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ennlfrdeitrues
Tanzbrunnen, Cologne, Germany
18th & 19th July 2009
Amphi Festival 2009 Day 1 Rheinparkhalle: Laibach, Feindflug, Agonoize, Marsheaux, Absolute Body Control, Scandy, Xotox, Jäger 90, Auto-Auto

The Rheinparkhalle was standing in the sign of harder electro music on the first festival was. It was even so hard, that the plaster fell from the ceiling during the FEINDFLUG gig. The hall could not be used anymore afterwards for the whole festival for security reasons. It was quite some tough work for the crew to get all the gear from the Rheinparkhalle to the Theater and make the LAIBACH gig happen there… it all took them only three hours, so big compliment for anyone of the team!


Auto-Auto (J. “Niggels” Uhlenbruch)

AUTO-AUTO is a Swedish multi-art project emerging in 2004 whose “main purpose is to try to change and encourage change in your local community, thus from small changes ultimately making the world a better place for all of us to live in”. In 2005, work on the first album ‘Sounds of a New Generator’ began and the album was released in May of that same year and gained critical recognition from all over Europe due to which the band started to play local gigs around Gothenburg. In late 2005, the guys completed the ‘Totem’ EP, released under the Creative Commons license, which is still freely available for download on the band homepage, followed in 2006 by the ‘Totem Remixed’ EP and a nomination for best newcomer at Scandinavian Alternative Music Awards. 2008 sees the release of their second album ‘Celeste’ on Out of Line. AUTO-AUTO is Johan Hellqvist & Erik Frankel. http://www.auto-auto.se/ / http://www.myspace.com/autoautose



Music & Performance
AUTO-AUTO was the band which opened the second stage of the festival, and as the very first band performing there this weekend it could have been a problematic gig. How many people will turn up to see this (yet) rather unknown band? Especially as people had to walk to the other side of the festival ground from entrance and main stage to the new second stage at the Rheinparkhalle. In the past years, the theatre building at the Tanzbrunnen area was used for the second stage of the Amphi, which was changed to the Rheinparkhalle this year because of its bigger capacity. Well, it was nice to see that actually many people turned up, and even if some probably just came to check out the new location AUTO-AUTO surely won them over.



The three young Swedish guys presented their Synth Pop which had a distinct retro feel combined with a very modern touch. There’s a reason why AUTO-AUTO cite FUTURE SOUND OF LONDON and MORCHEEBA as influences next to DEPECHE MODE, KRAFTWERK and FRONT 242! The band’s line-up is somewhat like the trademark cast for an Electro band - a geeky synth wizard never stopping to twist and tweak the knobs and keys of his equipment, an energetic freak who doesn’t stop to dance behind his keyboard, and a smart singer who delivers amazing vocals. Indeed, vocalist Johan Hellqvist has a great voice, and when you consider the young age of the AUTO-AUTO members there’s hope that this is an up-and-coming band we will hear a lot more form in the next few years.

Rating
Music: 9
Performance: 9
Sound: 8
Light: 7
Total: 8.6 / 10




Jäger 90 (J. “Niggels” Uhlenbruch)

In 2005, two German guys formed JÄGER 90 without ever having the intention of re-inventing the wheel or something like that. Entering 2007, the duo was able to release their first official album ‘Muskeln & Küsse’ via Electric Tremor and in 2008 had a successful performance at Wave Gotik Treffen and with a bag of new songs; they’re now aiming to mix-up the Amphi Festival as well. JÄGER 90 is Thoralf (vocals, programming) and Vigo (technique, live drums). http://www.jaeger90.com/ / http://www.myspace.com/jaeger90ebm



Music & Performance
After all-blue stage lights for AUTO-AUTO’s show now all-white. JÄGER 90 need bright light for their mission, and the search headlights warned “Achtung! Ein Jäger!” Shouter Thoralf entered the stage with a pilot’s helmet to give out this warning, while new member Vigo (who replaced founder member Steve a while ago) stayed in the back behind his drums and effect machines. JÄGER 90 sounds like an exact copy of the good old glorious DEUTSCH-AMERIKANISCHE FREUNDSCHAFT, they know this 100% and they wanna be that way! JÄGER 90 was started to have some fun and to make minimalistic electronic music. To JÄGER 90, all you need is a bass sequence, some pounding drums and a human voice.



A limited concept which could easily fail but JÄGER 90 prove that they are simply incredibly grooving. A lot of new songs from the forthcoming album ‘Drischne Skasal’ dominated the first half of the show; in the second half the band gave their fans well-known tunes like ‘Komm und rück ein bisschen näher’ or ‘Stiefelblitz’. It is remarkable that so many acts think they re-invent the wheel while they sound like a copy of other bands, and here’s a band who straightforwardly admits that they indeed copy the sound of their heroes and yet they sound so much fresher than most others! JÄGER 90’s sense of humour and tongue-in-cheek attitude plays a significant role here but more importantly: Their rhythms simply make you wanna move!!

Rating
Music: 8
Performance: 9
Sound: 8
Light: 7
Total: 8.2 / 10




Xotox (J. “Niggels” Uhlenbruch)

Andreas Davids founded XOTOX as a solo project in 1998 and with the first albums, self-released by him, he could establish a small but constantly growing fan base. In 2003, he signed a record deal with the ProNoize label and ‘Lichtlos’ became the first album under the label’s moniker and the track ‘Eisenkiller’ went on heavy rotation in various clubs. Only a short period of time passed before Andreas pulled of his next album with ‘Die Unruhe’. The limited CD was a thank you to the loyal fan base and sold-out soon. The next album ‘[psi]’ hit the shops already in 2005 and peaked at #2 of the German Alternative Charts. Right in time for the 10th anniversary of the project ‘In den Zehn Morgen’, the third official studio album comes out and even reaches the #1 of the GAC. XOTOX is Andreas Davids (all music, production). http://www.xotox.info/ / http://www.myspace.com/xotox



Music & Performance
The first gig when it got really, really crowded at the second stage was XOTOX! From Cyber-Goths to Industrial heads several generations of fans went to the Rheinparkhalle to see the first performance of XOTOX’s new tour. Mastermind Andreas Davids calls his music “Industrial for hyperactive people”, some others might label the sound as distorted, noisy Techno but however, it appeals to a lot of people. Davids was joined on stage by a girl, who played a weird kind of drum-fog machine combination at the start of the show. Every bang on the drum produced a stream of fog coming out of other side of the drum - weird indeed. Later she took place behind a synth rack and the two of them controlled the heavy noise loops of XOTOX’ music.



The response from the crowd was excellent but when you’re not one of the many people who dance like nuts to the endless beats you might find the purely instrumental music of XOTOX sounding a little samey after a while. Nice gig but to me XOTOX works better in a club than live. Not too surprising for music which is basically club music!

Rating
Music: 7
Performance: 7
Sound: 8
Light: 7
Total: 7.2 / 10




Scandy (Dajana Winkel)

As if he weren’t busy enough with his other projects, the most prominent being COMBICHRIST, Andy LaPlegua has given birth to another one, named SCANDY to invade even the last dance floors on the globe with ferocious bass pulses. The debut single ‘Split (Great Stuff)’, released in 2004 already complied with that goal so a full-length was inevitably to follow in the form of ‘13 Ways to Masturbate’ in 2006. http://www.myspace.com/scandy



Music & Performance
And maybe Mr. LaPlegua should stay with his other projects. The new beats might be perfect for the dance floors but musically he doesn’t differ that much from his other work. And performing live singly is hardly ever a pleasure. He was deeply hunkered over his Mac, didn’t have any contact or interaction to the audience. He didn’t move or dance or do anything else than starring on his screen and pushing keys. Maybe he just needs glasses to look from the distance; some lights would do it too. ;) Well, light was a general problem at Rheinparkhalle, driving photographers mad. I guess Mr. LaPlegua has to face that just being Andy LaPlegua isn’t enough to manage a show. Not even a DJ set if you ask me… This afternoon show was in fact the most reserved one, no action from the artist, no response from the audience, different worlds without any connection to each other…

Rating
Music: 6
Performance: 2
Sound: 6
Light: 2
Total: 4.2 / 10




Absolute Body Control (J. “Niggels” Uhlenbruch)

ABSOLUTE BODY CONTROL was founded in early 1980 by prominent THE KLINIK member Dirk Ivens; soon joined by Mark de Jonghe and Veerle de Schepper. Mark soon left the band after the release of a track on the ‘Blitzpop 1’ compilation and their first 7" single ‘Is there an exit?’ in 1981 and was replaced by Eric van Wonterghem who would remain Dirk’s musical fellow for many years to follow. ABC appeared on several compilations and tapes before they decided to continue the project as a duo. In 1984, both Dirk and Eric became members of THE KLINIK; the latter one left already after the second album and formed INSEKT. Their last tape ‘Tracks’ released in 1989 contained all their compilation contributions. The first and only CD ‘Eat this’ was released in 1993 because of the lasting public interest.



After a long time of absence, they played some festival shows in Belgium and Sweden. An album called ‘Wind (re)Wind’ containing re-recorded tracks and a brand-new single ‘Never seen’ has been released on 21st March 2008 and ever since have played lots of shows and are more successful than ever. ABSOLUTE BODY CONTROL is Dirk Ivens and Eric van Wonterghem. http://www.dirkivens.com/ / http://www.myspace.com/absolutebodycontrolbelgium

Music & Performance
From almost unnoticed pioneers of electronic music in the early 1980s to most welcome festival appearances in the 21st century - ABSOLUTE BODY CONTROL is not just another project by very busy Dirk Ivens, it’s actually his first musical project ever! After the reinforcement of ABSOLUTE BODY CONTROL a few years ago, a number of re-releases and live performances followed.



And the gig at the Amphi proved that the Belgian duo is more popular than ever! After seeing them a couple of times live on stage the “Wow! They’re back!” effect has surely worn a bit off but nevertheless ABSOLUTE BODY CONTROL put on a great show. Dirk Ivens is one of the greatest vocalists / front men of this scene after all and his charisma alone guarantees a good show. The entire ABSOLUTE BODY CONTROL classics make the good show a great one, from their more melodic Electro Pop tunes (like the opener of the show ‘Love at First Sight’) to straight EBM of the classic Belgian type. Ivens’ performance and the music of ABSOLUTE BODY CONTROL are equally compelling. Simple but effective, and from a live rarity to a sure-fire performance on the bills of many clubs and festivals!

Rating
Music: 9
Performance: 9
Sound: 9
Light: 7
Total: 8.7 / 10




Marsheaux (Carsten Leopold)

The two good-looking ladies from Greece created their musical moniker MARSHEAUX in 2003 after relocating from Thessalonica to Athens in 2003 to give their love for 80s synth pop an outlet. With their debut single, a darker cover of HOT BUTTER's 'Popcorn' they gained national recognition in Greece as well as in mainland Europe with the single receiving extensive air play. Having signed with Undo Records, ‘EBay Queen’ the first album sees a release in 2004 and was met with international positive critical reception, which is followed by ‘Peek a Boo’ in 2006 continuing their march of success. The upcoming new album ‘Lumineaux Noir’ has just been released on 10th July 2009. MARSHEAUX are Marianthi (vocals, synths) and Sophie (vocals, synths). http://www.marsheaux.com/ / http://www.myspace.com/marsheaux

Music & Performance
MARSHEAUX entered the stage with the usual line up. At the start of the show, both additional keyboard players in the background had funny masks like boxes with faces on their head (you know that from the ‘Peek-a-boo’ album). In the foreground, Marianthi and Sophi operated their keys, sang and used electronic drums at several songs. The set list consisted of 11 songs, mostly taken from the just released album ‘Lumineux Noir’ like ‘Stand By’, ‘Ghost’ or ‘Radial Emotion’, completed by older songs like ‘Dream of a Disco’ or ‘Love Under Pressure’. MARSHEAUX satisfied the crowd with their powerful rhythm and pleasing sounds. After about 35 minutes they left the stage, but what a surprise - they came back quickly and played another song before they finally left the stage.



Setlist
01. Exit
02. Love under Pressure
03. Stand By
04. Hanging On
05. Summer
06. Dream of a Disco
07. Radial Emotion
08. How Does It Feel
09. Breakthrough
---
10. Empire State Human

Rating
Music: 8
Performance: 8
Sound: 7
Light: 7
Total: 7.7 / 10


Agonoize (J. “Niggels” Uhlenbruch)

The so called “Hellectro” genre has spawned many ascendants. In Germany, one of the most prominent ones is AGONOIZE who’re first appearing on the radar in 2004 with the debut album release ‘Assimilation: Chapter One’ with a couple EPs following shortly thereafter to bridge the distance between the first and the second album ‘999’ emerging in September 2005. Their most recent album ‘Sieben’ (Seven) was released in November 2007. A new EP ‘For the Sick and Disturbed’ followed on Halloween 2008 and in 2009; the limited single ‘Bis das Blut gefriert’ forecasts the release of a new AGONOIZE album in autumn 2009. AGONOIZE is Chris L (lyrics, vocals), Mike Johnson (synths) and Oliver Senger (synths). http://www.agonoize.de/ / http://www.myspace.com/agonoize



Music & Performance
A whole army of young Goths and Industrial heads is at the feet of AGONOIZE! The trio is surely among the hippest and most popular acts of the dark scene, and yet AGONOIZE is a case of love or hate for many. Well, their appearance, image and their lyrics are surely controversial. Provocation for its own sake is AGONOIZE’s attitude, and while I could forgive this rather easily I’m more concerned about their rather generic sound. They are not exactly the masters of variation and diversity, you know? But no matter how much you or I pick on the at times rather ungraceful demeanour of AGONOIZE, no-one can deny that the trio does exactly what they want without caring about all the criticism. They really live what they do and stay true to their ambitions. To some the blood-spilling performance of AGONOIZE was clownish and the silly and many others loved it. I wasn’t really among along the latter so I left the Rheinparkhalle after a while. I have to admit that AGONOIZE know how to produce effective floor fillers, but just like with XOTOX their sound works better at a club than live. In AGONOIZE’s case for very different reasons, though.

Rating
Music: 7
Performance: 6
Sound: 8
Light: 7
Total: 6.9 / 10




Feindflug (Dajana Winkel)

FEINDFLUG emerged between 1995 and 1996 when the two future band members met by pure chance. The band’s name initially was intended as a mere project title to remain flexible concerning possible future thematic changes. The band has been accused of being associated with Germany’s neo Nazi-scene and so, they have repeatedly opposed these critics by stating i.e. that every form of adulation regarding WWII runs completely against the intention of the project. FEINDFLUG since its inception has put out a respectable array of releases, staring with the first self-titled album in 1997, whose first three versions never were released through a label and the following first official release with the MCD ‘I./ St. G.3’ in 1998. Their latest release following a collaboration with SUPREME COURT called ‘We’ll f*** you up’ in 2006, was the Live DVD ‘…hinter feindlichen Linien’, released later in the same year. http://www.feindflug.info/ / http://www.myspace.com/feindflug



Music & Performance
FEINDFLUG… an ominous name, an ominous band and an ominous omen? Yesss! Martially armed and providing their personal machinery of war FEINDFLUG caused a disaster. A flak in the middle of the stage, stroboscopes flashing around, WWII sceneries on the screen behind… claustrophobic insanity. A shoot got unleashed; the ceiling breaks down… blood… knee-deep, spilling over the stage and splattering all around… and FEINDFLUG became a victim of its own machinery of war… Hahahahaha… Ok, joking aside. Isn’t that funny at all but - Honi soit qui mal y pense - it couldn’t have hit any other band better on the evening...



It’s actually an endless discussion. FEINDFLUG claim not to be associated with the right-wing scene in any way but at the same time like to play with Nazi-related symbolism under the cover of the WWII history they are “reflecting on”. Yeah, sure. And though… this show is supposed to become legendary… half of the set a part of the ceiling breaks down on the stage (2m²). The show got stopped and people evacuated. Luckily no one got injured, not even the band members (perfect that they were wearing (gas) masks, eh?). But the hall had to be closed from now on and bands had to change over to the Theater next day. It all of course caused some chaos, much more some blatant nonsense… erm… rumours *lol* I felt a bit remembered of legendary chaos-WGT in 2000. Is it an omen? FEINDFLUG should think about it ;)

Rating
Music: 7
Performance: 5
Sound: 6
Light: 3
Total: 5.7 / 10




Laibach (J. “Niggels” Uhlenbruch)

From the very beginning of the Slovenian collective LAIBACH in June 1980, there was controversy; controversy revolving around their use of uniforms and totalitarian-style aesthetics and they were also accused of being members of the neo-nationalism movement. Confronted with those they just said "We are fascists as much as Hitler was a painter". The first album release was named ‘ŠKUC Ropot’ came out in April 1985 on a native label in Ljubljana followed by ‘Rekapitulacija 1980-1984’ on a Hamburg-based label. LAIBACH’s musical work, however, isn’t exclusively limited to writing and producing normal. For instance in 1987, they’ve been invited by Deutsches Schauspielhaus in Hamburg to contribute the score to Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’, released on CD in 1990 or a re-interpretations of Bach’s ‘Kunst der Fuge’ many years later in 2006, which was also the year of ‘Volk’, an album seeing LAIBACH interpreting various national anthems. For the album, the band collaborates with SILENCE from Ljubljana. Their latest release came out with ‘Laibachkunstderfuge’ in 2008. http://www.laibach.nsk.si/ / http://www.myspace.com/laibach



Music & Performance
When the Rheinparkhalle had to be closed down for security reasons after FEINDFLUG’s gig, the staff of the Amphi surely got little hectic - so big thumbs up to them that they managed to re-schedule LAIBACH’s headline gig at the second stage to the theatre stage of the Tanzbrunnen area! That there was quite a delay - LAIBACH were originally scheduled for 21:20 but entered the stage finally around midnight - is more than forgivable under such circumstances. And some people even were happy about that, as the delay meant that you could see the full shows of FIELDS OF THE NEPHILIM and LAIBACH. However, after queuing for one and a half hours the doors of the theatre finally opened, and the eager fans got a show which was well worth all the waiting! “Impressive” is just one of the superlatives for LAIBACH’s show. Before the festival I wondered if LAIBACH will do a kind of best of for their festival appearance, or a continuation of their rather ambitious and challenging “Volk” project. Well, in the end it turned out to be both!
 


They started with some selected hymns from their ‘Volk’ album, on which they covered several national anthems in their unique LAIBACH style, with some added lyrics which work as some sort of comment on the respective nation and its current state or role in the world. Although the presenter announced the band with the remark “Let’s have a big party with LAIBACH!” this was not about having a party at all! This is fucking art, for Christ’s sake, not an attempt to entertain by throwing a bag of dance tunes and empty clichés at the crowd. This is something that actually contains a message, an intention, and which always has a cultural and political context. Having said that, LAIBACH’s show is of course entertaining too, but rather entertainment of the intellectual and thought-provoking kind! Starting with ‘Germania’ and continuing with the anthem of the USA, LAIBACH supported their ambitious performance with excellent video animations on two huge screens in the back of the stage.



After the selected ‘Volk’ material a storm broke loose with ‘Tanz Mit Laibach’, the start of the second half of the show which featured a lot of tracks from the album ‘W.A.T.’ and some classics like ‘Alle Gegen Alle’. A perfectly choreographed performance as the Teutonic Techno beats rewarded the audience for its attention and concentration during the more challenging first part of it. Yes, it’s allowed to dance and have fun at a LAIBACH concert - who could resist a call like ‘Tanz Mit Laibach’ (Dance With Laibach) anyway? But whatever LAIBACH do, they do it for a reason, and seeing the audience at the very packed theatre cheering, singing and dancing in unison while the band presents a performance on mass manipulation, totalitarianism and the abandonment of individuality in a crowd might leave a bitter taste in your mouth. Or a knowing smile in your face! However, easily the best and most sophisticated gig of the Amphi weekend!

Rating
Music: 10
Performance: 10
Sound: 9
Light: 10
Total: 9.9 / 10



Tired after the long day we decided not to go for the after show party but instead take some good sleep at the hotel. Good that Reflections of Darkness and Nocturnal Hall joined forced to get a festival report about all bands done... made it a little easier for us all during this chaotic and hectic day.

All pictures by Daniela Vorndran (http://www.vorndranphotography.com/ / http://www.black-cat-net.de/ / www.myspace.com/vorndranphotography)
Written by Daniela Vorndran (common parts and overall editorial), J. “Niggels” Uhkenbruch, Carsten Leopold, Dajana Winkel (http://www.norcurnal-hall.de/) and Sebastian Huhn for all band intros

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