Think of Waves Vienna as a three-day showcase for new music from Austria and beyond. A place to discover the next big thing when they’re still a relatively small thing. But the festival is also a voice for integration and understanding, as illustrated in the event’s motto, “East meets West”.
- Offers a public stage for around 100 new bands and musicians across multiple genres
- Supporting programme of workshops, panels and networking opportunities
- Concerts take place in and around the WUK centre in Vienna’s 9th district
- 2021 dates: TBA (was Sept 10-12 in 2020)
- See also: Popfest Wien | Donauinselfest | Indie Label Woche
Concerts and a conference
As the world seems determined to make a mess of itself, a few events raise their head above the parapet of intolerance and distrust to offer the promise of a brighter future with a smile and a song.
Or lots of songs in the case of Waves Vienna.
As part of INES (Innovation Network of European Showcases), the event provides a platform for mainly new and relatively unknown musicians to cut their teeth on a festival stage and perform to a wider public, introducing promising talent to a curious and open-minded audience.
And that talent is not from the garage down some Vienna sidestreet. The festival draws in dozens of performers from around the world, albeit with an emphasis on Austria and its eastern neighbours. The event cuts across genres, from rock to R&B.
The lineup for one recent Waves Vienna, for example, featured bands and musicians from over 20 countries, including Austria, the Ukraine, Italy, the UK, the USA, Canada, Germany, Poland, Denmark, France, Slovenia, Switzerland, Romania, Sweden, and Hungary.
So, yes, a truly international event where what matters is the music, not the passport.
(Performances at the 2020 Waves Vienna were mostly live streamed with no on-site audience for obvious reasons)
While the live performances dominate, there’s a conference attached to the event, too.
Those in the broader music industry (or with an interest in the same) meet at lectures, workshops, panels, and more to discuss the burning music-related topics of our time, such as market challenges, gender issues, and how Ed Sheeran got a cameo in Game of Thrones. (I may have made up one of those topics).
2021 dates and tickets
I don’t have the 2021 Waves Vienna festival dates yet, since the last one only just finished. The event usually runs from a Thursday to Saturday in mid-September, with tickets available through the official website.
How to get to Waves Vienna
Most of the ten or so stages and the Waves Vienna festival HQ (in non-COVID years) are at the WUK cultural centre (or within a few minutes walk) and easily reached by public transport.
Subway: take the U6 to Währinger Straße-Volksoper and walk back down toward the city centre (or take a tram for one stop)
Tram/bus: the Spitalgasse stop is practically outside the WUK and trams 5, 33, 37, 38, 40, 41 and 42 pass by. The latter five lines all leave from Schottentor in the city centre.
Address: WUK, Währinger Straße 59, 1090 Vienna