On october 14th, 2017 the initial Synthetic Orange Festival was celebrated in the Substage Café. Organisator Bernd Welter draws the balance of the event which is the start of a sequence of festivals dealing with Synthpop here in Karlsruhe.
Bernd, first of all: congratulations – your start of the festival series was a success. How did you perceive the evening?
Thank you very much. We are all very proud of what we achieved and of the quality we delivered. Let me review the day as a whole – because for me it was one complete period of permanent action.
At 1 pm the bands started with the soundcheck and I was on standby to be ready whenever something had to be organized rapidly. And in fact the beamer didn’t work, we needed some more cables and so on. In the meantime the bands evaluated the stage and did set up their equipment. Every now and then their notes where sounding through the building and we were able to recognize the progress while we have been in the backstage are or the terrace.
When the first visitors entered the venue at 6 pm everybody’s mood was great. The tasks had been delegated and all the guests, artists and team members were curious about what was going to happen that evening. In the beginning I was able to welcome almost every guest one by one and I even found the time to interview those I didn’t know in person about where they come from and where they heard of the event. And I was very happy that even the first band was performing in front of a real audience because so many people decided to join us even before the official ignition at 7 pm.
When Helena from Train To Spain started with their first song I was immediately under full speed. Shaking hands here, assisting at the cashier, having something to drink backstage (no alcohol during the whole event), checking the video camera for proper recordings and of course: acting as a moderator in the breaks between the bands. But I saw that equipment and team were prepared for everything.
Many people in the audience told me that they were positively surprised about what a team of rookies managed in such a short period of time. And I can’t stop repeating this: teamwork and communication is everything. I was extremely happy about all these little helpers who made the event possible. Whether it was the photographers, the merchandising crew, the caretakers at the backstage area or my siblings at the cashier: everybody took his job quite serious. And last but not least the bands provided a great performance, too.
Many guests returned a positive feedback and also recommended various bands for the next edition. And I am quite optimistic that we can deliver something special. Again.
I didn’t have much time to focus on the music by myself but I can remember that Jane from Vile Electrodes draw the audience’s attention to my birthday and then the crowd sang a Happy Birthday for me and that was wonderful of course. So Vile Electrodes add-on song Proximity was the first song I really enjoyed standing calm in the middle of the audience. This was the song I have been waiting for most and so I really had goosebumps.
Almost straight after that song I had to hold the outro speech and we started to clean up the venue to be in time leaving the Café by 2 am.
For those of us who wanted to continue with the party the after show phase began and we met each other at the Nachtwerk, where some artists and crew members danced and celebrated until almost 5 am.
How did the bands experience the evening? Where they satisfied? And did they enjoy Karlsruhe?
You should ask the bands for that but from what I have seen they were simply thrilled. I think they didn’t expect so many guests for the first time. Some of the artists performed in front of 50 just a few weeks before. But soon they recognized that a lot of people joined the venue and their happiness was obvious. Some listeners and artists started to talk to each other near the merchandising table and some fans even started to approach Vile Electrodes interviewing them about the synthesizer equipment that was used during the concert.
We had a great backstage party, brilliant food provided by the Substage team and some of the artists started to connect in a professional way. Maybe some future cooperation were born at the event and the bands will get other gigs somewhere in Europe.
When you ask me for Karlsruhe then I can really mention that the artists were excited of the city (some already plan to join the next session) – besides the fact that so many people in the audience were able to communicate with each other in English: the weather was perfect on that day and so everybody was able to party inside in front the stage or outside at the terrace enjoying the sunshine. Last but not least: the warmth of the hosts that offered accommodation over the weekend for those artists who were staying with the friends of the organisation team was praised.
What did you show the artists of Karlsruhe?
I think the one who saw most was Jonas from Train To Spain. He arrived Thursday afternoon at Frankfurt airport and on the way to Karlsruhe I took him to my favourite restaurant. On Friday we walked through the inner city, around the castle and the through the castle’s park. Later we passed the Schlachthof area.
On Saturday we were focused on the event (SUbstage Café was brilliant for that) but as mentioned before: we went to one of Karlsruhe’s popular clubs and though we ended up quite early we managed to have a shared brunch in Durlach where we finished the sight seeing tour with a nice walk through the ancient part and even an uphill ride with the rack railway. We took a lot of beautiful pictures together at the Turmberg terrace and that was just awesome.
What is your conclusion of the kickoff? Are you happy with the number of visitors? Did everything work as you wanted it to be? What would you change next time?
I was and still am totally excited about the party: Everything went surprisingly well and there were many more guests than expected. The sound engineer made a great job, too. The video recordings are wonderful (available on youtube) and so the bands were able to perform their music at their best for us.
Everybody was in an incredible mood and the bands and the orga team received best grades. Of course there’s always room for improvement and we started to collect suggestions even before the gig. A very important topic is the project schedule – I started too late with some of the tasks. And so the quality was reduced or I had to pay more for some services than necessary. But anyway: Right now it is time to learn and understand the business and we will be even better the next time.
By the way: are you already planning the 2018 sequel of the story? Can you tell us about the date of the next event?
The next concert is scheduled for April 14th, 2018 and the Substage Café will host the party again. I still have to wait for some basic parameters but then I can negotiate conditions with the next bands. There will be some smaller bands but my goal is to get a headliner who is well known in the scene. Since the kickoff session bands from whole Europe approach me almost every day to introduce themselves and obviously the party managed to draw attention to itself and I have to evaluate a lot of music now. I’m looking forward to April and to another brilliant show.
Images: Synthetic Orange © CC. Spindler