This time our journey to “seek a vast perhaps” of dark independent music took us quite far away, namely to a lovely city at the river Rein – to Cologne. 14h trip in the heat was not a soothing experience, however, looking at it from the distance I may justly say that despite the fact we were worn out and melted for several times on the German autobahns and – hard to skip it – high costs - it was worth going.
The whole event took place in the amphitheater Tanzbrunnen – quite a big park area centered round the pond where the – ekhem, pardon me – the ducks were having a good time as I noticed :) There were two venues where the concerts were organized – the main stage that was quite well protected from rain – though it was open air and the second stage in the theater (place of action on Saturday evening). It was quite a change after all these airports and other fields of unknown origin. The Festival begun at 2.50 pm.
Honestly speaking, when we finally got to the place we were quite tired like hell, as the weather was rather poor – it was sultry like in Tutankhamen's tomb, it was raining and there were thunders from time to time. But we didn't bother as Andy Krueger of Melotron, who was a host of the Fest, soon appeared on the stage and announced This Morn' Omina – the band I'd been waiting for and that had made me come to Cologne most of all. The performance didn't disappoint me – the gents set on two levels with the drums on the sides and M.Goedrijk rocking the place from the above made all those who were present move. The energetic, pulsating rhythms were a great idea to wake the tired bodies up and to make the audience realize that the hard drill had begun. Most of the tracks were of the new CD “ Les passages jumeaux”.
Next, there was a change of setting on the stage ( the metal grids appeared and the microphone made of chain) and the band Cephalgy started their show. Their image has changed a bit – last year it was white color dominating while this time it was red. But the glasses with LPDs, zest for playing and energy remained the same. Apart from energetic and a bit aggressive music much in style of “Deine Seele” or “Finde deinen Dämon“ there was a performance: behind one of the covered grids there was a woman dancing and finally tearing the cover off – it was quite spectacular and enriched the visual aspect of the concert.
After that welle:erdball took control and I must say that after their concert I understand the fans of the band better than before as the performance was simply stunning! Starting with the music ( I'll mention just a few songs: “ Tanzpalast 2000”, “Das Souvenir”, “Arbeit Adelt” or “Ein Mensch Aus Glas”) , through the show – on the sides there were two ladies dressed up for the mannequins of the 30s, who attracted the audience's attention by showing the boards with messages, waving with flags, or throwing balls to the audience ( it was quite funny in fact as at one moment the fans started playing with the band by throwing the balls back to the stage – the balls were actually given instead of T-shirts as the frontman explained “ the balls cost 50 Euro and it wasn't enough money for the T-shirts:p”). Generally there were no stoppages in action during the show and it was a very fine concert, both musically and visually, very dynamic and well-planned.
Unheilig - the second band that attracted me to Cologne – was an avalanche of charisma, fantastic sounds and fair dose of the specific energy I like so much and which only some bands are able to emanate during the concerts. Definitely, one of the best shows during the Festival – the combination of good fun, incredibly invigorating music and marvelous spectacle on the stage. Big candles at the back, smoke and der Graf in the foreground – the man of a diabolic image, emphatic, 'theatric' mimicry, glancing towards the audience with his white lenses and moving energetically and smoothly on the stage – that was it! Knock-down my ladies and gentlemen! And those ravishing songs: “ Freiheit “, “Maschine”, “ Astronaut “, “Ich will alles”, “Sage Ja” or “ Luftschiff to mention just a few. At certain point the guards distributed glow sticks and when these were lit above the audience's heads it looked really wonderful! Fantastic concert: extremely spectacular and perfectly prepared.
Afterwards, we moved quite fast towards the “Theater” resigning of the concerts of The 69 Eyes, Subway to Sally and VNV Nation (these are the choices I'm afraid and since the number of people in the place was to be limited to 700 the heavy battle was in the air). The place itself was very stylish: chandeliers in the ceiling, the sound technicians on the gallery, splendid lights, organs on the stage and the best of all – no grid separating the audience from the musicians, no safety margin for the artists ( heheh :>). So we were standing exactly by the stage and if anyone wanted to untie Andy LaPlegua's shoe laces, s/he could do it ( and if Andy had shoe laces which in fact he didn't :p) Anyway, we placed ourselves right beside the stage and we were waiting for what was supposed to come. In the meantime Djs: Nighdash, Marco and Ronny played their sets, so some people were dancing, but we preferred to stay where we were.
Soon Lola Angst entered the stage. Two gentlemen – one playing organs, the other by the computers and two ballet dancers in full costumes as a performance of the show: the whole composition bathed in dim light made an interesting impression.
After quite a long break the Japanese group Calmando Qual started their show – the band which gave concert in Warsaw not so long time ago. Gentlemen presented the mixture being an audio/visual feast : both things, sound and image, were of an extreme sort. Strong, artistic make-ups, fashion and deafening passages that were cacophonous at times – all these enchanted the audience that demanded 3 encores and got them ( according to the idea “ask and it will be given to you” ;p)
Next Andy LaPlegua appeared on the stage – looking much like a Cherokee, and started his traditional drill of the audience : by his voice, by movements and beat ( we observed him carefully, waved our hands and screamed like maniacs, though kinda too-open demonstration of feelings towards the band was impossible for the lack of space and oxygen :) Of course , as you may easily guess, in case of the company Combichrist there was no place for sweet caresses : the strong beat prevailed: “This shit will fuck you up”, “I'd like to thank my buddies”, “Blut royale” “I woke up in the rain of blood” and one of the new songs as well.
The last scene belonged to my personal favorites – Diary of Dreams, who presented 'the best of show' and as the name suggests were playing their hits (i.a Chemicals, O' Brother Sleep, Giftraum, Retaliation, Traumtänzer). The band played wreathed in smoke, dim light and aura of scoped attention ( OK, I'm exaggerating here: some fans had a picnic there, sitting on the stage, drinking cola or other more or less alcoholic beverages, relaxing themselves – don;'t know what their idea was, but it looked goddamn funny I must say :). There were no encores planned for that evening, so soon the band retreated from the stage and the concert part of the evening was over.
After the concert of DoD there was an afterparty started by DJ set of the Retrosic, but as we were totally tired there won't be any report from the after :)
On Sunday, the weather was unbearably hot, so we haven't roamed the pits too much, though I must confess it was hard to abstain from joining other fans at some points.
The godly day was inaugurated by the gentlemen of Frozen Plasma, relentless despite the heat, giving the crowds their smooth dance rhythms and a soothing vocal. They were rewarded by plush teddy bears thrown their way.
Next, the stage became the installation site for Faun, quite a big band with an interesting visual side - background videos, microphones hidden in ivy and an image to remember: you could say that it was Bacchus' entourage decided to visit Tanzbrunnen and is performing crazy orgies. The multitude of instruments and rapid stage action did not leave anyone bored, although I am not a fan of such music myself.
Afterwards, it was time for the Italians of Dope Stars Inc., stating at the very beginning that they came to kick our asses and so on, so at least we knew what to expect. All in all, I had no trouble sitting down after their gig, so I think they did not succeed totally in that. Anyway, the vocalist did all that he could to get the audience involved, making them clap, sing, dance and move in general. Their music was a mix of electronica and guitars at quite a lively pace. They played "Make A Star", "Rebel Riot", "Theta Titanium" and "Generation Plastic" among others.
The Fixmer/McCarthy duo does not need any special introduction: already during the stage preparations McCarthy-styled shouts were heard throughout the anxious crowd. The concert itself was smashing, carrying me away totally - it was great to hear "Freefall" or "Destroy" live, finally. The whole setlist was as follows: "Look To Me" (new track), "Freefall", "Pistol Whipper" (new track), "And Then Finally" (new track), "Love the Night" (new track), "Destroy" and "You Want It". As you can see, they played a lot of new tracks. A fantastic gig with McCarthy "marching" on stage, making all those who were fainting in the heat, sliding slowly down to the ground at the barriers, get up and fight for their lives with the pushing mass.
After this performance came another round of bands that I didn't have too much in commmon with, to be honest. Still, their professionalism, energy, dynamism and undoubted talent justly received a lot of praise. The bands I mean were Letzte Instanz and Samsas Traum. The first is a motley crew of many individuals (all of them barefooted :)), a charismatic vocalist and an explosive combination of a violin, a guitar, electronics and Holly's vibrating voice. Samsas Traum seemed to be more of a metal band, but I must confess that their gig made me want to learn the contents of their discography, even to translate their texts, the vocalist projected at the audience with a daunting speed. Crazy music, but received very well by the fans.
The next concert - played by Negative - found us hiding in the shade and observing the festival life, trying to regenerate a bit. The following concerts gave me the unforgettable pleasure of watching dancing crowds of people, reacting enthusiastically during And One's performance (the show itself did not differ too much from their WGT performance, but I still raised the temperature of my shoes' soles, dancing to "Military Fashion Show", "Deutschmaschine" and "Panzermensch") and having great fun during Schandmaul's gig. The latter gave a great concert, although their style is far from my favourites - despite that, they gave the audience a lot of fun, proving to be a well organised and forcefully expressive band.
To sum the Amphi Festival 2006 up, I would like to emphasize that the line up, the organisation, the courtesy of the people running the whole thing coupled with the great, polite and helpful people in the crowd and a great atmosphere allowing us to party even at 39 degrees is something totally unusual and positive. If only we make it till next year, we are surely travelling the 900 kilometres to enjoy ourselves there with some smashing music :)
The text was published by permission of yesternight.pl
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