Facebook Slider

2014 In Music - The Columnist's View #2

The 5 Most Memorable Gigs I Went To In 2014

Thankfully, this was yet another year in which I saw loads of amazing bands play and where I had loads of great experiences at gigs, festivals, and club nights. This was my first year at the Primavera Sound festival in Barcelona (which was awesome! Even if it did drown one pair of my shoes), and this was the year two excellent new pop venues opened close to where I live. The new Doornroosje at a stone throw’s distance looks wonderful, and the new Tivoli Vredenburg with all its different rooms on different floors is just perfection. I saw new and upcoming bands like Years & Years and Thomas Azier (2x), people at the top of their game like St. Vincent (3x) and Spoon (2x), and old dogs like Morrissey (almost 2x, you know how that goes...) and Giorgio Moroder. Oh what a year, and the following five gigs were the ones that stuck out of that whole pack of great experiences for me for one reason or another. (vids not from the gigs listed below)

  1. WhoMadeWho @ Ekko

These boys, when they’ve got it on, they’ve got it on. In the small venue Ekko in Utrecht these guys were really doing their thing, with those soulful vocals and those melancholic-yet-dancey sounds they create. Add to that the fact that these guys, whilst playing an instrument, still manage to add some theatrics in there as well, and you’ve got a live show with great music plus some good entertainment to boot. Not to mention that it does seem like they are having fun, which in turn spreads to the audience like a virus. Thus live they both sing and play their instruments expertedly, they add theatrics, and they put the joy in the experience as well. Plus just that little dash of mayhem when they end it in the audience with ‘Satisfaction’. What more do you need, really?

  1. Blood Orange @ Primavera Sound

I vividly remember this young fellow sitting right in front of the mic stand by his lonesome self a good half hour before the show. After the gig, I knew why. Blood Orange, the funk outfit led by the prolific Dev Hynes, really turns up the groove live. The sound at the start of the gig was a tad dodgy, but that ship was righted after about a song and a half or so, and then it’s all fabulosity from there on. You’ve got the funky guitar of Hynes, the female vocals, the horns, the tight rhythm section: it all just works. Add some good, groovy tunes in there, a Solange cover, and Hynes busting a move like he’s Mr. Jackson himself, and you’ve just got this deliciously fun & funky show on the “small” Pitchfork stage at the Spanish Primavera Sound festival.

  1. Darkside @ 05 Days Off

I would remember this show only for the girls trying to squeeze their way through the audience a minute before the start. Getting loads of dirty looks as they push their way up front, one of them agitatedly remarks “why the heck are they looking so angrily at us. It’s not like they reserved these places or something”. Ehrm, yes we did, the moment we arrived at the place an hour before kick-off time to make sure we’re close to where the action is. Oh well. I already loved the album by the duo of Dave Harrington and Nicolas Jaar, and what they do live so well is that they just add a bit more oomph to the beats to get a bit of a dance vibe going. Add that to the fact that they are craftsmen in their respective fields, and that they nail the vibe perfectly, and then this show maybe epitomizes the year 2014, if only because apparently the lads have (at least temporarily) retired the Darkside moniker.

  1. Future Islands @ Melkweg

Next to the fact that I just love the album and the songs, live they do add exactly those things that you want a band to add. Extra emotion, extra theatrics, extra effort, and this whilst still performing the songs as tight as on album. Frontman Samuel Herring really takes over. He looks like a real proper bloke, and sometimes he almost grunts as if in a metal band and nearly charges into the audience aggressively. Moments later though, he is shaking his booty or is doing that leg thing those girls in Western saloons always do (though slightly distorted, slightly more manic). And then he suddenly tries to touch the sky with his finger as he is almost teary-eyed. The guy really knows how to perform. Luckily the lads back him up in as solid a way as possible, so if you just love the songs, you’re not getting short-changed on that either. A must see live band, if only because next to all of this, they also do seem genuinely grateful and humble that they can perform for whatever audience is in front of them.

  1. Slowdive @ Primavera Sound

Two major blokes just fainted during this show! True story, though I’m not sure if that’s because of how much they love Slowdive or whether something else was in play (probably the latter, though it was in the open air, so it wasn’t a shortage of oxygen or whatever). Slowdive have reunited for a string of gigs (and, next year, an album apparently), and they didn’t make a mockery of their former selves, performing as tight as a band with so many guitars can possible perform. Dreamy shoegaze performed to perfection, the band just weave this intricate web of guitars and other sounds, with on top of that these dreamy male and female vocals. From the word go they managed to completely mesmerize me, and as someone who missed them during their first go around I’m happy they’re not only back, but that they have matured rather than aged (not that they were teenagers when they stopped or anything, but you get my drift).

This list is Stef Siepel’s, writer of, amongst others, the Weekly Froth column that goes live every Friday. It does in no way reflect the collective Musos Guide opinion.


The Weekly Froth - August #4

  • Published in Columns


The Weekly Froth! A weekly take on six tracks, most of which have recently popped up somewhere in the blogosphere. Bit of a mixed bag with a slight leaning towards house, disco, and remixes, but generally just anything that for some reason tickled the writer’s fancy.

Track of the week: ‘Across 110th Street’ by Bobby Womack (Alkalino Rework)

You know that, at one point, this track is going to give you that characteristic sound of those Bobby Womack vocals. Before any of that though, Alkalino sure builds this one up smoothly and sweetly, and even the first introduction of Womack’s vocals are sweet with a string of subdued “whoooo-oooooeeehh”s. Then you get those grated vocals so typical to Womack, saying that he isn’t saying (...) that what he did was all right. So it is confession time here, with this track having been used for the 1972 film of the same name. In the mean time, Alkalino is giving you this nice disco ride underneath all the lyrics, love the gentle guitar in there, as well as that bass that is so smoothly integrated into all the rest. Naturally, there’s a little beat going on to provide the backbones to this whole operation, but that, too, isn’t intrusive at all. It’s all smooth as all get out, even when the horns come in at about four minutes in. The chorus gets a bit more pace with both how Womack sings as well as because of the extra strings, and around the five minute mark Alkalino starts working the dramatics with plenty of sounds to give you some extra oomph, just to slide you back into that soft disco of before a little bit later. Lovely smooth ride with a blast from the past with the title song to that 1972 crime film. Soundcloud seems to not be working for this one so see the Media section below for the bandcamp version.


‘Night Flight’ by Midnight Magic

I really like Midnight Magic, the New York disco collective which released an album a few years ago that included some ace singles like ‘Beam Me Up’ and ‘Drop Me a Line’, which are just disco behemoths as far as I’m concerned. Here they tone it down, take you back into the night a bit, not as all out party as the two songs I just mentioned. More the soundtrack to your stroll through the NY city streets after midnight. Love the bass they’ve got going there, which combine nicely with the brass that comes in every now and again. On vocals you’ve got Tiffany Roth, whose got a real power voice that she manages to turn into something elusive and dreamy here as she prods you to Fly, fly, fly, fly to the future. In the last minute you’ve got some double vocals going on, with Roth doing some singing over a vocal line of doob-doob-doo-oeh, which was already present in the song from the very start. They’ll be coming out with a new 5 track EP, and this single will get a bunch of remixes from the talented lads of both PillowTalk as well as No Regular Play, so it’s just the gift that keeps on giving, really.


‘Inga e som vi e, hogt over marken’ by Little Jinder & Melo (HNNY remix)

Now, I don’t know any Scandinavian language, and chances are that unless you are from one of those countries, neither do you. That’s okay, as HNNY’s remix of this track originally by Little Jinder & Melo gives you plenty of those dancefloor vibes that you won’t be thinking of what the heck they are singing. Some lovely house elements with this tinge of R&B for flavour, the percussion is very catchy, with the steady snare to provide the base here. The vocals, though I’ve got no idea what they are singing, have plenty of soul in them, so it’s a joy to listen to them anyway. And for a long stretch before the third minute mark you get plenty of opportunity to do so with the vocals being basically the only thing out there. After that you get a nice bass, and really all the dancing HNNY provides is just spot on. That guy, I just love his work (If you have never heard his edit of TLC’s ‘No Scrubs’ check that one out!), so smooth, and he always manages to keep plenty of flavour in there. This one, it’s a free download, so if you’re feeling like adding to your Scandinavian collection, this one is a worthwhile addition I would think.


‘What They Say’ Darkside

The Darkside project will go on indefinite hiatus, with the lads doing just a few more shows and then its curtains for at least a while. That’s too bad, as I loved the combination of Nicolas Jaar’s electronical wizardry and the piercing guitar of Dave Harrington. It had always seemed like such an underused combination, and these guys went into it with full force. Here, at first, the rhythm is dictated by both the electronical sounds as well as Harrington’s plucky guitar, which he, about 1:55 in, makes come out a bit more prominent, as a caged tiger waiting to burst out. You feel the slow build-up from the atmospherical start, waiting for it all to come out running. This happens at about 2:50, where they add a deeper bass sound as the base layer, a light, springy electro sound to give the perception of pace, and it rides those sounds for a while until about 4:20, when some auxiliary sounds come in to give it a little extra flavour. Near the end drawn out synth sounds and the guitar wind it all down with some extra atmosphere. I wouldn’t say this instrumental cut was their very finest track, but in terms of aesthetic you get a good idea of what the project has given us. The album is spectacular (if you get through those first five minutes of noise that is...), and live they boost the beats for the dancing and that live momentum you want to build. Glad to have seen them earlier this year when they were touring.


‘Sunsplash’ by Luke Million (Jacques Renault dub remix)

I’m a big fan of Jacques Renault, and here he comes with a dub mix for Luke Million’s track ‘Sunsplash’. Certainly the dubby beat is there, though it is the bass that will have people swaying on the dancefloor. After about fifty seconds the light piano takes over, a little later on getting combined with the bass again for the ultimate effect. At about 1:40 you get some extra synth lines in there which work well. It is a nice mixture of the beat and the bass for the lower registers, and then all the synths, pianos, whatever giving you that summer party vibe. Especially those transitions like around about 2:50 are fun, where he slides into that quicker paced piano, that’s lovely. At 3:20 he strips the higher sounds for a string of percussion which, soon enough, get that bass as a companion. He mixes that with all kinds of synth sounds, waiting for over a minute to get those piano lines back in there. It’s a lovely remix, a nice mixture of the bass to dance to and the lighter sounds to add this feeling of fun to it. Add to that some moments with a bit of extra percussion and even a piano solo, and it’s an agreeable affair to have a little dance on no doubt.


‘Bother’ by Les Sins

Les Sins is Toro Y Moi, and now that talented young man is gearing up to release a new album under that moniker, which you could say gives room to his more house urges. The album will be called ‘Michael’ (as in, Jackson?) and it will be out on the 4th of November, with this being the lead single. He certainly isn’t one to waste time, as this song starts right in the club. You’ve got the “crowd sounds” in the back as one guy is saying that they shouldn’t bother him, he’s working. Probably he’s working it on the dancefloor and not in the office, as with that punchy beat Toro Y Moi makes no bones about how this album will differ from his general output. He also adds plenty of percussion in there, and a little melancholic piano to give it some feeling as well. Really enjoy the transition at about 2:15, where he moves back to the main beat, that’s a nice momentum builder. At about 2:30 he turns down the house, and goes to church for a minute with some sounds that, in my mind, are accompanying who someone is descending from the heavens or something like that. Just before the end he does go back, not to the beat, but to the guy saying that he is working, to make it all go full circle. I really like this guy, seen him live, he’s awesome, so really intrigued by this project. And I do like this track, though out of the album context it does sometimes feel a bit as if he tries to cram all his house ideas into a 3:45 song. By doing that he still gives you plenty to enjoy here though, so all’s good.



Subscribe to this RSS feed