The 2018 edition of Wave Gotik Treffen—the world’s largest Goth festival—was the best event of the year, hands down, perhaps only rivaled by the very expensive Robert Smith Curæted 25th-anniversary Meltdown Fest in London, an event where you had to purchase individual tickets for each headlining performance.
During last year’s WGT, there were many standout performances, such as Buzz Kull packing the venue at 5 pm to a banging set that keep everyone energized until Boy Harsher brought down the house, with great performances from Ash Code and more in-between.
Zania’s solo debut at WGT, with a guest appearance from Bestial Mouth’s Lynette Cerezo, was definitely a festival highlight.
There was a Deathrock reunion with Frank The Baptist, All Gone Dead, with Los Angeles post-punk trio Second Still mesmerizing the crowd with precision vocals, synths, guitars, and bass.
Both Actors and Bootblacks blew the crowd away at a packed Volkspalast, as well as did Autobahn, and The KVB.
Anti-fascist Anarcho-punk heroes Crisis delivered a legendary performance, and Belgian Coldwave veterans Siglo XX’s exclusive reunion show surprised even the most cynical of seasoned festival guests, including DJ’s and promoters, by giving one of the best performances of WGT, and the entire year.
It would not be Wave Gotik Treffen without a couple of good post-punk headliners, and last year did not disappoint with a fantastic set from The Jesus and Mary Chain and a remarkable performance from Teho Teardo & Blixa Bargeld.
On the final night, following the fantastic WGT debut of French Coldwave heroes Trisomie 21, and a brilliant performance by 4AD post-punk luminaries Modern English, Chameleons Vox gave one of the best performances of their career closing out Monday right, truly convincing attendees that Wave Gotik Treffen truly is the stuff dream are made of.
Wave Gotik Treffen 2019 Lineup
This year’s Wave Gotik Treffen lineup is so well curated and booked, it almost feels like one of the festival’s upcoming Pearl Anniversary lineup, but WGT’s 30th year is not until 2021—but with this selection of band’s you could certainly fool the uninformed
This time around, not only is there something for everyone, no matter what their individual music tastes may be, or what “subset” of goth someone considers themselves, but there is also practically a festival worth of concerts for each genre!
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There is a staggering amount of great post-punk acts to see at this years WGT, like Californian newcomers Creux Lies, who are playing Europe for the very first time, or Dutch band Bragolin, who have been making waves through word of mouth.
The Soft Moon returns to the festival this year, having toured extensively in support of last year’s critically acclaimed fourth studio album Criminal, along with Greek post-punk heroes Selofan, and Danish stalwarts The Foreign Resort.
One of our top picks for band’s to see is Icelandic trio Kaelan Mikla, whose album Nótt eftir nótt was our pick of the album of the year 2018.
Another is Cold Showers, who will be promoting the release of their brand new shimming synth-infused album Motionless.
And then there is Tamaryn, the talented shoegaze polymath, who has transitioned to a more dream pop sound closer to that of Kate Bush, Curve, or Annie Lennox, or her sensational new album Dreaming the Dark.
For fans of underrated post-punk legends The Sound, Mike Dudley & The Convent present In2theSound, their tribute to Adrian Borland’s band 20 years after the singer’s passing.
And let us not forget of the best classic post-punk bands still around, Sad Lovers and Giants, who will surely give one of the best performances of the entire festival lineup.
PS: we also recommend dreamy guitar-driven Australian post-punk group Pleasure Symbols who have returned from a hiatus with their video for “Image Reflected”.
Bands to see:
A Slice of Life (BE)
Creux Lies (US)
Cold Showers (US)
Double Echo (UK)
The Foreign Resort (DK)
Geometric Vision (IT)
Kælan Mikla (IS)
Pleasure Symbols (AU)
Sad Lovers and Giants (UK)
She Pleasures Herself (PT)
The Soft Moon (US)
The Synth selection for this year’s WGT is superb, all acts guaranteed to a pull a crowd, so get to the venues early!
French Canadian synth maestro Xavier Paradis project Automelodi is unparalleled in the beauty of its sound, standing toe to toe with the coldwave greats from the 80s, yet sounding fresh, innovative, and 21st century despite being soaked in nostalgic romanticism.
Light Asylum needs no introduction, as the Shannon Funchess helmed project is one of a kind experience. Known primarily for the club hit Dark Allies, festival-goers are in for a mind-blowingly fantastic set that will leave them speechless and sore from all screaming and dancing that will ensue along with Shannon’s unparalleled vocals and dark synth beats.
Void Vision is also analog synth tour de force that cannot be missed, having the some of the best assortment of gear that she sequences masterfully, filling the room with modular glee augmented by stellar vocals.
We also recommend Sally Dige for that vintage new-wave pop sound, Tempers for more modern contemporary flair, and genre-bending dark duo Vowws for something eclectic and cinematic.
There is also Swedish dark pop sensation Henric de la Cour to see, as well as Canadian synth project Psyche, which sonically stands toe to toe with the best from Marc Almond and Depeche Mode.
Bands to see:
Light Asylum (US)
Henric de la Cour (SE)
Christian Death is playing Wave Gotik Treffen this year, but we will not pretend we acknowledge Valor Kand’s continued usage of that band name, despite there being no original members in the lineup. That is not to say We don’t enjoy The Wind Kissed Pictures EP or the single “Church of No Return”, but that was when Gitane was still in the band and married to Valor. Demone is longer married to Kand, nor she has she been a part of Christian Death for a very long time. She is, however, performing at WGT as the Gitane Demone Quartet, which we recommend you see instead.
Not only Is Gitane Demone playing from the Rozz Williams Christian Death Family, but so is Eva O, William Faith (who is also playing with his band The Bellwether Syndicate), and Stevyn Grey as Shadow Project 1334.
The last time Eva O played at WGT was 2009 with Christian Death 1334, and when Kand’s iteration of the band took the stage the same year, many in the crowd came to heckle him with posters stating “Never Trust A Valor”.
During that performance, one of O’s entourage famously ran down the stage and tackled Valor mid-set.
We are assuming security with being tighter this year in Leipzig, but also that the controversy and rivalry between the two factions burning hotter than hellfire.
This is Goth history folks. Rest in Peace Rozz Williams.
In addition to the Californian Deathrock drama, apart from it is Los Angeles’s much beloved Helter Skelter era band London After Midnight, whose members were the epitome of late 80s and early 90s Propaganda Magazine goth beauty.
Second Wave Goth is making a strong showing at this years WGT, with The Cassandra Complex and Murder at the Registry featured in the lineup. Also fitting the theme is Second Wave super group October Burns Black, featuring The Wake’s James Tramal on Bass, Ger Egan of This Burning Effigy on Vox, and Lars Kappeler of Sweet Ermengarde on guitars, as well as Tommy Olson of Long Night, and Simon Rippon on drums.
And let us not forget Inkubus Sukkubus, a definitive band for the Wiccan Goth contingent of the late 80s and early 90s, where all the anger from punk dissipated into an elemental love for mother earth, crushed velvet, and patchouli.
Also worth checking out is new Belgian Gothic Rock project Ground Nero, and Italian Deathrock Darlings Dystopian Society. And of course, the audience will be packed with goths both old and young for Escape with Romeo’s set, singing along to “Somebody”.
Bands to see:
Dystopian Society (IT)
The Cassandra Complex (UK)
Shadow Project 1334 (US)
The Bellwether Syndicate (US)
Gitane Demone Quartet (US)
Golden Apes (DE)
Ground Nero (BE)
Inkubus Sukkubus (UK)
La Scaltra (DE)
London After Midnight (US)
Murder at the Registry (DE)
October Burns Black (UK)
Escape With Romeo (DE)
We are going to go light on our recommendations of Industrial/EBM this year, as yes Front Line Assembly’s Rhys Fulber is awesome, for example, but generally does not produce the kind of music we cover on post-punk.com.
However, there are 3 legends (one listed later as part of the Major headliners), and one slightly newer artist we suggest seeing.
Kontravoid, whose career has spanned the greater part of this decade, recently toured Europe with Boy Harsher and is a must for anyone’s WGT itinerary this year. Despite having a sound that straddles that of dark synth, we decided given the nature of Cam Findley’s intense live performance, he would be better listed under the Industrial/EBM heading.
Swedish Industrial/EBM act Cat Rapes Dog was formed in 1984, Initially, the band self-released a number of albums on cassette, later releasing 3 studio albums on KK Records, a Belgian independent label specializing in New Beat, EBM & Industrial acts.
Parade Ground is another band on the WGT itinerary that can be featured under Industrial/EBM but in this case, is actually a true blue post-punk act. To illustrate this point, here is the band’s bio courtesy of Dark Entries Records:
“Parade Ground has always been the duo of brothers Jean-Marc and Pierre Pauly from Brussels, Belgium formed in 1981. Taking cues from Post-Punk, Coldwave, Dada and Surrealism, Parade Ground channeled suffering, tension and rage through pulsing synthesizers, skeletal guitar, severe bass and Jean-Marc’s expressive vocals as the most melodic and emotional instrument.
Parade Ground first appeared on the Nationale Rockmeeting LP in 1982, striking straight to the heart with the passionate plea “I Shut My Eyes.” Later that year the brothers met Daniel B. and Patrick Codenys of Front 242 beginning a collaborative partnership that continues to present day. In 1983 they released their debut 3-song 7” EP Moan On The Sly on the New Dance label, musically a hybrid of Joy Division and Fad Gadget. 1984 brought further explorations into the world of electronic body music with the 3-song Man In A Trance EP and 2 tracks on the live concert compilation Mask Promotion both records released on Front 242′s Mask Music label. The following year the single Took Advantage/Moral Support 12” was released incorporating then, state-of-the-art modular synthesizers programmed by Daniel B. and back-up vocals from Flo Sullivan (A Formal Sigh, Shiny Two Shiny).
Then in 1987 the brothers collaborated with Colin Newman of British post-punk band Wire, who produced and lent his vocals, guitars and keyboards to two songs (“Moans“/”Action Replay”) while Daniel B. produced flipside “Gold Rush” on the Dual Perspective EP that stands alongside 80s anthems from Tears for Fears, Modern English, Echo & The Bunnymen.
Finally, in 1988 their debut album Cut Up was released on Play It Again Sam Records and featured the singles Strange World and Hollywood. In 1993 the brothers wrote and composed the vocals on two Front 242 albums Up Evil and Off. After 15 years of silence, Parade Ground released their second album Rosary in 2007 and continue to write new material and tour with their extensive catalog of dark dance classics.”
Bands to see:
Cat Rapes Dog (SE)
Parade Ground (BE)
For those who want straight up Gothic folk, appropriate for burning incense and looking at memento mori photos, and reading issues of The Sandman, Projekt Records’ Unto Ashes is the way to go.
For those who want some Satanic Folk Rock with tongue in cheek humor, there is none other than King Dude. If you are gonna burn, might use that hellfire to light a cigarette to go with your glass of bourbon you’ll need in hand while singing “Lucifer is the Light”.
For those who want some sort of almost shoegaze Lynchian Americana, there is Laura Carbone, who has been making waves with her recent album Empty Sea which was released following her tour with The Jesus and Mary Chain.
While not immediately apparent from the name, Hackedepiciotto is a folk project comprised of Einstürzende Neubauten’s Alexander Hacke, and Danielle de Picciotto. Their music is breathtakingly beautiful, weaving a spellbinding atmosphere of introspection reminiscent of what Current 93 explored on “All the Pretty Little Horses”, except with Tibetan throat singing courtesy of Hacke.
Bands to see:
King Dude (US)
Laura Carbone (DE)
The selections of headliners this year is once again fantastic, with old-school acts like theatrical New-wave singer Lene Lovich, and her bird-like range, to Joker in the pact Clockwork orange inspired antics of the Adicts, best known for their punk anthem Viva The Revolution.
Lene Lovich Band (UK)
The Adicts (UK)
Luton’s UK Decay is said to have brought UK Punk into the ironically called positive punk movement, the precursor to Goth. Abbo, Spon, Eddie, and co certainly paved the way for their buddies Bauhaus, from the neighbor town of Northampton, and when Bauhaus singer Peter Murphy went solo, he took UK Decay’s bass player Eddie Twiggy Branch with him.
UK Decay is one of the most important bands in the history of goth, and a must see at WGT.
UK Decay (UK)
New Model Army is one of the best political post-punk bands formed in Bradford, West Yorkshire, in 1980 by charismatic lead singer, guitarist and main composer Justin Sullivan, known for anthemic tracks such as “White Coats”, and “Vagabonds”, the latter of which has a banging violin backbone to it augmenting the chorus:
We are old, we are young
We are in this together!
New Model Army (UK)
Nitzer Ebb (UK)
EBM legends Nitzer Ebb are back, with their original full band lineup bringing new life and depth to their energetic songs that have shaped multiple electronic music genres.
Watch our recent interview with Douglas McCarthy and Bon Harris on what to expect from their performance at Wave Gotik Treffen.
Tangerine Dream (DE)
Gods of synth Tangerine Dream are set to perform at this year’s WGT. Definitely, a must see if you grew up on films of the 80s, or what to experience one of the bands who, along with Kraftwerk, inspired groups like New Order to pick up synthesizers.
White Lies (UK)
White Lies have played Wave Gotik Treffen only once before, commenting at the time that they never played a Goth Festival before. We are glad they are back, as they are one of the best contemporary post-punk bands, with guitarist/vocalist Harry McVeigh having unparalleled power behind his passionate croon found on tracks such as “Farewell to the Fairground”, “There Goes Our Love Again”, and “Bigger Than Us”.
Will we update this list as more bands are finalized for the lineup. In the meantime, we recommend to check out the official post-punk event of Wave Gotik Treffen, When We Were Young.
And to visit the Leipzig Travel Blog’s article on the festival for things to do and more!