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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 - Saturday

  • Published in Live

Saturday and Sunday at Incubate sees the festival expand to include a number of further venues playing host to free gigs. Of these the first to be visited was the Sounds record store, where Subbacultcha had lined up a good international bill. Torii prove to be both a very jangly prospect and one not afraid to let the space for a good solo go to waste. Melbourne's Terrible Truths were the last of the acts we caught here and their angular, B52s-like set was a hit with the small crowd and boded well for their main show later in the day. Next up came some immense instrumental rock from Groningen's North To The Night in the front window of Kim's Kroeg. These guys have an epic sound which would easily have worked well in the likes of Midi or Dudok so their half hour set was too short by half. Further time was available but maybe they had an appointment to keep elsewhere. Finally the small downstairs bar of Cafe Babbus hosted Bonne Aparte with their short and intense yet melodic songs. From their tight playing you'd never know they last played live in 2010.

With the weather now dry it was safe to have a look at what the outdoor stage at the Muzentuin had to offer. Basking in late afternoon sunshine and taking in the sunshiny rock of Cristobal And The Sea was the musical option if you weren't just after a coffee and a vegan burger. The crowd were well entertained by the personable group although whether the bass player would see midnight given his J&B consumption (and whether he should have advertised the flautist's newly single status) was debateable.

Another new venue got a short visit next as Jad Fair and Norman Blake were to play in Factorium (which could do with investing in plastic glasses for use in the auditorium). Unfortunately Blake's flight was cancelled so Fair was unleashed alone like a precocious child left to his own devices. The grounding his cohort would hopefully have brought was sorely missed so an early exit was made.

The sounds of Malian Tuaregs was next on the list, represented at Midi by Terakraft. Much as they set large numbers of the audience bouncing though there was a noticeable linearity to their sound with few hooks to make any one song stay long in the mind. Thoroughly nice blokes though.

Jaako Eino Kalevi was also laying out danceable moments back in Factorium. Augmented by a live drummer the icier elements of his recorded work were all but gone, inspiring a small crowd to leave their seats and take to the top of the stairs at the rear of the hall so as to be able to fully physically express how much the music was moving them. 

Blank Realm had just a couple of tracks left to play when we arrived after the short walk back in to see the at Cul De Sac. They were looking tired but happy so it had obviously been an energetic show, not least for the fact that it seems to involve a fair bit of instrument swapping (as well as the use of a keyboard guitar which isn't exactly a common sight these days). 'Dream Date' went over well at this time and they'd obviously been just that for those that had been there the whole time.

The habitual trip to Paradox finished off tonight and it must have enjoyed one of its largest crowds of the week as there was only a small amount of room at the side of the stage in which to squeeze into for the final parts of Fire!'s propulsive set. Appearing here in their original trio form their danceable avant-garde jazz (with a foray into nuts-in-a-vice concentration for some dial turning noise at one point) from the prolific Mats Gustaffson and his cohorts (last seen as part of The Thing a couple of years ago) this was a sweat-drenched performance of improvised and yet catchy music delivered at a deft pace & thundering volume and one of the best shows of the week.

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