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Incubate 2015 - Friday

  • Published in Live

As Incubate seems to be taking place during the Dutch monsoon this year today started off with a film. Do It Together, through interviews with & performances by a worldwide cast of acts and artists, ably investigates the benefits of collaboration within the DIY community and how working with others invariably gets more done & benefits everyone more than ploughing your own course against the vested interests of the music industry.

After the entertaining 75 minutes in front of the big screen it was off to a new venue, the studio at Tilburg's main theatre, to see some of the Errors set. Enjoying good clear sound and joined on additional vocals by their mate Cecilia the trio gave out an infectious late-night dance vibe which made exiting into daylight once again all the more incongruous. For the most part today was one of much lighter musical fare compared with the heavy content of the start of the week as following Errors it was time for more danceable output from East India Youth. Making full use of the acoustic capabilities of the Midi theatre songs such as 'Looking For Someone' came over very well but the crowd was curiously static. An engaging solo performance nevertheless.

Next door at Extase Tess Parks & Anton Newcombe played to a packed hall (one smaller than I'd have expected). Recent album I Declare Nothing came over very well in the intimate setting although Parks' vocals were pretty indistinct the whole way through. No complaints from the crowd though so job done in the entertainment department. Tonight's lone Belgian act were post-punk quartet Supergenius, playing in the basement at v39. A suitable setting for the powerful sound they push out, with 'Acrobatics' being a particular highlight of the set. Keep an eye out for their debut album which is dropping soon.

A real coup and major highlight of the festival next - Mercury Rev performing at the Theaters Tilburg Schouwburg hall along with the orchestra of the Tilburg Conservatorium. Opening in the very well appointed auditorium with a cover of Neil Young's 'A Man Needs A Maid' Jonathan Donahue & Grasshopper and the band laid out over two hours their trajectory to the spot we all found ourselves in at that moment. Channelling the Disney cartoons of their upbringings via Donahue's time with the Flaming Lips, the painful setback of album See You On The Other Side flopping, the redemptive period that produced the classic Deserter's Songs (from which 'Holes' and 'Opus. 4' have probably never sounded better than the orchestra-backed versions played here) and onwards to new material including 'Queen Of Swans' this was a show drenched (but not drowning) in emotion and one which garnered the band new fans and a throughly deserved standing ovation for them and the accomplished young players of the orchestra, many of whom (as mentioned by Donahue at the top of the show) are younger than the songs they were contributing to. Fan films of parts of the show are already on YouTube but with luck someone had the foresight to officially record the whole thing.

After the massive high of the theater experience anything we went on to see was going to be fighting a losing battle. Consequently the punk stylings of Amsterdam's Fuz were an energetic buzz in the background when we stopped into Extase again but the crowd seemed to be jumping around very appreciatively. Finishing off the night in Paradox, as has become the norm, we were shaken out of our bubble of enjoyment by the comedy duo that presented itself in the shape of Dirty Electronics and Nicholas Bullen. Like a tiny tennis match the two were back and forth across their table putting more effort into turning a dial or swiping a screen than pensioners need to open a jar of jam all to produce nothing representing a tune. Contemplation of the background noise of everyday life or that of industry is all well & good but when you're seeing an attempt to recreate that consisting of a chunky bloke almost gagging by aiming for a specific sound through poking a microphone and bubble plastic down his throat you have to ask if someone's medical supervision is falling down on the job.


Festival Coverage: End Of The Road 2015

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In celebrating its 10th birthday, End Of The Road remains a unique and brilliant fixture of the UK festival calendar. Housed in the exquisite settings of one-time Victorian Pleasure Gardens, EOTR has grown in recent years, but refuses to part with any of its charm. There’s a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere, but they are deadly serious about their packed and diverse line up, which showcases huge names and those in the making.

Among the free-roaming peacocks, the festival is also packed with comedy, fantastic art installations, a Forest Disco and perfect little touches. (How does a surprise performance from Laura Marling on a tiny, hidden Piano stage sound?)

In an increasingly busy festival calendar, End Of The Road stands out from the crowd, and you can see it in the enjoyment of the performers. You’ll see many of them wandering around the site before and after their sets, and there’s no wondering why.

On Friday afternoon there were captivating sets from the Race Horses’ Meilyr Jones; moody Canadian outfit Ought; the fantastically raw Torres; upbeat art-pop act Django Django and the wacky King Khan & BBQ Show (complete with gold cape and black leather pants).

But Friday belonged to Tame Impala, who headlined The Woods stage with a commanding and mesmerising set. They flowed through earlier, guitar-led material and the more disco-focused Currents. Opening track ‘Let It Happen’ pinned their colours to the mast for a dazzlingly trippy set, and when the stomping favourite ‘Elephant’ started, the festival really felt underway.

The night was capped off by East India Youth, who performed a spellbinding electro-pop set in the Big Top Tent.

Saturday began with the colourful Human Pyramids, who performed a wonderful, orchestral show. With a stage literally full of musicians, it was the perfect wake up call, complete with uplifting string arrangements, clever melodies and startling drums.

Following this came The Duke Spirit, Slow Club, whose impact was lost slightly on a larger stage, distinctive LA two-piece Girlpool and the abrasively rocky Ex Hex. All this preceded the explosive Fat White Family, who tore the Big Top Tent apart.

As the highlight of the entire weekend, special praise must be reserved for Sufjan Stevens. Making his first UK festival appearance, Stevens played one of the most astounding sets you are ever likely to witness at a festival, during which you could hear a pin drop.

To stun a festival crowd into silence on a Saturday night is no mean feat, but in brisk September conditions the real chill comes from the wonderfully bleak compositions of Carrie And Lowell. ‘The Fourth Of July’s’ refrain “We’re all gonna die” is one you would expect to be a bit too drab for this crowd, but it’s absolutely spectacular. After sharing a hand-written letter he had received from the organisers some 8 years earlier, requesting he played, it was more special for the wait. Then when things got a little too solemn, Stevens would react appropriately, playing feel-good tunes like ‘Chicago’ and ‘Come On! Feel the Illinoise!’ complete with a brass backing band.

Following Saturday’s chill, Sunday was gloriously warm. We are welcomed by indie darlings Hinds, who had clearly brought some Spanish sun. In turn, the inhabitants of the Big Top tent groove to the tunes of Ultimate Painting and Happyness, who bring a dreamy slice of '90s-inspired rock. Later Alvvays brought their sugary indie pop to the sun soaked main stage.

Mac DeMarco offers a 10th birthday cake for the festival, alongside a slick set on the Garden Stage. “I’m going to cuddle up to a peacock and ruffle a few feathers, if you know what I’m saying”, a spaced-out DeMarco announces, in his best bloke-in-a-porno impression. Towards the end of his set, Mac leaps into the crowd, but “straight to the ground as always.” Meanwhile his band-mates, who have personalities and talent as immense as his, chuck their guitars to and fro, amidst impressive solos.

The grandiose sound of The War On Drugs, driven by Dylan and Springsteen’s influences, is chosen to call an end to the festival. Like so many others they show a genuine pleasure to be playing, saying the only other time they’d been asked, they simply couldn’t afford the flights. Now as a major player, they’ve found their place and give an impressive show, showcasing 2014’s astounding Lost In The Dream, for the festival’s final hurrah.

End Of The Road’s 10th birthday celebration was, as expected, a huge success. The intimate but expansive gathering is a family-friendly treat and a musical highlight of the year. The sound on each stage is incredible, and most importantly unlike other festivals, the 4 stages are close enough that you’re only ever be a few minutes’ walk between each (via a bar with short queues), meaning you can really focus on enjoying some great music, in an idyllic setting. Here’s to another 10 years.



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