Anatopia Live at Westerpark

This German/Dutch scent-of-anarchy band performed an avant-garde set along the docks of Amsterdam this Feburary, read one of my first reviews here:

Shaking the expectations of Amsterdam’s club scene is Anatopia, a local electro noise pop/punk duo comprised of Israeli synth-artist Henrietta Morgenstern and German drummer/guitarist Klaus Plötzlich. The pair, now dating, met in 2006 while collaborating on a Mime performance. The story goes that they began the band soon after, while sharing one of Amsterdam’s now dwindling squats with 13 other people. From there they developed a concept for Anatopia, making a home somewhere fresh between themes of futuristic galaxies and 1970’s art disco. Curious yet?

I experienced an Anatopia performance for the first time last Saturday. The show was held at Pacific Parc, an old warehouse-turned-bar/club, one of a string of similar establishments along the docks of Amsterdam’s west side. Sporting an unconventional stage set-up, Plötzlich played a guitar while also banging his customized pedal-only drum set. Morgenstern contributed with a synthesizer, cymbals and one hell of a powerful voice. Their music is energetic, loud and strikingly similar to the Portland-based band Yacht, while the foot stompin’ vibes are enjoyably reminiscent of Philadelphia’s own Man Man. Heavy synth and drum bass defined the dance floor while funky and repetitive melodies managed to keep the crowd’s energy high. It’s clear from the start of the show that Anatopia’s goal is to create an outer space vibe for the audience, mostly by talking about cosmic moshpits and intergalactic dancing shoes. They wore white Gaga-esque suites and stripes of silver paint over their eyes. The best moments, however, came from catching the romantic vibes between the couple. More than once, I noticed them adorably exchanging glances and smiles in between dramatic keyboard slams and screams about an intergalactic revolution.

Altogether Anatopia’s music is fast and slightly chaotic, however the elements impressively aligned during their live performance. Everybody was dancing and moshing- it was the kind of dance party where strangers became friends through a common craving to jump.

The band is currently unsigned and without full length record, but the recent buzz around Amsterdam (They had a feature this month in Time Out Amsterdam) is a good sign for the exposure and cred that these fearless experimentalists deserve. A futuristic disco video for ‘Hard Drive’ can be found on their myspace, as well as tunes such as the hyper-catchy anti-consumerism anthem ‘iPlay’.

Contextual note: Anatopia was the location of a squat inGermanyfor 4 years, before finally getting evicted in 1995. The struggle to keep squatting houses up and running is an active movement in both Germany and The Netherlands, comparable in theory to the struggle for artists around Amsterdam (and elsewhere) to find a platform and an audience for truly experimental electronic music.

(Originally published on the217.com and readbuzz.com)

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