Friday, 17 August 2012

The Great M'era Luna Write Up Post 2012

This weekend I was sitting in Hildesheim airfield where one weekend a year the music is fabulous and the mead flows free. Yep, it's that time of year again: M'era Luna o'clock! I've got to say I had high hopes for this year, not only was the line up full of wonderful bands I'd yet to see play live, but I'd also recently had a tax rebate which means SHOPPING! Ahem. Unfortunately I'd also been sicker than the dead bird in the Monty Python sketch, and sadly this ickiness combined with late night travelling and rather too much alcohol resulted in me throwing up somewhere in Belgium and having to ditch my t-shirt. It's become a bit of a tradition for something to go wrong in the process of me getting to Germany, hasn't it? Last year it was the four hour wait at the Eurotunnel, and the year before that I very almost left one day early. Oh well. Thankfully some of the lovely Goths on a Bus helped me get myself together so by the time we reached the supermarket for our customary supplies of kegs and novelty beer cans, I was fine.

Unlike last year, we managed to make it into Hildesheim on time. Not just on time, in fact, but to the minute that the Guv'nor had estimated. All hail the Guv and his mad organisational skills!

We arrived early enough to miss the bulk of the wrist-band-queue and to claim a large area of campsite for ourselves, our tents and our enormous, ominous black gazebo before settling down for a few (dozen) beers and venturing down to the pagan market for mead and SHOPPING! Sorry, I will get that out of my system eventually. I in my infinite wisdom had forgotten to pack a jumper, so the M'era Luna hoodie I bought was an essential, alright? It's just everything else that wasn't.

After spending slightly too much money and wandering back to the tents for a lengthy conversation, I gave in and went to bed, ready to wake up bright and not-very-early on Saturday to catch my first band of the festival, Hiemataerde, a group who dress as Knights Templar and play electronica. I thoroughly enjoyed their set, you can't go wrong with jumping up and down and clapping swords together.

It's the return of the blurry photos! This time with added blokes with shields.

The mixture of armour and electro was... admittedly a bit gimmicky, but musically they were fairly interesting and they put on quite a show. I'll definitely be looking out for some of their records.

I wasn't overly bothered about the next couple of bands, Roterfeld and Megaherz, and it was impossibly hot so I took the time to wander around the festival area shopping places (SHOPPING!), picking up a few CDs, a much needed parasol and last year's festival DVD from those nice people at Sonic Seducer (I wish I could understand German, I always end up buying the magazine and flicking through looking at the pictures.) My wanderings and drinkings were interrupted at least four times by various photographers who seemed to like my outfit, and as shallow as it sounds I was pretty chuffed with that. After all the years of teasing and bullying that my eclectic dress-sense has brought me, I felt oddly justified. But M'era Luna is like that. You can wear what you like, you can do what you like and people will either compliment you, join you or at least leave you to it. Without wanting to sound too schmaltzy, it's pretty much everything I like about the scene condensed down to one weekend (with a few added loonies thrown in for good measure, but I'll talk about some of them later!)

The next band I caught was Leztze Instanz, a cheerfully rocky Neofolk outfit who also went in for a lot of jumping up and down. Jumping up and down was pretty much the order of the day.

Bloke with violin!

Bloke with cello! Never let it be said that Goth bands don't use enough stringed instruments

And a crowd of goths rocking along to Leztze Instaz. Love the bunny ears.

This is the only video I managed to get this year. Mainly because I couldn't work out where the video function was. I only got this by sheer fluke.

Next up were Diary of Dreams, who are a... Goth rock band, I guess, but honestly if you haven't heard of them by now, you're on the wrong blog. They were fantastic. Although the played the UK a few months ago, I'd somehow managed not to catch them live before but now I'm definitely going to be keeping a look out for them again, their set was superb. 
Adrian doing the rock star thing

After they finished, and the roadies spent a good few minutes turning on all the smoke machines, it was time for the Fields of the Nephilim, and if I need to tell you who they are you're definitely in the wrong place. The Nephs are another of those bands that I have somehow managed not to see, and to be honest I hadn't realised how...eccentric some of their fanbase are. It hadn't occured to me that people might mosh to the Nephs. I mean, I would've thought their stuff was a bit slow for moshing, but apparently not. I found myself a few rows back from the front, directly behind a very enthusiastic gentleman with a portrait of Carl McCoy tattooed on his back and a very large flag, and next to a very heavily tattooed chap wearing a baseball cap and a leather skirt and not a lot else. And half way through the set Mr Leather Skirt decided it would be appropriate to hitch up said leather skirt, so I spent the rest of the show trying not to look to my left for fear of catching sight of his arse again.
I took a lot of photos of the Nephs.

Anyway, the Nephs themselves were great. Carl appeared to be having a sulk (and I would too, I mean, the Nephs used to headline festivals like this) so it took a good few songs for things to really get going but by the last few tracks I was almost as excited as the chap with the flag. And I'm pleased to report that Moonchild is as much fun live as it is on record. 

Carl McCoy doing one of his rock'n'roll poses

Carl taking the mic stand for a walk

Oh no, everyone can see the amps! Quick, more dry ice!

And Carl taking the mic for another walk. 

Looking back on these, I'm starting to wonder whether someone glued his right hand to the microphone.

After dancing slightly too enthusiastically to Moonchild, it was time for a quick sit-down before Subway to Sally hit the stage. If you're not familiar with them, they're a Mittelalter band who really really like setting fire to things. They're one of the bands that I affectionately like to describe as "explosions and bagpipes". Musically they're a lot of fun, but the real fun is in watching huge plumes of flame leap twenty feet in the air. Don't believe me? Here's an assortment of pictures of Subway and fire.

Fiery wing thingies

Fiery... um... fire
Fiery backdrops
Still not enough fire? 
 Here have MORE!

After they had nicely grilled most of the audience, I thought I'd better get something to eat. Next up on the main stage was...
Lacbo. Oh alright, Placebo. 
Now you may remember that Placebo finished up the festival in 2010 and made a horrible racket because their sound technician was apparently insane. Thankfully this year they appear to have ditched the mad technician in favour of one who actually knows what he (or she) is doing so I could actually hear Brian's voice this time. Now I've got to be honest, I really liked them when I was younger so their earlier stuff has a lot of nostalgia value for me but I'm not quite so keen on the new material. Unfortunately for me, around half the set was newer stuff, though they did play Every Me, Every You. Oh the sixth form memories! 

Unfortunately the stark lighting and the fact that I couldn't be bothered to move further forward meant that even the best of my photos of them look something like this 
 Although I did get one that looks like this
but that's someone's back so I don't even know who it is. It might be Brian. Let's say it is.

Anyway, when they finished, I made my way back to my tent where I was greeted with the prospect of gunfire tea (tea with rum in it, or, more accurately, rum with a bit of tea in it. So strong it can make certain somebodies fall asleep before even reaching the inside of their tent). 

The first act I caught on Sunday was Lahannya, a British singer-songstress and her band of the same name. Her stuff is a bit metally for my tastes, but catchy all the same. Plus she has bright blue hair which is always good.
Next up were Lacrimas Profundere who were also good but not really to my taste. Their singer looks suspiciously like Russel Brand, too.

"Oh my gawd! Look! Someone's wearing blue jeans!" (Obligatory Johnny the Homicidal Maniac quote)

After yet another blitz of the merchandise stalls (and the CD stalls, and the jewelry stalls, and...SHOPPING!) it was time to lurk by the stage to catch Faun, a charming and very catchy neofolk band. Maybe it's because I'm pagan, but I'm getting quite fond of all these neofolk/Mittelalter bands, I have to say. Folk instruments are greatly underused in rock'n'roll.
All my photos of Faun seem to involve that chap with the drum.

Except this one, where someone else has the drum and the chap has... another drum.

Unfortunately I had to dash off before the end of Faun's set because I simply had to catch The Beauty of Gemina. This was the third time I've seen them, having seen them both at last year's M'era Luna and at a gig at Slimes in February. They're swiftly becoming one of my favourite bands; catchy tunes with moody, gloomy vocals and impenetrable lyrics. I just love them. To prevent a repeat of last year's soggy performance, this year they were playing in the Hangar stage, and though the sticky heat in there was a bit much the darkness really suited their music. Their set wasn't that different to the one from February: a smattering of tracks from the new album Iscariot Blues and a few favourites from their previous albums, including This Time, Shadow Dancer and, my favourite, Rumours. 

Unlike me, my camera doesn't like the dark. So here are some very blurry pictures of the Beauty of Gemina. Or the Blurry of Gemina. Or something.

Michael Seele seems to have a new jacket. But he still looks like an anime Boris Johnson. Thankfully he doesn't sound like an anime Boris Johnson. I have no idea what an anime Boris Johnson would sound like. I can't stop saying anime Boris Johnson. Anime Boris Johnson! Gah!

After their criminally short set finished, it was time for more SHOPPING! (yes I still think that's funny, so there) as I wasn't overly bothered about the next few bands. I carried on shopping (SHOPPING!) until I ran out of hands to carry things, which made for a good excuse to pop back to the tents to drop off stuff, have a sit down and a beer before stomping back to the festival area to see New Model Army.

Now, again, the Army are one of those bands I've been meaning to get tickets for for years but I've always either missed them or wussed out because I have a mortal dread of mosh pits. So because I'm a total wussy pansy girl, I stayed away from the front but could thankfully see the band fairly well. They put on a good show, although I'm reliably informed they didn't sound quite as powerful as usual, and Justin Sullivan seemed a bit...spaced out. "We write a lot of songs about stuff." Um, thanks Justin that's really insightful. 

New Model Army. Writing songs about stuff since 1980.

And here's the Army singing a song about stuff.

I actually have a lot more photos of the Army, but it seems my camera dislikes strong evening sunlight almost as much as it dislikes darkness.

After a disappointingly short set (although a set that included Here Comes the War so it wasn't that disappointing) the Army finished leaving just enough time to grab a snack before another of my favourite "bagpipes and explosions" acts took the stage, In Extremo. In Extremo's pyrotechnics make other bands' pyros look like a box of damp fireworks. They make Rammstein look like a bunch of kids with sparklers. They have things like this:

And to put things in context, I was standing very far back and yet every time a pyro went off I felt a nice warm glow like someone had just turned up the radiator. In fact, this is how far back I was

Pretty far. Anyway, In Extremo put on a suitably impressive and insane set. Musically, they're a mixture of metal and Mittelalter, complete with harps and hurdy-gurdies and bouncy guitar solos. Very catchy, largely fairly upbeat, more fun than a bag full of kittens. They're a lot of fun to watch too, not only did they have jets of flame around the size of a two-storey building, they also had fountains of sparks, pillar-box red flames, loud explosions, epilepsy-inducing lights and spent a lot of time processing around the stage playing bagpipes. So here, of course are a lot more pictures of In Extremo's amazing pyros.

More fire!

Even more fire!


And here's some more fire!

Dancing fire!

Unnatural-looking pillar-box red fire!

More dancing jets of fire!

Even more dancing jets of fire!
Oh my gods, I am unbelievably proud of this photo. Look at the fire! Look at it!

Alas the flaming goodness had to end eventually, if just to preserve the unfortunate sunburnt souls in the front few rows. So it was time to head to the medieval market to stuff my face with knob rot... sorry... knobi-brot and drink a few farewell cups of my favourite alcoholic beverage on the planet, Wikingerblut (yummy cherry mead) before heading back to the tents to tidy up a bit and try to sleep over the sound of a certain Scottish somebody singing very loudly until about three in the morning. I don't know what it is about singing The Irish Rover at stupid o'clock while drunk off their arses but there's a surprising number of people I know who end up doing it. I wonder if anyone has ever sung that song sober....

Monday morning was a painfully early start to pack up the tents (and I still have no idea how to fold up that wretched tent. One day I'll work it out. One day...) and pile everything back onto the coaches. And then wait for the last few tired bus goths to work their way out of the campsite. 

Aside from trudging around the supermarket to stock up on bratwurst and staggering around the duty free, I pretty much slept for the entire homeward journey. I have no idea where this sudden tiredness came from. On the plus side it meant I wasn't sick, on the downside it meant I didn't really get to say goodbye to everyone. 

And now I'm back in sunny Oxford, slowly finding homes for my new belongings and trying to catch up with as many gothy friends as possible because coming back to the "real world" where people don't know what Goth is is very hard work. I had to pop into work yesterday and had to explain what industrial is to a man from Nokia. *sigh* Is it M'era Luna time again yet?

As always, a big thank you to all the lovely Goths on a Bus. Special thanks to Ade the Guv'nor for organising it all and getting us there on the exact minute he'd planned; Big Alan and the nefarious Doctor Garside for the campsite company and gunfire tea; Shaggy for the gazebo (sorry "big erection"); Julie-Anne and Jack for North bus herding (and late night renditions of folk songs); Morgan for helping me un-gross myself when I was sick; and of course Gordon and Tom the bus drivers for getting us there and back again....again. 

All under our mighty battle cry: Fire, tits and elbows!

If I don't see you before next year, I will definitely see you all on the bus this time next year. ASP are playing again, I can't wait! 

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