I wasn’t even supposed to go to Amplifest this year. To think I would have missed Neurosis, one of my all time favourite bands, play one of my favourite festivals, one of the few where I know I will feel as if amongst family. That’s one of the keys, really, not only for why the festival has been so successful in its first few years that people from twenty something different countries are attending it next weekend, but also to the status Amplificasom enjoys in the Portuguese scene these days. The entity responsible for Amplifest is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year and from the days it functioned only as a blog, to the years of undeniably changing the Portuguese concert landscape for the better, all the way until the inception of it’s crowning jewel of a festival, it always had that inclusive feeling to it. What better way to celebrate it then, than having the festival headlined by Neurosis, surely one of the most transversal name within the Amplificasom family – promoters, fans and musicians all included.
How in bloody hell was I convinced back in April that I’d miss this Amplifest? Thankfully that is not the case and the all too familiar feeling of intense anticipation has started to take over, especially since the schedules were revealed. As per the norm, a few things have changed in the festival structure from last year – and here’s to ten more years of this continued drive to constantly evolve and provide a better experience to those in attendance – with two additional days in different venues joining the classic weekend format at Hard Club.
Friday will see Aluk Todolo returning to Amplifest after an intense and exhaustive-in-all-the-right-ways performance in 2013 where they pummelled through “Occult Rock” from beginning until the end. In theory, their krautrock laced obscurity should fit the dark basement room that is Cave 45 like a glove and if you think that’s a coincidence piece of booking then you haven’t been paying much attention. Then, after the smoke clears and we’ve had a night to recover from that blissfully ominous looking Sunday night sequence of Neurosis and Prurient, the experience will be finally put to rest at Passos Manuel by the careful hands of Steve Von Till. In other words, you get to sit down in an old cinema with every single hair of your body sticking upright at the hands of this Neurosis frontman. Sounds perfect, right? It’ll also be a rather specific story, as while sold out, the extra days take place in smaller venues and so for the most part, the festival will remain a two day affair.
Not, however, one to be treated lightly, as the mere mention of that ending duo should suffice to argue for. Generally speaking (things are definitely lot as linear as this), the weekend route starts loud and heavy early Saturday with Minsk and Kowloon Walled City as particular highlights, goes through a quieter, less abrasive phase on late Saturday and extending all the way through early Sunday, one in which I’d bet on Anna Von Hausswolff and Roly Porter as the likely highlights. That’s all before we reach the swansong and bask in the absurd sequence of Hope Drone, Oathbreaker, Downfall Of Gaia, Neurosis and Prurient in the span of five hours, which is to say you’re likely to feel like you’ve just been hit by a truck by the end of the night. And you’ll be happy about it.
Amplifest is coming earlier this year and it looks like it might very well top itself yet again. There’s one more easy prediction to make, that by this time next week we’ll all be smiling about how good of a time we had whilst feeling sorry that we’re not in Porto anymore.