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20th Wave Gotik Treffen 2011 – Goth Heaven
It ‘s early morning of Thursday, June 9th and Stanstead airport is buzzing. We’re waiting for the Ryanair flight that will take us to Berlin and from there we’ll find our way to Leipzig, the home of goths for the upcoming weekend. It’s that time of the year again – Wave Gotik Treffen is conquering the city of Leipzig.
At the airport, you’ll occasionally see blue hair amongst the crowd, a lady wearing a black corset or a pair of New Rocks walking by. Sure enough, these are the people boarding the same plane as us, a quick chat reveals that indeed they have the same end destination in mind.
The seemingly never-ending journey (taxi, coach, flight, s-bahn, train) finally ends and we find ourselves in Leipzig. People wearing black clothing are flooding from left and right and the festival is slowly starting. The official start date is June 10th, but some bands are already playing on Thursday. One of these bands is Love Like Blood who, according to their Facebook page, are performing for the first and only time since 1999. They definitely give the festival the good start that it deserves.
The first official day of the festival, Friday June 10th, pampers the festival people with such bands as Gothminister, Umbra et Imago and The March Violets.
Gothminister are amazing. They’re playing quite a few songs from their latest album, Anima Inferna and using pyrotechnics that could make even Rammstein proud. Umbra et Imago seem to make the crowd wild but for us they are a bit disappointing as we’d heard about their show reputation i.e. sexual acts on stage. Unfortunately we don’t see any sexual stuff happening there – or maybe their act is so tiny that it isn’t visible from the back of the venue.
I headed off to Felsenkeller, its narrow entrance beeing flooded with goths coming in and out of the venue, some of whom have just finished watching Merciful Nuns while others are coming in for the last show of the evening, The March Violets.
The March Violets
The venue is quite tiny and intimate compared to the main venue, Agra Halle. It’s also only about half full, possibly long travelling times between the different venues and shows is taking its toll. It took us at least 45 minutes to reach Felsenkeller from Agra Halle with two trams and we didn’t even have time to watch a bit of Covenant before rushing out of the door.
The air conditioning at Felsenkeller didn’t seem to be working, the air is hot, sweaty and smelly, the whole place wreeking of the toilets, old booze and bad cologne. The band appear on stage in the middle of purple-blue light and smoke, wearing hats made of feathers. The audience, mainly being older than those at the main venue, started dancing immediately.
Too bad that the lighting at the venue was rubbish and seemed to cherish the backs of the band leaving their faces in the shadows – not much of a treat for the photographers. The sound was as bad as the lighting, quite disappointing really, given the amount of money people paid for the festival tickets, in my opinion the venue let all of the bands down.
Saturday, June 11th is the day for a bit of metal, Vinterland and Helheim, who play excellent Viking black metal, are all tucked away in a venue called Halle 15 and we need to travel back to the main venue, Agra Halle for German electro-industrial band Feindflug and Belgium’s Front 242. Agra Halle is flooding with people, the air is hot and moist, people are dancing like crazy, a good way to end Saturday.
Three days of standing and walking is starting to show, it’s difficult to get out of bed on Sunday, feet and legs are hurting and some of us have hangovers for some strange reason. However, Nosferatu, Killing Joke and Fields of The Nephilim are waiting so we still can’t take it easy but we’ll be visiting the absinthe seller to keep things running smoothly.
Even though Monday, June 13th, is the official end date of the festival, you can clearly see that people have already started to leave the festival to go home, wherever that might be. The venues are emptier and it’s actually easy to get a pint (mmm, that cheap German beer) at the bar. We entertain ourselves by checking out two Finnish bands: Crimfall and Moonsorrow. Moonsorrow seems to be what the audience wants and the day ends with the punk legends, The Misfits.
WGT is a very entertaining experience as it’s not a festival that takes people into a remote location in the middle of nowhere. Rather, it takes over an entire city with the only bad point being that the venues can be quite far from each other so it takes a bit of planning to get from one place to another without missing the bands you love to see. Luckily trams and night busses go quite frequently and WGT even has its own tram line for the festival only, number 31 – naturally, colour-coded in black.
Photographs by Katja Nykanen
Read Katja’s look at fashion at WGT HERE