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July 12, 2011

Nordstern Festival, Hamburg, 08&09-July 2011: Viva Music Review


Viva Music wants to thank Neuwerk Music Management and all the participants in the first edition of Nordstern Festival for an awesome experience. Let’s do it again!

Day One (below) | Day Two

Day One: July-08, 2011 Nordstern Festival @Markthalle


The venue

Hamburg’s own dark and electro festival debuted with a first evening in the generous venue of Markthalle. With a good club and concert venue layout, Markthalle proved not only to be a very accessible location (in the immediate vicinity of Hamburg’s central train station and with a myriad of means of transportation within reach of the avid concert-goer), but also a plausible choice for the size of the event and the needs of the audience. Bedecked with a no-wait bar, food stand, coatroom and merchandise stands, the venue was impressive, with good acoustics and a wonderful coordination of sound and lighting, thanks to Neuwerk’s team of skilled professionals. Though the 2-day festival passes were sold out before even the event kicked off, the management made a few 1-day tickets available at the front counter, so that late-comers to the festival could enjoy it, too.  back to top


Official Website | on Facebook | Discography on Discogs

Other Slave Republic articles by Viva Music: Slave Republic at Darkwave.ro Fest 2010 | Slave Republic photo gallery at Darkwave.ro Fest 2010| Electric One” Album Review

SLAVE REPUBLIC at Nordstern Festival Photo Gallery

Being the opening act of a festival is a demanding position; one that SLAVE REPUBLIC acquitted themselves of graciously. Having had the opportunity to see them live during Viva Music’s own Darkwave.ro Fest in 2010, we knew we could place our bets on a great show, and indeed SLAVE REPUBLIC provided an unforgettable set in which Alec Fu and Alex Alice showed a mature and enviable tour of their first album, with generous highlights such as “The Driver”, “My Maker” or “Less of Me”. The song that gave the title of their first album, “Electric” was on everyone’s lips even before they started singing it, and they communicated a great deal with the audience who was already humming, dancing and getting closer and closer to the stage. back to top


On Myspace | on Facebook | Discography on Discogs

ARCHITECT at Nordstern Festival Photo Gallery

ARCHITECT is an act of great musicianship; one that really holds the audience on a pleasant edge and that knows how to bring a tribute to the general framework of music that enabled and inspires this musical project. Self-entitled “a unique hybrid of IDM, electronica and smooth ambient soundscapes as inexhaustibly explored by German mastermind Daniel Myer“, ARCHITECT is sound in pure and ethereal forms, with a replenishing ambient beat and a very deep exploration of sound. Though the set was limited time-wise since it was part of a festival, it felt like it lasted much longer than the allotted time, and included a cameo “Stripped” from DEPECHE MODE and also a great rendition of KRAFTWERK’s ”Radioactivity” by public demand. back to top


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KLANGSTABIL at Nordstern Festival Photo Gallery

KLANGSTABIL were a very wise and festival-safe choice for Nordstern Festival. Their stage presence reminded simultaneously of acts such as RABIA SORDA, DAS ICH and KRAFTWERK – and a combination thereof serves only in simplistic terms to characterize their zest and efficiency. Because the impact of their sound is not something you can get accustomed to easily and the chain of sonorous surprises keeps on chaffing at the audience’s expectations. “Lauf Lauf” and “Perdere per vincere” were well-received by an enthusiast crowd and the pilgrimage of a barefoot Boris May on stage was momentous, giving out the feeling that he wanted to better feel the vibrations with his foot soles. back to top


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EMPIRION at Nordstern Festival Photo Gallery

The reformed EMPIRION of 2011 (the band entered a hiatus after the regrettable death of their band mate Bob Glennie six years ago) was announced on stage by VNV NATION’s Mark Jackson and was definitely the most visual-oriented show of the festival. The quiet, solid electronica of EMPIRION was well-wrought and elative, really keeping the audience confined to the dance floor. While Depeche Mode, Kraftwerk, Front 242, Underworld, Nitzer Ebb range among the acts that inspire and influence Empirion, their sound strikes as very personal and is often met with great enthusiasm – and Nordstern Festival was no exception to this rule. back to top


Official Website | on Facebook | Discography on Discogs

Other Frozen Plasma articles by Viva Music: Frozen Plasma at Blackfield Festival 2009 | Frozen Plasma at Blackfield Festival 2009 photo gallery

FROZEN PLASMA at Nordstern Festival Photo Gallery

With an animated audience increasing in numbers and enthusiasm before them, FROZEN PLASMA must have known that the cadence of their music needed to fit the pulse of the crowd like a glove – and therefore the show put up by Felix Marc and Vasi Vallis conferred to the festival a taste of very vibrating electronica that got everyone under the commanding rule of their music. With great highlights such as “Murderous Trap”, the much awaited “Tanz die Revolution” and the overpowering “Warmongers”, their show was a complete success. The indefatigable Felix Marc marched, jumped, and pranced across the stage offering a seamless experience with a great new-wave feel and all things considered, with a very magnetic response from the audience – suffices it to remind the effect triggered by the lines “take your rifle and fight for your rights” – an energetic, almost military outburst that got everyone dancing and celebrating. back to top


Official Website | on Myspace | Discography on Discogs

SONO at Nordstern Festival Photo Gallery

SONO were the latest addition to Nordstern Festival, as a replacement act for the ailing ZEROMANCER, who have canceled until further notice 2011 shows. While SONO do represent a fair share of pop music, their electronica is really catchy and provided a great denouement to the first evening of the festival. “What You Do”, “A New Cage”, “All Those City Lights” but also their 2000 success “Keep Control” were all there in order to secure the feel of the evening and encase it gracefully, and why not, teasingly. SONO are a great stage presence and a pleasure to witness live, and their tirelessness matched the avidity of the audience. back to top

Day Two: July-09, 2011 Nordstern Festival @Stadtpark


The venue

Participants at Nordstern Festival Photo Gallery

Stadtpark was the venue for the second and last evening of the first edition of Nordstern Festival. Pluses were the outdoor space in the beautiful area of Hamburg’s city park, the impressive stage of Freilichtbuehne, the really neat layout of kiosks, sitting areas, meeting points and vendors, as well as the acoustics of the venue. Stadtpark hosts numerous events throughout the summer, and is becoming one of the most popular outdoor venues of Hamburg’s musical scene. Though an outdoor venue brings in itself the disadvantage of being at the mercy of weather (scorching sun and vivid showers of rain were the highlights of the second day of Nordstern Festival), it was really welcoming and gave out a general feel-good, holiday vibe that was enhanced by the beautiful crowd of visitors of all ages. back to top


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BLITZMASCHINE at Nordstern Festival Photo Gallery

BLITZMASCHINE opened up the early second day of the festival with their very cadenced electro in German. Their music on stage strikes as delicate and precise. Good vibes were irradiating from their stage in a very fulminating beginning: the sensuousness of “Useless Pain”, the voracity of “Blonde Maedchen” and the courage and enthusiasm of “Vorwaerts” – they all got the quite sizable audience singing and dancing like there is no tomorrow. Their quick and eager set also included the DAF cover “Liebe auf den ersten Blick” which sounded fabulous, lavish, and elaborate. BLITZMASCHINE are a fresh electro breath into the scene, worth your ears and attention: since 2009, their minimal vocals, complex song structures and musical arrangements are really something! back to top


Official Website | on Facebook | Discography on Discogs

ABSURD MINDS at Nordstern Festival Photo Gallery

With 10+ albums and well into their second decade of existence, ABSURD MINDS are an act of long term commitment to electronica. A fact reinforced by their Nordstern set, which felt like a cosmic replenishment of all the good vibes in the universe. “I’m Dying Alone”, “Deception” and definitely “Countdown” have a jingle-like plasticity that was readily embraced by the public. ABSURD MINDS enjoyed their Nordstern station a great deal, had it not been for the limitation of a festival set, they most probably would have stayed put for hours on end – or at least that is the impression their energy, courtesy to the audience and entertaining spirit left. back to top


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ASCII DISKO at Nordstern Festival Photo Gallery

ASCII DISKO was probably the quietest and most undemanding show of the entire festival. One man and his station, the act put up by Daniel Holc was an alternative offered to the more club-oriented, moderate bpm and no-denomination crowd, with sufficient juice and loops to keep everyone entranced in a time void that opened new perspectives to the festival. It being the first edition of Nordstern, it is rewarding in a way to diversify and include an act such as ASCII DISKO in the lineup, and also a sign of open-mindedness. back to top


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DIORAMA at Nordstern Festival Photo Gallery

DIORAMA’s set ensued, proof to the fact that despite their energetic sound, they can be tender. The very expressive Torben Wendt did not keep himself to himself, but was instead outgoing and almost all the time on the brink of the stage. His powerful voice, grave and cheerful at the same time, was seconded by Felix Marc. Child of Entertainment” and “Synthesize Me” were much applauded highlights of their set. DIORAMA was an exercise in showmanship that many artists need to aspire to; and also a proof they can appeal to a wide scope of audiences within a limited time. back to top


Official Website | on Facebook | Discography on Discogs

Other Combichrist articles by Viva Music: Combichrist in Bucharest review | Combichrist in Bucharest photo gallery | Combichrist at E-tropolis 2010 review | Combichrist at E-tropolis 2010 photo gallery | Combichrist at Amphi Festival 2010 review | Combichrist at Amphi Festival 2010 photo gallery | Combichrist to support Rammstein for NY Madison Square Garden Concert | Top 10 Combichrist Remixes to Look out for

COMBICHRIST at Nordstern Festival Photo Gallery

COMBICHRIST synchronized their dashing on stage with pouring rain. Far from dissuading them, the rain got every single member of the band at least once on the lawn in front of the stage, just to share sympathetically the rain with their audience. As if this was not enough proof of solidarity, Andy LaPlegua turned the setlist taped on the stage monitors toward the public, and basically during their set everyone was at it with everyone: drums, drumsticks, keyboards and mikes flew around liberally, while the audience stomped their boots into the forming mud of the Stadtpark arena. The improvised nature of their show did not strike one bit as odd or wrong: the staff took photographs, Andy LaPlegua himself got off stage to take pics of the audience and himself with a fan’s camera, there were soap bubble guns and to cap it all, a horse face, a robot head and a bee irrupted on stage on the beats of “What the F*** Is Wrong with You”. The horse face had previously been introduced in the show as Joe Letz entered the show wearing it, only to toss it away minutes later. Their setlist included of course “F*** that S***”, “Get Your Body Beat” as well as “Just Like Me” and “Rain of Blood” and stretched out to include numerous disruptions, that instead of breaking through the show, bestowed on it consistency and kept everyone alert as no one knew what is next. Great show, COMBICHRIST! back to top


Official Website | on Facebook | Discography on Discogs

Other IAMX articles by Viva Music: IAMX at Blackfield Festival 2009 review | IAMX at Blackfield Festival 2009 photo gallery

IAMX at Nordstern Festival Photo Gallery

Up next, IAMX, the penultimate act of the festival provided a melancholic, yet very considerate set, with career highlights spanning from “Kiss and Swallow” up to this year’s “Ghosts of Utopia”. Tipping the balance to and fro, from a more reserved, almost intimate bearing to a very outgoing one, with black cloth covering faces and somersaults on the wet lawn, the set conceived by IAMX was at the same time caustic and soothing, with great vocals on “Nightlife” and “Tear Garden”, with Chris Corner joining now and then on drums in an almost choreographed fashion and with everyone charmed by their show, especially as “Kiss and Swallow” and “Nature of Inviting” beamed through the arena. And if this was not enough, in an once-in-a-lifetime meeting of artistic souls, COMBICHRIST’s Joe Letz joined in IAMX’s “The Alternative”, just before “Spit It Out” rounded up an excellent performance. back to top


Official Website | on Facebook | Discography on Discogs

Other VNV Nation articles by Viva Music: VNV Nation at Amphi Festival 2010 review | VNV Nation at Amphi Festival 2010 photo gallery

VNV NATION at Nordstern Festival Photo Gallery

The overall headliner VNV NATION appeared on stage just before the thrilling announcement (already!) of next year’s Nordstern Festival: on July 06 and 07 2012, with tickets going on sale soon! Their opening “Joy” was enough to enrapt the audience, and a cascade of songs that included “Tomorrow Never Comes” and, of course, “Illusion” was cementing song by song the communal feel-good of the audience. Their show, as many expected, also included songs from their forthcoming September album, “Automatic”; with tentative titles such as “Shine” and “Control”, but also very flexible and elaborate renditions of “Dark Angel”, “Sentinel” and “Chrome”. A veteran band who amasses aficionados of numerous genres, VNV NATION’s show gave us a glimpse of what their 2011/12 “Automatic” tour is going to be like, preserving at the same time their lovemark traits, such as diligence, good communication with their audience, as well as inspiring music and verse. back to top


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