Location: Tanzbrunnen, Cologne (Germany)
Report by: Basak Günel
Photos by: Heavy Harlequin
This year’s Amphi Festival opened its doors to the visitors in the usual location, Tanzbrunnen in Cologne, Germany. Despite the unstable weather and the storm warnings, the festival guaranteed a great time for the fans of the “Schwarze Scene”. As with last year, this year the festival also featured three stages; the Main Stage which is the big stage, the Theater Stage and the Orbit stage on the ship, which was on its usual location next to the Tanzbrunnen venue. So unlike last year, the audience didn’t have to take shuttle buses and cross the Rhine river.
As for the first day, a series of unfortunate events followed us which started with a traffic jam all the way from Hamburg to Cologne, which made us miss most of the bands we wanted to cover for the first day. Nonetheless we made it on time for Lord of the Lost.
A band like Lord of the Lost needs no introduction, especially not to the German audience. Formed in 2007, the band’s style is hard to describe as there’s a bit of everything including dark rock, industrial and even acoustic styles. Ever since the release of the latest record “Thornstar” in 2018, the band has been touring non-stop and delivering the dark tunes. Amphi was one of the big stops for them during the festival season and the anticipation was high despite the gray clouds and the weather.
Of course a LOTL show wouldn’t have been complete without an introduction from the notorious Dr. Mark Benecke. This time, he raised the anticipation by reading a German translation of “La Bomba” to which, he added “More words are not needed, ladies and gentleman, Lord of the Lost!”.
One highlight that got the attention right from the start was Gared Dirge (keyboards)… in a cleaning woman’s outfit. He was greeted with laughs as he came out first and cleaned the stage. He remained possibly as one of the highlights throughout the set, making this a memorable one for the audience. The vibes that we got was Flake-sque from Rammstein, who is also often the bottom joke of the band and stands out on stage.
As for the setlist of the band, some gems from the new album such as “On This Rock I Will Build My Church”, “Loreley” ,“Black Halo”, “Morgana” and “Under The Sun” were played but it was surely the old gems as well as the classics such as “Die Tomorrow”, “Drag Me To Hell”, “Six Feet Underground” and, the best for the last, “La Bomba”, that got the attention of the audience. Overall, the interaction between the band and the audience was fantastic throughout the whole set and even despite the pouring rain and the storm, the majority of the audience stayed where they were and kept on dancing and showing their love and support for them. This also encouraged LOTL as they did not stop or interrupt their set and just kept on going!
At this moment, I want to explain why LOTL set at Amphi will probably be quite special to me… Well, during “La Bomba” I was also dancing like crazy despite the pouring rain and at one moment, I felt some kind-of sting or pain on my leg, which turned out to be a cut, which happened because a drugged up or drunk fan probably sneaked in a glass bottle, managed to break it somehow and threw it towards my leg (I don’t know why or how it happened), which meant that we had to cancel the whole day, get medical help and go back to our accommodation to take care of the cut. Oh well, health comes first. So as much as we would have loved to report you on other bands like Hocico, Blutengel, Nitzer Ebb and Unzucht, we had to just accept the whole unluck of the first day and move on. This show, however, will remain as one sexy and bloody show for me and will have a special place in my heart!
Day 2 started with Ost+Front, better mood and more sunny weather. Formed in 2008 in Berlin, they are one of the Neue-Deutsche-Härte bands with many influences from the gothic, industrial and metal music. Despite an early set of the band around noon, the passionate audience gathered to see them. The latest album “Adrenalin” was out last year so a mix of the new and the old songs was guaranteed for sure. As we also saw the band at Rockharz festival a while ago, we were also curious about the similarities and differences between two shows.
Since the latest record was released last year, some new songs such as “Adrenalin”, “Heavy Metal” and “10 Jahre Ost+Front” were played. However, the band also didn’t forget the hits and played songs like “Ich liebe es”, “Mensch” and “Bitte Schlag Mich”. This mixture indeed showed the eclectic style of the band; one one hand the NDH and the industrial, on the other hand the rather German punk/rock.
Overall, Ost+Front delivered quite an interesting set… and of course, as expected, the ‘gothic’ audience was way more eager for the songs than the metal audience in Rockharz festival. One highlight we expected and know from the shows is the keyboardist Eva Edelweiß flashing but considering the families and the children in the audience, the band probably decided to take it easy and not go too hard with the show (which reminded us of the rather mild Grausame Töchter gig at last year’s Amphi). So the ones who want to experience the full package probably has to see the band in one of their club shows.
After a hot and show with Ost+Front, we decided to stick to The Beauty of Gemina in the main stage to chill and get our dark rock fix of the day. This Swiss electronic/dark rock formation has been around since 2006 and familiar with the Amphi crowd. The latest release “Flying With The Owl” was out last year so it was time for celebration.
Since it was our first time seeing the band live, our first thoughts were that they are inspired quite a lot by the 80s scene; some names like Sisters of Mercy and Joy Division comes to mind. That being said, that British vibe can definitely be felt in the mainman Michael Sele’s style. Despite the other acts we saw before, it was a matter of getting used to the music slowly but steadily. We could see that the band has a steady fanbase, as many people gathered to see them live in the heat of the day… a nice sight to see!
After a rather chill set, it was time to dance and go crazy with Faderhead! Like most of the people in the audience, this project, formed by Sami Mark Yahya, was also one of the acts we wanted to see. The project came to life in 2004 and the style can be described as pop-infused dark electro.
How can one understand how awesome the show is? Well, picture it this way. It is damn hot outside, probably the hottest hours of the day. Dehydration occurs every second but noone gives a damn because the beats, the melodies and the mood are just simply perfect! Right from the start, we could see the ravers and the dancers on the sides, giving in to the music and just losing themselves. That was definitely true Amphi spirit there as Faderhead delivered a bombastic show. They also happened to be in a great mood as Mr. Yahya kept on smiling and didn’t lower the energy in one bit.
Apart from the amazing energy on stage, one highlight of the set was two new songs from the band’s upcoming album “Asteria” (out on 04-10-2019), which was celebrated and acclaimed pretty well. This added a fresh touch to the band’s set considering the last album was released two years ago. That being said, the band created a Kickstarter and Patreon campaigns to gain some financial support for the upcoming album and much more… a band definitely worth supporting!
After a break, we decided to change the mood completely and head over to the Theater stage to keep on partying with Feuerschwanz! Anyone who is into medieval rock in Germany has seen these crazy metallers here and there at least once. The band has been going strong ever since 2004. The latest record “Operation Drachensturm” was released last year. Already before the show, we could see the die-hard Feuerschwanz fans as the stage got fuller…especially the right side!
Overall, the set was just fucking fun! Everybody was in it right from the beginning, the party mood was on and the interaction between the band and the audience was beyond perfect, as expected. Although some old songs were played, the setlist was more focused on the latest album as the new gems such as “Die Hörner Hoch”, “Methämmer” and “Wikingerblut” were played. Our personal highlight was definitely “Shupsetanz” though, in which the band also requested the audience to do a rather different version of the ‘wall of death’ where people would run to each other and hug. This was quite a funny sight to see and entertained the audience!
A great highlight was surely the dynamics in the line-up but also the dynamics between the two vocalists Hauptmann Feuerschwanz and Prinz R. Hodenherz III. The musical dynamics between the two is just flowing and amazing as they complete each other on the vocals. We also gotta add that the whole band gets better and better musically and creatively with each album, which is not often the case with folk rock acts. There was not one boring moment with these guys.
Janus was an interesting contrast after the whole fun and party with Feuerschwanz. At this time, the venue was still full, but we guessed that this was because of the headliner Nachtmahr, for which the people wanted to secure their places. So, we wondered how many people were actually there to see Janus.
Considering that the band has been around since the 90s, we expected more passion and dedication from the audience. However, the whole atmosphere was rather weak; we were not sure whether this was because of the whole contrast after the Feuerschwanz set or because basically the anticipation was higher for Nachtmahr as well as for In Extremo in the main stage… We guess this could have been different if they played before and after bands of similar styles to keep the energy and the anticipation more stable. So in this sense, the band surely was the highlight of some fans but did not manage to catch the attention of many.
Nachtmahr was the headliner in the Theater stage and one of the acts many fans were eager to see. This was obvious from the ‘uniforms’ the fans wore as well as the Nachtmahr music that some fans were blasting right in front of the stage outside. Founded by Thomas Rainer in 2007, known also by his other project L’Âme Immortelle (who played at this year’s Amphi the day before), the band can be considered as a cult act in this genre with the special live performance and the trademark uniforms worn on stage. The latest release “Antithese” was released in the beginning of this year and so a colorful setlist was awaiting the audience.
As with LOTL on Saturday, we were greeted with Dr. Mark Benecke right before Nachtmahr’s performance, where he shared a few memories and impressions about Nachtmahr. As soon as the band took over the stage, the party began in full force. It didn’t matter if the band played the new songs or old songs; when it came to Nachtmahr, it was all about dancing and a bit of the stage show of course! The two dancers added that extra tension to the performance whereas Mr. Rainer’s aggressive vocals accompanied with the beats complemented the stage show very well.
Even though it was tough for us to describe one song or one highlight, some gems that stayed in our minds were “Heile mich”, “Feuer frei”, “BoomBoomBoom” and of course “Mädchen In Uniform”, in which the audience sang along with Mr. Rainer. Another aspect we loved was the perfect balance between the songs with and without lyrics during the set. Every second and every beat was the perfect chance to dance and to give in to the music. We personally expected a bit more (and revealing) stage performance but as with Ost+Front, the band is probably keeping all the shenanigans for the upcoming tour. With the whole performance, Nachtmahr definitely became one of the highlights for us on Sunday and it was the perfect end to this rather adventurous festival.
Despite the unfortunate events and rather short coverage of this year from our side, Amphi featured an amazing audience and amazing bands as always! We are looking forward to what the festival has for us next year (with hopefully zero accidents 😊)
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