Location: Cologne (Germany)
By: Sabine van Gameren & Evira Visser
This year Amphi was on schedule again. In Cologne, with a beach, two stages and a theater for dj-sets and afterparties the festival was once again a success. One of the highlights of the festival is always that everyone is really nice and there is such a good atmosphere. The line up was very promising and no wonder that this year’s edition was sold out.
Friday, the day before Amphi Festival would start there was a competition. The prize you could win was a performance at Amphi Festival 2010 and not just a performance, but this band would be opening the festival on the mainstage. Four bands performed on Friday. ZIN, Novus UK, Boundlezz and Divamee. The winner of this competition was ZIN, and that is why they were opening the festival. It was not that crowded but the band started with great enthusiasm probably from the day before. The band brings us a more electronic version of Placebo. The vocalist Iven quite sounds like the singer from Placebo. The band has a hard task to get the first visitors dancing while others are still parking or even on their way. The beats are nice as well as the vocals but the crowd is not going wild. Sadly because it seems that the evening before they convinced the judges that they earned a place to perform. The band might be better in a dark small venue where it would be better in making contact with the audience.
The first band to play inside in the Staten Haus was Miss Construction. The Statenhouse which collapsed this year was hopefully ready for pounding beats. The band is a collaboration between Chris Phol who is know for his Sophisticated dark pop music over the years. However this man has a dark alter ego and when this was itching on the surface like a tumor, he needed the help of his fellow Terminal Choice collaborator Gordon M. Together they are Miss Construction ready to bring you, as they say sick stuff. The audience seem the know what they were here for and as soon as the guys were on stage, the mass of fans started to dance. Miss Construction was originally designed for the dance floor, to produce killer dance tracks with electro beats. They also come alive on stage but it might be better to focus on the beats, and start dancing with your eyes closed. To ‘let the Miss Construction beat control your body”. Very nice band but an odd singer when you watch him move around the stage. They did create a great atmosphere and had a good performance.
Din [a] Tod is an Electronic band from Berlin. They play their music quite minimalistic and this is something that really came back on the stage. Not much movement was going on, the whole show was quite minimalistic. They create a certain accessibility with it, you don’t have to be all in the scene to like their music, but if you have to judge them on this show it might not really turn out in their advance. As being one of the bands that have to play really early, they are not having an easy job with it either, this music would most likely come more alive in a club. The band played some songs of their latest release “Westwerk”, which got recognized by some of the early bird people that were there already since the fences got opened. Not the most exciting band, but something you can play while being surrounded by your grandmother too.
Destroid is coming from Leipzig, dark as they are they have a bit more active show than what was just seen on the main stage. This band makes a more darker version of electro, giving more stress to deeper sounds. Their start was calm and relaxed but they got more intense after a few songs. Their aim to get people dancing and that worked quite well here in Staatenhaus. The sound was quite well and just loud enough to let it come through your body. The band surprised many by playing a cover of Sisters, something that got appreciated a lot. They made the song of their own, while respecting the original as well. The band knows to surprise people and show that they are up for a party, even if it is still early afternoon. The band will do some more shows with Skinny Puppy in 2010, so they are recommended to see.
The band next up on the mainstage is End of Green. A band hailing from Germany. They play some sort of goth rock. Where the minds floats off immediately to 69eyes and Lacrimas Profundere. However End of Green is not that dark and moody. They leave place for a lot of groove as well. What you do hear in their music is a lot of melancholy, bitterness and anger but all very catchy. The music the band brings you flirts with the 80s sound. They are performing at Amphi to also promote their latest album “The Sick’s Sense”. It is funny that they say on their website: “Music that does not touch you is a waste of time”. First of all: so true, second: it is hard to not nod your head on the beat and follow the instant catchyness of this band. A band that stays original in the genre as they do not seem to only focus about the dark and mysterious sound and their outfits. The band does not get the full audience to dance but overall you see people moving their heads to the nice tunes. The band shows their skills and their sound. Different then all the electrobeats and laptops this has a more complete band. End of Green left a good impression!
Inside at the Straten Haus it was time for a guy with a mohawk. Question raised if he plays some sort of punk electro judging on his outfits but he makes nice electronic music and reaches fans of the harder electro scene. He has clubhits from synthpop to techno to groovy electro. He uses it all to create his tracks, meshing it all up togeter to get the best from all. While releasing the track “The Protagonist” back in 2006 he got himself some media attention from labels and released his debut album in the same year. Not scared to get off the track he produced some ballads on electrobeats, not scared to show his emotional side. On stage he is joined by either Marco Visconti, G2, Daniel Meyer & Joe Meyer all on Keyboards. As his backup changes all the time. However this seem a very promising guy the audience danced a lot more on Miss Construction. I guess Faderhead ‘s performance was a little tame and brave musical wise. The man himself was not tame and was all the time running around and interacting with the audience.
Ashbury Heights is coming from Sweden. The band has been started in 2005 and have gathered a decent fan base since. After finding a new female vocalist in 2009 the band have the mission to go on where 80’s music of bands like Depeche Mode have left the scene for what it is. Don’t expect some lousy covers from, the band is just up for bringing the vibe alive to continue the era that had been left behind by roaring 90’s. The performance of this band was a good one, the band shows a lot of emotions while bringing their songs and are able to make you feel what they have initiated with the music. Lead vocalist Anders is the most active on stage, but accompanied by Kari the make quite a piece. The audience seem to enjoy the band a lot and some people at the front row were singing along. Definitely a good performance!
Solitary Experiment takes it all a bit louder. The Germans, perfectly styled, bring highly danceable tunes. The band has quite some releases on their name and no surprise to see that the Staatenhaus got quite some people during their set. Although many people were dancing to their tunes, the band did not really seem to radiate having a lot of fun on stage, With these tunes there could have been a bit more fire, the initial try is there, but not really convincing an unknown listener. In Oktober the band will celebrate their 15th birthday in Berlin, for the fans a must, but based on the performance of today it is not that much of a recommendation. I’ll stick with the cd’s for a while.
The band that has many fans not only in Germany is Welle: Erdball. In dutch it would be translated to something like frequency and radio-golf. The band consists of Honey (lyrics, vocals), A.L.F. (music, programming), Frl. Venus (vocals, percussions), Plastique (vocals, percussions) and C=64 (vocals, sound) C=64 comes from the Commodore 64 which takes care of the recognisable sound of the band. The band is known the last year for maybe more their show element than their songs, at least to me they are not standing out and if there was not a show to entertain me it would have been pretty boring. The ladies are dresses in nice the same 80s dresses. Always remembering me of the squares from the movie Cry Baby. The show is nice they stray something in the audience, dance behind screans so only their shadow is visable and the women seem to have fun while performing. The male are in contrast with the women. Maybe this is all for the show but they seem so boring while playing.
Blutengel has been around since 1999. They bring a mix of male and female vocals, either in German or in English. That this formation, coming from Berlin, had planned to set a phenomenal show could be seen from the first moment they entered the stage. Accompanied by various dancing angels the band only had to do a little effort to attract people’s attention. Some of their most known songs “Angel Of The Night” got played very early in their set. Many people know this song so therefore the tone was set quite soon. Vocalist Chris Pohl outs himself up as that master between all his girls and it seem to suit him quite well. The band had came to make an impression, which they surely did. One of the most memorable ones of the day.
Always heard a lot of people talk about the Crüxshadows, but had never seen the band. Today they would play at the Staten Haus. This band also reminds me a little of Placebo in the way the singer is singing but way less then ZIN. A little nasal and the way of pronouncing the words. The Crüxshadows have been around for a while now, originally formed back in 1992. The music from this band still has synth pop hooks and dark electronics but the lyrics are as important too. While the lineup has changed over the years, Rogue the vocalist has always been around and is the backbone of this band. The Staten Haus was packed with people to see this band from the United States perform. Of course they played their 2009 hit “Quicksilver” with a loud sing along from the audience. Their show is quite dark and full of smoke. They have spent time on their show as the band has dancers which show a nice routine and what I personally like about the band is the two violin players.
One thing that seems weird in the line up, at least to the Tempelores crew is Anne Clark. This would be much more expected at a elderly show about literature and poetry. The spoken word, but then sung by Anne Clark. Someone who like to change the world by her poems that she sort of whispers, softly sing and mostly just tell. You cannot really call it singing, but she has a nice band around her. However us Tempelores Crew from Holland might not know this persons and her show. Many Germans seem to know and cheer greatly when she starts another song/poem/verse. Anne Clark orriganally comes from London. She used to work at a label during the punk scene but hose this formed her in to her ways of performing now is a mystery. Maybe she kicked ass years ago, as she shared the stage with Depeche Mode. The Germans seem to enjoy her in big numbers and she got loud applause when she left the stage. For others it was time to get something to eat because to me when you put some poetry like saying on electronic beats you do not have gothic music immediately that speaks to me. Her talking gets kinda boring after 1 track as she keeps doing to same over and over while it gets monotone.
An Amphi festival without Peter Spilles seems impossible, so this year there is Project Pitchfork scheduled. The band played a lot of new music but couldn’t resist on playing their biggest names as well. “Timekiller” was played early in their set and the band made a reference to And One which would play on the main stage later on. Project Pitchfork usually gets people to dance easily but today it seem to take some time, never mind people seem to listen it carefully and the set was built with some typical sing along songs and more aggressive songs switching each other off. So maybe this was not the perfect set with all your favorite songs, but a bit more adventurous set. Project Pitchfork has a lot of credibility and has loyal fans which could be seen also on their signature session the next day, so no matter what, their fans will enjoy the set anyway.
And One was also playing “Timekiller” referring back to Project Pitchfork. Two years ago, when both bands played at the festival as well they had performed it together and the tradition of “Timekiller” seem to live forth today. And One played a whole lot of covers, not all respected as much as it should be and for some reason the audience did not seem to be as overwhelmed with them as they did in 2008. They did not choose the most original songs to cover either it all has been done before. We called them a wedding band before, with these covers in their set and we cannot come back from it. If it was to blame on Skinny Puppy playing in the Staatenhaus halfway their set or not… at the end of the show their audience was maybe half as crowded as when they were started. And One is not our next favorite band yet.
A band that is known for creating interesting shows in the American Skinny Puppy. A duo coming from California. Ogre and Cevin Key are the masterminds behind Skinny Puppy. They are the once that forge their music as they would call it forward thinking electronics and industrial rock. Always on a journey to explore dark and intriguing atmospheres while balancing on the outskirts of control, concept and manipulation. When reading this you find out there is much more to their music then just the sound, it has though full layers and can be misunderstood by an accidental encounter. The show is weird, the singer is in a pointy hat, and a almost white suit where colourful images are projected on. The visual aspect is also important and should take you more into their sound. Well they have the first rows wonder what is going on, who is jumping up and down and where it will leaves us. In all the years of existence they have produced many cd’s and collaborated on other cd’s. At Amphi they show us to be something you should watch and pay your full attention to. Nice powerful but slightly weird performance.
The first day to open Amphi Sunday was Ext!ze. Before the band started some people were building a sort of dance floor, standing in lines with space between them. Ready for the band to put on the electro beats. The band started out as a project back in 2007. A project from Cyb3rella, which in the end has grown to a four piece band and today at Amphi they had two dancers to join them on-stage. What we should know about the band is that they are “like a pill which allows you to dive into their unique grotesque and neon soaked world, and to celebrate with!”. That is what a large group did in the crowd. It was fun not to only watch the band but more the people dancing in the audience. One thing said About dancers. The two girls on stage seemed a little of guard, maybe their fist performance? If so, well done in front of a rather large audience on the early Amphi Sunday. Overall a nice performance although the guys seem a bit stiff behind their laptop, keyboard and drum-pannel.
Mono Inc. starts it of quite calm. This band makes gothic rock, with a romantic touch here and there, but above all full of mimic. Vocalist Martin Engler is quite a character, being able to makes you laugh easily and perform his emotions via body language as much as it comes from the words. Gives the show an extra dimension. Martin had not always be the singer of this band, initially he was the drummer. Their previous singer was kicked out after struggles and now it is Martin doing the vocal duties. Not a bad choice as he seem to be made for doing so. The band plays fairly early this day, which results in not too many people being around but as it seems the people who are there seem to like them.
Very interesting was also Frank the Baptist. Frank seems to be a singer/songwriter with evil influences who created a whole show around him. But then again you realize, there is a whole band around this guy. Vocals were quite dominating in the mix so this might have caused this attention for the front man. The band is master in creating tensions and building up a song until it reached the climax. You listen to their music, waiting to that point to come that everything bursts and give the full fury ahead. Teasing, they let you wait and then when you expect it to happen the whole game starts all over again. Tricked! But hell it gets your attention. Not the most aggressive act out here, the most intimate band is more a label to put on as if we are having to give it a title somehow. No matter what, when this name is on the bill again, I’ll be there.
Last year it was the Mexican Hocico to bring THE show of the year, this time Erk Aicrag is back at Amphi with another project: Rabia Sorda. And in order to defend this title he was full of energy, present the best he could. The filthy black smoke comes from the stage and people could so tell it were the Mexicans with their highly danceable tunes. Knewing it would be hard today with acts like Combichrist, with whom they toured, on the bill it was surprising to see how many souls surrendered to the music. The electronics are quite on the bright side, vocals are harder, bringing the contrast but remain quite clear so people could easily pick up the message. So wondering if the band succeeded in defending their title? Well yes. It was tough this year, many good acts, but yet again they are winners! They surely found their way to many new fans.
The band that left a very good impression even though they had started a little earlier than planned was Blitzkid. A punk band with a dark twist. Blitzkid is a horror punk band and very loved by its fans they play punk but with a great melody line. Something that sets this band apart from others is that the vocalist sing in a more pop kind of way then some punk screaming. The riffs are quite punk. The band was founded back in 1997 and consists of Goolsby on bass and vocals, TB on guitar and vocals, and Rick O on drums. One thing that marks their shows is their enthusiasm, today at Amphi it was that same enthusiasm that made an impression. The lightshow was also different then the bands who played before them. A lot more light and less smoke. With this band it is about their music. Pure. The audience seem to enjoy it. There was not much singing along or cheering but the once that were standing front row were more watching and listening. The band gave a nice performance and gave the Amphi visitors a little different sound to hear.
The band that brought the first bits of metal at the festival was Leaves Eyes. Later today we would have Coppelius, Samsas Traum and Letzte Instanz that would keep the metal sound alive. From these all Leaves Eyes was the one with a female singer. Leave’s Eyes is a band coming from Norway and Germany. The band started to get known and receives international attention in 2009. since then they are one of the main bands in female fronted metal. Leave’s Eyes is for a great part about Norwegian sagas and legends. However you need to like the style Liv Kristine is singing, in a opera kind off way. In the 90s she was know as the vocalist of Theatre of Tragedy. The other band members from Leave’s Eyes come from band members of Atrocity. Their latest album is “Njord” and is jet again about Nordic mythology. Today at Amphi they attracted a large group that seem to know every song. I like to watch Alexander Krull more then Liv as I like his growls a lot more then the high singing from Liv. It was too bad that the sound from Alexander was sometimes fading away. Not all his growling came across the way it should.
Coppelius is bringing a little bit of theater in their show. Besides that they have a cellist, who seem to have an enormous fan base judging by the incredible amount of noise coming from the audience as soon as he starts playing, and a double bassist. That last one seems to be the crazy nut of the band, making funny faces and joking around. Then there are also two vocalist who play clarinet as well. Their sound is rather playful, a bit different than other bands make, mainly because of the cello that speeds it all up. The band has a specific audience, some die-hard fans are on the front row but they also manage to surprise some new people, who came here to find out where that craziness is coming from.
A band that was disappointing was Mesh on the main stage. Why they had the privilege to play on the main stage is a secret. The Uk band Mesh was founded back in 1991. Rich and Neil were in the same band when they met Mark on a concert. Believing that the writer of the lyrics should sing them, to bring across the right feeling Mark started singing. The band started to get fame around 1999 when they started touring and their clip was shown on European tv. They did not left an impression with their gig. It was not bad or anything but it was a bit dull compared to all the other bands that were playing at Amphi. The sound of the band has industrial and electric beats but maybe the volume needed to be higher. The singer was singing with emotion but the songs turned slowly in more ballads kind of rock songs then nice electro beat songs. Or maybe it sounded not as overwhelming as other bands because they were the band that played the most mainstream rock. A band where they are compared with a lot is Depeche Mode. Quite a big name and apparently they have way more up their sleeves then they showed us here at Amphi. Maybe not the right environment for Mesh.
Samsas Traum is a German band, its history started in 1996 when Kaschte released his first solo tape. These days the band is based in Austria. The band got its name from a 1915 novel “The Metamorphosis’s character Gregor Samsa”. The front man of this band is Alexander Kaschte but he works together with Michael Beck. However Alexander is the main person behind this band who compose all the music and plays most of the instruments while recording. Michael takes care of the drums but has also an influence in the music as he brings his own style to Samsas Traum. The band is a nice surprise at Amphi, some nice dark metal in a symphonic way. The band shows it does not have to stick with one genre they experience with black metal, with industrial elements and dark atmospheres. The audience was nodding with their heads, however these gothic fans did not seem to build a pit or anything remotely close. The band rocked the stage, too bad they sing in German but it has a charm of its own.
Combichrist is everywhere this summer so no surprise we run into them here in Cologne as well. After being on the road with Rammstein the Norwegians are now hitting the festivals. The band has two drummers on stage, one a little wilder than the other, climbing on his drums and make himself be seen by the audience. In the center of the stage there is are keys and everywhere where there is no musician placed there is Andy, the vocalist of the band. Many people had came to see this band, in front of the stage it was extremely crowded. The band have gotten themselves into a reputation that they have to fight up to each and every time. In the end many seem content, so yet another successful show for the band.
Front Line Assembly is a Vancouver-based musician Bill Leeb who is the backbone of Frontlline Assembly. Bill was a founding member of Skinny Puppy but together weith Michael Balch he founded Front Like Assembly back in 1986. In 1990 Rhys Fulber joined the due and they released their first work. Two year later they released that to day some still defines as the best of industrial music. However Fulber left the band in 1997 and ever since then the band has seen many line-up changes. Today Bill Leef, Jeremy Inkel, Chris Peterson, Jared Slingerland and Justing Hagberg form the band. Everynow and then guest keyboardist Craig Huxtable hit the keys. The stage was mainly covered in smoke as Bill was drumming in a instrumental part. To me the songs started to seem the seem halfway during their set. The band did not make me watch their full performance, or gave the desire to come back after getting a glibs of ASP. Front Line Assembly an acclaimed band but not impressive today.
ASP is a Geman rockband from Frankfurt am Main. The band was founded by Leadsinger Alexander Spreng back in 1999. The band ASP combines rock with electro and a gothic sound. The band consists of ASP the vocalist, Matze on guitar, Tossi on bass and Himmi on drums. Singer ASP likes to play with the boundaries and depths of human emotion and imagination. Dresses up he appears at Amphi to sing his songs. Black paint on his eyes and black lipstick. Called to be a charismatic magician that takes you on a journey through his emotions. At the Amphi main stage he shows he clearly has that charismatic appearance. You have to watch him and listen to his stories in between songs. The songs rock, with a nice catchy edge and nice rhythm patterns. A band that gets the crowd going and sets a nice atmosphere. The setting worked better as well as the darkness set in and the lights became more present to the show. The performing element is nicely coming across this way and with ASP guiding you throughout the show it comes quickly to an end.
Seeing Diary of Dreams is interesting as well, the band has been around for more than 20 years. Seeing this experience you can expect an interesting live show and the band shows from the beginning that they have charisma and it seems like vocalist Adrian seem to address each and every person individually. Some people were singing along and this show that this band has some die-hard fans. During their set they could maybe have brought some more variation, especially in the beginning, but overall the show was nice to see. A lot of their latest songs were played where some people would have preferred to hear some older work too. Luckily those were not disappointed as the band gave some of that as well. A nice show to close the evening with. People could still enjoy other bands like VNV Nation and Eisbrecher, but for us Amphi was done for this year. As usual, there was a little bit of rain, but not too much so the visitors had quite a good weekend. Many great acts played and hardly anyone let us down. It was a killer line up and it was not a surprise that they were sold out. If next year is going to be just as good, which we totally trust the festival organization for, you are advised to buy your tickets in advance!
Photo’s by: Sabinevangameren.com
Din [a] Tod MySpace
Ashbury Heights MySpace
Solitary Experiment MySpace
Project Pitchfork MySpace
And One MySpace
Miss Construction MySpace
End of Green MySpace
The Cruxshadows MySpace
Anne Clarck MySpace
Skinny Puppy MySpace
Mono Inc. MySpace
Frank The Baptist MySpace
Rabia Sorda MySpace
Diary of Dreams MySpace
Leaves eyes MySpace
Samsas Traum MySpace
Frontline Assembly MySpace
Amphi Festival Website