Once again on 28th and 29th July, the Tanzbrunnen in Cologne, Germany, housed the legendary Amphi Festival, and once again I attended, with the company of some fantastic friends. This year also saw the most issues in terms of us actually getting there. A friend and myself were more lucky than others, as our flight was only delayed by around an hour, whereas some had to deal with more severe delays, and even flight cancellations. However our determination persevered, and everyone finally made it to the festivities.

Even though this was my third year, I’d never done the Call the Ship to Port pre-party before. For those of you that don’t know, this is the official pre-party of Amphi Festival, and as the name suggests, takes place on a boat, where the attendees are treated to a handful of live acts. As the line-up looked pretty good, I jumped at the chance this time round. I’m very glad I did, too!

Eisfabrik kick-started the party with a bang. Their lively sounding tracks and strong presence were definitely enough to get the crowd into the right mood. Their combo of dark electro, synthpop and catchy melodies were certainly the correct formula to get people into festival mode! Next up, Suicide Commando took to the stage. With an even heavier and darker sound, they got everyone stomping to the beat. As ever, the aesthetics on-screen were grim, brutal and morbid, not only resonating perfectly with the music, but also delivering strong statements. Covenant were the headliners for the night, and they were the perfect choice, for obvious reasons (the entire event is named after one of their most famous songs, after all!) Whilst it took a track or two for them to get into the swing of things, the atmosphere was stunning once they got going. In such a short set, they played a huge array of tracks that spanned throughout their discography. Of course, they played “Call the Ships to Port” too, which was definitely the highlight of the night. I was surprised they played it at the end of the main set, and not the encore, instead ending the night on “Dead Stars.” However, it was much later that I was informed Covenant only play this track whenever a show sells out, so that made it something pretty special, and I’m proud to have witnessed it. Overall, the ship was a brilliant experience, and one I shall endeavour to do again. After all, it’s not every day you get to sail on a ship down The Rhine with a bunch of fellow Goths on board, with superb live music as entertainment!

So day one of the festival proper arrived, and 12,500 Goths conglomerated to the Tanzbrunnen. [X]-RX were the first act we checked out, and being local heroes, there was a pretty huge turnout to witness their show. Heavy pounding EBM beats, and harsh vocals filled the air, as the duo of Pascal Beniesch and Jan Teultoff took the crowd by storm. It was clear that they, along with the audience, were enjoying every second of it. It was a fun act for us to start the day with, and I’m surprised they weren’t billed higher. Unzucht were a complete contrast in terms of style, with their more melodic Industrial Metal. Alas, the heat was already a bit much, so I retreated to the shade of the Met Lounge with some of the others. Even so, I was fortunate enough to have a great view, plus the mood and power of their music could still be felt all the way from where we were seated!

Now, if there’s one complaint I have about Amphi, it’s the Theatre Stage. The issue being that if you want to see a certain artist, you have to queue ridiculously early, or else you’re not going to see them. I get why, as they don’t want to overcrowd the venue, but it’s still a bit annoying. Nevertheless, this was our problem, and I only got to catch the final two songs of [:SITD:]‘s set. They still seemed to be fantastic, from how little I saw. I’m just thankful I’m seeing them in London in September! One of the main reasons so many of us ventured into the Theatre Stage, was to see Funker Vogt. Sadly, this didn’t completely pay off. They were ok for the most part, and I don’t get what it was, but it didn’t sound or feel right. Something was clearly missing. For a start, I felt there were sound issues, especially with Chris L’s vocal delivery. It made me miss Jens Kästel a lot, if I’m honest. Luckily, Saturday headliners ASP were more than enough to make up for it! I’d waited over a year to see them, as the washout at M’era Luna last year made me retreat to the comfort of my tent, resulting in me missing most the set. Needless to say, they were astounding, with pitch-perfect delivery and their Gothic Metal sound creating a rich atmosphere that could be felt throughout the Tanzbrunnen. With nearly 20 years of experience under their belt, they know what they’re doing, and it clearly showed on this occasion.

Day two approached, and this was our last chance to really party. Which, spoiler alert, we very much did! Our day began with Neuroticfish, a band whom I’ve seen many times, and never fail to disappoint. I do admit, vocally, Sascha Klein did sound out of tune at first, but he resolved this quickly. Their catchy, emotional tunes were enough to grab the attention of the crowd, who waved their arms and sung in unison to their big hits, such as “Velocity” and “WakeMeUp!” Sure, when you actually listen to the lyrics, they make very little sense, but they’re still a fun band to see live! Solar Fake also put on an absolutely superb show. Lively and full of energy, they took to the stage and dominated it. Opening with “Not What I Wanted”, they blasted through many of their biggest songs old and new, including “More Than This”, “Parasites” and “All The Things You Say.” We were also treated to new tracks, “Sick of You” and “The Pain That Kills You Too”, both which sound fantastic, and totally have me hyped to hear the new album! I don’t know if it’s just me, but was Chris L cursed this weekend? Because I wasn’t so keen on Agonoize either. This time, the sound wasn’t too bad, but yet again something felt a bit off. The experience was still interesting enough, and there was some energy to be felt, but I didn’t really feel any presence. Bizarrely, during “Bloodqueen”, someone dressed in a pink morphsuit and a tutu pranced around the stage, distributing fake blood into the crowd out of a bowl with a ladle. Considering how dark the music is, it was odd to see this kind of approach. Fun, yes, but I’m not sure if it suited their style. Oomph! were next up, and they were great! Their powerful Industrial Metal came across perfectly, and they were engaged throughout. As Cheesy as “Gott ist ein Popstar” is, I absolutely love seeing them perform it live. For such a heavy band with a somewhat dark presence, it’s amazing how fun they are. They honestly need to tour the UK a lot more often! Last, but not least, And One took to the stage. They are one of those bands where, even if you’ve had the worst day of your life, they’ll perk you right up if you see them live. Honestly, there’s no better words to describe their live shows than absolute joy in it’s purest form. They were perfect, delivering a show that gave out an absolutely electrifying atmosphere, with the crowd under their complete control. It was non-stop unrelenting fun throughout, and it felt like it was all over far too quickly. Their Wolverhampton show in December cannot come soon enough!

So, even with all the trials and tribulations our group had to get through to actually make it this year, it was well worth it! It always feels like it flies by far too quickly, but these will be memories I’ll always cherish. That’s what makes Amphi one of my favourite festivals, if not my favourite. No matter what happens, it’s always a brilliant time. It has a superb atmosphere, making it to a joy to attend. It honestly feels like nowhere else! To the festival organisers and the bands that play, I cannot thank you enough for putting on such a wonderful event.

My hotel is booked for next year, my early bird ticket purchased, and now the countdown begins. See you again in 2019. I can’t wait!