As usual, there were plenty of live sets programmed across both rooms. Varg and Abdulla Rashim delivered a deep one in the main hall early on Friday. At the other end of the scale, AnD (as Shadows) closed the back room on Saturday. The UK duo delivered galloping gabber beats and searing industrial noise in a state of utter serenity, which might be the best thing about watching them perform. In Aeternam Vale's live show was one of the most danceable, a groovy respite in a weekend of challenging music. To everyone's delight, he ended on a scuffed-up version of Plastic Bertrand's "Ca Plane Pour Moi."
As for the DJs, DVS1 went in hard from 2 AM on Friday and didn't waver for three hours. I've seen him perform many times, but never like this. He wasn't the only one to try out something different on the Katharsis crowd. Eomac presented his first hybrid DJ set as Bedouin Trax, an extension of the album of the same name. He opened with a haunting vocal track that turned the dance floor to stone. Over the next 90 minutes, the rhythms got more complex and the atmospheres intensified. People struggled with this set the most. It reached for a much deeper, more spiritual connection than some were willing to give it, but those who stuck it out were blown away. Then there was Katharsis regular Paula Temple, who smashed her way through the main room on Saturday, with a few more soundscape-y pauses than usual. My favourite DJ set of the weekend, though, was by Oliver Ho. Mixing from the broad pallet of his Broken English Club project, he covered the entire Katharsis spectrum, from acid to techno (Blawan's "Why They Hide Their Bodies Under My Garage") to Front 242.
So much more happened—I gorged on a lot of evil club music—but I came primarily for two acts: Fixmer / McCarthy and Orphx & JK Flesh. They were each given second-to-last main stage slots on the Friday and Saturday respectively. On Friday, Fixmer / McCarthy delivered a showstopper. After seeing McCarthy on the mic, no other frontman now will ever be as good—unless that frontman is Justin Broadrick (AKA JK Flesh). I can still hear the Godflesh/Jesu screams clawing through my ear canals. He and Orphx proved that industrial noise can be both terrifying and deeply affecting.
Once again, Warehouse Elementenstraat showed itself to be one of the best venues in the Netherlands, a place where all manner of freaks (I saw Justice and tie-dyed Metallica T-shirts in there) can come together in the dark. Meanwhile, the Reaktor crew are throwing some of the most on-point techno parties around. Together, they've proven an irresistible combination.
Photo credit /