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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.


Incubate 2015 - Wednesday

  • Published in Live

Jazz theatre is not something I'd previously experienced but Vonk do it with aplomb. The Marquis de Sade had something to do with the early part of their show and once their numbers had beefed up to six from three the bible got a look in as well as theories on the need to tell stories. The rest of my notes on the show are as follows:- Pythonesque, the Duchess of Cambridge, The IT Crowd so make of that what you will. Picture also such diverse elementsas clay flower pots, machine parts scraped with screwdrivers, a length of hose with a funnel, a mouthpieceless clarinet and an apple all being used alongside the more conventional cello, guitar, xylophones etc. and you may gain some idea of the experience.

Happy Meals opened the night at Hall Of Fame and their set recalled early Sugarcubes along with a distinctly Eighties dance edge hovering around in the midst of the heavy drum machine beats. A world away from Lewis Cook's work with The Cosmic Dead.

Merzbow and Full Of Hell were pretty far from hardcore at the time I chose to see them. Sax, drums and noise noodling so again one for the aficionados, of which a fair sized number had turned out.

Los Piranas, over at Dudok, provided some welcome light relief with their engaging and utterly upbeat modernisation, via psychedelia & free jazz, of traditional Colombian styles. There closing number was a thoroughly unexpected but playful & uplifting version of 'Smells Like Teen Spirit'. A very fun act to catch.

Local boys Radar Men From The Moon need no introduction to their hometown crowd and so just launch into their hypnotically entertaining set of overdriven and spaced out instrumental wonders back over at the Hall Of Fame, which is slowly taking on the role of favoured mid-sized space.

Back to a skewed version of the Sixties next in a Stadskelder that thankfully has the air con on this time around. The Glockenwise share territory with the likes of the Black Lips but the Portuguese quartet bring their own thrashed-up style to the party too. A fine warm up for what was to appear here later, especially the supercharged rendition of 'Leeches'.

Dudok definitely seems to be the party & feel-good venue tonight as Dengue Fever had some good crowd interaction as well as bigging up Los Piranas and Sun Araw who was playing across town later on. They came over live like the fun party band they've always sounded like on record with their unique reimagining of south east asian Sixties rock. On the way round the corner there was just time to stop in to Extase to catch a number by eclectic Spanish duo Za!. Mixing looped tribal chants over a funk/thrash metal base the pair were clearly having a ball on stage and the decent sized crowd were clearly getting exactly what they wanted.

The Melvins yet again pulled in a near capacity crowd Midi, Buzzo opting tonight for the all-seeing eye on his get up. Newer material seemed to be the order of the day with the main body of the crowd rather calmer than last night, content just to bop along rather than get into the pits and so forth. A pit or anything close to it wasn't at all possible back at Cul de Sac where young Belgians El Yunque were forced to mainly occupy the space in front of the stage due to the act after them having a kettle drum attached to their drum kit. Overcoming the lessening of sight lines between them and their own drummer they whirled around like dervishes and did the crowd's dancing for them as they hammered out their noise-rock with enviable displays of energy. Special mention has to go to the drummer who looked like he'd been caught in one of this week's regular rain showers, such was the amount of sweat pouring off the lad. An utterly committed band who hopefully will go on to gain wider acclaim.

Feeling in the mood for a seat it was off to Paradox now for yet more non-jazz in the city's premier jazz club. Iguana Death Cult are a homegrown surf/garage/psych quartet and so had attracted a fair sized crowd for their fast & loud performance. Hook-wise they were a bit lacking, rather making up for their influences mixing down to a rather generic final product by giving an exuberant performance. Trying to sort out camera issues occupied my foreground whilst they were on in the background.

More Belgian noise came from tonight's penultimate band, Ghent's Mind Rays, another element of Richie Dagger's Garage Basement at the Stadskelder. Theirs is a sound that ranges from classic Pixies to the rawest, unpolished garage punk whilst covering the shortest distance possible in between. Another act packing out the oven that is this small venue and giving the crowd what they demanded.

Finally tonight it was earplugs-in-time for Teeth Of The Sea at Hall Of Fame. Anyone not already deafened by Merzbow or The Melvins would certainly have been finished off here as the band thundered out their work along similar lines as when last experienced at the 2014 Liverpool Psych Fest. They arrived on stage a tad late so the fact of that could be felt propelling them to new heights of noise and greater emotion in their playing. The organ-shaking beats rolling off the stage were enough in themselves to signal this as the performance from which there was nowhere else to go tonight.


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