Wave Gotik Treffen 2000

Every year at Easter time Leipzig, in eastern Germany, harbours the big Wave Gotik Treffen. Each year more and more people come to this gathering of goths from everywhere. During this festival, which lasts four days, many well-known bands perform and there are numerous other interesting activities. This year, 2000, the ninth edition of the festival took place from 9-12 June. About 400 bands, more than 10 stages and numerous accompanying activities were on the menu. With such a promising program it had to be an unforgettable weekend.

Well, it surely was. On Friday night when I arrived nothing seemed to be the matter. There was the usual organisational chaos, but you get used to that. Unfortunately I arrived too late in Leipzig and it took too much time to get the entrance ribbon too see any bands that night, but I did some nice shopping. On Saturday off to the Messehalle, a great building with a nice industrial atmosphere, where all the industrial and electro bands would play. The doors opened a few hours later than announced in the program book, but after some patience I did see some nice concerts in the various halls, from Solitary Experiments, Der Prager Handgriff, Feindflug and some industrial projects. Also I saw a nice “”Gothic Art”” exhibition on the second floor. Then I left the building and walked past the great stage near the V?lkerslachtdenkmal. There was just being announced that And One and Philip Boa wouldn’t play because they did not get their wages. Wolfsheim did play, but the audience had to raise some money.

But at that time I was already inside the V?lkerslachtdenkmal, where I attended a beautiful concert from Sieben, the band around Matt Howden and Sally Doherty, who are also Sol Invictus bandmembers. During the concert a spectacular thunder and lightning came from the sky, which was a great effect inside that old monument. Donner und Blitzen! After that through the rain back to the Messehalle, where some dancenights were held. I had a great time at the Circus Maximus / Pagan Dance Ritual party, but at 03.30 suddenly all parties in the building came to an end. Rumours were that it happened because of orders from the city council. Well, nothing to do about it, so off to bed then. The following day promised to bring great music, and full of hope I went to the Parkbuhne, where some great neo-folk bands would play, including Dies Natalis, Backworld and Death In June. But when I arrived there I feared for the worst…

When I arrived at the Parkbuhne I saw a group of people standing outside and closed doors with a paper attached to it. It read something like: “”No concerts here today… instead they will take place at the Agra Halle..””. But soon fragments of information came from all sides.. people with mobile phones tried to obtain the latest news. And it came as a shock: some people had heard that the organisation was broke and had disappeared and that there would be no more concerts… More and more rumours were spreading, that one of the organisators had stolen the money, that the police had taken over at the Agra-halle (the heart of the festival, where the market and the camping are) because all the security people had gone away. But soon we heard that some bands would play anyway. First we walked to the Moritzbastei, where the medieval activities were continuing but we noticed that the outdoor stage had disappeared. Then to the Agra-halle to get some more clearity. There we found chaos, empty halls and notes saying that the festival would continue, despite all the problems. Some people worked hard to arrange an improvised smaller program, many bands wanted to play anyway, although they would not get paid. Schemes with the new program were changing every minute. Various gothic and metal bands would play at the Agra complex, only one hall and two tents were still functioning. In the Messehalle was also a reduced program, but various electro and industrial bands still made a good day out of it, so I heard.

Meanwhile I was walking around in the Agra-Halle, buying some more cd’s out of frustration, sheltering from the torrents of rain and waiting for more info. Then I found a note saying that some bands originally scheduled for the Parkbuhne would play at 20.00 at the Heidnisches Dorf nearby that night. When I arrived there a message said that the concerts would begin at 22.00 so some more waiting had to be done. A small question: nowhere could I discover something that resembled a stage…. After some time a provisional concert place was created: the bands had to perform acoustically under a cheap party tent. I saw the nice German folkband Dies Natalis, Scivias from Hungary and Tenhi from Finland, who had to stop for some reason after a few songs. It was a special atmosphere outside there… it was only a pity that it was hard to see and hear the bands, if you were standing further than 3 metres from the tent you needed a lot of effort to follow it, and some irritating people in the audience were constantly talking. Death in June was also announced, but that seemed to take a long time and I was very tired of waiting and walking around all day, so I returned to my hotel. I later heard that Death in June only played very short and not very worthwile, so I did not miss much.
Off to sleep then, not knowing what the next day would bring…

On Monday morning we went to the Agra terrain, not knowing what to find there… It didn’t took long to discover that there was not much left there anymore, the place was desolate and a big mess. The stands with fashion and music were almost all gone, and many people at the camping had packed their stuff and had gone home. All halls were closed and you didn’t get the impression that much was going to happen any more.. We then went to the Moritzbastei, where many of the remaining people had gathered, after some food and drinks there I optimistically went to take a look at the Messehalle, where many great Cold Meat bands were scheduled to play, there were rumours that these concerts would go on.. But no, the gates were closed, the equipment removed… So, not much to do, some walking through the city, resting a bit.
Then at night back to the Moritzbastei, the only remaining venue were there was still something to do… It was rather crowded of course. Some lesser known bands performed, they managed to entertain the crowd. Then it was announced that L’ame Immortelle would play as the last band of the night. They had already performed on Sunday and had helped a lot with the organisation of the emergency program, but they didn’t want to go home yet… After a provisional soundcheck they started playing at about 01.30 hrs, and the atmosphere was amazing! The band and the audience were so enthousiastic, not very surprising maybe because the crowd had been waiting all day to see a good concert.. It felt like a sort of big relief..
After the encores (the last song being “”Life will never be the same again””) the night ended for me, too tired to stay for the final parties and my train would leave early next day… Because of the nice atmosphere in the Moritzbastei I nevertheless left the festival with a good feeling.. On Sunday I was very disappointed that almost all the bands that I had came for would not play… But on Monday I had accepted it and tried to make the best of it… I’d like to thank all the bands and people that did their best to make something out of it. The atmosphere remained good and peaceful, it could have also ended in riots.
Still, I had a melancholic feeling when the train left Leipzig… Would I ever return there? Will the festival continue? Maybe with another (more professional?) organisation, maybe in a smaller form, who knows… Will Leipzig ever be the same again….”