The Complexity Fest in Haarlem is the first festival of the year that I usually visit. It is in February, at the moment in which the peak of dark and cold is sometimes so unbearable that it needs something to break it. It is always a pleasure to spend a couple of days in the “small” city of Haarlem, next to Amsterdam, and have the chance to see progressive and djent bands, listen to new music and try a couple of new craft beers.
I must admit that this year I was not really impressed with the line up: for sure there were important names but nothing that I felt the urge to see. But I packed my bags, hoping to find new interesting projects to get in love with (as it was VOLA in 2018).
I arrived on Friday ready to see the Pre-party event in the Aristide stage, the only one open for the night. There was a misalignment between the information on Facebook and the Patronaat website, so I arrived 30 min late and I did not see so much about the first band, Mary Fields. At that moment the area was already filled with all the people that came for the night, and it seemed pretty packed, even if not really crowded.
I liked the sound of Astrosaur a lot, with their own in-space-psyche-stoner rock and the clean performance. However, I found them without a soul; something completely different respect to Beaten to Death, funny to watch playing their own satiric grindcore:
The energy of the singer was limitless and it was quite funny to see these grinders getting crazy on the stage, while the people in the first lines were having real fun with them trying to do some moshpit (but not enough to convince the guys around them to join).
On Saturday the line up is getting much more full and all the stages in Patronaat were open. People, however, don’t seem much more than the day before.
I started my day with the Japanese band GOAT. These guys played a sort of intriguing rhythmic dark music, that I could not really associate with any other type of experimental band I have already heard. It is quite interesting to see how these guys created something catchy entwining three different percussions together with two bass lines:
After this dynamic performance, there are only two bands that I liked during the day: Herod and Thank You Scientist. The first one because of the incredible dark energy coming from their sludge, that kind of reminds me some Cult of Luna vibes. The second for their pop-ish style and the use of the brass instruments that put them in a quite unique spot in a festival as Complexity.
Particular mention to And So I Watch You From Afar, that closed the night with two shows: a Jettison set, an audiovisual experience made of a single piece of music performed with a string quartet, accompanied by a video projected on a screen during the whole performance, and the last one, in which the band played the most important songs of their career:
A nice (but not sparky) edition of Complexity, with a lot of experimental and less djent music, with not so many famous names and fewer people in general. A pity, for one of the few progressive festivals in the Netherlands.