Updated: Mar 28, 2019
Featuring Priest, X-RX, Velvet Acid Christ, Solar Fake, Suicide Commando, Welle: Erdball, and Apoptygma Berzerk.
Well, this was my first experience of a music event in Germany and I was certainly not disappointed! The people are friendly, (after you have got past the initial social shell) The music is fantastic, and the atmosphere is electric.
So it was that my best friend Mary and I traveled to Oberhausen for the festival via London Heathrow and Dusseldorf airport. Two very lit up cyber goths (blue lights and green lights respectively) attending what is essentially the warm up show for Amphi festival, the number one destination for all industrial, EBM, and cyber lovers. The venue Turbinehalle is a very large converted warehouse and sets the scene perfectly for this type of music. It has two large stage halls, plentiful bars, two smoking areas, a more than adequate personal locker room, and a large food hall with multiple food and goth shopping stalls. I myself couldn't resist buying an EBM T-shirt from one of the more military clothing stands. The money system there was also appealing. All food and drink, even the lockers were paid for in green ticket stubs called bons, at a cost of 1 Euro per bon. Drink were between 3-5 bons, and food was no more than 5 bon per person. Very reasonable prices for someone used to the horrific prices of drinks and food in London night clubs. The only downside to Oberhausen is that it is more rural and therefore a little harder for tourist who don't speak the language as speaking English isn't as common. Thankfully we knew more than enough to communicate with everyone fairly well. The opening Friday night is a pre party in one of the halls with DJ's playing from 10pm until 4am. Overall this was a nice easing in to the festival with some great music. Cyber dancing or any dancing for that matter however, isn't as common as I thought. My friend and I are used to cyber dancing / raving away at our UK goth nights out. It felt a little out of place to be one of the very few people dancing but that just made it more fun after the initial adjustment to that. The venue opened at 1pm on Friday with bands from 2pm until 1pm and DJ's until 4am for the after party. The sounds system is top notch and when the Vicious Alliance remix of Aesthetic Perfection's Schadenfreude came on, I was hit with a huge wave of dopamine. That's how good the acoustics are at this venue. Overall I would say the staff, the venue, and the organization of the event was spot on, Sound checks were done fast and efficiently, and security were relaxed but still aware. It was a comfortable experience with very little time to find yourself bored. To the staff of E-tropolis.. Thank you for such a fantastic event this year. On to the bands (That I saw, in order)
This was a good opening to the festival for myself and we were so glad to have seen Vaudeville played live. Another member of our group was ecstatic to see the lead singer wearing a pinhead style gimp mask and the other two member to be wearing leather plague doctor masks. It certainly set the scene that we were in a place of accepting, wonderful, and possibly fellow kinky people! The sound system really did their synthetic sounds a lot of justice and they presented such a great energy and love for what they were performing. 'The cross' and 'The pit' sounded beautiful and reverberated very well around the audience.
Definitely one I would recommend seeing in future if this somewhat niche take on industrial synth is your style.
Although I knew and loved several of the bands on the line up, it was X-RX playing that sold it to me. They rarely ever play in the UK and so it was a band I had yet to see. If it wasn't for me discovering Combichrist and subsequently X-RX then I may not have got in to this scene of music. When I first saw Combichrist, I raved until my body almost collapsed. I was hoping to feel that same raw energy, passion, and love during X-RX. Sadly It was not to be... The band spent most of their time facing each others laptops and left several large sections of the set without attention to the crowd. They did try to be good showmen
but there's only so many times you can ask the crown to clap along or make noise before it become a chore that brings on the cringing. There was a lack of energy and care for the crowd that seemed to be noticeable in the way they portrayed themselves. Perhaps they were hungover, or having a bad day, we can't be perfect every day and I don't want to criticize them, I really don't but after they seemed to use up all their energy during 'Kein Herz', it just seemed to die off from there. Very few of their hits were played and when 'Stage 2' came on, the crowd howled even as the band seemed to extrude a 'Here we go again' fed up attitude. Even during stage 2 the music kept dropping or changing at the wrong points as some sort of poorly thought out remix. It made it very hard to dance to. That's not to say they were bad. I would love to see them play again but I will reign my expectations in. Who knows maybe in future they will be on better form and blow me away making everything I just said ridiculous. 4.5/10
Velvet Acid Christ
I have always loved how atmospheric and different the work of V.A.C is but I was unsure how an atmospheric band was going to translate in a rather up beat festival. Such atmospheric songs like 'There is no God' and 'Ghost in the circuit' send shivers down my spine every time. It was an 'interesting' set shall we say. It started off well, little more upbeat than I expected with fantastic male and female vocals in their respective songs. And 'Fun with drugs' is always a great song to listen to. Can't beat a good sample from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
The video art on the stage was engrossing and went very well with the music. Until it didn't... At some point a compilation of gruesome murders were played from an old 80s film and although bands like ESA and Suicide commando play some gruesome stuff sometimes, it always goes well with the set and doesn't push things in to the realms of discomfort. V.A.C did with this murder video. I noticed the crowd around me become more and more still and from then on the music got more experimental and dare I say it, boring; all the while watching this really unnecessary gore porn. Unfortunately for me, and not to pun here, but that killed it for me. They started off amazingly and then fizzled out to the point when they were finished with their set, the audience didn't actually realize. Still though, a good show and we all love the experimental stuff as a nice cool down between the heavier, aggressive stuff.
When I think of other bands I saw at the festival I feel joy, or excitement even though it's now passed, or gratitude. When I think of Solar Fake, I am FILLED with love. I had heard of them only sparingly through a very close member of what I would call my 'blood of the covenant family' and was sad that we didn't get to see them in the UK last year. So I spent some time listening to their music on the E-Tropolis 2019 Spotify playlist with my companion Mary and I really liked it. None of that prepared me for the experience though.
I don't say this lightly but Solar fake are 'possibly' the best act I've ever seen live, only just behind Mememaker (When Mark of Beat:cancer filled in for one of the guys), and Modulate.
Sven Friedrich (vocalist) André Feller (Keyboard) and Jeans(?) (Drummer) are all natural born showmen who shine charisma like a beacon. Sven's vocals are absolutely gorgeous and sound just as good live as he does on the albums. He is very humble and seemed surprised at how much the crowd applauded (and would not stop applauding!) between each song. His smile was that of genuine shock and blushing. That alone was enough to fall in love with this band and their masterpiece songs. But then there is André! He was referred to by my companions as 'a real queen and a diva' and he truly was in such a beautiful way. His smile and sassy energy was infectious, he needed only look at the audience and we would all start whooping and clapping in the air without him even needing to ask, we already knew. He is a fantastic yin of showmanship to the yang of Sven's humility. At one point he got so excitable that he threw his keyboard to the floor causing a huge cheer, even the stage hands found it a good laugh rather than an annoyance.
I won't pick out individual songs to comment on because I can't they were all masterfully performed and filled me with so much love for this band that I hardly knew until this set. They now have a very strong fan for life and I will try my best to see them perform at every opportunity. Go listen to their spotify tracks and prepare to fall in love and soothe any mental health pains you might be having today. 10/10 (Turn it up to eleven!)
To say Suicide Commando were good, would be heresy. They were sheer power and joy. Their dark rhythms and pounding beats rocked through us all. Johan Van Roy is a natural entertainer whose visceral singing style has been perfected for many years. This was the turning point for me at E-Tropolis, this is when I knew I was at home away from home. Solar Fake almost had me thinking that but that pure industrial feeling hadn't struck quite yet, S.C hit me and hit me hard.
I danced like mad and I took a few videos feeling the energy of the room wash over me. The crowd went crazy for 'Bind. Torture. Kill'. and 'Cause of Death', in fact they went crazy for all of it. This is an industrial scene God still rocking on no matter what. This was the second most important band when I decided to go to E-Tropolis and I am so very glad I had the chance to see them finally having listened to them for years and dare I say it, they were far better live than I could have imagined.
Their video art was on point at one stage an image collection of suicides and an almost augmented reality hanged man silhouette were played in what some might say was romanticizing suicide but no, even through the heavy beats and terror EBM lyrics, there was still very much the message of trying to prevent it, to support those around you and help them. During 'Cause of death' the video counted down 40 seconds repeatedly to go in line with the voice sample of 'every 40 seconds another person dies from suicide' finishing finally with the songs end saying 'during this song, 6 people have taken their life' It is a powerful message and delivered so well. Between songs he also spoke a tribute to the late Keith Flint of the Prodigy.
There was a lot of love coming off that stage for a hellektro band.
Are they playing near you soon? Go buy a ticket.. Now.. Seriously.. DO IT!
Welle: Erdball (2nd stage headline)
Again, this is a band I knew very little of until I was stood at the barrier in sheer excitement to see something so different; having heard at least a few of their songs multiple times thanks to the E-tropolis 2019 Spotify playlist and seeing some Youtube music videos.
Their set felt like something out of a new Austin Powers movie. They dress as spies, they are wacky, they make you laugh, half the time they robot dance or do incredible things you don't expect. Lollipops, paper airplanes, huge balloons, and shortly after sparklers were thrown out in to the crowd. Because health and safety is boring and these guys disprove the myth that Germans don't know how to have fun!
This band is a joy to watch, you're not at a concert any more, you're at a party and it's time to throw down. I have never experience a mosh pit to such upbeat electronics before whilst all the burly men in the pit sing along to the keyboard notes 'du du du du do do!!' etc bouncing around like mad.
The song Deine Augen was when we were given sparklers, presumably to get rid of some of the now swarming balloons. This set and their music was nothing short of a beautiful psychedelic trip that would appeal to anyone, no matter what genre they like. I love, love, love this band and their songs. This set, will stay with me for a very long time as they made me ecstatic with their energy.
See them if you ever get the chance!
Apoptygma Berzerk (Main stage headline act)
In keeping in line with some of the other bands, again, I knew of them, and liked some songs but that was the extent of it and having just come out of Welle: Erdball, I was stood quite far back. I didn't quite know what to make at first, the songs were okay and they sounded very American (even though they are Norwegian) and I couldn't quite understand why they were the headline act. That soon changed however as the music became more familiar to me and their rock star persona drove the crowd on well.
At one point the front man began talking about heir new album and their 25th year anniversary. Okay, great, but he went on and on, in one of the least charismatic voices I have ever experienced.
I think he almost lost the crowd at that point. Thankfully rescued in perfect time by the two tracks any Apop fan will know 'Until the end of the world' and 'In this together.'
Now these, these are incredible songs that sound beautiful live, full of passion, energy, and just enough synths and beats to make it a dance dream. Having heard these two tracks live. I was sold and I haven't been able to stop listening to them since. I must look quite strange driving along blasting out 'end of the world' and singing at the top of my lungs as I drive past strangers. 8/10
In conclusion E-Tropolis was a fantastic experience. I wish I had managed to see Centhron and all the other bands that overlapped however but you can't have everything. I did just about catch [:SITD:] play 'Snuff machinery' which sounded rich and fulfilling on that wonderful second stage sound system. For only a one day festival, you cant really get much better than that. 10/10 Below is the line up so far for next year which links to their website.
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