Friday, July 22, 2005

dour festival

We went to the Dour festival in Belgium last weekend, Simon had won tickets on popbitch who were hosting a tent there. It was mostly excellent, a smallish site in the countryside, on a farm, near a small town, though i could spot churches in all directions, so it must have been surrounded by various villages. two small bizarre looking hills were overlooking it too. when we arrived it was very hot and the shuttle bus was full of teenagers, lots of fresh faced boys with their shirts off, ready to party. the first field of the campsite was jam packed full already so luckily we managed to find a more peaceful field at the back that still had lots of space at its back end. a good move!

the lineup was very good, with a strong focus on the leftfield, ranging across the genres too, from goth, death metal, dub, acid folk to French ska, hip hop, and beyond, and a lot of cult names representing. So before i forget here's what we saw, plus comments if i have any:


Electrelane: I saw one of their first gigs in Brighton when i still lived there, and have seen them various times, usually in a supporting role, over the years. i always thought there's something a bit po-faced about them, like they're trying too hard and don't have enough personality. this one though had a good groove and was more entertaining than the last time, even though there were sound problems i think.

Devendra Banhart: just great, a beautiful late afternoon, and Devendra very humbly let other band members sing their songs, invited someone from the audience to sing a song, and when the time had run out he insisted to leave the stage. A great set too!

Fantomas: I liked what i heard a lot, and was pleased to see Buzz (?) from the Melvins playing guitars too, that hairdo :-), Simon however dragged me away after a while, he thought it was too one-dimensional or something. (?)

Laibach: Okay, the last time i saw them was about 1985 in a small club in Berlin, i really liked their first or so album, there was something completely alien about them then. Well, they were good, and they still do what they do and it was very effective. By then it was getting dark and there was a big wooden wheel with pots carrying fire displays near the stage, the moon came out, so it was a pretty awesome pseudo-teutonic spectacle. Simon loved it and made lots of little videos. Turned out he had never heard any Laibach before, so it must have been impressive. they ended with 'Life is Life'.

Project Pitchfork: Long running dark wave band from Hamburg that i had heard about for eons. They were actually my highlight of the day. The popbitch tent was only half full but once you were inside they exuded this strange energy that really sucked me in, very dynamic, and an interesting front man, whose features recalled a more ragged looking Klaus Nomi at points, though his voice wasn't like that...

Anne Clark (feat. Implant): Blast from the past, she even played 'Sleeper in Metropolis' and 'Our Darkness'. Sounded relevant and endearing still, the crowd in the tent was electric...

Hawkwind: Mostly yawn, but at that point i was ready to crash really


Scout Niblett, Modey Lemon,

Why? vs Ms Ohio: really cool, liked all the beards!

Napalm Death: incredible vibe in the tent! gig of the day!

Hood: played in a tent that looked completely fogged up by its entrance, i guess it was dust, the bar at the side of the tent let the evening sun in to awesome effect, very photogenic. kinda suited the mood of the music too.

Television: a bit grumpy especially from the closeup position Simon insisted on, but had its (free-sprawling) moments.

The Young Gods 20th anniversay: Another good one, we sat down at the side of the field and let it wash over us, it was lush, the guy's voice was amazing, definitely wanted to be there and play for everyone (which helps!)

Sunday we nearly left but i'm glad we stuck around cos i think it turned out to be my favourite day starting with a great early afternoon melodic punk rock set by The
Queers, who I guess are not really queer in the 'conventional' sense, that finished with covers of The Who's 'The Kids Are Alright' and 'Rockaway Beach' by The Ramones. For some reason one of my favourite sets, it just felt right, one quick song after another, no fuss, and a nice early afternoon crowd.

The Faint: I really wanted to see them but they ended up playing for just ten minutes or so because of major sound (check) problems, or maybe they were just late to arrive. It was frustrating cause the 4 or so songs they played were really great slabs of fierce electropop that went down very well with the crowd. No 'Agenda Suicide' either!

13 & God: which is The Notwist playing with experimental hip hop trio Themselves. This is a revelation, for some reason this really works. I don't know what it is with The Notwist but they seem to go down extremely well at festivals, and this is just beautiful, their glitchy moody pop-meets-krautrock soundscapes together with the mellow hip hop vibes creating some truly magical alchemy (i know i'm not very good at describing this!). We're hooked on this for now!

Giant Sand: just right for Sunday evening, beautiful. a bit heavier than Lambchop.

Bright Eyes: another good one. We were right in the front and it was intense, Conor appeared to be pretty drunk but he was still on top form, the rest of the band, featuring members of The Faint, played well, but it was his moody, nagging voice that held it all together and changed the tone of the music as soon as he started singing. He's a volatile, intuitive performer, and there were moments when it looked like it's all falling apart, but on this evening it still hung last memory is of Conor climbing a keyboard stand and sitting on there wrapping up the last song with his hair flopping with the rhythm...

So, all in all, many teenage kicks for all the Euroboyz. and us. We've got some crowd photos, that morph into some cool portraits when zoomed in, so I'll try to post some sometimes...

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

people on the tube

I don't like taking the tube in London, the air is bad and it tends to depress me, though it can be fun to watch people sometimes. As noone usually speaks, they are all faces without words. I rely on it almost everyday though to take me to work and back, and around London, even though there is an alternative route that i sometimes take on the Silverlink, which can be annoying too. Anyway last thursday, 07.07. I was debating with myself for some split seconds which route to take but stayed on the side of the road that leads to West Hampstead tube station, took the tube to Baker Street, where an announcement informed that some lines weren't running because an incident, possibly a power failure. this was just after 9 am, i think. I didn't think too much about it, since these incidents, delays, cancellations occur with depressing regularity. So I still got the Bakerloo line which passes the *other* Edgware Road tube station and got to Paddington, where everyone got evacuated. I remember asking someone whether she knew what was going on, who turned out to be a tourist who didn't really speak English. In Paddington, overground trains were still running, so I got a 9.20 train to Ealing. I must have passed Edgware Road at about 9.10 or so...

I know the Circle line from Liverpool Street to Paddington very well too, from when I used to live in East London, and I know how busy all these places are around 9am, cause this is around the time i used to pass through there. Most people are dressed for work, and already present some sort of 'office type person' mask, are dressed in a certain way, and everyone just wants to get from A to B. It's very common for people in London to travel long distances through the city on a regular basis, you just have to. Despite this sense of conformity, and this collective rushing, squeezing, pushing, gaining ground, seats, reaching the end of a tunnel, hearing the right announcement to go to the right platform at the right time etc.. you can find an amazing diversity of people travelling in these underground tunnels, and there's often a sexy, horny atmosphere despite the heat and the claustrophobia, but maybe even because of it.

It's been said that peopel have to get on with their lives, and that Londoners have shown the world that they won't be beaten into fear, but I'm not so sure. Car traffic is heavier and more people seem to use alternatives to the tube right now. I think i'm going to avoid it even more at the moment too. Things are getting back to normal but it's not as easy as it seems underneath the surface...