Many of the things that make this festival so special just become more and more surprising with each year passing. Everything everyone expected, the exhibitions, the listening sessions, the amplitalks, the records, the cold beers against the humid breeze of a summer day Porto, everything compiling sort of a collection of sensations, all in the name of the experience. A weekend that envisioned an almost medicinal therapy infusing an intrinsic distribution of colour, texture, sound and build, very much similar to that of the city’s architectural pattern. A lot of rough edges, an obvious plunge into the old and vintage with tremendous notice of the new and modern. The same can be said about the musical acts, some louder than others but the bigger picture doesn’t show variations or oscillation, which comes to show how well built and designed all of this was.
A festival that shows much more potential than just “a festival”, is bound to give us endless options into our daily plan, ranging from heavy music to post-rock, to noise/electronic and even some easy listening. With all this said, so many good things can be mentioned about what happened inside the Hard Club. We expected great performances from numerous artists, and fact is: we received much more than just that.
A disposition that embraces power from an entity that is so far beyond what we can grasp.
Amplificasom is very much used to dealing with stressful situations and loud attendance, which is a prevailing talent very much useful for an event this size and involvement with the attending ticket-buyers. A brief waiting period right before Minsk gave everyone a bleeding sensation for expectancy, right before the Sala 1 door opened and everyone rushed right in, and inside the Relapse prog. Veterans were holding preparations to immediately start playing. A fluidity that bled organic distinction from other groups, a natural way of being, explosive landscapes and polarizing melodies, with a lot of glimpses off of their latest release from 2015, The Crash & The Draw. Altarage up next in Sala 2 delivering what must’ve been the most chaotically beautiful set in the event. Blistering blast beats with pummelling bass lines, unmerciful guitars and screeching vocals, embracing a dark perspective into the primitive spiritual genetics of Death Metal. 45 minutes of abrasive urgency.
Sinistro were expected to be one of the most awaited sets on the day’s plan, and besides having played crowd favourites from their latest release Semente, they gave everyone a first run on their classic never-played-live “Cidade Part. 1” track from their Cidade EP. Needless to say the cheering towards the Portuguese never ceased. Pronouncing close to an hour performance plunging everyone to an emotional purge, words that unfortunately only the Portuguese could understand and feel deep within, along with our Spanish brothers and sisters (who were very notorious in the attendance), but the sound was clear about what was being said and felt. Even though Sinistro’s aesthetic is very much recognizable by its literature presence, the sound is still very vivid and heartfelt. Melodies and harmonies transitioned from Fado and Psychedelic Rock reclining over a heavy background with distorted guitars digging deep into a grave of memories and saudade.
Anna Von Hausswolff along with the rest of the band was for most the peak of the weekend. If there was a set to be tagged as “an experience” this would be it. A collective that transformed sound to wind and propelled it along the venue’s facades, practically only missing the curtains and gothic arcades to complement the almost ritualistic presence of Anna’s voice and Organ.
Romanticizing the relationship between the crowd and the music, the songs were felt deeply by most, being noticed by a lot of listeners tears of a heartfelt experience only left to be remembered with time. Applauded graciously and endlessly, giving the crowd humble “thank yous” and praise, the Swedish artist was undeniably the orchestrator of the ceremony. Famous tracks like “Evocation”, “Deathbed”, “Stranger” and Discovery were definitely the most applauded but needless to say, the entire performance was of a dimension hard to measure.
With Third Law recently released, considered by most a progressively growing cult-album in the electronic genre, Roly Porter felt best to transmit as much of Third Law at the end of the night as possible. Power discharges flanking the middle of the venue’s smallest room, transitioning cosmic explosions, colour and decimating noise thrusting visions of outer space and ear-shattering echoes of compulsive decibels. Confound frequencies taking into everyone’s mind what must’ve been like to be Ellen Ripley in the Nostromos. Claustrophobia was felt deep within the guts of those who dared go through an experience like Roly Porter’s closing set on the first day of Amplifest.