Amplifest's second day was already upon us when we caught a glimpse of U.S. Christmas member, Nate Hall. His solo work has a really intimate and almost confidential atmosphere that is combined with a mixture of psychedelia, folk and a bit of heartbroken traditional american blues. Even though everything was set in motion to make this one hell of an interesting concert, the expected intimacy and closeness was dissolved into the main stage magnitude and the crowds' lack of attention.
The contrasts were not as obvious as in the previous day – but they were still there nonetheless. After Nate Hall's failed attempt of a heartfelt set, we plunged into the utterly depressive waves of ATILA's set. Miguel Béco de Almeida set was accompanied by Guida Ribeiro's astonishing visuals – which were just as impressive as the set itself – and set the tone for the whole performance. As we said previously, ATILA is one of the most interesting and promising national acts, and the success of his recent album, V came as its corroboration.
The concept of a surprise band it's always interesting: the idea of not knowing, or at the very least to not be one hundred percent sure, of what band or artist you're about to see is appealing and intriguing, but only if the artist/band wasn't as disappointing as Grave Pleasures. That Joy Division meets psychedelia tone just doesn't work at all – it was easily Amplifest's lowest point, and probably the only one.
There were a lot of positive and high expectations for METZ’s set: this noise-rock trio from Toronto is allegedly almost meant to be seen live due to their incredible and energetic live performances. But METZ didn't deliver a performance like that, it was just a decent set that wasn't so appealing as the Amplitalk that was taking place on the main floor. Alone in the Dark featured James Kelly, Nate Hall, Colin Van Eeckhout and Mathieu Vandekerckhove – a reflection between the differences of playing in an already well established band (such as Amenra, Altar of Plagues or U.S. Christmas) and pursuing a solo career. It was a massively interesting discussion, specially due to James Kelly's explanation: “The difference is that with WIFE I actually started to make money.”
Then we rushed to the second stage to guarantee a place there: nobody wanted to miss the opportunity to watch and listen to the legendary Sunn O))) and Khanate member, so the waiting line (that had nothing to do with a line) was enormous. There were four colossal amplifiers lined up facing us, almost starring and trying to intimidate us. The visuals were breathtaking but the performance wasn't as powerful as we'd thought it would be. Nonetheless it was an engaging performance where O'Malley dazzled us with only his guitar. At first it was difficult to assimilate his compelling drone but once we embraced it, we started to drown and then to sink in it's beauty and sovereignty.
“Music, uniquely among the arts, is both completely abstract and profoundly emotional. It has no power to represent anything particular or external, but it has a unique power to express inner states or feelings. Music can pierce the heart directly; it needs no mediation.” If music can pierce the heart directly, then Amenra is the perfect example to this. This was one of their last live concerts at least in a while, and probably the last one in Portugal. According to the band, they will continue to create music but they will not continue to play it live. Filling the main stage, hundreds of Amenra enthusiasts didn't miss the opportunity to see them for the last time. The visuals set the tone for a dark, claustrophobic and gloomy performance: in a very-well studied way they took the stage with Boden. Overall, Amenra setlist was mainly formed by their most recent albums Mass V (Boden, Nowena) and Mass IIII (.Razoreater, Terziele, Silver Needle. Golden Finger., Aorte. Nous sommes du même sang). Amenra set wasn't as superb as we could have expected, but nonetheless, it was a satisfying one, it had energy, grief, despair and melancholy – it was genuine.
As I said before, Amplifest is more than just a festival, it's even more than its lineup: it's a gathering of melomaniacs from all around the world – according to Amplificasom, 40% of the tickets were sold to foreign people, and that is why we decided to write this article in english, rather than portuguese. Furthermore, it's an event that celebrates musicophilia, quoting Oliver Sacks (once again), “Perhaps musicophilia is a form of biophilia, since music itself feels almost like a living thing.”. Amplificasom is ought to be congratulated on the superb organization – this must be one of the main reasons why most people come back after their first time at Amplifest. We can't wait for 2016 edition!
“Every act of perception, is to some degree an act of creation, and every act of memory is to some degree an act of imagination.”