Another year in which The Black Planet Magazine was present at Wave Gotik Treffen in Leipzig. As always, we will focus on our target audience and report on events that our readers most identify with. Interestingly, almost all the reasons for our report this year were located in the same place (Heidnisches Dorf), with a few exceptions that we will duly point out.
So, on the first day, we went to the Heidnisches Dorf enclosure, a place that is transformed every year into a medieval village, with many stalls selling food, drinks, handicrafts and clothing associated with the folk/medieval culture.
The first band to take the stage was Storm Seeker, a pirate folk metal band from Germany. With two albums released, the concert built on these two albums and songs like “How to Be a Pirate”, “Drag o Below”, “Guns Don’t Cry”, “Row Row Row”, “Pirate Squad” and The “Longing”, enthused the audience, which, for such an early hour, was quite a lot. They ended the performance with the festive song “Rum”. Being the band responsible for opening the festival, the test has been passed.
Then the quieter sounds of Katja Moslehner and her band entered the stage. The sounds inspired by Celtic music echoed throughout the venue and soothed the atmosphere after the energetic performance of Storm Seeker. Although some people left the place, her performance was very good. Strong and impressive voice, sympathy and a beautiful smile.
The third band of the day was The Kingspipers, a band formed by one of the members of Corvus Corax, Wim Dobbrisch, in which he set out to explore the sounds of Scottish and Irish bagpipes mixing them with the sound of guitars and electronic sounds. In the first two songs there were some sound issues, especially with the vocals, but after the problem was solved the concert went smoothly until the end. Songs like “Scotland the Brave”, “Braveheart”, “Mille Anni Passi Sunt”, “Non Nobis Domine”, “Irish Party”, “Auld Lang Syne”, “Kingspipers Hymne”, and the closing encore “Amazing Grace”, were presented to an audience that, despite all the enthusiasm and joy of the band as well as the festive song style, was a little lukewarm. A lot of people arrived during the Kingspipers performance, probably waiting for the next band.
Not being the last, Fiddler’s Green was probably the most anticipated band of the day. The performance of this German band that plays Irish folk-rock/folk punk was extraordinary, as is usual for those who follow them. Many of their classics were played and judging by the reaction of the audience, the show was quite intense and everyone enjoyed it. Starting with “Whiskey in the Jar”, going through “The More the Merrier”, “Life Full of Pain”, “Perfect Gang”, “All For Me Grog”, “Galway Girl”, “Raise Your Arms”, “Another Spring Song”, to “The Night Pat Murphy Died”, there was joy on people’s faces and many people jumped to the sound of the band. It was one hell of a party, and there was a lot of empathy between the band and the public.
After the performance of Fiddler’s Green, we left Heidnisches Dorf and went to Agra, another place close by where bands were playing. We decided to report the Solar Fake concert, a very interesting synthpop / industrial / indie-electro project by mister Sven Friedrich. Having released an album in 2021 and due to the pandemic lockdowns, it would be normal for the performance to be based on the latest album, but several songs from previous albums were played as well. The environment and space were conducive to more danceable sounds and many didn’t rule out this hypothesis, so it didn’t take long for a festive atmosphere to be installed in Agra, led by a Sven Friedrich who never stopped jumping on stage and pushing for the audience.
On the second day, we travelled to Heidnisches Dorf again to check out the bands that would be of more interest to our target audience.
Taking the stage firstly there was the folk-rock band Aeronautica. Inspired by the Steampunk imagery, its members were carefully dressed as such. Maybe because it was too early, or maybe because the public had celebrated too much the previous day (or both), there weren’t many people in the venue during the show. This didn’t prevent the German band from performing an excellent concert supported by their two original albums (“Sturmzeit” and “Der Himmel Brennt”) in which the band alternately played songs from both.
The second band was Vroudenspil, a folk rock band that incorporates accordion, saxophone, flute and bagpipes as part of their creative process to convey a unique and joyful sound to the public. Overall it was an energetic, happy-themed performance that didn’t leave the crowd static, quite the contrary. There was a lot of movement in the audience, as more and more people were coming into the venue. Their setlist was composed of songs such as “Kaleidoskop”, “Tanzbär”, “Selbsträcher”, “Plankentango”, “Püppchen”, “Menschenbild”, “Rebellion”, “Lebensglut”, “Rausch der Sinne”, and worked as an invitation for the audience to dance.
The third band to take the stage was the Spanish Trobar de Morte, a medieval folk pagan music group. This is a band that requires no introductions, and more than a simple concert, they gave a fantastic show with an extraordinary performance by all the members showing no weak links. Right from the beginning of the gig in which the musicians took the stage wearing demonic masks in a whole ritual taking place before the music even started, to the dances and choreographies of Lady Morte and another dancer, the whole performance was brilliant and did not leave anybody indifferent. The entire concert was a theatrical performance which unfolded right in front of the eyes of the audience, creating a narrative while performing songs such as While the songs like “La Era de las Brujas”, “The Black Forest”, “Sister of the Night”, “Sacrifice”, “Fuga Maleficis”, “The Sorceress”, “Morgana”, “Luna Cornuta”, “Samhain”, and “The Bear’s Dance”.
After such an amazing moment, we left Heidnisches Dorf, crossed the city and went to WestBad to follow Gggolddd, Brutus and Alcest.
We arrived just before Gggolddd started the show. Milena Eva’s band entered the stage in pitch-black darkness until bright blue lights came on. We don’t know if it was at the request of the three bands we saw at this venue or what, but the three concerts were immersed in low light and smoke in a rather intimate atmosphere. The concert was based on the band’s most recent album released earlier this year entitled “This Shame Should Not Be Mine”, featuring songs such as “I Wish I Was a Wild Thing With a Simple Heart”, “Strawberry Supper”, “Spring”, “I Won’t Let You Down”, “Notes on How to Trust”. The crowd filled the hall completely and rejoiced. One of the most emotional moments of the whole concert was when “This Shame Should Not Be Mine” began. Many of the attendees knew the reason for the writing of such a piece, and an uncomfortable silence descended on the room when the first chords began to echo. The concert ended with “Beat by Beat”.
Then came Brutus, a Belgian band featuring drummer and singer Stefanie Mannaerts, Stijn Vanhoegaerden (guitar) and Peter Mulders (bass). The band’s driving force is the singer and drummer, who undoubtedly puts up a show. This trio delves into a deep well of post-hardcore, shoegaze and post-metal filled with guitar leads drowning in reverb, thick distorted basslines, and powerful drum patterns which feel like a punch to the stomach. All complemented by Stefanie’s fantastic vocal performance. Their setlist was composed of “Cemetery”, “Baby Seal”, “All Along”, “War”, “Drive”, “What Have We Done”, “Desert Rain”, “Space”, “Techno” and “Sugar Dragon”. Even though most eyes were on Stefanie, between each song she’d point to her bandmates requesting equal credit and applause from the audience.
The last band of our day was Alcest, a French post-black metal band that needs no introduction. Neige (Stéphane Paut) is known for his major influence in the blackgaze scene, where his music combines both black metal and shoegaze. Neige and his band gave a very interesting concert with a set list not only focusing on their latest album but also visiting older songs. The band began their show just like their album “Spiritual Instinct” begins: “Les Jardins de Minuit”, “Protection”, “Sapphire”. Then came the return to the past with “Écailles de lune – Part 2”, “Solar Song”, “Oiseaux de Proie”, “Sur l’Océan Couleur de Fer”, and “Kodama”. “Délivrance” also contributed to filling in the nostalgia within Alcest fans, who, for sure, missed listening to such songs. The reaction was quite enthusiastic, emphasized by the whole intimate atmosphere present in the venue.
On the third day, the metal genre was contemplated with the inclusion of two concerts in two different places. In the impossibility of being in two distant places at the same time, we chose the one where the names were more resonant and we thought they would be of more interest to our readers. When we got to Hednisches Dorf, Finsterforst were about to start playing. We noticed that the venue was quite full with a large amount of public. Perhaps because this place was the only one in the entire festival where you could enter with a day ticket and a lot of metalheads from Leipzig went there. The German folk/Viking metallers started their performance with “Wut”, the first song from their last album released in 2019 and quickly conquered the public. The band then returned to the two prior albums with songs such as “Fremd”, “Zeit für Hass” or “Mach Dich Frei!”. The public reaction was enthusiastic. With a terrific sound and totally comfortable on stage, the band went back again to their latest album by performing “Fluch des Seins” and “Zerfall”. Finally, the song “Ein Lichtschein” was played, one of the best in the band’s discography, with the public actively participating in the choruses of “oh, oh” and “hei, hei”, raising their fists as they screamed.
Next were the Swedish Fejd, practitioners of traditional folk metal. In addition to guitars and drums, their sound included the Bouzouki, Hurdy-gurdy and Moraharpa. Playing songs from all the albums it was was like a complete tour of the band’s entire history. Starting with “Bergakungen”, and then “Gryning, Den skimrande”, the band quickly went through “Hednaland”, “Strilja”, “Storm”, “Drängen och kråkan”, “Vinternatt”, “Härjaren” and “Offerrök” until the last “Yggdrasil” came to close their set. The Swedes, with their friendliness, many years of experience and a carefully selected setlist, conquered the public, who, at times, even dared to dance.
Soon after came one of the heavyweights of the German melodic death/black/Viking metal scene: Varg. Featuring body paint in shades of black and red and a half-medieval, half-warrior outfit, these boys from Bavaria put on a very energetic show. In 2020, at the beginning of the worldwide pandemic, they released the album “Zeichen” but, due to restrictions to public events and lockdowns, they couldn’t promote it properly. So they used their performance at Gotik Treffen to introduce the public to their latest creations. Thus, songs like “793”, “Schildwall”, “Rán”, “Fara til ránar”, “Auf die Götter”, “Wildes Heer” and “Zeichen”, all from their last album, were played, interspersed with older songs like “Wir Sind die Wölfe”, “Schwertzeit”, “Blutaar” or “Schildfront.” One of the highlights was the song “Fara til ránar” which featured the singer Fylgja (Jaqueline Toth) in a duet in which there was some theatricality in the interaction between the two singers. Also, the interaction between the vocalist, the rest of the band and the audience was very energetic and emotional and, overall, they conquered everyone.
The last band of the day was the Swedish folk rock band Garmarna. Supported by a magnificent album released in 2020 and a long career with several other albums, the set list was varied.
They started with Ramunder and Två Systrar from the new album and as those are faster songs they quickly grabbed the public’s attention. Then old and new songs emphasized the mix of Swedish folk and rock in perfect harmony. Ingen, Straffad Moder och Dotter, Vänner och Fränder, Timmarna, Väktaren, Dagen Flyr, Sven i Rosengård, Euchari, Gamen, Nåden, Vedergällningen, echoed through the venue and were heard by those who stood their ground until the end. Unfortunately, about halfway into the concert, it started to rain and many people left. Even so, with brilliant professionalism, the band gave a phenomenal concert as if to thank the resisters who held out in the rain until after the encore, which was their anthem, the song Herr Mannelig.
Once again the paths chosen on the fourth day were the ones that took us back to Heidnisches Dorf. This year, most of what we found to be of interest to our reader base was focused on this location. In other years it has been different, this year it happened like this.
Cesair, a Dutch pagan folk band, based their performance on their two original albums and presented some new songs. It all started with the song “Umbra” from their last album “Omphalos”. Then “Dies, Nox et Omnia” from the album of the same name. “Erda” from the second album followed and the fourth song was a new song called “Storm”. We highlight this song because immediately after its announcement that it started to rain (but not as intensely as the day before with Garmarna). Then “The Ruin”, followed again with a new song “Aux Pieds Nus”. Until the end, the rest of the lineup bounced between “Omphalos” and “Dies, Nox et Omnia” albums, with songs like “Y Gododdin”, “Chorihani”, “Enuma Elish”, “Canso” and “Troll Kalla Mik” being heard. It should be noted that as the concert progressed, the rain weakened, and when the concert ended it was no longer raining. A wet concert is a blessed concert, how good it was.
Then came Haggefugg, a medieval German folk-rock group that immediately took to the stage. Despite his dedication to music and his joy in being on stage, the concert was a little lukewarm with the public not reacting much and seemingly just waiting and watching the concert. Gott und der Spielmann I, Katzenjammer, Sternenjäger, Lasterkahn, Tanz mit dem Teufel, Sang, Weib und Wein, Winternacht, Auf den ersten Blick, Fünf folle Jahre, Seemannsgarn were some of the songs played, ending with Met, Wirt, Bestellt!, a song that finally got some movement out of the audience.
The third band we saw was Ragnaröek, another medieval German folk-rock band. Unlike the previous act, this provoked jubilant reactions from the public. With a strong theatrical component, the use of fire, onstage dancers, and strong interaction with the public, it was clear that everyone was having a blast. Some of the songs played were Alles dreht sich, Man(n) liebt dich, Jagen, Dornig, Knochenschiff, Spielmann, Tanz mit mir. One of the highlights was definitely the song Trinkfest 5-4-3-2-1, in which the band, from the stage, passed a long hose to the public and with the help of a funnel filled the hose with mead and the public, passing on the hose drank it all. It was a very amusing concert.
The last concert in Heidnisches Dorf was the Patty Gurdy’s Circle concert. Patty Gurdy is a German hurdy-gurdy musician and singer. Despite being young, she already has a long history working with various folk bands. This is her first self-titled band and it was also their first concert. Between originals and covers, she did her best and the public responded positively.
Starting with the Gary Moore cover Over the Hills and Far Away, the audience surrendered quickly. Oil, Run, Horizons Turn Red, One By One were the songs played before the second cover: Sweet Dreams by Eurythmics. Universe Night & Day, Ed Sheeran’s Bad Habits cover, Leaves and Lemons, Moonlight Shadow, Michael Jackson’s Beat it cover, The Longing, Gurdy’s Green, resonated that night until the apotheotic final with the traditional Irish music Molly Malone.
There was still time to go to the Agra venue to see Grendel, the industrial electro band. In a quite crowded room, the Dutch, helped by projections on a screen, delivered a strong sound barrier formed by a guitar, drums, synthesizers and a frontman who seemed possessed and who was pushing for the audience as if this was the last concert of their lives.
Due to the lateness of time and schedules to adhere to the following day, it was impossible for us to stay to see the last performance of the night in Agra: the performance of the industrial band Combichrist.
We hope to return next year for what will be the 30th edition of the festival.
A special thank you to the organizers of the Wave Gotik Treffen.
Photos & text by João Osório