Austrian Music Highlights #22

Photo of Voodoo Jürgens (c) Filmladen Filmverleih
Voodoo Jürgens (c) Filmladen Filmverleih

Hot town, summer in the city! The music never stops…but at some point, your loyal correspondent will need a break from slaving over a hot computer in the concrete jungle of Vienna-Neubau. With that in mind: behold, your Austrian Music Highlights for July and August, 2023.


Let’s start off with something different: we deal more with music than with film around here, but occasionally a happy coincidence allows us to do both. The upcoming film Vienna Calling, from director Philipp Jedicke (Shut Up and Play the Piano), is just such an opportunity. Jedicke got the idea for his documentary about the Vienna underground music scene at a Wanda concert. The film is almost completely devoid of the usual music-documentary tropes – no voice-overs from music journalists, no “in the studio” or “triumphant concert moment” scenes. Instead, it just lets its protagonists (Voodoo Jürgens, Der Nino aus Wien, EsRAP, et al) be who they are…and the results are every bit as darkly, absurdly amusing as you’d expect. It’s beautifully filmed – the Gürtel, the Canal, and similarly grimy neighborhoods never looked so vibrant – and the action (if that’s you call it) is by turns hilarious, poignant, and simply odd. Or sometimes all three at once.

Vienna loves to tell itself stories about itself, and Vienna Calling gives ample time to some of the city’s most charismatic musical storytellers. Opening on August 25.

Video: “Vienna Calling” Trailer


Music festivals are celebrations, after all – and with the summer season in full swing, we’d like to take this opportunity to remind you of a couple particularly attractive events happening in July and August:

The impuls Festival of contemporary music will be taking place in a multitude of venues throughout the city of Graz from July 23 – August 8, with established ensembles such as Klangforum Wien, ensembles in residence like Decoder, and up-and-coming groups like NEKO3 and Ex-Sentia. The concert program features the best of contemporary music from the 20th and 21st centuries and a slew of world premieres – a perfect excuse to get out of town and have your ears stretched in the little metropolis on the Mur.

If you have even a passing interest in jazz, Jazzfestival Saalfelden is surely on your radar already – but just in case: the 43rd edition of the Austrian mountain mecca of jazz is happening from August 17 – 20 this year, and as always it’s jam-packed with a staggering variety of jazz and jazz-adjacent acts, including home-grown heroes like Lukas König, UCHE YARA, Mona Matbou Riahi, DIVES, Lukas Kranzelbinder, and many, many more. If you’re looking for an overview, allow us to direct your attention to our recent article; a complete listing of Austrian artists is coming up in the very near future.

Video: Jazzfestival Saalfelden teaser

Can’t wait till August and/or prefer your jazz a little more old-school revolutionary? Then we suggest checking out Saalfelden’s more enigmatic twin, Konfrontationen. Also in its 43rd year(!), the annual conclave of free-jazz musicians and enthusiasts at the Jazzgalerie Nickelsdorf in Burgenland is one of the few remaining festivals that still has that grassroots, family-gathering feel to it. Austrian luminaries in this year’s lineup include Susanna Gartmayer, Thomas Berghammer, Martin Siewert, Didi Kern, and Gerald Preinfalk. It’s happening from 21 – 23 July; the complete program can be found on the homepage.

And frankly, that’s just a small sampling. There’s also the Poolbar Festival, Szene Open Air, Picture On…the list goes on and on.

Coming soon (releases)

Summer isn’t really prime-time for new albums – but don’t despair! We’ve managed to unearth two hot tips for your summer listening pleasure:

New music from AVEC: the award-winning former NASOM artist from Upper Austria released a single on July 4th, and hot on its heels follows the new EP “I Feel Alone These Days“. A belated COVID album? A precursor to the full-length album she’s reportedly planning? It doesn’t matter: AVEC’s trademark balance of singer-songwriterly melancholy and studio gloss might be the perfect soundtrack for your August roadtrip.

My Ugly Clementine is back as well: after three singles (“Are You In”, “Feet Up”, and “Would Do It Again”), the high-profile trio will be releasing their sophomore album, The Good Life, on August 11. Vienna indie-rock at its best.

Video: My Ugly Clementine – “Would Do It Again”

And finally…

Sneak preview: Autumn 2023

We’ve still got some good stuff in store for you between now and mid-August (Austrian artists at Saalfelden, the Vienna Calling review, an interview with Pressyes) – but since this is the last Austrian Music Highlights before the dog days, here’s a foretaste of things to come in the fall:

Waves Vienna 2023
The Waves Festival is one of Austrian Music Export’s biggest events of the year. Happening in a range of venues around the Gürtel, (a red-light district both in terms of vice and of traffic), the festival features a ton of showcase concerts by national and international acts and multiple panels on socio-musical issues. Oh, and you can sign up for the singer-songwriter camp – new this year! – until July 25th. The festival takes place from September 7 – 9.

Musiktheatertage Wien
If you think “music theater” and “musical” are roughly the same thing, you might want to check this out: Cats it ain’t. From September 13 – 23, you can experience 9 contemporary music theater productions at Vienna venues both conventional and unconventional. Highlights include the Austrian Music Export-sponsored Austrian Music Theater Day, an international conference and networking event.

Music & climate change
The issue of climate change and what the music industry’s role has been much on our minds of late (see, for instance, our articles on Manu Delago and the Focus Acts sustainability bonus). Starting in September, though we’ve got lots planned – an interview series with eco-conscious Austrian artists, a workshop in Vienna, tips to promote sustainability in the music branch, and a whole lot more. Because every little bit helps.

So stay hydrated, keep reading and listening, and we’ll be back with you in September.

Philip Yaeger