Hau Ruck! Festival

Monastery, Vienna (Austria) / 31 October – 2 November 2002
B.O.T.I.S., Novy Svet, Tribe of Circle, Dernière Volonté & more

About half a year ago Albin Julius announced on the website of his label Hau Ruck! that a festival would take place featuring the bands on that label. Well, this festival is now history and I’m glad I bought a ticket and experienced it!Things started out real hectic when we went to Arnhem for the ICE to Vienna; if the train wasn’t delayed we would probably have missed it. Luckily we just made it on time. The trip can be described as 13 hours of trying to find a decent way to get some sleep or just staring in the darkness outside of the train. Luckily there were three of us so it didn’t become that boring at all. The first lunch we had in Vienna was in a lunchroom called Die weisse Rose, nearby our hostel?

On Wednesday we went to the museum of modern art, very nice! In the evening we used the opportunity to see an opera by Verdi in the Statsoper for only 2 euros; one starts wondering why this isn’t possible in the Netherlands.. I think we can learn a lot from Austria concerning the promotion and financing of cultural events, especially for younger people.

Alright, on Thursday the Hau Ruck! festival finally started off with a pre-party with an Ironflame DJ and the first ever live performance by Bearer of the inmost Sun. After eating a huge Wiener Schnitzel we walked to The Monastery, the location were the festival took place. It was some sort of large basement, just big enough for the 200 visitors. The overall atmosphere was very nice from the start, but drinks weren’t all that cheap unfortunately. One of the first things I noticed was the size of the stage; I think it was one of the smallest stages I’ve ever seen!

Around eleven o’clock in the evening B.O.T.I.S. entered the stage, hidden behind a big plastic screen. One could just see the silhouettes of the vocalist with cowboy hat (!) and two percussionists, of which one presumably was Albin Julius himself. Various images were projected on the plastic screen, which added a nice effect to the 3-song concert the band gave. The most striking image was a big rotating swastika, which was quite a shock at the first instance, but after a few seconds the swastika turned into lots of smaller ones serving as the stars in the USA-flag. An obvious message to the American president, presented to us by the members of B.O.T.I.S.! As I just mentioned, the band played only three songs, and of course the “party-hit” Hail Jerusalem was one of them. However, this song was played in a rather different and catchy uptempo version, consisting of an electronic drumbeat. Very good! After the gig the DJ started playing some neo-folk and lots of old pop songs?

On Friday evening the real festival finally started off. After receiving the festival picture 10″ with unreleased tracks by all the bands, which I already saw on Ebay for an astronomical price, Tribe of Circle opened the festival. This one-man band came on stage in Islamic clothing accompanied by ditto music. The message was clear; Europe should regain what now is lost? The show was okay, I like the music quite a bit but there wasn’t much more than one guy hitting a bit of drums and doing some occasional vocals.

A totally different act entered the stage after Tribe of Circle; womaniser Novo Homo! Dressed in a smart suit, wearing sunglasses and smoking cigarettes, this one-man outfit really presented an enjoyable show. The music sometimes reminded me a bit of the Pearls before Swine soundtrack; some sort of criminal first half of the century music? accompanied by electronic beats and vocals ranging from a rough whiskey voice to moaning. “You liked this, didn’t you? Ugh!”. Great!

Third band of the evening was Italian/Austrian Mushroom’s Patience. Their music is some sort of weird mixture between ritual/ambient and psychedelic 60’s/70’s stuff. The trumpet player and the keyboard player both wore sunglasses and sombreros, while the vocalist/bass player entered the stage with a one-meter tall paper hat; hilarious! The other vocalist was J. Weber from Novy Svet, wearing a coca-cola sweater and acting totally insane and fucked-up on stage. Very, very great performance!

A bit of a disappointment after this: Spiritual Front. This guy was just being drunk and annoying, and I don’t like his music that much either. Imagine a drunk Italian guy with a punky haircut and dressed in leather clothes playing acoustic folky songs, demanding ten minutes silence after almost every track he plays. Well?

Luckily Novy Svet entered the stage as the closing band of the evening, and this performance alone was worth going to Vienna! You probably all know the strange and quite simple yet well-composed muzak style of Novy Svet, but on stage it’s even more enjoyable than on cd. The unique vocals, the Fraulein of the band hitting the drums and playing accordion, and a member of Mushroom’s patience playing the bass in a very relaxed manner. The atmosphere was nice, almost arty in a way with the flickering logo of the band projected on a screen. The irresistible song Resistant went wrong within one minute, so vocalist J. Weber laughed a bit and the band tries again, very relaxed, and this time they manage to play the whole song, although the vocalist almost laughed is head off when he had to sing this line: “Inside I’m wild, but outside I’m cool”. Hilarious! Great band!

Saturday. We heard about another festival which took place in Vienna: Dark Nation. Since the Hau Ruck! evening wouldn’t start before 22:00 in the evening, we decided to check out Ataraxia and Ordo R. Equilibrio, the only two really worthwhile bands playing at Dark Nation. So we took the subway to this festival, which took place in a whole different part of Vienna, and arrived just in time to see the worst gothic act ever with barely dressed women and extremely boring music. Something different for a change?

Luckily Ordo R. Equilibrio soon entered the stage. This time it was just the vocalist, without any other members (they were too busy sitting at the merchandise stand?), backed up by projected short films on a large screen. A lot of songs were played that I didn’t know, I guess quite a lot of new material. I must say I look forward to a new album, because the material sounded promising. Very bombastic, with an outstanding song about war (don’t know the title?). So, musically good, but not much going on on stage?

ORE was followed by Ataraxia, who also played in Belgium two days earlier. What a brilliant performance! The show was magnificent, the music beautiful and extremely well-played. Undoubtedly Ataraxia consists of very talented musicians, who are able to present a good theatrical show with masks, flags, dances, ?.. I really enjoyed this.

After Ataraxia we took the subway to the Monastery for the last evening there. C.O.Caspar started off with its strange noises. The guy behind this project was a somewhat older bald man who looked a bit like Pim Fortuyn, without the tie of course! Some sort of ambient noise was created out of really strange self-made (?) machines and devices. Unique, and it sounded good as well. After this a mixture of clicks, noises, easy beats and brutal shouts was presented to us by I-C-K. Reminded me just a tiny bit of Galakthorroe bands now and then, except for the vocals. Quite enjoyable.

After all the electronic mayhem it was time for the first folk band of the evening: Of the Wand and the Moon. Mainman Kim told me that they just arrived after travelling about 20 hours by train, all the way from Denmark to Vienna. And they would leave the same evening, back to Denmark, again by train. 40 hours travelling by train for a 45 minutes show deserves respect, and shows that this band consists of very dedicated musicians. They did a very good show on this very small stage, with a setlist being identical to the one at the Darkfolk festival in the Netherlands a few weeks ago. Well-played neo-folk songs with lots of atmosphere. Unfortunately kein Zugabe!

After OTWATM the last band of the festival entered the stage, namely Derniere Volont? from France. They started of with a song together with the female half of Der Blutharsch, which was followed up by the great swinging track of their split 7″ with Novy Svet. J. Weber joined in on vocals to complete the song, which sounded great live. A well-played set followed, with well-known tracks such as Ami, and lesser known tracks. The percussionist, who used drum pads instead of real drums, did a very good job, although the vocalist seemed to be irritated by his performance now and then. The slightest mistake was immediately rewarded with a look that could kill? Nonetheless a very good performance by this great French band, which ended at about 4:30 in the morning with an improvised track with snare drums and vocals.

All in all a very nice festival, visited by 6 people from the Netherlands if I’m correct… Hopefully there will be more festivals like this one in the future!