The biggest Gothic-Meeting in the world, say they: all over the whole city of Leipzig you meet the black hordes (21.000 guests). But the inhabitants like it – “the blacks are so good and full of fantasy clothed” mumbles my taxidriver, “they are so friendly, have so nice manners” the waitress happily mentions. Therefore even the tourists from the cities around come to take photos from the black flood.
Interactive photo gallery at the end of the text
Exciting is the coexistence of victorianic nostalgics, vampires, latex-fetishists, post-punks, new-paganists and metall-heads. Peaceful they stand together inside of the tramways on the way to the next concert or party. Personally I found the mood very open and outgoing. But at all tolerance, peacefulness and harmony I met again and again so deep discussions at the tramway-stops about themes like “who is a goth and do the newcomers already belong to us?” Or “who is authentic and true in the scene and who only tries to belong to it, but is a fake?” These are, of course, existential questions, like in the normal world “am I and is there a god?”
The question about god is no theme, because in case of yes the thousandfold pentagrams, horns and symbols explain clearly: yeah, and he is demonic and his name is Devil. But don´t misunderstand – what´s in the normal world probably bad and the enemy of the universe, means here the friend of the universe (even for some bad, too). But what is normal? If we look from the point of view of the daily routine and usual behaviours to this Wave-Gotik-Meeting, you could find a declaration like “a big, dark masquerade and fancy-dress party with a lot of fetishism”. But with a glas of Met underneath the shadow of the trees in the pagan-village, where the blacksmith busy hits his iron, there comes the thinking, if not the normal world with their sunburned bodies in flower-patternd happy-sunday-dresses and their business-codes is much more a masquerade. Isn´t behind some ordinary, conformed normalo hidden a secret fetishist, behind daily rituals hidden desire or suppressed wishes for more romantic inside of a world, which is usualy under control of calculations and rationality?
Well, around 190 events inside of 4 days were the offer. I could only pick my personal favorites, impossible to see all. To my favourites belonged two great concerts of OPETH with an obviously cheerful Mikael “Hübsch” Akerfeldt “hope you feel good, that means you have somebody to fuck” and MY DYING BRIDE with Aaron Stainthorpe, who gave a presentation of exalted poses of martyrdom. But even the less frequented gigs from the not too wellknown NOCTIFERIA from Slovenia and VOLKMAR from Australia were very impressive – Volkmar with dark, gothic rock, who like it so much in Germany that they decided to stay here and are just on the search for a drummer, Noctiferia with a breathtaking metal-thunderstorm, which fast got more audience, and their vocalist, who played at the edge of the stage a second drum-set. Surprisingly for me was the pretty big audience the german EDEN WEINT IM GRAB was able to mobilize. Rather a studio-project of the alter-ego Alexander Paul Blake (have a look at Stalker: interviews), which agreed to play live after their fans and the label pushed them to do. And this was live very intensive and convincing. All those concerts took place in the Kohlrabizirkus, a big hall with difficult acoustical conditions.
On the Parkbühne, nice localized in the Clara-Zetkin-Park, I joint a magnificent gig of the british band DIE SO FLUID. In Germany until now less known, this trio with sexy singer and bass-player Grog really rocked a well-filled arena, hard and heartly with the excellent guitarero Drew, who took from time to time a trip into psychodelic areas. A review about their last CD will follow in Stalker. But especially curious I was about a show from Russia: OTTO DIX, who presented an unreal mixture of cyber-electro, fetish, violine, pantomime and the extraordinary, melancholic sound of the unusual countertenor of the singer Draw. The Moritzbastei, where the band played, flew over and was crowded. Many fans already wrote, they would be lucky to meet this band again in the next year.
Absolutely different and very quiet was the concert of the british band ANTIMATTER in the main theatre in the city-centre. They call themselves the most sad rock-band on earth. The sound seems to be known, and that´s no wonder, because Duncan Patterson from Antimatter was also a founding member of Anathema. Not much rock, rather acoustically melancholic, silent songs they played, but the audience was excited. For sure a special pearl through all the events. And silent it was, too, during the “Dark poetry”-reading of german poets Sascha Blach and Tom Manegold in the Cinestar. German dark, sometimes bad lyrics and texts in the occasion of the book-publishing of Sascha Blach „Trümmerpfad zur Transzendenz“.
But I was not alone confrontated with this mass of music and dates. Parallel to me – and when I met her clothed in rich, historical dresses – also MARINA SIDYAKINA from Stalker was at the WGT. So I have here now a couple of questions I asked her about her impressions.
Generally, how has it been for you, what are your impressions, Marina, especially if you compare this WGT 2009 with those from the earlier years – did something change or was it like ever?
I would say that this year was my best WGT. The first time it is just too big and too confusing, and it seems that people who are coming there for the first time, just cannot comprehend the scale of the festival and its structure. Now I feel a lot more comfortable, I know the venues and different events, and can navigate much better. This year their changed the romantigoth part from Parkschlossen to Spiegelpalast. The latter is a beautiful venue, red velvet drapes and luxurious seats, beautiful people on the dancefloor, only historical dresses and romantigoths. There is nothing like that in Finland, it was a real German speciality. Also the dress-code to the fetish party this year was a lot stricter, so I liked that. This year I felt festival was less crowded, and many were already packing and leaving early Monday, whilst others were still enjoying the festival. This sight was depressing for me personally. Some commented that the selection of bands this year wasn’t at its best, so maybe that made a difference to some attendants, however I had no such disappointments.
Let me know, which gigs or happenings have been the most exciting for you and why?
Of course I must highlight the Victorian Picnic, which is just gorgeous. I’m sure eventually it’ll be in the official schedule of the festival. I also liked Gothic Pogo Party, which they call a festival of its own, but in fact it’s just a small old-school goth club. I only felt that there, as well as at the When We Were Young, you don’t really fit in if you don’t have a Mohawk and a kilo of ripped tights on. Then also the autograph sessions were interesting for me, but I’m sure were very disappointing to the bands, as all the times I was there, there were almost no people. When the legendary Specimen were signing, there was a huge queue of cybers lining up to meet Combichrist who would be signing afterwards, but nobody came to meet such influential band as Specimen.
About what will you always remember in life, if you thing back to this WGT?
Those WGT experiences teach me not to be ashamed of what I am and what I like. I’ve seen so many different people, so unusual and strange at first, but who are also just expressing themselves. Of course I don’t want to judge anyone by their appearances or musical tastes, I just find it really wonderful that we can all just be ourselves and be appreciated for what we are and at least during those four days let go of all the stereotypes. Outside of WGT it’s often not possible, but at least during those four days you can wear the biggest 18th century dress or crawl on all your limbs with a leash and in a horse mask, if you feel like it, and no one will say a word. I loved how even regular Leipzig seniors and children were coming up to me to compliment the dress or to take a photograph. I really agree with whoever said that WGT might as well be called a modern-art festival, because of the creations people put up there! I like this feeling of belonging there and of being seen and appreciated, as in my local scene it is still too limited and in many East European countries is still inexistent. I agree with Viona-Art, who said it’s much better to dress up then to dress down. I want to keep this feeling throughout the year and express myself unpressurized by anything, just like every moment of WGT feels.
Did you meet exciting people or a special extraordinary person?
Generally, I find it not so easy to meet new people at WGT. Usually people come in groups or pairs and stay like that during the whole festival. Also it’s a known fact that Germans do not speak English very well, so it’s also an obstacle. Yet I still came across some new interesting people, for example two couples from the Netherlands, who run their own online shops, one for military clothing and another is more Victorian. I met one Dutch DJ also, that I think we’ll keep contact with. At Gothic Pogo Party I met the editor of Deathrock magazine from the US, which is slightly out of my scene so that was new and exciting. I got a chance to talk to my most favourite singer, Candia from Inkubus Sukkubus and this was very special and emotional moment for me.
Tell me more about the concerts on which you have been?
As it always happens with WGT, you plan to see some tens of bands and have a really organised schedule, but at the end you’re satisfied if you got to see at least a couple… But organisation-wise, the bands were well-spread, so I got to see the most important ones for me, My Dying Bride, ASP and Inkubus Sukkubus.
My Dying Bride was excellent, although I’d liked to hear more live violin and not so much playback. Other than that, great quality show, both in sound and light. The singer Aaron is very emotional and vivid on stage, unlike the rumours about his stage-fear. I liked how dramatic his moves were and how sensually he did the songs, it was very descriptive of the songs’ lyrics too. Some people commented that there is too much metal in WGT, but in the way that MDB does it, with all this doom and darkness, often slipping into some clichés (black ravens, dead roses, moonlight, red wine, blood, etc etc) I felt it really belonged there.
ASP was just explosive! The whole Agra was just screaming and clapping like mad, it was very hot. He had those fire shots going off and a lot especially at “Ich will brennen” and I’m just glad we didn’t all get cooked in there, the venue was absolutely full. It was very energetic and most of us were just dancing non-stop.
My personal favourite, Inkubus Sukkubus, was the most special and memorable experience of the whole WGT. Candia on stage is such a force, it’s breathtaking! She has so much power and energy, this kind of spirit – it catches on! I even forgot to dance, as I was just watching how she moves and sings. Her voice is incredible, so strong – it reached far beyond the Parkbuhne. I would’ve done the setlist differently, but then they also did an encore and I had goosebums all over during their whole set.
One positive surprise of this festival was British deathrock/theatrical band Scary Bitches. Their live set was a lot more electronic than their records and it was perfect to dance to. They played right before Specimen, so I wasn’t expecting anything of what I saw. Those Bitches are very entertaining and fun, I’m definitely listening to them a lot more now.
Was it possible for you to enter the Qntal-concert in the main theatre, because this was completely full and overcrowded and some hundred people had no chance to get in, as I know that you wanted to see this band?
In the past years, it was not possible to see Qntal in any indoors venue. There were people coming from Australia to see them and they didn’t manage, so I decided to spare me the disappointment and not even bother this year. I think it is bad organisation, if they know how many people would want to see the band and that it obviously doesn’t match the capacity of the venue. Next time it should be Agra at least, if Qntal will come again. I did hear a few of their songs when they played in Pagan Village on Sunday, but it was not physically possible to see them, as the area around the stage was literally packed. So this is something can definitely be improved.
Conclusion – what could have been better, what was great, what was bad?
I’d add Gothic Pogo Party to the official WGT programme and won’t charge a separate fee for that. On a similar note, a few artists were overlapping, as they played at nearly the same time but at different venues, like Steven Severin and Specimen. Very similar kinds of people would’ve liked to see both, but had to make a choice and it wasn’t so easy. For the rest, it is a great weekend. I liked that the dancefloors were going on until after 8am.
Text: Andreas Torneberg / Interview: Marina Sidyakina
photos: Andreas Torneberg