Leipzig will forever hold a special place in my heart. It was the first European city I ever visited, the site of my first DJ gig outside the US, and the birthplace of the first large-scale music festival I ever attended, the Wave Gotik Treffen. Eight years later, I still love returning, because there’s just something about Leipzig.
WGT is not the city’s only attraction. Aside from the typical tourist traps, it houses a rich arts community, a plethora of hardcore left-wing activists, and a dedicated DIY underground party scene that consists of long-running queer events like Lumière Bleue as well as newly-established clubs like the Institut für Zukunft, which has already garnered word-of-mouth accolades as one of the best new clubs in Germany. Their regular bookings include Perc, Jam City, M.E.S.H. and Felix K., so I’d tend to agree—in fact, I liked the space so much that I collaborated on a party there this past Halloween. Besides clubbing, it always feels like there’s something cool or weird to do in the city, be it circuit-bending workshops (I still have scars on my fingers from a memorable bend at 2009’s Claws of Saurtopia noisefest) or picking wild garlic and mushrooms in the surrounding forests.
When I say that the party scene is underground, I mean it. It seems like most of the parties in Leipzig are your typical student gatherings, which means the music is either a standard house/techno combo or indielectro from 2009. Friends who live there often complain about the dire musical milieu, but as a mere visitor to the city, I find this limited availability of fresh sounds exciting. Being spoiled for choice in a place like Berlin often makes people complacent and jaded, but when you’re coming to a rare event, the night takes on a unique and beautiful aspect that’s better than any drink or drug.
The scarcity of the New and the Now is part of what makes doing parties in Leipzig such a wild experience. For the official Doom Over Leipzig 2013 afterparty, I was booked to play hard trap and hip-hop, which was a strange follow-up to a festival dedicated to doom metal and experimental music. Nevertheless, I’ve rarely seen a crowd go as hard as that evening. Leipzig may be quieter than Berlin, but there’s nowhere in the world that I’ve partied harder and dirtier.
For those who’ve never been but have read hype-zig articles about how it might be the “new Berlin”, be told: It is not. Leipzig is its own strange and electrifying self. Treat it as such, and you’ll find rare and beautiful things.
Telekom Electronic Beats is hosting a series of Clubnights at Leipzig’s Institut für Zukunft. Find more information here. Cover photo of Born In Flamez by Lisanne Schulze.
This weekend, we’re dog-piling Leipzig with Asbjørn, Wild Beasts, Sylvan Esso, and Shura.
You can join us by grabbing some tickets here, or you can enter to win one of ten pairs of tickets to the EB Festival on Friday, November 21 by submitting your information into the form at the bottom of this post by Wednesday, November 19 at 18:00 Berlin time. We’re heading in a day before the November 21 show to host a workshop on how to build your own 808 kick drum, which will take place at Täubchenthal, one of the venues that made it into our guide to Leipzig. As with our previous handbooks to Budapest and Zagreb, we asked a regular in the local scene to recommend their 10 favorite hangouts in town. This one was compiled by Beate Dietrich of Leipzig’s Moon Harbour record label.
Distillery is one of Leipzig’s oldest and most renowned house and techno clubs. It was founded in the 1990s, shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and to this day it’s regarded as one of the country’s top hotspots. Dance music heavyweights like Carl Craig, Sven Väth, Richie Hawtin, and Ricardo Villalobos have all appeared behind Distillery’s decks, and popular German labels like BPitch Control, Mobilee, and Pampa host regular showcases here.
This venue is located in a self-governed cultural center in Connewitz, Leipzig’s headquarters for alternative lifestyles. It hosts concerts of all kinds, from indie and pop shows to experimental, hardcore, and metal gigs. It also throws some of the most interesting explorations into house, techno, and drum n bass events in town.
The newest addition to the Leipzig club scene, Täubchenthal, has become the talk of the town. It’s a lavishly-renovated hall of a former trading estate, and its colossal size allows it to host bigger events and acts. Two huge chandelier-like light installations dangle from the ceiling and set a nice atmosphere. There’s also a smaller club room for small concerts in an intimate environment. Even the toilets are a special experience at Täubchenthal—sometimes they hire DJs to play in the loo. It also occasionally hosts non-concert events, such as the synth-building workshop we’re hosting on November 20.
The guys running the Elipamanoke belong to the pioneers that were the first to discover the western part of Leipzig, characterised by its industrial past and being today one of the hippest neighbourhoods in town. The venue is one of the hottest addresses for underground Minimal, Techno and House parties, but also Drum’n’Bass and Electroswing events are taking place here. In the line ups you’ll find a lot of Leipzig based DJs and “stars of tomorrow“, but there is also a frequent coming and going of established labels such as Moon Harbour, Stil vor Talent or mobilee, and acts like Oliver Koletzki, DJ Hell and Onur Özer.
Although you might not expect to see live music at a municipal theater, you can catch a few hand-picked live acts at Leipzig’s Schauspiel. The venue favors avant-garde experimentation, both established artists and new discoveries. And the best part is that concertgoers can choose to snuggle into red velvet seats or get up and dance.
As is the case with many of Europe’s prized nightclubs, the Institut Für Zukunft employs a no-photos rule and a strict door policy. The club aims to offer an alternative to the existing club scene, so its bookings favor functional and experimental incarnations of house and techno from a variety of world-renowned and local DJs. They also host lectures and debates about gender issues, club culture, and electronic music.
Westwerk is a former factory situated in the heart of the busy disctricts Plagwitz and Lindenau. The venue hosts art exhibitions, creative markets, concerts, and club nights in its large hall or smaller spaces. Its expanses also contain galleries, workshops, stores, a restaurant, and one of Leipzig’s most charming biergartens.
This one is located a little off the clubbers’ beaten paths. It lies close to a forest, which imbues it with a sense of romance that appeals to cosmopolitan folks. Some of the most interesting party crews in Leipzig use the ballroom and garden for live concerts, club nights, and small festivals.
Many locals are deeply in love with this old cinema because it’s one of the most beautiful venues in Leipzig. The interior’s original state has been preserved, which creates a very special atmosphere. A few years ago, it was restored by some devoted enthusiasts and opened to the public for theater performances, film screenings, and live concerts, which skew toward indie, folk, and jazz acts.
Don’t leave town without having visiting this site, which was once a cotton spinning mill. Today, it’s a hotspot for internationally respected modern art. At the turn of the millenium, the painters of the so-called Neue Leipziger schule shook up the art world from this vantage point, which led the Guardian to call it “the hottest place on Earth.” The former mill houses a cinema, some shops, a cafe, and famous galleries and studios.
Update: The workshop has unfortunately been canceled due to unforeseen circumstances.
Electronic Beats is heading back down to Leipzig this weekend for our annual festival on Friday, so we linked up with the local LeafAudio crew to host a workshop on how to build a variety of sound-making machines. Tickets to the lesson are 60-95 euro each, and you can complete the mandatory registration process here, but you can win free entry to the pre-festival get-together by commenting on this post before Wednesday at 16:00 Berlin time. The workshop takes place at Täubchenthal on the afternoon of Thursday, November 20, which is the day before our concert starring Asbjørn, Wild Beasts, Sylvan Esso, and Shura—you can grab tickets for that event here.
We first hooked up with LeafAudio last year, when we filmed one of the honchos building a TR-808 bass drum by hand for a Slices: Tech Talk feature.
This time around, they’re going to teach us how to build the bass drum ourselves. They’ll also instruct us on how to build distortion boxes for guitars and a drone synth, both of which you can sample below. To register for the workshop or to find more information about the technology we’ll be working with as well as the event itself, click here.
All photos by Tomislav Sporis.
As our first impressions demonstrated, there were some mighty fine presences onstage at EB Festival Zagreb. We’re talking young men with great hair. We’re talking harps. We’re talking a shirtless Patrick Wolf sweating and bellowing in our faces. Yeah, boyee.
We love going to our Zagreb festivals not only because of the music, but also because we always enjoy the warm and convivial atmosphere that the lovely Croatian audience inspires. Yes, folks: we got tore up, straightaway. By the time Eyedress hit the stage, we were in just the right spirit to be drenched in their strange (yet quite cohesive) blend of aggressive rapping and ’80s-y smoothness. The group maintained a humorous onstage rapport and never seemed to take much seriously, but they captured a few serious hearts that night and made at least one of us do the ooga chaka baby dance.
One of the things that really attracts him to Croatia, says Patrick Wolf, is that he wishes to be with those who wish they could live their sexuality more freely. He certainly brought out the lust in the crowd that evening, both aurally and visually. Wolf prowled the stage like a beast, and eventually shed his shirt, jump off the dais, and started flirting with an unimpressed bouncer.
Headliner Erlend Øye made some divisive comments during our recent interview, including that “the problem” with electronic music is that it’s “fucking boring to see live.” That one certainly inspired more than a few comments on our Facebook page. While Erlend was more congenial than controversial with the Croatian audience, his atmosphere had more of an “Uncle Erl’s Front Porch Singalong” vibe than the audience was really into. As for his closing stagedive to the Brigitte Bardot and Serge Gainsbourg’s classic “Je T’aime.. Moi Non Plus”, it was more “øye vey” than “øye øye øye!”
Den Sorte Skole had a flavor that fits well with our Berlin sensibilities. It’s a sort of World Music-meets-Moderat energy that would kill around these parts. Hearing their set at the end of the night was both electrifying and educational, and by the time we got back to the hotel room we could barely find energy to get into our beds.
Thanks again, Zagreb, it’s always beautiful to see you.