Second day of the festival consisted of a variety of bands delivering different styles and so we were looking forward to experiencing different emotions and moments at the last day of the festival as well as the Halloween Mystic Market that we fell in love with the previous day!
Despite the grumpy weather, we were more than enthusiastic and excited to start our day with Cellar Darling at Sumpfblume. These progressive folk rockers have been known to many as they were formed by the former members of Eluveitie in 2016 and have been growing in the scene steadily. The latest album “The Spell” has been released earlier this year and so this gig at the festival was a good opportunity for the band to promote the latest record but also to ‘introduce’ themselves to the ones not familiar with these Swiss rockers. Another personal highlight for us was that we have seen them a while ago as a support act for Katatonia so we were beyond curious how this second time was going to be.
Considering that they were an early act, there was quite the crowd at the venue so it was obvious that this band had a fanbase already! It took a while for the crowd to get used to them but once the ice melted, the atmosphere was very intimate and sincere! The multi-instrumentalist and talented Anna Murphy kept smiling and thanking the audience for their dedication; it was pretty obvious that they didn’t expect this reaction so overall, the whole vibe was perfection!
Music-wise, for the ones who saw the band live already, there weren’t many surprises in the setlist; some personal highlights of mine included “Avalanche”, “Freeze” and “Black Moon” but I am pretty sure the band mesmerized the ones who just found out about them. They also fit perfectly to the festival with their progressive, rock-y and folk-ish sound; some were dancing while the others were headbanging. After the show, we could also see that the merchandise stand was packed, so the band definitely gained some new fans!
Back to the Ship Stage… When entering the ship for the first time on the second day, I’m a bit surprised because the venue is actually pretty packed. As I make my way to the dense crowd I notice a shy looking lady flanked by two men with a guitar and a drum-pad, who all look a bit overwhelmed by the amount of people. This is Adam is a Girl – a Berlin-based self titled Indie-Pop Band, although I’m not sure if I would agree on that genre-description. After hearing the first few songs, I would rather describe them as a Wave-band, with a very ethereal sound and a few industrial influences.
On my initial notes from the concert, I actually wrote down „Enya-Vibes?“ but listening to them now, while writing this, I don’t think it’s that fitting. The Indie-part is correct though, as they are self-produced and are currently financing their new album „NOW OR NEVER“ through a Kickstarter Campaign. Support them and show them some love, if you feel like this music style is for you! The audience seemed to like them a lot, dancing along through the ethereal sound flowing in the blue-lighted hue of the venue. And the band seemed genuinely happy and thankful for the positive feedback, with the singer shyly saying „Thank you!“ after every applause and also mentioning that they didn’t expect this many people. Overall it was a very nice and wholesome experience.
The next concert and the first one at Rattenfänger Halle started with a surprise as we heard from a security guard at the photo-pit that there were no photographers allowed today, which led to quiet some confusion among the gathered press-people. Thankfully this was resolved rather quickly and we were let into the pit. From there I had a pretty good look at Dark Side Eons – an electro-industrial duo from Poland who won the band-contest of the Autumn Moon Festival last year, earning the opening slot on the main stage this year. Which probably explains why the present crowd seemed a bit slow and less enthusiastic, as it was still relatively early in the day. That’s a shame though, as they delivered a fantastic performance!
Soundwise, I’d describe their music as a mixture of She Past Away and Lord of the Lost – it has a very melancholic feel to it but delivers it with a lot harsher sounds underneath. This is thanks to the vocal range of singer Leszek “Morph” Trzaska, who works a bunch of screams and growls into the usually more monotone sung dark-wave genre. He also performed in a variety of metal bands before forming this band, which probably explains where this harsher influence comes from. Overall a good concert, I just wish the audience would have been more invested in it.
Girls Under Glass was one of the highlights for many fans at Sumpfblume. The Hamburg-based band was formed in 1986 and they are described as “an indispensable part of the wave/gothic scene”. The band originally began as a gothic rock act but changed their style throughout the years by incorporating metal and electronic music. Being a legendary act as they are, they have many releases with the latest digital single “Endless Nights” released last year. Their gig in Autumn Moon has been quite the highlight as the band prepared a special set for the fans.
From the enthusiasm of the audience to the interaction between GUG and the fans, the set has been quite the spectacle although I gotta admit it was maybe not the show that stayed in my mind the most. However, for the die-hard fans, this was a special one as the band played some of the favorites such as “Lucky” and kept the crowd dancing and going through a time travelling. As for the ones requesting some favorites such as “Humus” (which was not in the setlist), the band gave news of a super special set on the 23rd of November in Hamburg, where they will play their older songs, as well as other shows in Oberhausen and Berlin. Overall, a quite dynamic and energetic performance!
The Sigourney Weavers are an Indie Rock Band from Sweden and the next band for me to cover on the Ship Stage. The venue is still pretty full, yet not as packed as it was compared to the previous act and the five guys are tucked into the ends corner, leaving them not much room to wiggle. Yet as soon as they start playing, they still radiate a whole lot of energy, jumping around and giving it their all. Especially the guitarist, despite him still being hungover from the night before, hence only drinking water, as the band explains after a few songs.
Despite the great and energetic performace, the audience seemed to be indifferent about them (except for this one guy standing next to me, who’s having the headbanging time of his life), and I got to wonder: Is this the right crowd for this kind of music? Don’t get me wrong, these guys are actually great, but with their mixture of Pop, Indie-Rock and Punk, I think they’d rather belong to a Pop-Rock/Indie-Rock-Festival rather than a festival hosting mostly gothic/metal bands. The audience seems to feel the same, as they only give some polite applause after every song, but never really get into the music (again, with the exception of the one hyper-fan). It’s a shame, because I’m sure with the right crowd, these guys can be a lot of fun!
A band like Nachtmahr needs no introduction. The Rattenfänger Halle was filled with fans eager to dance and rave and also the ‘loyal’ ones in uniforms representing the spirit of the band. Their recent release “Antithese” has been out earlier this year so it was time to celebrate the new songs but also classics. Having seen this act earlier this year in a rather smaller venue compared to this one, we were curious how this gig at the bigger venue was going to be like!
As expected, Mr. Rainer and his team did not disappoint for one second! Accompanied by interesting visuals and some thoughtful words from various famous names such as Martin Luther King and Aldous Huxley, Nachtmahr delivered dynamic and fantastic tunes to entertain the audience. Apart from the new songs, the classics such as “Mädchen In Uniform”, which was sung together with the audience like an anthem, “Heile mich” and “Tanzdiktator” were played. The biggest surprise for me was “Ich bin” as I didn’t expect them to play this song.
Overall, compared to their performance earlier this year at Amphi Festival, the set was more or less the same but one thing was certain: It didn’t matter if the band played in a small or big venue, the dynamics between Nachtmahr and the audience was amazing as always! Nachtmahr definitely has a steady fanbase and this time, it was obvious from the fans in the middle of the venue going crazy! Overall, a fantastic performance full of energy and definitely one of our highlights!
Upon arriving at the Sumpfblume venue to see Kowalski, I noticed that the band’s show was delayed for a few minutes, so I took my time to google them beforehand. Thus I learned that they’re probably one of the oldest bands performing at the festival, as they were founded in 1980 and earned their fame during the height of the „Neue Deutsche Welle“-movement of the eighties. But even among those times, they were a bit of an oddity with using scrap-metal and drills as musical arrangements and having lyrics made of quotes from the singer’s then girlfriend. Safe to say, they’re quiet an experimental band.
This experimental style of the band became even more obvious once they began, as the singer started banging on some scrap metal. I got up close to take some photos and only in the last second noticed how he picked up a buzz-saw and bent down to the scrap-metal before a fountain of metal sparks erupted towards me and my camera. Thankfully I jumped out of the way just in time, so only a few sparks hit me and the photo I took was totally worth it!
From there on, the concert was just getting weirder: The singer banging on metal, the oddly distorted noises the guitarist produced and the weird singing-talking delivery of the lyrics were only topped when the singer started throwing confetti from his pocket onto the stage. The audience also seemed intrigued, although nobody was dancing or partying or anything of sorts, but I don’t think this music is meant to party with. Certainly one of the weirdest shows if ever seen, it felt much more like an art performance, rather than a concert.
It was time to continue dancing at The Ship Stage with Siva Six! It was my first time seeing this Greek duo live and a small but dedicated audience was awaiting them at this stage. The formation, known for their music consisting of dark electronic tunes, released an album called “Nyx” last year, featuring some reworks and remixes by different bands. So some recent but older songs were expected in the setlist.
Thanks to the intimate audience and the great energy of the band, the small ship was basically shaking during the performance! I could spot some dedicated fans singing along and dancing whereas the others ‘new’ to Siva Six were just dancing and getting accustomed to the dark and sexy tunes in an instant! Music-wise, the band delivered just what the audience wanted: the electronic music in a dark twisted atmosphere, which made the band stand out a bit. This dark vibe could be reflected quite well through the front-man Z as he made sure everyone was entertained and kept moving around the small stage. I could also see that the band was happy to be here, with this audience.
The next band on the main stage for me, was Das Ich – one of Germany’s most established players in the gothic scene. They have been around for thirty years now and especially in the 90s, their dark, evil and experimental sound has been a main influence for the scene and a whole generation of bands. Thus, despite them not having released a new album in ten years, the hall was packed with fans. And they did not disappoint! Despite their age, the formation has energy of ten bands, especially singer Stefan Ackermann danced and jumped around like there’s no tomorrow, cloaked in devilish red body paint and morphing his face into humanly uncanny expressions. This also shows that a band doesn’t necessarily need to hide behind fancy light shows and special effects if they have the charisma and the right skills in showmanship! Sometimes they seemed to have a bit of technical troubles with the sound as some songs started too early and they had to start over, but the fans still loved them and enthusiastically celebrated each and every song with them!
At the Sumpfblume, a packed crowd was waiting for Irfan. This Bulgarian act was formed in 2001 and make an interesting fusion of hypnotizing melodies and rhythms combining the oriental with the medieval Europe. Their latest record “Roots” was released last year. Since it was our first time encountering this band, we had no idea what to expect so a little bit of curiosity and anticipation was there for sure.
The moment they started playing, I got the goosebumps as the music took me to different dimensions. Irfan is one of those bands that captivate you with the vocals and the different instruments – with the Eastern and oriental approach -and this effect is stronger live as was the case at Autumn Moon Festival. The mix of the velvety female vocals, with the soft male vocals and the different instruments was otherworldly! I wasn’t the only one having the goosebumps though; some in the front row were dancing while the others were just giving in to the music; the overall atmosphere was just indescribable!
Apart from this vibe, one thing I loved was how the frontman explained the story before they started playing each song. Even though the songs were magical as they are, hearing the story made them a whole lot more enchanting. This way, some songs such as “Burana” also stayed in our minds a lot more. Apart from their own songs, the setlist also consisted a cover version of “Salamander”. With their magical and emotional set, Irfan became one of the highlights for us!
After an intense and emotional set, we wanted to take a break at the Halloween Mystic Market again and do some shopping as well as try some new food. Despite the heavy rain, many gathered in the ‘medieval’ stage to hear the bagpipe musicians live. The cold and rainy weather also meant that many gathered by where the fire was lit to warm up with some drinks in their hands while others gathered inside restaurant as well as the Sumpfblume bistro/cafe to get away from the rain. As for us, we just enjoyed the moment as it was with the autumn atmosphere reflected well through the ‘orange’ lights and the great music around us!
Heilung was one of the unique acts that stood out a bit in this line-up full of gothic/EBM/industrial music… And for that reason, the band caught our interest in an instant. The band delivers tunes from the northern European iron age and Viking period, and they use natural sounds. Surely this natural and organic sound comes in a raw form. Their latest release “Futha” was released this year. Surprisingly, despite being a fan of this genre and style, I was just discovering the beauty that was Heilung on this festival, which was a special occasion….and I am sure this was the case for many!
With their set, the band just captivated the audience at the Rattenfänger Halle from the beginning to the end! The whole set was not just an ordinary one but a ritual and a spiritual musical journey. Everything was just perfect and there were so many highlights; the dancers, warriors, every little instrument that was heard and seen, the talented and magical musicians on stage – from the vocalists to the drummers-…. It is indeed hard for me to describe what I experienced but it was an eargasm at all levels! One moment, I was mesmerized by the vocals and the other times, I was distracted by the dancers or the drums.. there was just so much going on! The only thing I regretted was just not having been on the front to experience this magic on a full level.
Music-wise, the band opened the set with a ceremony & ritual and started with “In Maidjan” followed by songs like “Alfadhirhaiti” and “Krigsgaldr”. However, as I mentioned, the whole show felt like one huge piece that flew smoothly and so fast that we all forgot how time went by. On the other hand, I could see some baffled and confused faces, who were possibly impatiently waiting for the headliner Project Pitchfork. So I could see that Heilung was maybe not everyone’s cup of tea and highlight but they surely stole our hearts and became our highlights!
Project Pitchfork, as the headliners for this second day, were quite anticipated by the huge audience that gathered even during the performance of Heilung. This electro/industrial act, hailing from Hamburg, was founded in 1990 and belongs to the most successful and most influential harbingers of this genre. They have many releases and also an upcoming re-release of “Look Up I’m Down There” and “Quantum Mechanics” to be released on 6th of December.
These headliners delivered what was expected from a headliner and much more; a fantastic performance that made everyone dance, shout, applaud and sweat like crazy! One could definitely see and feel that these guys are pros in this scene and they do this with non-stop dedication and passion.
Surely, a legendary act like Project Pitchfork had a variety of songs from the setlist such as “Akkretion”, “Alpha Omega”, “Requiem”, “Antidote” and “Blood-Diamond”. Everyone from the audience had their own highlight and favorites but one thing was certain: everyone reached their level of musicgasm with these headliners on the last day! There were so many happy faces and emotions and I am sure for almost everyone, this was the perfect finish for Autumn Moon Festival. For the minority like us, the festival continued with the next act, Alcest, after these amazing and energetic headliners!
Alcest was quite the contrast after the headliners Project Pitchfork and since they started the set relatively late – around 12:45 AM-, not many people stayed. However, this was definitely a good thing since we got to listen to these legends with a passionate, loyal and dedicated audience. At the time of the festival, the band had not released their newest album “Spiritual Instinct” (which was out on Oct 25th) so we were curious if they would play anything from the then-upcoming record.
Despite the late hour and our tired feet, Alcest made it worth everything with their magical and emotional music. I personally didn’t expect less though since we are talking about a legendary band. I could feel that the band was unsure about whether many people would show up at this hour as Neige stated “We know it’s late but please don’t fall asleep” but at least from where we stood, I saw many people enjoying the music and some headbanging to the band’s harsher songs. So from the audience to the band, every aspect of this late show was amazing!
Music-wise, the band played some highlights such as “Kodama”, “Autre temps”, and “Oiseaux de proie” but also one new song – “Protection”– from the newest release “Spiritual Instinct” was played as well. There was not much interaction between the band and the audience, but this didn’t matter; Alcest’s magical music put the fans in a trance state and mesmerized everyone… and they were definitely one of our highlights of this festival. It didn’t matter if they played so late and so little, it was just one of those moments in which the music was just enough to take everyone away…
From the medieval market to the fantastic bands featured this year, Autumn Moon Festival was a musical delight making our autumn music season cosy and colorful! We also gotta mention that the organisation was flawless both in the venues and the market. From the audience to the security as well as the bands, everyone made sure there was a fantastic atmosphere going on. One other highlight was the versatile styles throughout the festival; it wasn’t just all about gothic/EBM scene but the fact that there were some different names in-between added an extra ‘icing on the cake’ for this festival for us! Kudos to the organization, bands, the audience and the market folks for this great experience!
By Basak G: Cellar Darling (text & photos), Girls Under Glass (text & photos), Nachtmahr (text), Siva Six (text & photos), Irfan (text), Heilung (text), Project Pitchfork (text), Alcest (text)
By Heavy Harlequin: Adam Is A Girl (text & photos), Dark Side Eons (text & photos), The Sigourney Weavers (text & photos), Nachtmahr (photos), Kowalski (text & photos), Das Ich (text & photos), Irfan (photos), Heilung (photos), Project Pitchfork (photos), Alcest (photos)