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Incubate 2015 - Sunday

  • Published in Live

Weather-wise Sunday was probably the best day of the whole length of Incubate, a fitting high to end a great week on. We started the day off completely hidden from the sunshine though as Finland's Speedtrap were our first act of choice. Having to compete with a food festival on the doorstep of Hall Of Fame possibly lessened the crowd they drew but the spirit of Eighties speed thrash metal is I very safe hands with these lads so if that's your cup of tea then you should see them at the first opportunity that presents itself.

One hotdog and a stroll southwards later we were in the more sedate company of Surfer Blood at the Muzentuin. A band clearly happy to be playing for anybody anywhere they'd a great rapport with the crowd and John Paul Pitts hopped of the stage for a walk amongst them at one point. Surfy, indie and cheery - perfect for the outdoor experience. A short walk back into the centre meant we caught the tail end of No Joy's punchy set in Extase. The band suffered the same rather muddy vocals that Tess Parks had earlier in the week but, given their overall sound, this was less of an issue and the crowd were jumping around at the front of the stage quite the thing so it obviously wasn't spoiling the overall enjoyment being had. 

The south now held us in its grip for the next few acts. It's about 20 years since I last saw Robin Proper-Sheppard play so my knowledge of Sophia's output is basically non-existent but they have some solidly rocky tunes (enhanced to great effect at one point by extra backing vocalists & drummer) and 'Darkness (Another Shade In Your Black)' contains potent emotion. Great Lake Swimmers were holding the fort in Muzentuin when we exited the Concertzaal and they went over well despite the audience not being much up for a singalong. 'Your Rocky Spine' and 'Expecting You' provided two of the highlights of an engaging show and they even found time to big up their touring partner Meg Baird, whose show we were unable to make.

Taking the short walk back into the Concertzaal we settled in for another of the festival's big bands - Giant Sand. Oddly only on stage for an hour there was no messing about as Howe Gelb had barely managed to strap on his guitar when they started into 'House In Order' from new album Heartbreak Pass. With the constant sound of cicadas underlying the set this went on to be 60 minutes of philosophy, jokes, anecdotes and fantastic music including 'Tumble & Tear', 'Texting Feist' and a cover of Leonard Cohen's '1000 Kisses Deep'. Entertaining on many levels this was a band in peak form and Gelb should maybe wait just a bit longer before retiring the format. Good too to see himself and a few band members making it along for a while to the festival afterparty.

 Outside again for one last show on the grass, this time from Neneh Cherry & Rocket Number Nine. New song 'Bullshit' was getting an airing when we arrived (grabbing a coffee from The Village's shed on the way) and despite a comment against nostalgia 'Woman' and 'Man Child' followed it after some tech issues were overcome. Making our way up for the closing show at Midi we just had time to catch a couple of Willard Grant Conspiracy songs in the atmospheric setting of the Pauluskerk. Willard seems to be a man as concerned about the news as anyone but he was equally involved in the everyday to point out the oddly doubting timeline in the church's wall that has a question mark around where it's guessed that Christ will return. Another one of those shows it would have been nice to have had the time to see the whole of.  

Wire were this year's closing act & as their a favourite that I've only managed to see once previously it made sense to watch them here. Unfortunately the onstage volume lead initially to one of the few errors in the whole week as a guitar amp managed to fall from its perch and there were various buzzings causing consternation on stage. Once those were fixed however things proceeded smoothly although with indistinct vocals at times. The band seemed a bit looser last year up the road in Utrecht however and that was possibly also why the hall of Midi wasn't packed to the gunnels as I'd expected it would be - too soon for some to see them again. The festival did though close on a very upbeat musical note for some of us though as Euro/Ethiopian jazz/rock/noise outfit uKanDanZ still had half an hour to play at Dudok. They managed two encores as well and looked like they'd have happily played all night as they were having as much fun as the wildly dancing crowd. In Asnake Guebreyes they are blessed with a singer in possession of all the charisma and showmanship of the classic soul singers whilst the band pound and blow away with gusto making for a fantastic if maybe unorthodox party band.

A great week all in then and one from which a lot of other festivals can learn. Thanks to Joost van Abeelen for initially getting in touch about MG covering the event, Steph Byrnes for assistance during it and most importantly Peter & Els for being such great hosts.

Further festival photographs of varying quality can be viewed here. 


Incubate 2015 - Thursday

  • Published in Live

The mid-point of Incubate in 2015 began with a band who, instrumentally at least, share an idea with Royal Blood. Youff are a drums and bass noise duo from Belgium and what they possibly currently lack in originality they more than make up for in energy. Although sparsely lit too the effective strobing amply shows up the speed at which the drummer has to hammer away at the kit to set the frenetic pace, his hands looking Wolverine-like as the light fires.

Old school Dutch grindcore in the shape of Kru$h came next at Little Devil. Bringing to mind such legends of the scene as Doom the dual-vocalled five piece growled and screeched their way through a set of tight, short numbers without a dancer in sight, ably showing up the differences in temperament between this and the hardcore audience despite the shared weight and pace of sound.

Over at Extase Beasts were tonight's third bit of entertainment. Only unfortunately they weren't that entertaining. The Metallica t-shirt was maybe a giveaway. Straightforward rock saw me make the second quickest decision and exit of the night. A walk back up the road to Hall Of Fame was in order for some more hardcore to hopefully invigorate the night but, although certainly loud, Vvovnds were curiously unengaging. True they were hampered by a mysterious crackling coming from the speakers but despite the battering they gave their instruments they seemed to just be going through the motions.

Three Trapped Tigers were tonight's opening act at Midi and were received well by a crowd who clearly knew who they'd come to see. Playing mostly new material they were a bit let down in the vocal department but otherwise were note-perfect and clearly happy to be back on a European jaunt after a few years away. Next door at Extase Spectres also had a bit of a vocal issue in the mix but their powerful, overdriven music more than made up for anything they were failing to convey by singing. A real tour de force.

Unlike Daggers who proved to be yet another loud but unengaging hardcore act. There's something a bit awry when such bands resemble hipsters until they take to the stage. Hard to take them seriously when that's the case. The UK was getting a lot of look ins tonight as next on the list were London's Yak, who as well as playing some very heavy & well paced indie had one of the better designed t-shirt images of the week so far. A trio who should hopefully be progressing steadily in the future.

Free jazz is a term bandied about a lot at Incubate & Dead Neanderthals are proponents of this inextricably linked to the event. What they mainly did at Midi was quality test the lifespan of a set of guitar strings when the insrument is battered, kicked, pounded and has all sorts of other physical abuse heaped upon it whilst a large sax is wailed away on and the drums thunder along. Fascinating like a car wreck and a good example of where jazz greys into hardcore but more theatre than music. Pretty self-indulgent too. Full Of Hell were perfoming sans Merzbow tonight so finally some absorbing hardcore was a possibility and they didn't fail to deliver this time around. As with the previous two acts at Hall Of Fame their singer took to the floor rather than confining himself to the stage, giving the early pit starters something else to avoid. "You guys sure like mayonnaise huh?" isn't maybe the greatest attempt at interaction with a crowd and at least one bloke seemed intent on being injured or causing the same when the pit got larger but the band were utterly convincing on all levels.

The bill at Dudok started quite late on tonight and first on it were the fun & laidback Jeff The Brotherhood. Top marks for actually having a good bit of chat with/for the audience and also obviously engaging with other elements of the festival. Their new album's out in October & from that they played 'Melting Place' as well as an unnamed track that, contrary to their more doomy paced songs, sounded not unlike some thing from an early Smashing Pumpkins album. They were so refreshing to watch in fact that I lost no time in going to catch the end of their set when Norway's Shining (not to be confused with Sweden's Shining) left me utterly cold at Midi. The least said about that experience the better.

Richie Dagger got to play at their own segment of the festival down in the Stadskelder and cranked out a nice line in Scandinavian-like garage rock, putting the seal on a really well curated few days that could easily have had a 3rd more bands of the consistent quality they'd programmed in. Rounding off the night was Sterling Roswell and his drone-heavy material over at Paradox. The accumulated experience of the man & his band was highly evident in their drawn out playing and ability to keep repeated phrases sounding as fresh as when first embarked upon. New song 'Ballad Of A Civil Servant', featuring such subject matter as David Cameron's brain being kept alive in a jar by US scientists, provided a light-hearted note of protest at the day's end.

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