26th-27th-28th August 2011
The second edition of the Moonlight Festival turned out as an all but exalting experience, both because of the evident lack of organization and because of the questionable quality of most of the bands in the line-up (check the review in the links below). The third edition presented itself under a much more promising light, as there were less names on the flyer, including some big ones among them (less bands, more quality = well done), and, most important of all, the location was moved from that disgraceful airport in Fano to the well-known Velvet Club in Rimini, an historical venue with a consolidated tradition of live events. Having EBM pioneers DAF, the reborn Clock DVA returning on Italian soil and playing their second concert after this year's reboot at the Wave Gotik Treffen in Leipzig, and the impressive theatrical machinery of Rosa Crvx in two days was enough attractive.
DISCLAIMER: the Filth Forge Team attended just the last two days, and watched only the concerts of interest for the website. Therefore, this will be a partial and personal view; do not consider it as a complete and exhaustive report of the event. Other bands played, other things happened, of which you will find no account in the following lines.
The first concert for us was then CLOCK DVA, playing their first gig in Italy since 1993. After the beautiful and mesmerizing experience last June in Leipzig (see links below) with their cube installation, this time Adi Newton, Shara Vasilenko and TeZ had screens behind their back, like in the old times, with all the equipment placed to the front. The familiar DVA logo appeared in the dark, and the audience immediately saluted with enthusiasm this legendary band hitting the stage once again. The program was slightly different from the Leipzig one, they played new tracks, such as "Midnight Blue", "Thee Scryer" and "Theme For Scarlet Horn", some with vocals, some just instrumental and almost chill out in their elegance and minimalism. The historical "Fractal-9" was, just like at the Wave Gotik Treffen, one of the most intense moments of the whole performance, and "Sound Mirror", from the masterpiece "Buried Dreams", further enhanced the intensity. There were unfortunately sound problems towards the end of "Sound Mirror" itself and with final "The Hacker (Haked Haked)", causing the volume to rise and fall suddenly for a moment and also a bit of noise in the music, but everything was solved within a few minutes.
Judging from impressions collected immediately after the show, Clock DVA's appearance at the Moonlight was received in deeply contrasting ways: some people were enthusiastic, some were disappointed. The major critics regarded the fact that Adi and friends didn't play their most famous "hits" (what about "Sound Mirror" and "The Hacker" then?), and also their static stage presence. Well, what can we say about that? DVA never were a "greatest hits" band, so the fact that they chose not to play old songs only, and especially not their most "commercial" ones (like "Eternity" or "Voice Recognition Test") doesn't come as a surprise. The impression from these two live performances is that Adi Newton is looking forward, to the future of the planned new releases, not wanting to repeat the past endlessly. The full potential of the reborn DVA still has to be truly unleashed, and it surely will. And such cold, mathematical, freezing music is presented by people in white coats, like scientists aseptically operating in their laboratory. Difficult to imagine them dancing and jumping. In the end, Clock DVA play Electronic but not Body Music.
The headliner of the second day was awaited as much as Clock DVA, and with reason: DAF, the mighty Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft, appeared in Rimini in the persons of Gabi Lopez Delgado and Robert Görl, exactly 30 years after the release of "Gold Und Liebe" and "Alles Ist Gut", the twin albums that invented the EBM genre and spread out such controversial dancefloor hits as "Der Mussolini" and "Alle Gegen Alle". The live set worked out in the usual configuration, with Robert on drums, Gabi on vocals and the electronics playing from a CD. A part of the audience didn't like this aspect, but, in the end once upon a time they had reels on stage in stead of the CD, so it's just a matter of technological update. The tune that kicked off the performance was "Verschwende Deine Jugend", also the name of the current tour. Disgracefully, for this whole first song the electronics remained unheard. The mixer problem was solved in time for the rest of the gig, which flew smoothly, apart from one further problem with drums later.
DAF were quite surprising, as with such minimal equipment the risk to result boring or even lame was dangerously high. On the contrary, Delgado's strong, charismatic and ironic stage presence was enough to catch everyone's attention, his voice is still powerful, and his gesticulation is really captivating, especially in the anthem "Der Mussolini", where each line is physically performed one after the other, remembering us of the original meaning of the Electronic Boyd Music slogan, invented by the Düsseldorf duo itself. The quantity of water the singer kept pouring on his head was something to be seen to be believed.
Like Clock DVA, DAF didn't rely on their well-known dancefloor classics, but chose to play some obscure tunes from their full discography too, offering even rare gems such as "Nacht Arbeit" (from "Die Kleinen Und Die Bösen"), "Mein Herz Macht Bum" and "Die Lippe", as well as some of their less danceable songs, like "Muskel", "Ich Will" and the disturbing "Ich Und Die Wirklichkeit". The new single "Du Bist DAF" was performed too, together with the famous "Der Sheriff" and two more titles from the 2003 reunion album, "Liebeszimmer" and "Algorhythmus". Of course, they also played "Der Mussolini", the most notorious and well-received from the whole audience, "Alle Gegen Alle" (partially ruined by a technical problem with drums), and "Sato Sato". There were three encores, as the duo was called back with enthusiasm by the most: the strange dark fairy tale "Der Räuber Und Der Prinz", another of their historical chart hits, was the first, then Gabi returned and asked what we wanted to listen to, and the reply was the controversial "Kebab-Träume", which could have worked as perfect seal for the night. But, DAF returned on stage a third time, and "Der Mussolini" materialized again, not less powerful and aggressive than the one performed at the beginning of the gig.
And that was it for the second day of the festival, with two pioneers of European electronics still showing very good signs of life. The third and final day was going to bring a finale with a return to the more traditional gothic rock sound, but with great surprises waiting ahead.
The third and final day of the Moonlight festival opened with ROSA CRVX, French band in activity since the mid 1980's and that reached an asbolute cult status thanks to their unique, highly theatrical and complex live performances, involving many spectacular instruments and authentic rituals, performed in the midst of the unwary audience. Their stage presentation is impressive: on the left side stand an organ, several lit candels and a huge set of church bells; in the middle a large screen with evocative projections that shift between slides with medieval carvings, church decorations, skulls and bones, a video of the band's famous performance with a gigantic iron ball-shaped cage, and the disturbing images of a mouse inside a sort of wheel-trap; on the right side, towering above all the rest, the stunning robotic machinery that plays live drums with midi-programmed sticks and mallets. Soon enough, the three core members of the band made their entrance and started to play, respectively, guitar / vocals, bass and organ / bells.
Rosa Crvx's music is a gloomy and powerful blend of gothic, medieval and martial music, with very a unique, disturbing atmosphere and one of the most outstanding stage performances ever. Shortly after the beginning of the concert, indeed, the robot drummer started to play, beating the tempo on the different percussions and kettledrums, and a female choir appeared on the right side. The combination of all these elements was mind-blowing, the venue was like suspended into a sort of ancient, dark medieval ritual for the whole duration of this amazing gig. And many more surprises were waiting ahead.
During one of the first songs, two female druidesses holding a large flag in their hands climbed on two stands that had been positioned among the audience, and started to wave their flags all around. When it was the time for "Eli Elo", one of the band's classic, two women, this time wrapped in mantles, climbed on a large table. As the song began, they threw away their coverage, revealing their nude bodies completely covered in earth and mud, and started the ritual "danse de la terre", moving rhythmically and throwing on themselves more earth from two recipients in front of them. It was probably the most intense moment of the whole festival, as everyone was mesmerized by the haunting, hieratic chant of the singer and the choir, as well as by the disturbing image of the two women, moving like possessed, waving earth and sand all around.
Rosa Crvx were easily the highlight of this year's Moonlight Festival, despite having been placed as opener (probably because of the complexity of their instrumentation and time they needed to prepare it). This band is absolutely original and stands easily out after all these years. As much as their music is beautiful on CD, you definitely need to experience their live sets to understand its full essence. A pity that not many people were attending on Sunday night, as Rosa Crvx would have definitely deserved much more. This is what, in our opinion, deserves to be filed under "gothic", a modern and intriguing representation of the European Middle Ages and their darkest and most fascinating aspects, quite different from the usual interpretation of the term we can see in this scene, where everything is mostly reduced to dressing in black and sporting more or less unusual haircuts.
As the festival was drawing to its conclusion, there was time for one last gig, this time by British ultra-veterans UK DECAY, recently returned on the road with their prime-mover goth punk sound, the same of the famous and only album "For Madmen Only" and a bunch of singles. Even if this is not the kind of music we deal with here on Filth Forge, it's worth to spend a few words on their concert, as the renovated line-up of the Luton band delivered some direct and enjoyable old-school post-punk, opening with "Shattered", and then proceeding through the likes of "Jerusalem (The White Cliffs Of Dover)", "Stage Struck", "Sexual", "Dresden", "Mayday Mylady", and closing then with the debut punk single "For My Country". All in all it was a pleasant conclusion for these two days of interesting music at the Velvet Club.
The Moonlight Festival learned from its previous errors, and this year they offered a very good event. The club itself improved its sound system a lot since the last time we were there, and, even if few technical problems remained (like with Clock DVA's and DAF's gigs), none of last year's disasters at Fano were seen at all. Let's now wait and see what the fourth edition will offer us next year.
- Simon V.
- DAF pics by Michela C.