Indie Scene on The Big Screen

On The Town | Dragos Ungurean | April 2009

Electro-punk band Le Tamtam in their video for the Screen Sessions festival (Photo: Ochoresotto & En Garde)

Vienna may be a city of music; but on the alternative scene, many non-German speakers may find it difficult to dig deep and find some true Viennese local bands. Some may just play it by ear and pick any locals they spot randomly along the way.

But the annual festival of music videos, Screen Sessions, can put your search on fast forward.  For the past six years, a festival devoted solely to underground Austrian musicians has tackled this hit-or-miss technique, offering the chance to see over 20 local bands in a two hour timeframe.

Now in its seventh year, Screen Sessions has been filling the Filmcasino, creating an oasis of underground music in a desert of empty ‘top hits.’

"It’s a cross section of the Austrian music and video arts scene," says organizer Marco Celeghin. They look for the best. "But it’s not a competition. Everyone’s a winner."

This year’s event takes place on Apr. 23 at the Filmcasino and continues on the following day with two live gigs at two locations on the Gürtel [see VR Events, p. 26]. The first day is dedicated to the screening of music videos provided by each of the groups followed by an after-party. Members of over 20 bands from all over Austria will be on hand, reflecting all sorts of musical styles, from rock and pop, to electronica, from jazz to funk.

The brainchild of Marco Celeghin, Screen Sessions began in 2003 as a way to bring the visual world of recorded music to the live performance scene.

"We wanted to incorporate live gigs with a screening of several bands’ music videos," Celeghin said. The team has grown from its original three members to five: Franz Aigner, Sonja Harzfeld, Michael Herrmann and Karoline Brand, in addition to Celeghin.

The idea came together two years after another innovative musical stage, "Soundpark," was launched by FM4, the progressive radio station of national broadcaster ORF in Vienna.  Committed to providing a platform for Austrian quality bands, Soundpark also hoped to bring underground and indie music to a broader audience. Since its founding in 2001, the program has aired many fresh new sounds as well as more established Austrian bands and still continues today on the bilingual Austrian station.

With previous groups such as Kreisky, Mord, and Parov Stelar having enjoyed success after the Screen Sessions festival, Celeghin vouches "the festival is a great medium to get discovered."

With a mix of genres, the bands come "with their egos out and platoons of fans." The after-party at the Transporter Bar will offer the attendees a chance to discuss the music videos and to weigh in on questions of who had the most unique video, or the best music in general. Austrian two-piece rock band Deckchair Orange will perform at the party for no entrance fee.

On the second night the festival continues with shows on the Guertel in the eight district, featuring Orjo & Mimu, Le Tam Tam, Lady Lynch, Christoph & Lollo, and Tangerine Turnpike.

In addition to this coming April’s festival, Screen Sessions was already aired at the yearly Diagonale Film Festival in Graz.

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    the vienna review April 2009