To start off, we would like to acknowledge Amphi Festival for their support and for being around since 2005; a big “thank you” for the awesome events!
This year’s edition was the first timer in terms of location, from Tanzbrunnen to LANXESS Arena. Amphi advertises it as bigger, with more stages for more types of musical acts. that I have mixed feelings regarding this new location: it is considerably larger and since the main stage is inside the shows can last longer in the night, but at the same time, the main stage is a bit confusing and you have to walk in circles to get around. The main stage is surrounded by chairs, which in a sense is good, as people have more comfortable places to sit, but on the other hand it kind of dimes the vibes from the concerts. The Green Stage was nice because it was situated at the base of a small hill and people in the back could also see the performances really well. The Orbit Stage was placed in such a way that it made the whole area seem very crowded and one could see the train station behind (and also hear the trains, which is bad for the performers). That being said, let’s move on to the actual review.
Day 1 started a bit rough. While we were having breakfast at the hotel, we saw the morning news and got a bit frightened: a huge storm was coming to Cologne. Just as we left the hotel area, we felt the strong gusts of wind. As we arrived at LANXESS, the security guards who verified our passes, directed us inside the main hall due to the storm warning. Band were getting moved from one spot to another, the outside area surrounding the main stage was deserted and everyone was feeling confused.
While the main hall was extremely crowded, we managed to enter the concert area where we saw the first band: CHROM. Their show was nothing out of the ordinary, but they somehow got my attention and I was quite impressed with their performance. Amongst the set list I recognized Memories, Losing Myself and Slave.
Just as the concerts began, one of the organizers got up on the stage and announced us that if the storm won’t calm down, they would reschedule the bands who were supposed to play outside.
The following band on the main stage was RABIA SORDA. I’m a big fan of Erk Aircrag’s music, so his newer project failed to disappoint. It was very energetic, with a punk-like attitude and a questionably sane keyboard player (at some point he started to throw his keyboard around the stage, and smash it to the ground), but it made me move more than I would have thought. From the set list I noticed D.E.A.F., Radio Paranoia, Out of Control and their newer single Obey Me.
We stepped outside for a cigarette but could not stay very long due to the cold and the wind. Therefore, we ended up attending The Other’s show. I must say, I was not particularly impressed with their performance, nor their style. It was a mixture of punk rock, with some melodic vocals. Not even catchy songs or lyrics. Didn’t plan on seeing then and am not planning on seeing them for the future.
Coming up was one of the bands which I was really looking forward to see live: The Crüxshadows. They were brilliant, through song, style and performance. Just as the members came to the stage, Rogue (the vocalist) was nowhere to be seen; he turned up from someplace in the crowd, wearing very eye catching LED gloves. Besides the band, on the stage there were two female dancers who were animating the whole scene. Very energetic performance, with old-school vibes and modern beats. A couple of songs which they played: Deception, Winterborn, Battlefield, Quicksilver, their newer song In Gardens, and lastly Marilyn, My Bitterness.
Right after that, we saw what we think was the shortest performance at Amphi: [X]-RX. The band played for exactly 25 minutes: it was very entertaining, yet very brief. Then again, if you’ve seen [X]-RX live once, their shows will not surprise you, nor their beats. Even if they have a new album out, their style is pretty much the same. They played the following songs: Activate the Machinez, Hard bass, Escalate and Stage 2.
At this point everyone gave up about the weather and the line-up changed again. It was getting hard to keep track of it.
Again, dueto the bad weather and not to our initial pre-festival planning, we “had to” attend Agonoize’s performance. It was decent, yet I’m not a huge fan of them. The setting was pretty good, with some blood-red lights over smoke, and they were covered in fake blood. At some point during their show, they started to spray fake blood onto the audience. At this point I was quite happy with the chairs located in the upper side of the stage, as I did not indend to spend half the festival in the bathroom cleaning my clothes. Apart from that, again, not a huge fan of Agonoize, but the crowd seems happy about them so I’m guessing it was a good performance. The only song I know and like is Glaubenskrieg.
Following this “bloody” performance we saw Göttes Erben. Their performance was quite theatrical, with a group of dancers, and some mirrors. It was somewhat entertaining, but it is clear that this band has a pool of its own fans who came especially for them; the other festival-goers did not seem impressed.
As the hours pass, we were approaching the highlight band of the day: Front242. Their show was very harsh, with repetitive sounds and echoes, which gave me more or less of a headache. Their performance started with black and white visuals from the Second World War and from the War in Vietnam. What was surprising for us was that main stage area was only half full. The old school EBM fans were definitely enjoying themselves; however, the newer groups failed to appear. Some of the songs were: Take One, Tragedy, Rhythm of Time, and Headhunter.
At last, the headliner of the first day: And One. To me, it was a much better performance as the previous one (last year at M’Era Luna). Very dynamic show, filled with old-school tunes and a LOT of stomping. Even their set list was focused on older songs, carefully selected to make everybody dance their feet off. Amongst their songs I can name the following: Steine sind Steine, Krieger, Männermusik, Deustchmachine, Time Killer, Back Home, Military Fashion Show and Shouts of Joy. It was truly an exceptional show. And One announced their new Compendium and upcoming shows celebrating 20 years of music. Their show was exceptional; one could actually gauge why they have been in business for such a long time. It was a perfect mix of music, stage movement, crowd interaction and overall good time.
Started early, and by hat I mean extremely early, taking into consideration that the previous night ended at about 2 AM. The weather changed for the better: no gusts of wind, no rain, even a bit of sunshine. We really wanted to see [S.I.T.D.] but they played around 10:30 AM, and it was impossible to attend, as we really count on our beauty sleep. The organizers tried to fit in as many bands as possible, as some previous day shows were cancelled, but even so, they couldn’t manage to fit them all. I was really bummed that I could not see Neuroticfish, they were one of the reasons we chose to go to Amphi this year.
So, first band of the day: Inkkubus Sukkubus. This band has a special place in my heart, as it was one of the first gothic rock bands I’ve ever listened. Their show was separated into two “acts”: acoustic and electric. It was a funny contrast between their pagan medieval folk aspect and ICE (high speed) trains that were passing behind them. Even Candia Ridley (vocals) made a joke about the trains. Other than that, lovely performance, lovely people. A few songs from their set list were: Pagan Born, Sabrina, Paint it black (Rolling Stones cover), Heart of Lilith, Heartbeat of the Earth, and Wytches.
Second performers were Pokaemon Reaktor; they truly surprised me. Unlike all the other EBM bands, these guys were not taking themselves too seriously. The lead vocal was wearing a Run DMC t-shirt, a red baseball cap, and a Pikachu shaped backpack. And they asked for bananas from the crowd. Really, really, amazing band with a lot of potential. People were dancing and overall feeling good; the number of festival goers listening to them was quite high for a band which is so new on the EBM stage. Amongst their set list were: Steam Pressure Drill and Kick It, Anal Way to Life, War, and many other which I did not recognize. Will definitely see them again if I get the chance.
Next band we wanted to see was Das Ich. For the first time in many years, we saw them in their full formula: Bruno, Stefan and Jörg. It was absolutely mind-blowing: theatrical, entertaining anti-religious, all sorts of crazy. Nice to see that Stefan is feeling better and we can still see Das Ich in their best shape. At some point, there was a soprano (did not catch the name) who sang with them; it was particularly odd that their lost song sounded a bit like a German lullaby; an amazing show, nonetheless. A few songs from their set list were Kannibale, Kain und Abel, Das Dunkel Land, Destillat, and obviously Gott ist Tod.
After this spectacular performance we needed a brief break. We went outside for a smoke and sat next to the Orbit Stage, where Folk Noir were playing. I’m not a huge fan of this side project, yet I’m very fond of Faun. Keeping that in mind, to me felt like a similar performance; perhaps Folk Noir had some post rock influences, which Faun doesn’t have. Anyway, it was a very calming and relaxing show, which helped me unwind a bit.
The following performance was held by The Mission. Their show was not bad, yet not spectacular either. They started with a very long intro, which reminded us of the Disney animations/ theme park – not what you would expect in such a festival. Nonetheless, the crowd (relatively small), was having a good time so I think The Mission did a good job. From the brief time when we attended their performance, we noticed the following songs: Severina, And the Dance Goes On, Blood Brother and Love me to Death.
As we left The Mission, we went to the green stage, where Diary of Dreams were just starting their show. As always, a very clean and professional act. Their electronic samples sounded particularly good, probably because of the acoustics. Even though, in my opinion, this band is a bit female-oriented, I cannot deny that they sound very good. Even after seeing them so many times, I was still thrilled to see them perform. Amongst their set list were Psychologic, The Wedding, Haus der Stille, Soul Stripper.
And so, we reached the headliner: VNV Nation. I must say, I was really looking forward to their show, big fan. They started off really energetic and their set list contained both older and newer songs. I loved that fact that they really know how to interact with the public. During the Control song, Ronan saw a person in the crowd that was using the mobile phone and started to make fun of him/her with jokes like “Are you texting in the middle of this song? Put down your phone now!” The best VNV Nation moment was when they played Nova, and asked the audience to use their flashes of the mobile phones and “Shine a light on them”. Of course, no VNV concert would be complete without Illusion, when the band asked to public to use their lighters to commemorate a person who left this world way too early. I liked this performance better than the previous one at Amphi, back in 2013, because they played inside and all the lights made more sense and gave a nicer feel. A few songs from their set list were: Space & Time, Tomorrow never comes, Dark Angel, Epicenter, The Furthest Star, Resolution, Control.
Overall, despite the bad weather and the new location, we had a blast and we can’t wait to see what Amphi has in store for 2016!
Simina & Octav