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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 - 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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