Wave-Gotik-Treffen is a pretty big deal. For those of you that don’t know, it’s the Goth festival, being the largest and most renowned in the world. Every Pentecost bank holiday, tens of thousands of Goths congregate to Leipzig, Germany, where the entire city is taken over for various gigs and events related to the scene, for four days of partying (five if you include the pre-parties!) Having been to Amphi and M’era Luna many times before, this had been on my radar for a while. After years of convincing from some close friends of mine, I decided that 2019 was finally the year to go for it.
[Please note that, for those of you that normally read EoE, this post is going to be very different to the usual format, and in multiple parts…]
Thursday (6th June)
My day started way too early, as there was a massive journey ahead of me. This involved getting to Birmingham International Airport, taking a flight that lasted just over an hour, before hopping on a train from Frankfurt to Leipzig for roughly 3 hours (with a connection in-between.) There was lots of waiting about too, so I was thankful to finally reach my hotel around 5pm. The only issue here was that the hotel was quite a distance away from the action, something that became a slight detriment over the weekend, but not a major hurdle. As a last minute panic booking, due to being screwed over, it served it’s purpose. At least the rain had stopped by the time I got off my tram!
After settling in and getting ready, I made my way to the first venue to collect my wristband, at Moritzbastei. I’d been told in previous years that the queue here was a lot shorter than the other venues, but people must’ve caught wind of this, as the queue was quite long. It never seemed to go down either, constantly topping up. In all fairness, it was pretty smooth, and a 20-30 minute wait is better than most festivals I’ve been to. After waiting for my friends, I descended the steps into the building. It has to be one of the craziest, most mind-boggling places I’ve ever been to! It was initially built as a Bastion it the 1500’s, and went through many transformations over the years, before finally ending up as the venue it is today. It was quite something, the labyrinthine corridors and hallways of the ancient Gothic structure seemed like they stretched forever, leading unexpectedly into new rooms and crevices. Essentially, it’s one big loop, with 3 different rooms, albeit a confusing one. It was absolutely jam-packed too! At times, it was hard to move. That certainly didn’t take away from the atmosphere, however, it was worth it to take in the aesthetics alone. After partying and socialising until a silly hour in the morning, it was time to turn in for the night.
Friday (7th June)
So here it was, the first day of the festival proper. I was prepared, with the list of bands I wanted to go out and see. I had the best intentions to see them all, but I found time slipping away, which resulted in me missing the majority of them. Why was that, you ask? The Victorian Picnic was the reason why! After getting slightly lost on the tram (it was my first time, after all), I ventured to Clara-Zetkin Park to meet up with some people, and there I stayed for a good few hours. It was glorious weather to be at such a beautiful place, surrounded by fellow goths of all kinds. I know it was stated as a “Victorian” picnic, but I really don’t think anyone actually cared. It was an extremely pleasant experience, and was great to meet up with old friends, and meet new people. As the day drew on, and things started to wind down a bit, I decided to make my way to Westbad to see my first band.
I was initially worried about the queue, as it was long, and not really going anywhere. After a while, with a lack of movement, I decided to give up… at the worst possible moment, because that’s when a swarm of goths left the building. I figured I’d lost my chance, so headed to the next venue. As luck would have it, I ran into some friends who were willing to try and get into Westbad, which reinvigorated my determination. My second attempt was victorious, and we all managed to get inside to catch Empirion. The duo blasted their way through a bunch of classics, as well as new tracks off their upcoming record Resume. Judging by the quality that was presented, it sounds like the album is going to be a monster! It was a high-octane, energetic ride, and it was a pleasure to hear songs such as “I am Eelectronic” and “Narcotic Influence.” The set ended with an awesome, heart-warming tribute to the late Keith Flint of The Prodigy, with a remix of “Firestarter”, which brought the house down. This was certainly a strong act to start on, raising a high bar for the rest of the weekend.
Next I made the surprisingly easy journey to Haus Leipzig, where [X]-RX were performing. However, by the time I got there I’d missed half the set, the venue was packed and it was way too warm to party hard (‘Haus Leipzig’? more like ‘Heiß Leipzig’!) I wasn’t really enthused by the band either, especially after the high of the previous act. So I instead made my way to the bar, to plan my next move. Luckily, not much planning was needed, as I happened upon another friend, who suggested we ventured to DarkFlower. This alternative club venue was quite a nice one! It was small but cozy (although a bit too cozy as the night drew on), and had an interesting atmosphere. If I were to describe the mood, it has vibes of Slimelight in London, with a hint of Eddies, Birmingham, when it was in it’s Gough Street iteration. This combination made it feel very distinct. The tunes were fantastic throughout our time there too, and I took to the dancefloor on numerous occasions.
As time drew on, I decided to continue on to the main venue, at Agra Treffenpark. It was a bit of a journey from where we were, but worth it nonetheless. The room itself wasn’t really inspiring, it was just a plain hall, but it was packed with quite a crowd, and sizeable enough to not be cramped. The music wasn’t completely to my taste, being more old-school goth (I don’t dislike it, I just couldn’t do a whole night of it usually), but I ran into another friend, who introduced me to their group. I’d definitely found the right crowd to party with, as I found myself dancing and drinking with them until the night ended… at 5am the next morning. After returning to my hotel well after daybreak, it was time to try and rest as much as possible. Even though I only attended one gig, I felt it was very much a successful start to the weekend.