So the first day of Amphi began proper. As the hot sun beat down upon the festival grounds, around 12,000 goths congregated into the iconic Tanzbrunnen. Rain did make a few welcome, if short lived, appearances, but the heat reigned (and it was ridiculous!) However, that was not enough to stop the party from going ahead.
The first act of the day we checked out were Chrom. Being no stranger to this duo, I knew to expect a good show, and they certainly did not disappoint. Their style of synthpop was the perfect sonic combination to get into the festival spirit. There’s just something about their tone that’s extremely upbeat, but that’s probably down to the catchy hooks and melodies they deliver. Of course, this is instrumentally, as their lyrics can be quite gloomy, but the contrast kept the atmosphere quite vibrant. If I were nitpicking, I’d say that Christian Marquis’ vocals were slightly off at times, but this is a pretty extreme nitpick we’re talking about here, as it was barely noticeable. It’s always a joy to dance to songs such as “Regret & Testify”, “Loneliness” and “Staring at the Sun”. The latter was rather apt, especially considering the climate.
After a break involving a few drinks, including deliciously refreshing cherry mead slushies, it was time to see Hocico. This was a pretty extreme change of pace, as melodic Synthpop was replaced by visceral Electro-Industrial. The timing of their festival appearance could not have been any more perfect, as their latest album, Artificial Extinction, literally dropped the day prior. The band were clearly riding on this momentum, as they gave a fantastic performance. The brutal, dark electro tones, combined with a frenetic pace sent the crowd into a frenzy, as they blasted through tracks old and new. The Mexican duo were on-point, Erk Aicrag’s vocals as guttural and razor-sharp as ever, meanwhile Racso Agroyam brought the gritty, harsh beats and soundscapes. For me personally, “I Abomination” was one of the highlights of this set. The song itself is extremely addictive, with it’s extreme hooks and high BPM, which translates flawlessly when presented live. Of course, this flawless nature flowed through the duration of the set, and they did not miss a beat. If this show was anything to go by, then the rest of their tour is going to be something quite special indeed!
I was dreading queuing to get into the Theater Stage, as I didn’t want to miss the next band. There’s been many occasions where the venue has been packed, to the point where queuing can take anything up to an hour. It’s my only flaw with Amphi. Surprisingly, getting in was pretty swift for us this time, but sadly some of the group got left behind, and were stuck outside for a while.
So it goes without saying that, even with the quick entrance into this part of the venue, it was still packed out for Solitary Experiments. Rightfully so too, as they’re quite spectacular live. Their presence was so strong, that the sheer force of their music could be felt all the way from the back of the room. The melodies they delivered were stunning, the atmosphere reaching levels of euphoria. Despite their criminally short time on-stage, they still managed to pull off quite a varied setlist, that spanned numerous eras from their back-catalogue. It’s especially impressive how well balanced it all was, considering how many records they have under their belt. Hits such as “Pale Candle Light”, “Immortal” along with “Stars” went down extremely well with the crowd, ending on the iconic “Epiphany”. Then again, with so many superb songs in their collection, it’s difficult for them to go wrong. To listen to these tracks on CD or at a club is enjoyable enough, but to experience it in a live setting is truly something else. Their music reaches otherworldly qualities when they perform, and it always results in a joyful experience. Without a shadow of a doubt, this was my favourite act of the day.
Alas, that was all the bands I managed to check out on the Saturday, as I spent a lot of time socialising with friends, some whom I hadn’t seen for some time. As I’ve always said, it’s the people that make the festivals, and I had an absolute blast with them! Of course, things weren’t over yet, and the final day had a few nice surprises in store…