Feature image by PitKings.
All photos in the post by Quinten Quist Konzertphotographie.
Complexity is a Dutch booking agency that for the last 3 years organized the self named festival in Patronaat, Haarlem, not so far from Amsterdam.
Since it was described as the festival of the underground and experimental harsh sonority, and counting in its line up for 2018 bands like Sikth, VOLA and Ulsect, I decided to give it a try and during the – probably – coldest weekend of all winter I traveled to the west part of the Netherlands to check it.
I arrived at the club during the performance of Ulsect. This newborn band from Tilburg released its first full-length album last year and it seems doing pretty good. Of course, they are set in the second stage around 8 pm, but still a lot of people are quite interested to their performance, that will show what the combo is capable of. I really enjoyed their time on stage, and I like how the singer Dennis Maas is virtually fulfilling all stage with his tall presence (it is a pity thou that he uses some Mitch Lucker‘s moves, but no one is perfect). I felt a sort of atmospheric black influences inside the different pieces, and I loved the slow distortion wall of guitars with a continuous rhythmic double pedal in the background, a sort an infinite sludge loop, at the end of the show.
I switch to the main stage (call it for the occasion Aristide stage, in honor of the biggest supporter for the festival) to see the performance of Oceano, busy touring Europe with Carnifex. The bassist and the drummer are the two members that impressed me the most: the first because of his ballerina influences, while the second because of the total absence of passion while playing a very good drum part. Oceano exists thanks to the singer, that has a super strong voice, clear and constant in power. Good performance, but I don’t like the choice to place deathcore bands during a festival like these: it seems more a try by the organization to collect enough money in order to have enough payback to cover the expenses, and to do it they guest the most mainstream genre nowadays.
Let’s come back to the second stage with John Frum. I found the band quite boring, and the fact they have to put a costume while they play they just enforce me this idea. I am often doubtful about bands that use clothes or masks during their shows, sometimes is like that they are not able to create impact with their music, so they have to find other ways to do it. Anyway, John Frum‘s music seems sometimes a sort of obscure rock’n’roll, but is everything so overrated and deprived of any new idea that I leave before the end.
Finally we have the headliner of Friday night: Carnifex are playing for an hour in front of the saddest moshpit I have ever seen. I liked the show, the singer is really energetic, able to lead the public with tons of charisma. Is a pity the fact that he has to close every song with “Fuck yeah” or “Hell yeah”, something that makes me crazy, however is very talented and resilient. A good concert but I would have not done the choice to have such band as headliner, since they are quite stereotyped into the genre.
Last band of the night is Dodecahedron, in which we found members of Ulsect and Ggu:II. This band is the perfect closure of the night: they are so obscure, deep, theatrical, … that is difficult to explain. There are so many emotions involved in what they play, that you cannot define a genre, a concept or a main current in music that they follow. They are totally brilliant to propose this music, so complex but at the same time you like it at the first listening. Not so many bands can do it.
On Saturday I started in late afternoon with the Danish progressive band VOLA, that unfortunately began not in the best way as possible, considering the fact that we were not able to hear any keyboard or voice for a couple of songs. Surprisingly, in front of band a consistent group of people started to sing their songs and I realized how much waited this band was. The main hall is not completely crowded, but the public is there just to see them, and this is probably the only band (together with Carnifex and Sikth) that had the same warm welcome during the festival.
I attend at the performance of Poil from the bathroom over the third hall of the Patronaat, and if this situation seems quite weird you never heard this band. It is quite difficult to describe their music, that is defined by them as “impressive and delirious”. I kind of agree with them, consider the fact that the idea I had looking at them playing was that they were doing everything they wanted and were passing into their heads. Dressed as freaks and playing a delirious rock, their conquered the public.
After lunch I go back to the main hall to see the last gig of the Faceless tour. This band did not give me any remarkable emotion, considered also the fact that the musicians gave also the impression not to be really happy to be on stage (and now we understand why). Not even the featured with the old singer gave significant change to the atmosphere. Better results had the co-tour band The Voynich Code, which stage was completely crowded from the beginning to the end of the performance.
Last band to perform on the main hall, Sikth, received a super positive hospitality from the Patronaat. They played pretty well, and the crowd response was quite good (but not so good as the day before). With a good combination of old and new songs, the concert went smoothly to a predictable end. Nothing really special, except the fact to listen to one of the best experimental progressive band that exist in the actual panorama.
Final band of the festival, at least for me, are the English Three Trapped Tigers, that brings a real cool and dynamic instrument on one of the small stages. Those guys are impressive in their solos, and their virtuosity – especially at the keyboard – make me finish the festival in the best way as possible.
The Complexity is a very cool festival, full of new proposals and colorful combinations. We will see what the next year will bring – in the meantime, check the playlist we made for 2018: