Amphi Festival 2017 Review

This year I’ve been visiting a couple of conventions, for various reasons. First of all, my health has stabilized so much that I can hold a full-time employment that allows me this kind of luxury. Prior to that, my health problems caused me to live on a rather tight budget that didn’t easily allow for visiting conventions and exploring this aspect of geek lifestyle. Secondly, over the last years I have observed a lot of projects and communities that have failed – mostly due to a lack of engagement from their members and difficulties with recruiting active members. This doesn’t seem to be a critical issue for the big conventions I’ve attended, and I’m generally curious about what make certain groups of people endure where other groups fall apart. This inspired me to write the post

in which my conclusion is that particularly those groups succeed that pitch positive visions of society and social interactions. I could have been content with drawing that conclusion, but I am always eager to find out whether there is more to successful communities than that.

What follows is a brief review of my experiences during the Amphi Festival 2017 in Cologne. It’s one of the most prominent music festivals of the “dark scene”:

(The German Wikipedia article goes into way more detail, btw).

Is this “dark scene” a successful community? It’s hard to tell. At least it persisted for some decades in a more or less recognizable fashion. At least that means that it posesses some staying power. What does seem to work surprisingly well is the adherence to the central pillar of the dark scene: Black is our prime colour!

Conformity to black among a non-conformist subculture?

It’s easy to see that what’s most apparent about this subculture is that everything is pretty black, but every person represents her own individual style about expressing herself in her dark clothing choices. Does this imply any deeper cohesion of this subculture? From my experience that’s not the case. The dark scene accepts you about as much, if you can make them believe you are a part of them, as any other subculture.

Perhaps the core idea could be summarized as follows:

The world is so really sad. Let’s make some music about that fact!

Of course that’s a pretty shallow and superficial simplification, but that’s pretty much the root of this particular subculture. Artistic expression about the darker parts of human existence is what’s basically produced by this community. As this correlates with looking into the dark abyss that is truth, that effort is pretty courageous. Does it reach far? Does it really solve any problems?

Heck, this is a music festival, no deep philosophical questions, please!

Take a chill at the beach club, if you feel the need to relax or think! The weather is German, so wearing black is appropriate!

As for the musicians, the selection was pretty top notch. Of course, normal people outside the dark scene will know none of the great bands, so who cares?

It’s more important to look like you belong there, therefore your objection is irrelevant!

Fun and morbid fascination for all generations!

What I found quite interesting about this festival, is that a lot of age groups were pretty prevalent there. It’s fascinating to see that older people still feel attached to such a vibrant … I mean, sinister culture!

Unicorns are ageless and transcend subculture boundaries!

VNV Nation tangent

Infiltrating the stage is easy for them! VNV Nation even made a spontaneous speech defending the love for unicorns!

VNV Nation is the best band ever, by the way. Just check out their absurdly impressive songs and lyrics! What follows is a brief selection of some of my most favourite lyrics from VNV Nation:

And if rain brings winds of change let it rain on us forever.
I have no doubt from what I’ve seen that I have never wanted more.
With this line I’ll mark the past as a symbol of beginning.
I have no doubt from what I’ve seen that I have never wanted more.

from Solitary

The hope of my redemption
is such that I believe that I am free
To confess would bring me no salvation
I alone hold the power to forgive me

from Precipice

No need of Sun to light the way
Across the ages, we have reigned as we endured
Through the storm fronts we will ever surely pass
To stand as neverending light

Throw away the mantle
Awake from your uncertain hesitation
No way to describe or equate the feeling
No end to what is at your command
A million thoughts run through you,
concentric circles, ever greater
But you have always known
that this is not all that there is
To your questions there’ll be answers

from Perpetual

Thank you for all the doubts, for all the questioning
For all the loneliness and for all the suffering
For all the emptiness for the scars it left inside
It inspired in me, an impetus to fight

from Gratitude

Other interesting bands

Of course, other bands are pretty rad, too. Take Nachtmahr for example:

The fun thing about Nachtmahr is that everyone who doesn’t get them, thinks that they are Austrian nazis. never heard about irony?

The song “Feuer frei!” was a real highlight, since the audience got fired upon by girls in uniform with water rifles.

Stage disproportionality

One problem about the Amphi Festival is that there were multiple stages. Besides the huge open main stage, there was a “theater stage” that provided space for not much more than 1000 people, and a mythological “orbit stage” that was on the other side of the Rhein river on a party ship. The theater stage is way too small for even a fraction of the total visitor count of 12500 people. Not getting a place in there when the more popular bands played who didn’t got a slot on the main stage, was a real problem. Planning accordingly was pretty much a necessity… well, it would have been nice to know that in advance.

Visual overload

Not too distant from the festival there was this excessively fractalized church that tourists from all over the world flock to. We should 3d print more buildings like this!

Creative mixtures of different clothing styles are often to be seen at the Amphi Festival! What is this? Well, it’s individual and 50% black, so your objections are invalid!



Well, the Amphi Festival was an impressive display of individualistic diversity under the above mentioned minimal boundary condition of the dark scene.

Learning about less known bands like Kite and Torul was a rather positive experience for me. Overall, the experience was surprisingly enjoyable. They even had free water and vegan burgers.

Still, it’s not clear how the dark scene can act as a force for good in this dark world. Seriousness and tolerance?


nice dress. looks like you had some fun :slight_smile:

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thank you for your report and the pictures. it’s nice you travel a bit and get some experiences.

at least the people and music can give understanding for some who else would be more lonely with their feelings.