19,20-07-2008 Amphi Festival

Location: Tanzbrunnen, Cologne (Germany)
By: Elvira Visser & Sabine van Gameren

The fourth edition of Amphi festival was sold out. No wonder that many people (12.000 each day) made their way to Cologne (Germany). Even before the festival started it was not really hard to find out who is going to the festival. All visitors of Amphi took a lot of effort in dressing up and you could see most beautiful and extraordinary costumes.

Day 1

We entered the festival area around 12.30 and we made our way to the main stage to be on time for CINDERELLA EFFECT. This is a project from Constance, also known as vocalist of Blutengel. Together with some other musicians she was performing some cover songs, one better than the other. The recognition of the songs might do it mostly, because the audience warmed up when some more known covers were played. From me, she gets the most credits for walking around on those high heels all day long, even after her performance on the festival terrain. (I don’t know about you, but even on normal shoes I feel my feet after one day walking around at a festival.)

ZEROMANCER came on stage when the sun was shining and more and more people had found their way to the stage. This Norwegian band plays electro (glam) rock and one of their strongest points was their energy that kept the audience captivated. The guys were all dressed in black and the singer, Alex Møklebust showed the audience his well trained six pack muscles and his nice chest. Of course he got some great response from the crowd. The songs had a nice mix between rock toughness and electro beats. I personally liked the quality of the music and the different tracks. Some were more rocky and some more electro but the audience seemed to very much liked the band and screamed for more and that when the festival had just begun. Three of the band members also play in the known Norwegian band Seigman and that might added to the quality. They played mainly older songs dating back to their albums in 2000 and 2001. They played tracks like: “Need You Like a Drug” and “Clone Your Love”. They also presented the fans their new single “I’m Yours to Lose”.

Around the clock of four, ZERAPHINE entered the stage. This band is based in Berlin and is quite pig headed in everything. They seem to be in control of everything they do in their musical career so far and that’s exactly where their success is based on. Their music has a depressive gothic tone. It mostly impressed me while I was standing in front of the stage. You really get into the music, while when standing further away later resulted in getting bored after a while. The music definitely needs full attention. Anyhow, the band putted much energy in their performance and the audience liked them a lot. This proved once again that ZERAPHINE has stolen the hearts of many Germans.

TACTICAL SEKT played in the Theater a smaller place for the audience and at some times very very crowded. That was also the case when Taxtical Sekt had entered the stage. Tactical sekt has band members from the United States, Germany and the United Kingdom. They play a mix of electronic and industrial music. If you have never heard about them you might have heard one of their remixes they made off other bands. For example they made a remix from tracks by Suicide Commando and Grendel, who both played at this years Amphi as well. They played around dinner time but the theatre was packed with people and the band made sure that, with their dark and powerful beats, the crowed kept dancing. The band was active on stage and the drummer left his drum kit a couple of times to run to the audience and got them screaming and cheering. I think this lasted until the last sound faded. It was high energy on stage and in front of it. A great band.
DEINE LAKEIEN was a band which putted quite some question marks on my face. The band has a more classical view on music than the others I have seen today. On stage they brought a violist and a cellist. This cellist was clearly influenced by the Finnish cello rockers Apocalyptica. This was visible in every move he made. It distracted me so much that I actually forgot to enjoy the performance and got bored. I did stay to the end to see if any surprise would show up, but it did not come. By what I have read on their MySpace about selling 13.000 in 7 days, I felt disappointed. I expected a little more.

OOMPH! might not need an introduction for German people, but out side of Germany they are not that known and that is a shame. Since 1989 the trio (Dero, Flux and Crap) have been playing and since a hit single in 2004 they are more known. They have worked with Nina Hagen and L’ame Immortelle and they are currently working on “Monster” their new CD, which about to be released. This band was a good head-liner at the mainstage for the Saturday. The sun was still shining a bit and I think that did not influenced the band performance, I think it was the band itself that did it all. Personally I know the band because of their collaboration with Apocalyptica and it was a feast to hear “Die Schlinge”. Of course they played many more known songs and the crowd sang along, jumped and screamed. They audience mostly responded on songs like: “Gott Ist Ein Popstar” and “Das Weisse Licht”. I am not sure how to describe the music of the band. It might be electro rock but at some points the drums give that metal feeling of pounding drums.

Day 2:

When we entered the location of Amphi the MEDIAEVAL BAEBES where singing. I think it is a nice relaxed way to start the second day. They sing (authentic) medieval songs in a folk way. After them it was time for THE LOVECRAVE, an Italian gothic rock band. Nice to entertain the crowed, but nothing special. Talking and screaming with a (fake) accent, does not stand out to me. The songs sounded a bit the same, deal with the same topic about vampires and have catchy choruses. Their appearance on stage seemed quite spontaneous, as their female singer Francesca Chiara moves around a lot. Maybe putting a spell over the men in the audience with her whispering lyrics before she start to scream or sing one of those catchy melodies.

LETZTE INSTANZ was the perfect band to see at the 2 o’clock in the afternoon. They entered the stage with huge smiles on their faces and from the first song on they gave a lot of energy, they jumped around, were head banging and making the crowd jump along with them. Their happiness made me happy as well. Their sound had some folk influences. The band goes from energetic songs to calm ballad like songs and is really worth to see live.

The waiting was for a known German band in the gothic genre. Their lyrics are based on literature and art and today DAS ICH was incredible. Amazing band. And my personal favourite of Sunday. It might have to do a lot with their hole appearance and show. It is wonderful to see them, besides their show the music is very good and danceable. They have some sort of spider legs construction for the two keyboards which move over the stage while the artists pull weird faces. The band exist of Bruno Kramm and Stefan Ackermann and live they have Marty Söffker with them. Stefan is dressed and body painted in red and his expressions are great to watch. Although it was only three o’clock the audience went a little nuts as well as the band. Stefan entered the satge with saying Good Morning and made a little joke about this early time. But as soon as the music started there was no stopping, full energy and a crowed that loved it. Playing tracks like “Kain and Abel” and “Gottes Tod” the audience could sing along and watch Stefan and Bruno pull weird faces.

LACRIMAS PROFUNDERE kicked ass. You have to like their genre, that is build around the low voice of their singer Rob. The singer automatically does remind me of Jyrki, the singer of 69eyes, but only the sound of the vocals because the music sounds quite different. One thing that I like about Lacrimas Profundere is the dark and melancholic atmosphere combined with great guitar riffs by lead guitarist Oliver Schmid and bass player Peter Kafka. I had seen the band a while ago, when their singer just joined the band. At that time it sounded good but it missed the right interaction and flow as a band. And today I was very pleased with what I saw on stage. I think they brought a lot of enthusiasm on stage, they have grown into a steady band. And no wonder because they have just released the eight album called: “Songs For the Last View”. And while they have another singer the sound of Lacrimas is scarily the same. They started with “A Pearl” from the new album and it was followed by “Again It’s Over” both songs were played with eager. They presented them very well, it rocked.

At four, Sonja and Thomas from L’ÂME IMORTELLE got announced by the presenter as “being the loudest at the backstage area”. This German band is making music for over 10 years already. Songs like “5 Jahre”, “Phönix” and “Stumme Schreie” made it to the charts. Not all of their songs are in German though. For example, they also played the song “1000 voices” as well. That this band has loads of fans was not hard to notice. Even though it was raining, the complete area was filled with visitors and some of them were sitting on each others shoulders to have a better view on the stage. Sonja and Thomas played a perfect gig here and it might have lasted a little longer for most people since they were shouting for “zugabe” (encore).

Johan van Roy started back in 1986 with SUICIDE COMMANDO which today played at the mainstage outside in the sun. Something I did not expected. I think industrial music should be played (inside) in the dark. Somehow it did not fit to me, I could not really connect to the industrial music this one man plays. Although the mass seemed to like him. I think what I do not like was his constant moving and a little arrogant attitude. You could notice he had gathered a lot of fans out there because it was crowed in front the stage and many people did like it.

The dark electro rockers of CLAN OF XYMOX were playing in the theater. It was pretty crowded in the theater as usually during the festival. Especially because it was a pretty rainy day, people found the comfort of a roof above their heads in the theater an extra reason to see the rockers from Leipzig/Berlin. On stage they made use of quite some smoke, while the stage act of the band was not really that active. They left the dancing to the crowd, which did not really found the space in the packed hall to move a lot. What I liked most about their performance is the way they implemented the keyboard in the music. It was discrete and not too dominating. The band fulfilled all my expectations of them.

From Hamburg we have PROJECT PITCHFORK playing at the main stage. This band makes very danceable music. Frontman Peter Spilles radiates a lot of darkness, but yet so much hope as well. Though, Peter is not the most active person on the stage. That role is for their keyboard player Dirk Scheuber. He is not bounded by his keyboard and he often makes his audience dance.
Peter Spilles announced a guest singer after a few songs. It was Sara Noxx, a German electro singer. He sang the song “Earth Song” with her. When the band plays their hit “Timekiller” most people are dancing. The band knows exactly how to bring their audience in rapture and made it feel like they are part of the show.
All together PROJECT PITCHFORK was definitely my favorite performance on Amphi festival this year.

AND ONE should have played during dinner time and not as the last band on the mainstage. But that is again personal taste. I found it something you expect on a wedding, a singer covering songs. Okay it were the more gothic themed songs but it stayed all very poppy like. It was nicely presented and it seemed that the singer had a lot of fun being on stage, but it was not very special. Maybe it is a German thing, I could not relate to.

DIARY OF DREAMS, all very theatrical. They played at the theatre which was filled with many people, maybe the rain was of influence, but when it had stopped the people stayed. The band was formed back in the 80s when Adrian Hates (Garden of Delight) started this band to compose his own lyrics and more sentimental music. Creating dark electronic music. Putting inspiration from his dreams, a diary of dreams. The band was appearing in monk’s habits. Although I have only seen a couple of songs, they made a very good impression. They guys did not looked like that gothic to me. There was a guy with a nice Mohawk and the singer Adrian Hates, had long hair. They did sound a bit more band like than their tracks on CD.

The following bands were seen by Elvira Visser. More pictures of them are available at photographicretentions.nl:
Zeromancer, Tactical Sekt, Oomph!, The Lovecrave, Das Ich, Lacrimas Profundere, Suicide Commando, And One, Diary of Dreams.

The following bands have been seen by Sabine van Gameren. More pictures of them are available at Sabinevangameren.com:
Cinderella Effect, Zeraphine, Deine Lakeien, Letzte Instanz, L’ ame Imortelle, Clan of Xymox, Project Pitchfork

Cinderella Effect MySpace
Zeraphine MySpace
Tactical Sekt MySpace
Deine Lakeien MySpace
Oomph! MySpace
Letzte Instanz MySpace
L’ame Imortelle MySpace
Clan of Xymox MySpace
The Lovecrave MySpace
Das Ich MySpace
Project Pitchfork MySpace
Lacrimas Profundere MySpace
Suicide Commando MySpace
And One MySpace
Diary of Dreams MySpace

23 July 2008