The second festival day actually starts out in the night since there was no possibility whatsoever to sleep in an overheated apartment with no air condition. And that’s not the main problem. To have two dudes smelling cheap vodka and sounding like two dump haulers in full speed next to me didn’t help at all. Therefore it was better to go up for an early coffee even before the rooster started to crow. However, the second day was already set for being the most interesting of the two days entailing first encounters with bands as Neuroticfish, Priest and Oomph!, and having And One closing the festival would be a massive grand finale.
The heat continued and ended up at the “comfy” temperature of +34º C but since there wasn’t anything on stage until 14.00, the heat could be controlled by a few pints of Kölsch before setting off to the area. That’s when another unpleasant surprise hit me. If you followed our Roskilde Festival coverage you will see me whining about huge problems with my feet due to a poor choice of shoes and even if it was three weeks later they still haven’t healed up – and they came to be the plague of the day (but I won’t whine about it again, just read the Roskilde Festival report).
Waiting for concerts is boring but me and the photographer took on the task of trying out the local cuisine at Tanzbrunnen. Germans like their meat, that became clear already when moving to Hamburg last year and when a dude in a New Kids On the Block shirt showed us the way to some kind of “meat heaven” that impression was certainly enhanced, and Messed!Up’s photographer found some sort of “meet on a stick”, probably around a kilo for a “fiver”. Although the vegetarian alternative was great it couldn’t outcompete the dimensions of the meat plates at any food truck. On the other hand you didn’t get any belly problems either.
To summarize the gastronomic side of Amphi is simple – a wide range of food trucks and fairly good prices. I always compare to other open air festivals such as Roskilde Festival, Primavera Sound and the Reading Festival, and in that context the prices at Amphi is rather good (but as with all festivals – we want more vegetarian options!).
First act on stage of interest was Neuroticfish and since I’ve missed out on every opportunity there has been the last years (ok, the stage broke down at Amphi 2015 due to bad weather and they had to cancel the show, and I was became sick when he played Electronic Winter) this was something to look forward to. Aside from their debut album “No Instruments” in 1999 I’ve always had Neuroticfish as one of the five best futurepop acts on the electronic scene. “Les Chansons Neurotiques” (2002) is a masterpiece, not meaning that “Gelb” (2005) is bad but with songs as “Prostitute” and “Wake Me Up”, both ending up in the top of the Deutsche Alternative Charts (DAC) in 2002, it’s difficult to compare (although “I Don’t Need The City” is one of their best songs).
After a few years where Sasha got fed up with music and was about to sell all the studio equipment on e-bay (thanks to the guy who stopped him), “A Sign of Life” was released in 2015 which, again, ended up in a prominent position on the DAC.
Henning Verlage, the second member of Neuroticfish, couldn’t join Sasha on stage this day but where there’s an abundance of synthesizers, there’s always a dude willing to operate them and a “machine operator”, not known to me, where behind the decks backing up Sasha. If you’ve listened to a band for sixteen years and bought their albums it’s difficult to get disappointed. Maybe it’s a bit boring to see lead singers using an iPad to remember the lyrics but it didn’t seem to affect Sasha’s “manoeuvres” on stage at all.
With such a good setlist, you must do something completely wrong to fail. “Prostitute”, “Wake Me Up” and the brilliant “Agony” from the latest album turn up quite early and then it is and endless line of 135-140 BPM songs the rest of the show. Some would probably say it’s a bit boring with no change in tempo but it’s a festival, people need a bit tempo to get over their hang overs from yesterday.
It wasn’t possible to stay the full show though since people pushed me towards the Theater Stage and Priest, the electronic equivalent to Ghost – even more similar when you consider that there’s a former member of Ghost in the band. The point is that Priest’s music never got to me, it doesn’t give me goose bumps, but peer pressure does work out at times and I found myself in front of the stage five minutes before the start. And what a show they made!
While Ghost’s Papa Emeritus just stands behind his mic, Priest’s singer Mercury runs across the stage in a well rehearsed choreographic pattern. It’s a show way beyond what you expect to see on the synth scene – professional performance, not home made that many bands on the scene suffer from. However, I really don’t know any song since I wasn’t hooked the first or the second time (or the third) I listened to their debut album “New Flesh”, but after the gig I promised myself to give it another try when arriving at home – and I did but with the same result. Some bands might be good on stage and it’s enough, ey? At least for me.
After the show there was nothing interesting in four hours and although Sweden’s biggest – and probably only – Solar Fake fan literally hold me by the arm and dragged me to the Solar Fake show I couldn’t stay long enough to review it. It’s not really my thing, not at all but there were loads of people at the show. Anyhow, here’s a photo just to cheer (a) possible fan/s up.
How do you manage a long break at Amphi? Well, there’s beer and loads of boutiques selling albums you need to pay humongous amounts of shipping costs for when you buy them online, thus a reasonable allocation of time would be to spend two hours on finding a few records and two hours at the Beach Bar.
At 7.30 PM it was finally time to see Oomph! for the first time. Ever since Nine Inch Nails released “Pretty Hate Machine” in 1989, guitar based industrial rock on the verge to metal music has had a special place in my record collection. In 1994 Oomph! released their second album “Sperm” and the year after they struck the world with the amazing album “Defekt”. Not only were they a pioneering band on the industrial/metal scene, they also inspired bands as Rammstein, and there’s certainly musical similarities.
Although Dero Goi, Andreas Crap and Robert Flux (yes, it’s nicknames) have been around for almost thirty years they really don’t seem to have lost any energy on stage. While most bands get tired after 10-15 years, such as Grendel and Funker Vogt, Oomph! just put on a few more layers of heavy distorted guitars, crank up the volume a few more dB’s and seize control of the audience at Tanzbrunnen.
Starting off in the brilliant “Gott ist ein Popstar” followed by the even more brilliant “Träumst du” – obviously two really good sing-a-long tracks if you can twist your tongue in German guttural sounds – opened up for a hit parade but somewhere in the middle of it all it gets a bit boring before the hit machine starts again and blasts out “Sandmann”, “Augen auf!” and the epic “Labyrinth” (in which I tried out some sort of German sing-a-long with a really poor result since the dude next to me glanced and telepathically said ‘Hey dude, what the hell are you singing?’ “). Oomph! is at this point the best show of Amphi 2018 but that was about to change in just thirty minutes.
I grew up in Lerum just a few miles north of Gothenburg and one of my childhood friends – still a friend although he tried to kill me with his chinchilla 25 years ago – played me, during one of our rehearsal breaks in the quite crappy EBM band we had at the time (around 1991), the new single of a German band no one had hardly heard of yet. It sounded new and fresh and something completely different from the Nitzer Ebb kind of EBM that I was used to. 27 years after its release “Techno Man” still sounds great, maybe even better, when Steve Naghavi sputters out “Two sounds are better than one” before the crowd reply with “Techno Man”.
And One is Steve Naghavi since very few even take notice of anyone else on stage. It’s just in a few songs when Joke Jay takes the mic and Steve hides behind the keyboard – but hardly stayed for more than a few minutes – there’s a noticeable change, and it actually gets a bit boring. However, and fortunately, it’s just temporary. Naghavi is a true onstage persona and keeps the audience on their toes from the beginning to the end. And it’s fairly easy. If you consider And One’s back catalogue it’s made up of a wide range of hits, spanning from EBM to synthpop with the characteristic dark voice of Naghavi.
It’s yet again a hit parade; “Sometimes”, “Deutschmaschine”, “Military Fashion Show”, “Krieger” and the encore with, for instance, “Steine sind Steine” and “Second Voice”. No one growing up with the synth scene can be disappointed after such an amazing setlist embodied by Steve Naghavi’s performance on stage. It simply can’t get any better! There’s no way you can leave Tanzbrunnen and Amphi 2018 feeling disappointed after this. Actually, who wants to go home!? Everyone in the entourage were to speeded up after the show and we just headed off to the nearest dancefloor – just to find the one-hour line to get in.
This is also where me and the photographer made the crucial mistake to go back to our apartment and leave cameras and recorders, have a few hot shots (yeah, the nineties is in fashion again) and go back to the festival ground just to find out we couldn’t get in anywhere, not even the Beach Bar. When everybody had a few more hours of fun we had to wait with a few beers outside Tanzbrunnen. Not bad but not as good as on the dancefloor.
Just a suggestion to next year Amphi; can’t you please use the Orbit Stage as a dancefloor or let people have fun in the late hours on the Beach Bar the last night as well? To make it a full festival weekend experience? Now you didn’t get my beer money. Yes, I’m whining, it’s a great festival in every aspect but I want to experience it until 06.00 the last day/night as well.
**For those of you not familiar with the industrial/electronic scene, “When the Feet Hurt” refers to a song by And One from their “I.S.T” album.
Photographer: ©Henric Carlsson
Report from the first day at Amphi