Underground Frequencies

P60, Amstelveen (NL) / 24-1-2004
Desiderii Marginis, Predella Avant & The Protagonist

A concert evening in Amstelveen, not something I experience daily. This sleepy town outside of Amsterdam does not have a big reputation when it comes to underground music. But I have to admit that the venue, P60, is quite a good accommodation. And Amstelveen may not have a train station, but it can be reached quite well by buses, which stop almost next to the P60. I think this was the second event under the name of ‘Underground Frequencies’. We arrived rather early, so we drank some coffee and we spotted a few visitors who were trying the food offered in the bar attached to the venue, which seemed to taste well. Then the doors to the concert department opened.

On the first floor there was a bar, and a cd-stand of Triton. One level higher was the place where the live action was. Here were also small stands of the performing artists, Predella Avant and Cold Meat (tonight represented by Desiderii Marginis and The Protagonist). There was a reasonable number of visitors, who saw Desiderii Marginis (who replaced the originally announced Sephiroth) opening the night. Perhaps not a spectacular act to watch live. Just one man standing behind his electronic equipment, touching a few buttons, smoking some cigarettes. But luckily there were quite nice visual projections on the big screen at the back of the stage. Add the lights and smoke and let your imagination do the rest. The tranquil, restrained music of Desiderii does not invite you to dance, but it is very atmospheric. I especially liked ‘Mantrap’ and ‘Deadbeat’, the opening tracks of his excellent latest album, also called ‘Deadbeat’. Perhaps not the most exciting act to watch on stage, but a good opening act to set the mood.

Then it was time for the Dutch hope Predella Avant. Nostalgic films were playing in the background, dealing with religion amongst others. Well, I had good faith in a nice concert. I liked Predella the previous time I saw them (in Nijmegen), and their releases so far have been excellent, with powerful bombastic orchestral music. With a line-up of five people Predella Avant was taking the stage. Three drumming young men, also known as Volksweerbaarheid, took care of the tight percussive framework. The frontman was handling the machinery and contributing vocals, supported by a female vocalist. In the first tracks the vocals could hardly be heard on top of the powerful music, but later this improved. The strong drumming and the melodic classical elements invited you to move. Various new tracks were played, giving an indication that the new album “Carbon Figures” is something to look out for (if you haven’t bought it already).

Final act was The Protagonist, the project of Magnus Sundstr?m. Magnus on drums and vocals was aided by a drummer and a girl doing things with a keyboard. So far only one (fine) album has been released by The Protagonist, plus various compilation tracks. I was wondering if we would be treated to some new material. Well, if I remember correctly, two songs were played that are not available on the album “A Rebours”, but the set was almost the same as at the Wave Gotik Treffen in Leipzig 3 years ago. One of them did not make a lasting impression, while the other one, at the end of the concert, was an impressive percussive piece. It took a few songs before I really enjoyed the moving neo-classical hymns which The Protagonist is renowned for. One of the reasons was that the drumming was not really convincing in the beginning, often not in time. Perhaps because of this the concert was less convincing than on previous occasions. But towards the end things really improved. With my personal favourite ‘The Puritan’, an excellent new track plus the moving ‘Hesperia’, the concert nevertheless had a satisfying finish.

We left rather soon after the live action to catch a bus, so we did not experience a lot of the following ‘Underground Frequencies’ party with dj’s Ren? and Ronny Moorings. But I had a nice evening, and I hope there will be more nice events in the P60…