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SATURDAY JULY 27th
Our REZ-crew was in Poland for one week already. Checking out the local bars in Krakow, we noticed the Rock 'n' Roll Club in the Grodzkastreet 50-I. It's a definite tip for all music-lovers travelling to Krakow! We took the bus to the festival early Saturday morning. The trip to the small Polish town of Bolkow lasted about one hour. We arrived in town around noon in a soaring heat…
Looking out over the town is Bolkow Castle; during the 17th century a place that attracted people connected to art. Since 1997 its courtyard offers a place to stay for the Castle Party. This festival started in 1994 in the Grodziec Castle, which it outgrew in just 3 years. After setting up our tents and arranging all the necessary formalities we checked out the castle at 15:00.
Upon entering the main gate, you could taste the great atmosphere of this unique and beautiful location. I must say that the courtyard already felt like a furnace… Knowing the names of the bands, I particularly was curious about the Polish bands. Because a lot of these bands sing in their native language, they aren't very well-known in the rest of Europe. So despite the language barrier, I was hoping to discover some Polish pearls…
VENUS FLY TRAP
Although there was just a small (but growing) number of people in the courtyard at 15:35, the men of UK's VENUS FLY TRAP entered the stage. Alex Novak's band just counts two people (the band evolved from another group known as THE VENUS FLY TRAP which consisted of 5 men); a guitarist and a singer. The rest of the music and the samples are generated electronically.
The music can best be described as being a mix between electro pop and dark wave. The public was rather calm (because of the heat perhaps) but the music sounded really nice! Although this was the band's first time at the Castle Party, the crowd gradually loosened up a bit.
The band played, amongst others, songs like 'Symbol', 'Children' and one of their older songs, "Rocket USA", quite solid and with a lot of enthusiasm. When the band played their encore, a new song entitled 'On The Radio', some of the people present stood up to watch the band. Somewhat late, but then again; better late than never. In short, a solid and satisfying performance…
We missed this band during the Wave Gotik Treffen in Leipzig, but we got a second chance at Bolkow Castle. And frankly, after a couple of minutes already I started to get the feeling it was too bad we missed them back then. Damn, what sweet melodic triphop from Germany! The only thing that bothered me was the fact that some guys were already on stage building up for the next band at some moment during SOMNAMBUL's gig.
But, back to their music. Based on their sound, the band must be influenced by names like PORTISHEAD and MASSIVE ATTACK. They produce melodic music with dreamy and fragile female vocals that take you higher. Singer Ulricke Mücke was discernibly surprised when the sequence of the set suddenly changed (perhaps a mistaken sound man?), but she went along with it perfectly.
Amongst their set list were 'Pain', 'Bumblebees', 'Salty Pearls', 'Hidden Child' as well as a couple of new songs. It was a dreamful gig that truly suited the overwhelming temperature…
DANCE ON GLASS
It became a rather busy afternoon for DANCE ON GLASS' guitar player Dave Blomberg. He wasn't only playing with DANCE ON GLASS, but also with Saturday's headliner NEW MODEL ARMY. His first gig however already got about a hundred fifty people standing on their feet.
This English/Polish band is obviously known here in Poland. Not very surprising if you take into account that Ania Blomberg (yes, Dave's wife) sang in Batalion d'Amour, a famous Polish dark goth/rock band. Aside from this, this was the second time DANCE ON GLASS played at the Bolkow Castle.
The band kicked off with 'Not Here' and 'Delilah'. They also played 'Dying So Slowly'. During their ninth and last song the crowd in front of the stage went absolutely nuts; a great sight to see! Ania's poppy sounding voice blended in nicely with the rest of the music. All this added up shows DANCE ON GLASS is an above average band.
VARIETE is a legend in Poland. This band plays rock/wave with funky and sometimes damn near jazzy influences. This is one example of a band that sings in Polish, something that proved to be quite standard for Polish bands, unlike that of their Western European counterparts, who usually don't sing in their native language. That didn't bother me at all though. However, it didn't make it possible for me to give some titles of songs they played (something we've found a solution for later on the festival - AM).
The band's unique sound can best be described as being a lighter and more poppy version of TOOL. And I must say, they played some catchy songs! The singer turned his back towards the audience every once in a while to play some keyboard tunes. The drums and the bass guitar produced sounds that have a rather funky tune. Although we didn't understand any words from their songs, we got a hint why this band has been in the scene since 1983. An encore of two songs ended a qualitatively very decent gig.
Time to describe something more of the festival
The interludes between gigs were filled with the sounds of Rammstein and Hocico. Strangely enough, one could only buy beer or a mix of beer and syrup at the drink stand. After a long wait in the sheer never-ending queues we accidentally found out that the latter is nice. Very sweet, but nice.
The audience sat mostly. Well, through the first five bands in any case. The atmosphere was relaxed. As usual at any festival with Gothic music the motto was "see and be seen". And this resulted in some sights that couldn't do anything but strike the beholder in awe. We've photographed some of them for you…...(link is on the CP main-page)
Err… WHAT? Yes! CHRIST AGONY. A name like that could only mean hell was awaiting. And indeed, over 20 minutes behind schedule CHRIST AGONY's death/black metal came hammering out of the festival's sound system. The grunts seemed to be in English, but it's always pretty hard to figure that out with this kind of music. A moshpit even started to form in front of the stage. Another thing you wouldn't expect on a Gothic festival. This huge variation in musical styles was due to a disappointing number of visitors last year.
Anyway, CHRIST AGONY's brutal music was visibly welcomed by a large number of people. This was as foul and furious as it would probably get here in Bolkow Castle. And the audience obviously thought likewise! The courtyard became even hotter as the threesome progressed through their set. During their very tight sounding set, vocalist Cezar even proved to be able to sing some clean vocals as well. All in all a set that convinced me CHRIST AGONY is a tip for all you death/black lovers out there!
21:20 was the time that FADING COLOURS entered the stage. By then, the festival was forty minutes behind schedule. Seeing all the stuff that got build up for this gig, that wasn't strange… The crowd got to see a complete video show behind the band. Being familiar with that kind of stuff, I was wondering what we were going to be presented with this time. The video show proved to be like all the others. Shots of boys slamming their heads against some door or wall in a vain attempt to bash it in. Of course besides all that the show contained some functional nude (read: porn)…
All of this supposedly arousing stuff was accompanied by spherical and enchanting dark electro with ditto female vocals by De Coy. They played songs like 'Lorelei'. Judging by the presence of a carefully set up dummy behind one keyboard, one of the Rakowski brothers of this Polish band was delayed or simply prevented from being present on stage.
Although this was the first time I ever saw FADING COLOURS, they managed to impress me. Both the faster and the slower songs proved to be qualitatively good. They even played an encore after which they left the stage, but again the crowd was screaming for more. So Rakowski came back and played a song without De Coy singing…
Sometimes it's hard to be a musician. After climbing up the hill to the castle with your gear you find out that you have to build up your installation yourself. The members of DAS ICH had a great idea when they had their current live show in mind. They put together a whole (hopefully light) iron construction in which both keyboards would fit. The two-armed construction would give both members the opportunity to walk on the stage, so the presentation wouldn't become as static as most electro/industrial bands.
Although it worked wonderfully well, before they performed they had to build up the stuff themselves. So we saw the strange phenomenon of Bruno Kramm (music, instruments) and Stefan Ackermann (lyrics and vocals) full coloured on stage before the show even started. The third, live, (keyboard, vocals) partner was probably glad that he didn't have too much makeup on.
Unfortunately the sound engineer had a bit of an off-day as well and therefore the sound of DAS ICH was not really good. When Stefan and Bruno were screaming through their microphones it became a bit too much sometimes. It just didn't sound too sonorous. That's a pity, because songs like 'Gottes Todt', 'Kain Und Abel', 'Erde Ruft' and 'Tor Zur Hölle' just have these typical shouting qualities. Only 'Garten Eden' and former single 'Reanimat' escaped this destiny, because these songs are sung in a more 'normal' way.
Still, DAS ICH proved with this gig that they are a difficult to follow industrial act that can leave a destructive live impression. The movement and intention were definitely made clear here… Hopefully we will see them with a better sound next time. This gig only proved why their latest release "Anti'Christ" is one of the better electro/industrial releases of this year…
NEW MODEL ARMY
After a sound check that seemingly took months, Britain's NEW MODEL ARMY, started to play about 1 hour and 15 minutes late. These men shouldn't need an introduction, but for those of you that have never heard of them; here's a very brief one. They started back in 1983 in Bradford, England. In their total career, they managed to write 136 songs. Under the leadership of Justin Sullivan the band still plays their 80s wave with mostly powerful political lyrics. This took them to Poland for the first time in 1988.
Now let's get back to 2002! Justin quickly made the impression that he was having a very good time. The crowd showed that NEW MODEL ARMY is quite popular in Poland and seemingly enjoyed every minute of it. Songs that were played at Bolkow Castle were amongst others '125 MPH', 'Believe It', 'Here Comes The War', 'A Liberal Education', 'Over The Wire' and 'Wipe Out'. The stage wasn't specially made up or anything. Just the instruments and nothing fancy besides that. The entire show was characterized by doing exactly what they were supposed to do.
One thing that I thought was nice was the fact that even during a live show there was lots of room for the acoustic songs. Often, Sullivan would play a slower acoustic ballad during the set. These were quite welcome and comforting for the numerous beer corpses (people that are so drunk, they just fall down and sleep in the weirdest places) that started to appear at this nocturnal hour.
End of day one
At the end of that day, we just left the Castle courtyard and walked down towards the camping site. We passed Club Hacjenda, where an afterparty was planned. After arriving at our tents, I hopped in mine and welcomed the sleep which, in spite of all the noise around me, came surprisingly quick…