The international post-punk festival Grauzone, held in The Netherlands, is about to celebrate its tenth year and features one of its best lineups yet. From Friday to Sunday, starting on the 10th until the 12th of February 2023, the impressive tenth-anniversary edition of Grauzone will take place in The Hague.

Upholding a firm belief that the creativity of the counterculture is a necessity for discourse in society, Grauzone Festival serves as a haven for free thinkers of all ages and orientations, as it cross-pollinates the worlds of visual arts, film, literature, and performance. This year, the musical lineup includes, among others, Patriarchy, Emma Ruth Rundle, VR SEX, filmmaker Jim Jarmusch’s band SQÜRL, Infravision, Death Valley Girls, and Ellen Allien. Lesley Woods, frontwoman, guitarist, and songwriter of the legendary feminist post-punks Au Pairs – who played at Pinkpop in 1982 – returns to the Netherlands with a solo show after four decades, performing classics from the Au Pairs song catalog and new work.

This year’s festival is sure to sell out of tickets and passes, given that the stacked lineup features some of our favorite international acts, some of which we have listed below:

VR Sex

VR SEX is the synth-punk band of Drab Majesty’s Deb Demure (aka Andrew Clinco). Under the name of Noel Skum (an anagram of Elon Musk), VR SEX blends elements of death rock and synth/punk, post-punk and ambient into an audio/visual package. The band brings forth thoughts of groups like Killing Joke and The Sisters of Mercy, with their own fresh spin.

Lebanon Hanover

Lebanon Hanover is a post-punk duo founded in 2010 by Larissa Iceglass (guitar, vocals) and William Maybelline (bass, vocals). Their ice-cold, minimal post-punk is augmented by the beauty of Art Nouveau aesthetics, British seashores, nighttime forest strolls, and the urbanism of Berlin. Lebanon Hanover’s music has been compared to 1980s Gothic rock/post-punk acts such as Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Cure, and Bauhaus, yet they have created a new archetype in the modern Goth scene distinctly their own.

Lebanon Hanover’s output over the past decade has solidified the band as the most prolific and iconic of the modern darkwave scene.

Zanias

Zanias appears for the 7th time at Grauzone Festival this year, previously having performed with Linea Aspera (2013, 2020, 2022), Keluar (2015), and as Zanias (2017, 2021).  At this Grauzone, Zanias will be curating a special program, featuring her favorite bands and acts from her label Fleisch Records. She will also be performing a live set herself, and a DJ set.

Minuit Machine

Parisian dark synth/EBM duo Minuit Machine was formed by Hélène de Thoury (Synths) and Amandine Stioui (Vocals, Lyrics). Helene previously played at Grauzone events as Hante. and with her band Phosphor. Minuit Machine’s music is often described as “disrupted, emotional, and terribly addictive.”  They span the gamut from synth wave to dark electronic, with strong touches of techno and EBM. Minuit Machine promises an intense and emotional performance.

Hélène has recently departed the band, with new musician Camille joining Amandine going forward. The gig at Grauzone festival will be one of the first in a new chapter for the band.

Tempers

The New York duo of Jasmine Golestaneh and Eddie Cooper specialize in a sleek strain of low-lit poetic synth-pop with dark synths, atmospheric guitars, propulsive beats, gloomy vocals and hypnotic song hooks. In 2019 they performed at Grauzone Festival with their concept album about architect Rem Koolhaas’ essay about shopping malls and architecture. Now they’re back with their third album New Meaning.

Rue Oberkampf

Rue Oberkampf combines 80s ecstasy with the atmosphere of fog-shrouded, strobe-lit dance temples of the techno era. The combination of urban electronic music’s gritty drive with Julia’s French-German-English vocals reminds some critics of a more forceful version of Deux or Kirlian Camera. The band was founded at the end of 2016.

Tr/st

TR/ST began in 2010 by Robert Alfons and Maya Postepski (Austra). TR/ST, now the solo project of Alfons, is making a rare appearance in The Netherlands. His music combines sparkling synth-pop and grimy industrial beats into expansive songs filled with longing, lust, and despair. Each song is dominated by hypnotic melodies and Alfons’ deep, dramatic hypnotic vocals.

Kontravoid

Kontravoid is the solo project of LA drummer/producer Cam Findlay (Crystal Castles and TR/ST). Collaborating with FLEISCH Records’ Zanias, Kontravoid has made killer remixes for Patriarchy, Schwefelgelb, Utrasunn, and many more. With his analogue synths, he makes dark electronic, but catchy and, most of all, very danceable beats.

Ritual Howls

Detroit trio Ritual Howls create a cinematic blend of twangy industrial rock that could fuel a post-apocalyptic dancefloor. A collaboration between Paul Bancell (vocals, guitar), Chris Samuels (synth, samples, drum machine), and Ben Saginaw (bass). The band recently reissued their ten-year-old self-titled debut album on Felte with plans for a fifth album in 2023, songs of which will be heard at Grauzone.

Algiers

Algiers, based in three cities across two different continents, are a sprawling, politically-engaged, and multi-faceted project; embracing freewheeling rock‘n’roll energy, post-punk grit, the brute force of industrial electronics, the transcendence of gospel, and the power of experimental noise.

A Place to Bury Strangers

New York City’s A Place To Bury Strangers has been delighting and astonishing his audience for close to two decades, combining post-punk, noise-rock, shoegaze, psychedelia, and avant-garde music in startling and unexpected ways. As the founder of Death By Audio, creator of signal-scrambling stomp boxes and visionary instrument effects, frontman Oliver Ackermann is a font of creativity. In concert, A Place To Bury Strangers is nothing short of astounding — a shamanistic experience that bathes listeners in glorious sound, crazed left turns, transcendent vibrations, real-time experiments, brilliant breakthroughs. Oliver Ackermann also launched a label of his own: Dedstrange, dedicated to advancing the work of sonic renegades worldwide. He’s also refreshed the group’s lineup, adding bassist John Fedowitz and drummer Sandra Fedowitz, and the band has never sounded more current, or more courageous, or more accessibly melodic.

Belgrado

Barcelona post-punk act Belgrado has evolved into a new lineup and switched to electronic backing tracks, mutating into a band with a new sound that manages to keep their trademark sound alive.  The new Belgrado is more ethereal, cold, experimental, bouncy, and extremely addictive. With one boot firmly set in their trademark gelid post-punk, they dance with the other between minimal wave, dub and even Italo Disco.

Ashcode

Italian dark wave synth act Ash Code was founded by keyboard player Claudia Nottebella and twin brothers Alessandro and Adriano Belluccio. They masterfully blend influences, ranging from early Depeche Mode, The Sisters of Mercy to post-punk, Synthpop, coldwave & EBM, bringing with them a revamp of solid drum machines, haunting synths and driving bass lines. Molchat Doma, Clan Of Xymox and Minuit Machine made remixes for Ash Code songs, and Ash Code made remixes for acts like She Past Away and Agent Side Grinder.

Ploho

Siberian postpunkers Ploho are, together with acts like Molchat Doma, one of the most prominent purveyors of dark Soviet era-inspired post-punk.  Inspired by the aesthetic and sounds of late Soviet era of the 80s like Kino, as well as Joy Division, the band’s sound and approach also manages to reflect the icy chill of their home. Building upon a growing profile, the band teamed up with Belarusian band Molchat Doma to collaborate on “Along the Edge of the Island” in 2019.

Ultra Sunn

This post-punk coldwave electro duo formed in 2019 in Brussels by Sam Hugé (Fantøme) and Gaelle Souflet.

Ultra Sunn tailors classic analogue synthesizers sounds with incisive techno-like beats, taking inspiration from Berlin’s industrial electronic music and post-punk such as Schwefelgelb, DAF, and New Order. Acts like Kontravoid (also playing at Grauzone) and Sarin made remixes of Ultra Sunn songs. Their new EP, Kill Your Idols, will be released by Fleisch Records.

Grauzone Festival is February 10th through 12th, You can purchase your tickets here. Make haste! Don’t miss this stellar lineup!

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