

Selofan

Someone described this Greek duo as “Lebanon Hanover on steroids”, and I totally agree. Their mix of darkwave, post punk and minimal synth is gloomy yet full of emotions, and their live performances have all the dramatic flair a goth could want. Think theatrical gestures, red roses thrown into the crowd and all that jazz.

Cubanate

If you’re a fan of industrial, you’ve probably heard of these guys. The London-born powerhouse became known for mixing distorted guitars and aggressive techno percussion. After splitting in 2001, they came back with a vengeance in 2016, and have been going from strength to strength, delivering energetic performances full of raw, brutal power.

The Soft Moon

One of my biggest musical discoveries in the past couple of years, The Soft Moon is a brainchild of producer, singer and songwriter Luis Vasquez. Verging on post-punk, darkwave and minimal wave, his music is something unique, and his voice range is out of this world. There’s something in his performances and his stage presence that touches my soul – and it might touch yours, too.

Light Asylum

Listen to ‘Dark Allies’ closely and you probably still won’t guess that this deep, strong voice belongs to a woman. Shannon Funchess is one half of this Brooklyn-based electronic duo, along with Bruno Coviello. They may have just one full album under their belt, but boy, what an album that is! I’ve never seen them live, but somehow I feel it’ll be an experience to remember.

Who is on your must-see list? Do you have one, or do you go with the flow? Regardless of that, I hope to see you in Leipzig!

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Wave-Gotik-Treffen 2018. 5 bands worth checking out.

Yes, it’s still cold here in the UK, but it’s May, and this means my annual trip to Wave-Gotik-Treffen is getting closer. Every year around Whitsuntide, Leipzig, a pretty and picturesque city in Saxony, Germany, turns black for a few days. Approximately 20,000 visitors from all around the world come together to dance, drink and meet like-minded individuals. WGT is more than just a music festival, and it’s undoubtedly my favourite event of the festival year.

Last year, these were my must-see bands. I managed to see all of them, and they were all excellent, each in a different way. So I decided to make a list for this year, too. I skipped the really big names on purpose, focusing instead on the less-known acts that you might not get to see anywhere else. So, here’s my 5 acts worth checking out at WGT 2018.

Ash Code

I first saw this Italian band in September last year and was instantly hooked. Even though they’re a fairly young band (they were formed in 2014), their energetic mix of dark wave, synthpop and post punk has a distinctly 80s feel. The catchy tunes make you want to sing along and dance to the beat.

 

3Teeth

OK, they’re not really that obscure – after all they’ve toured with Rammstein and Tool – but they’re not a household name, either. And I totally believe they should be. Their eponymous debut album was the best thing that happened in industrial in years, and their gritty, mechanical sound has become something of a trademark. They’re also incredibly engaging on stage, and the lead singer, Alexis Mincolla, is a force to be reckoned with.

 

Boy Harsher

I discovered them by accident, when one of the DJs at Slimelight played “Pain” and I couldn’t get it out of my head. This dark electronic duo consists of Augustus Muller, who is responsible for the beats and synths, and Jae Matthews, whose voice is capable of screaming, whispering and anything in between. There’s something intensely sensual about their music, and I really can’t wait to see them again.

 

Black Line

One of my recent discoveries, this experimental collaborative project’s driving force is evolution. Perhaps that’s why it’s so interesting. The musicians mix high tech equipment and low tech instruments  to create a unique sound. Definitely worth checking out!

 

Spark!

Many of my friends said these guys’ performance was the best thing they’ve seen at this year’s E-tropolis Festival, so I thought I’d look them up. Instead of following the scene’s standard, Spark! mixes catchy pop tunes into the tried and tested EBM formula. I’m not sure what to expect, but I know that this might be the most entertaining show of this year’s WGT.

 

Who are you planning to see at this year’s Wave-Gotik-Treffen? Any clashes you’re really worried about?

Wave-Gotik-Treffen. Packing 101.

Not long to go now – I’m off to my favourite festival, Wave-Gotik-Treffen, on Wednesday. I usually leave packing until the very last minute, which results in frantically searching for that particular black dress in my all-black wardrobe, chucking in all my makeup in a plastic bag, and forgetting to pack something absolutely essential, like my toothbrush or passport. Well, OK, the latter has never happened before, but it wouldn’t be too surprising.

This year, I have a few days off just before the festival, so I thought I’d use this time wisely and get stuff done early. Which is why my suitcase is pretty much packed now. Now, that’s what I call a win.

Apart from stuff like clothes and boots and makeup, there’s a few things I make sure I always pack. This includes, but is not limited to:

  1. Blister plasters. I usually stick these little soothing patches of loveliness on problem areas on my feet just before heading out. Strutting about in New Rocks and Demonias can result in an awful condition called Treffen Foot, and I do everything I can to make sure I don’t miss anything because I’ve lost the ability to walk. On that note, a spare pair of comfy shoes is a must. It is not uncommon to see goths in trainers and sandals on the final day of the festival. Nothing wrong with that; putting yourself through unnecessary suffering just to look fab is just not worth it.
  2. Plug converter. If you live in continental Europe, you’re fine, but if you’re coming from anywhere else, make sure you pack one or two of those. It’s no fun to realise you can’t charge your phone because your plug doesn’t fit the socket.
  3. Painkillers. Because waking up with a headache from too much partying and not enough sleep is inevitable, and looking for a pharmacy when you do is not something you’d want to do.
  4. Hand sanitiser. You’ll be out and about a lot, you’re likely to eat street food without having the opportunity to wash your hands first. I put mine in a cute bat-shaped sanitiser dispenser, which gets me extra goth points.

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    Spooky sanitiser.
  5. Power bank. Even if you don’t use your phone abroad as much as you do at home, it’s not great to run out of juice in the middle of the night, just as you were about to call your friends and check where they were.
  6. Earplugs and an eye mask. You won’t get much sleep, and if you’re anything like me, you’re very unlikely to go to bed when it’s dark, so try to make your sleep as good as you can. I’m finding it hard to sleep when it’s light out, and, being a light sleeper, I wake at the slightest sound, so these items are absolutely essential.

And what’s on your list of stuff you always bring with you?

Invasion of darkness. Wave Gotik Treffen 2014.

Don’t think I forgot. I promised, and I’m a girl of my word.

Why not sooner, you might ask? Well, I’ve only just managed to return to normal. Or almost normal, because I’m sure I’ll remember my first WGT for a long time. Possibly forever, or at least until the next one.

WGT, which stands for Wave Gotik Treffen, is one of the largest goth events in Europe (and, quite possibly, the world). It’s grown a bit since the first one in 1987 in Potsdam, when a few hundred people gathered to listen to dark and haunting bands. In 1992, it was moved to Leipzig and that’s where it still happens every year. These days, the number of attendants oscillates around 20.000.

So, where do I begin? I’ve never in my life seen so many goths and all sorts of alternative people gathered in one place. I mean, Leipzig is not small, but it felt like a proper invasion. If you ever happen to be there during WGT, be prepared to see black-clad figures all over the place.

And what amazing outfits! Sure, there are people who prefer to take it easy and stick to combat trousers and band T-shirts. But there are also those whose costumes would make you gush. This year’s WGT was one of the hottest ones in history, so I couldn’t help but admire the ladies in heavy, high-c0llared Victorian outfits, complete with long gloves and hats and fancy headdresses. I’ve seen a lot of steampunks, cybergoths, deathrockers (oh, how glad I was to see those!), medieval warriors and maidens, and even the odd metalhead…  If you think you’ve seen it all, the populace of WGT will still find a way to surprise you.

Three: if you don’t want to miss out on the best afterparties, forget sleep. OK, you are allowed a little catnap between 10 am and midday. But there’s a chance that when you get your hands on the event’s programme, you won’t want to. Why? Well, the programme is 4 pages of very fine print and full of festival events, from gigs and parties to theatre, exhibitions, lectures and such. There’s so much of it your head will spin.

Also, no matter how hard you try, there’s absolutely no way in hell to see everything. But I reckon that’s normal when you go to a big festival, and the only thing you can do is accept it and chill out. A wise man once said: “You can’t jump higher than your arse”, and he was right.

Five: take more money with you than you think you need. The shopping hall at Agra, also called the Black Market, is mahoosive and full of wonderful stuff, from corsets to boots, from googles to gloves. There’s plenty of CD’s and vinyls, clothes and jewellery. As someone who lives in London, I’m spoiled, because there’s hardly anything I can’t find in Camden Town, but for someone who lives away from alternative stores, the Black Market is paradise.

Six: if you’re thinking of going, book your accommodation early. A year ahead is good. Yes, I’m serious. A lot of people book their rooms for the following year when they check out.

Seven: the food at some of the stalls is pretty decent, and the drinks are more than decent, especially the kirschbier (cherry beer) and the rose wine at the Pagan Village. It’s also quite cheap, so if you want to get pissed, you can easily do it on a budget. Don’t get too pissed, though. You want to remember some of it.

I could go on and on… But the best thing you can do is just go and see it for yourself, because it’s well worth it!

My accommodation and time off work for WGT 2015 are already booked. And I know for a fact that I will be going every year. For an event this big, the atmosphere is incredibly friendly. It feels more like a meeting of like-minded people than just a festival, and that’s what makes it special.

And a few photos, as promised: