Wave gotik Treffen 2014
. “The fundamental laws of the universe which correspond to the two fundamental theorems of the mechanical theory of heat.
1. The energy of the universe is constant.
2. The entropy of the universe tends to a maximum.”
― The Mechanical Theory Of Heat by Rudolf Clausius
This year Wave Gotik Treffen could be considered as an extreme sport as the weather conditions were - in one word: hell ;) Heat, like goths in Lepzig during WGT, penetrates every substance and its rays occupy all parts of space (as the Occupy movement ;))
„It was 35c at WGT, only naked fetish goths were going to survive!" (Following: hot-summer-could-wipe-out-goth-population-experts-warn) My friend Naval argued: "Somehow Aussie goth community is alive and kicking despite 30c+ all year round!“
“He who cannot put his thoughts on ice should not enter into the heat of dispute.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche “ Human, All Too Human”
When you cross these parameters with usual topics that are relevant every year (like for instance selection of the bands, number of visitors, stream of subcultures etc.) you could get a classical golden section. So, let's start.
Christian Death were the first band to play at Agra – I hope they were selected as an opening band for WGT, not given the slot in the usual order of relevance. Children of the night are visiting festivals less and less during the night only, especially on WGT where the concerts are starting during the day. Considering weather conditions and my strong allergy to the Sun (I am not kidding and sadly I am not into Vampires), I feel really sorry for the ones who were playing open air at 14:00 on Sunday!
STID and Hocico were playing in KOHLRABIZIRKUS, which was second biggest venue at capacity of 4000. However the queue was so immense, that after a while entry was stopped to save people from spontaneous human combustion. Hocico started their performance with mariachi, and that reminded me of the fact that once surprised me - one of the largest goth scene in the world is in Mexico City. (Referring to the “normal” reports - always surprised to see visitors from Mexico). It was also announced that Rabia Sorda were added to Monday concert lineup. They were not in the program, so anyone who did not attend the Hocico show could easily miss them. This made me think about how WGT seems still stuck in the 90ties with respect to use of “new” media, especially compared to other similar festivals. For instance, Mera Luna is having live stream and W:O:A - Wacken Open Air has a smartphone app! To certain distinction social media became part of the event per se (as a platform for sharing photos, event information, etc.)
The concert that I was especially thrilled about was the ex-Yu band Borghesia, as they released new album after 20 years. This was actually the first opportunity to see them live (due to the fact they haven't played for such a long time, and dissolution of the country), although I would say they were one of the first tapes I got from my uncle back in the ´80ties (as a baby goth ;)). Their gig was followed with an exhibition in lobby. In this case I couldn't be objective, so I would quote my dear friend Nathan Clemence: "Then the old Slovenian act Borghesia came on and disappointed everybody with their rock sound and anarcho-hippy image".
At the Agra Klinik performed on the big stage.
I almost managed to miss Lebanon Hanover [Sena: as I was in Lebanon with a hangover! :D] as I went to Agra first - I needed more than an hour to get there and it was so hot. But when I made it to Theater Fabrik I was rewarded with an excellent show from Lebanon Hanover.
I left wondering why didn't they get a larger stage, as it was overcrowded, and so hot and stuffy that at some moments I felt in critical condition. Also I think that this WGT showed how much it is necessary to carefully schedule timing of the concerts, to avoid both overlapping shows with the same target audience, and having large gaps between concerts (this is my inner urban planner talking).
“Tram 31” aka.”The Goth Tram” should become stage for itself – it should serve drinks and have the appropriate music.
There are some similar initiatives going on right now ( see http://leipzigdiscovery)
Although one may say it's a vague notion, organizing a festival is not like organizing your own private life, there are likely many complexities that are contributing to current festival scene. If you were following the festival industry, you would notice that except in Germany, the so-called-gothic-alternative scene is on decline. This year there is no Urban Darkness, and big announced Alt Fest is struggling with cancelation right now. Others would say, that only goth in combination with huge metal industry could survive the booking fees of major bands (connected with decline in album sales). And all these festivals combined revenues are less than revenues of major commercial festivals in Europe and US. If we turn to the smaller independent festivals, there are not so many of them needed (don't confuse them with long concert revue of a particular music label). One of my favorites, Drop Dead, dropped dead long time ago, and others are turning to more experimental music.
I had my own dilemma regarding the reports from the festivals. The first is the notion of descriptive art as dominant standard derives from phenomenological approach, which is more typical for expressing literature skills as it is a contribution to understanding the phenomenon itself. As one residing in postmodernist surroundings, I had difficulties to stand by idea of objectivity (objectivity is a utopian vision, and we can talk only about subjectivity). This comes to be particularly emphasized when we are dealing with arts. Can someone really describe how it was, what is the sound and the feeling somewhere in world? As everybody knows – “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” (Plato). I understand that this was the way music journalism contributed to the history of music through the years, and it was an important method for its development in the past decades or centuries. However today, especially with development of so-called “new media” became obscure – as there are videos, Youtube reports, blogs, photos and comments all over the social networks the same second the event occurs. So if you start the report with the question “how was it?” you can understand how obsolete it can be. Some might say that it is completely inappropriate to describe music events outside of academic discourse.
There are two other roles that music journalism should fulfill - to provide you with information and to give you a critical overview of the background. I find that this kind of research journalism is quite rare in the Goth scene. Reasons could be numerous: firstly, the scene is not so immense to have major publishing, TV or other media houses to support it. On the other side, being part of musical industry means that most of the reports are part of promotional work for certain musical labels, which causes music criticism to visibly disappear. Online music bloggers began to supplement, and to some degree displace, music journalists in printed media.
What makes WGT still a very unique festival and not like any other in its musical genre is diversity (the big word these days) in any kind of context (art of the events, music subdivisions, visitors, nations etc.) The question of how it came to be that way could be a part of long lasting research project. One of the answers is that the organization of the festival keeps resisting the extreme commercialization for years and years, or more precisely – organizers still embrace the “otherness” despite the inevitable commercialization.
Second answer would be that the origins of the WGT are rooted in the city and scene specifics. So, the essentials of WGT lie in the diversity of the festival offer (concerts, exhibitions, lectures, fashion, guided tours, leisure activities, shopping etc.) Having this in mind, I would say that WGT is a cultural (urban) festival, and not "just" the musical festival. This makes one of the reasons why any kind of comparative analysis with the other, dominantly musical, festivals is out of the reach.
Maybe this is a place to propose that WGT (or GOTH?) could be declared as institutionally recognized religion, so visitors can use it to request days off from work for main events (pilgrimage to WGT) and for tax deduction for religious contributions (expenses of traveling, books, clothes etc.)
Most of the classical WGT offerings come from the festival or the city institutions themselves, but throughout the time, WGT integrated events that in the beginning were organized on so called "private initiative"- for instance, now famous Victorian picnic. At the present there is similar initiative for a picnic of this size during Amphi festival in Cologne. This made WGT a playground for "bottom up" initiatives in the Goth scene. (I am wondering if we are going to have goth gardening next year? ;) Some of them are just “one-hit-wonders” in connection to current trends, some are used as gatherings of certain thematic societies or national Goth communities, and some of them evolved in their own form.
Social networks made organization and accessibility of these events easier even on short notice and independent from official WGT organization.
This year I came across a few of such events - for example Angel-in-Bondage (AiB) in R1-Club, or first ever German Vampire Salon 2014 at WGT in Sixxtina. Let's wait and see if they could revitalize WGT offer in the coming years. There were also the rumor that on Saturday there was going to be a Steampunk picnic, but to this day it has not been confirmed.
There are events that started as a sort of “anti-WGT” movement like Gothic Pogo, and now they are regular independent events during WGT, but it is now questionable how much “anti-WGT” they are as most of the audience is visiting both of the events. This includes parties named "When We Were Young" & "Pagan Love Songs“ that this year were conveniently held at the walking distance, at the new location Täubchenthal, and even more “anti-WGT” events organized mainly by the punk-hardcore scene at Connewitz.
In 2014 one of the main locations and cradle of WGT - Werk II was not participating in the festival. Werk II stated it was not initiated from their side, and that this year they are accommodating Stadtfest instead. PR manager of WGT, Cornelius Brach, stated that the reasons are purely financial and that in the next years they should be overcome. He also emphasized on diversity of the scene and overrated prejudice. He underlined that WGT wants to keep its flair in its original form which includes no day tickets, or single tickets for events/workshops/lectures, and no adjustment of the web page to contemporary development standards. He also pointed out that WGT still gives space to many new bands and artists. And referring to the problematic of Werk II and this year ticket design, which was strikingly similar to 1924 Reichmark banknotes (see more at: von-der-reichsmark-zur-eintrittskarte-wgt-2014), he said that artist which designed the ticket had open creativity and it was taken out of the context, as for him that doesn't have background and the festival is apolitical.
Unofficial rumors say that true reasons involve having background in "well know left" location itself (Connewitz) and accidents with more and more "right" visitors of WGT (open debate about the use of the uniforms and symbols – see German Srafgesetzbuch section 86a). Open questions about this topic are usually met with silent approval (which is the essence of the problem, because inaction is also an action and Nihilsm is a political statement) For Further reading: die-neue-mitte-einer-unpolitischen-subkultur
My personal opinion is that research on these topics would contribute to musical theory and the scene could benefit from clear distinctions of the terms neofolk, dark folk and dark ambient. Topic of the aesthetics as important aspect of the gothic subculture is on the one hand, most prominent, but it is also a discussion topic with the most conflict potential (stereotypes and steering clear of conformity). Frivolous qualification that the theme of aesthetics in goth scene (and in general) is cursory fashion and/or apolitical per se could be considered as an oxymoron (again there is no neutrality or objectivity as concept). Once more, the argument based on postmodernistic methodology would be that aesthetics is embedded in the cultural background of each individual (zōon politikon, Plato again ;)), and therefore in the subculture, too.
Aesthetics in the gothic subculture is directly driven from opposing the society conventions. Uncritical use of the symbols (clothing and makeup, behavior) represents ignorance and superficiality but however it does not exclude liability. On the other hand, the deliberate use of symbols can be considered as provocation or support of particular ideology.
Another specialty of this year WGT, beside the heat, was the new spatial distribution of festival locations.
If I had time and resources I would propose a new paper with the topic "Places of commoning during the WGT in the relation to subculture typology by Megan "Trellia" Balanck”. (Illustrations: The-Goth-stereo-Types-Family-Tree-410089839 ) Hereby I would like to express my gratitude to the gothic.at committee to consider my application for goth scholarship at the university of life ;)) This topic is tightly related to content curation by the WGT organization, which often means that bands are not selected on basis of their relevance to goth genre, but rather depending on the booking opportunities (package arrangements, etc.) It also relates to the subculture shuffle of the current year, causing changes of scenery from boomboxes and dancing on the parking lots (cybergoth invasion!), to the beer-drinking, sidewalk-sitting crowd (release the batcavers!) This is also visible when you look closer at the selection of bands and timeline and places they get – as I have already speculated with regards to the choice of Christian Death as festival opener.
The bands on bigger labels are going to have prime time, not the ones more meaningful for gothic musical genre. Also the bands which are attracting more listeners in the goth scene would get smaller venues than the bands from closely affiliated genres and strong music industry (like metal), but less people on the WGT are willing to see them. It could be coincidence that some bands in the same goth sub-genre play on different locations in the same time, but now when distribution of locations became very wide - it became obvious that this was not considered. Another issue is putting certain conflicting subcultures next to each other, which shows ignorance and urges to reconsider diversity as a value.
In the same time as WGT 2014 edition we had also Leipziger Stadtfest and Car fair Automesse AMITECH 2014. This made the prices of accommodation even higher, but also gave additional”sideshows” to the program. However, it also meant more and more “normal” (i.e. tourist) people coming to check out this well known outrageous event with its unique blend of horror, cultural and carnival atmosphere, which makes it one of a kind in Europe. Ilija :“OMG, the hipsters decided that "we-are-so-creative-Burning-man-is-out" - now we are doomed!
So don't be surprised following commercial designer labels and post-Lady Gaga clothing, hipster goths are coming! And now for my humble contribution to the gothic theory - a new subtype (and not only for Austrians) – Conchita Goth (© TB)!! It is a mix of all androgen, cross-dressing and LGBT Goth with an extension to this year emerging fashion of Conchita’s beard. Namely at this year's WGT edition one can perceive trendy appearance of masks shaped as a beard (or maybe it is pure coincidence?) made of metal or other materials, of course über-stylized.