A gentle breeze sweeps through the beer garden at Ilses Erika, the night sky filled with rustling leaves and cheerful chatter. It’s just after nine o’clock when Niclas approaches me with a broad grin on his face, pebbles crunching underneath his feet. He’s relaxed but his walk has the type of purposeful determination about it that suggests there’s still a lot to do.
It’s the glistening peak of summer, a nervous time for any venue. A time of scattered bookings and tumble weed drifting through empty back streets. People are on holiday or at least that’s where they left their money. It’s too hot to be inside.
Yet tonight, nothing at this venue suggests the summer holiday has had any effect on its program – it’s brimming with live acts.
Annihilate, the event collective that’s spearheaded by Niclas Kliebisch, has brought Holy Wave to Leipzig for the second time.
Just a few days later and yet another explosive booking would turn Ilses’s cozy cellar into a giant sweaty mosh pit, with Amyl and the Sniffers taking the stage just after their support, wild punk outfit Lassie (YES! LIKE THE DAWG) – Leipzig’s favourite canines – abandoned their DIY caves to mark new territories for the first time.
Thanks to Niclas, Kirmes (Powerline Agency) and Chris (Ilses Erika) the summer lull remained nothing more than a myth. People around here know each other and give each other support whenever they can.
Niclas’s summer doesn’t stop here either.
October 5th is fast approaching and will see the second edition of Annihilate’s “Trip” concerts take place at a “secret” location in the west of Leipzig.
I asked him a few questions about it.
Lydia-Marie: Annihilate has become an integral part of Leipzig’s cultural scene. Kikagaku Moyo, Camera, Surface to Air Missive, Useless Eaters, Holy Waves, Minami Deutsch and Häxxan – all of these great acts have played in Leipzig thanks to you. Your bookings seem to regularly break boundaries between DIY and more established music venues. Is that the basic idea behind the destructive name of your collective?
Niclas: Jules and I founded Annihilate about five years ago. We were friends who hung out a lot and played in a band together. From time to time befriended bands would ask if we could help them to organize a show.
Over time, the wish to form a collective grew increasingly strong and we soon needed a name. Does the band [name] “Annihilation Time” mean anything to you?
Well it was kind of our favourite band at the time. I guess our philosophy has always been influenced by the idea of anti-establishment, but to be honest, we just liked the fact that “annihilate” is a word you can easily combine with anything and always sounds good: annihilate music, annihilate sound, etc.
We were just playing around a bit and it stuck with us.
In just a few weeks, your new event concept “Trip” will return to Leipzig for the second time. What’s the idea behind it?
The most essential component is definitely our desire to create an interdisciplinary live concept in which all participants are given equal priority.
We tried to create something similar with the last “Annihilate Gathering.” Here, too, we wanted to create a larger format in which music and visual art are given equal attention. Often you will find that visual artists take a backseat – musicians tend to receive a higher fee or are given more space.
The visual art collective WISP has already gained quite a reputation for its progressive art work – not least since they organized the brilliant WISP Festival in 2016, or for their visual contributions to TransCentury Festival. Who or what is behind WERT?
Maxim and Marc founded WERT about two years ago. They are regularly involved in smaller festivals and leave their mark with self-built sculptures and light installations.
Oh yes, that just completely blew my socks off!
Yeah, I know. They do great stuff and are getting more and more commissions.
Not sure if I’m allowed to say this, but just to give an example: they were just commissioned to design the outside area of IFZ.
Originally, you were planning to host the event in the north of Leipzig, at the cultural complex of So&So. After their existence and location were threatened by “restructuring plans” of the construction company that owns the premises, you were forced to move the event to a different location. Your cultural involvement has brought you very close to UT Connewitz. Why did you decide against moving it there?
That has a lot to do with the musical and visual layout of the event. The event will stretch over four floors. So&So would have been ideal for this and the same goes for the new venue we have chosen. It’s also perfect for the charitable character of the event. We will – amongst other things – support So&So with a cocktail bar and hope to raise the much needed donations to keep the project going.
Can you tell us a little more about the design concept?
Yeah, sure. It’s gonna be really exciting this time. We are planning for a total of three visualization levels [for] our artists [to] play around with. Each floor will have a vizualisation scheme that will spread over its entire area. In addition, each room will be individually designed and the shows of each band will also receive their own visuals.
So you could say that the 3D character of visuals is also reflected on a conceptual level?
So to say, yes.
Which acts can we look forward to?
Overall it will be a very exciting mixture of 16 known and unknown acts.
Among the live bands will be international acts such as Magic Shoppe and Dollkraut, and also many Leipzig bands: Flying Moon in Space and Syncboy for example. DJs such as SHIKOBA, DJ Die Soon, Esclé and Judith Crasser should also be familiar to most people connected to the Leipzig club scene.
What’s your biggest wish for Trip?
My biggest wish is to create a captivating audio-visual event that will stay in people’s minds – I want to create a real trip, so to speak. It’s important to me that people walk through the rooms and are permanently exposed to different inputs.
The crew, the artists and guests should be given the chance to immerse themselves in a brief moment that leaves a lasting impression.
Of course, there is always a financial risk when you host a DIY event of this scale. I’m hoping that we will manage to cover all costs but are fully aware that there’s always a level of uncertainty if you do something for passion.