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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.



Incubate 2015 - Monday

  • Published in Live

Right from the off you can see that Incubate has a decade's worth of experience under its belt - keen eyed staff ready to sort out your wristband, festival publications etc. even on a Monday when things may well be quiet & the start of the week blues could be in play. Not that they won't have been working at a high pitch for months already. Either way it's clear that nothing would be beyond the realms of possibility for these people.

Staying 30 minutes outside of the city centre combined with hanging out with mein host means the festival opening event passes me by but I make it into town in time to drop in to Cul-de-Sac to catch the last couple of songs from Belgian quartet Umungus. They pour out a nice line in drawn-out stoner/prog instrumentals and immediately that feeling you expect to experience often at such an event exerts itself - "I wish I'd seen more of them". Cosy yet also inspiring you to nod along or more, their output is very easy to lose yourself in.

Second on tonight's personal bill is another Belgian act - Kiss The Anus Of A Black Cat. With a name like that they deserve at least one song's length of anyone's attention. Previously they've played neofolk (whatever that is) but tonight's show at Midi kicks off in a distinctly gothic vein with the four-piece pulling no punches and launching straight into towering rock noise mode. Stadium-level stuff in a mid-sized hall that no doubt built and built as the set progressed. Having a need to try and locate a bus stop for the end of the night I nipped off after a couple of songs and walked a couple of blocks over to Little Devil to see what Cheap Drugs were like.

Hardcore sums it up neatly. No nonsense, pit-inspiring noise from a great energetic band. The sort whose energy you can feed off for hours as they seem to be supercharged. Little Devil's backroom live space is probably not suited for the claustrophobic but it was exactly the right place to see this bunch and I'll make the point of seeing more acts here as the week progresses.

Back to Midi now and a slight change of pace, if not intensity, as it's time to see The Soft Moon in action. A good-sized crowd has made it out to see Luis Vasquez & his players and they get what they expected as the band's full-on, uplifting yet doomy set rolls over them. Vasquez does at least offer up some chat and thanks to the crowd so there's also interaction on that level too which is always good to witness. Here's their new video for good measure.

Time for another walk and a further reduction in intensity as Kevin Morby is plying his solo trade over at De NWE Vorst. Dapper in a practically all white ensemble he's also pretty chatty and gives a meaningful performance of 'Harlem River' to an undeservedly sparse crowd. As he says himself though there are a lot of options in town, especially for a Monday night but no one who saw him will have felt they made a bad choice. Finishing off the night with the score Belgium 3 - USA 4 ends up being the way to go as Wand are the penultimate choice at the Extase venue.

Unfortunately the vocals sound ropey upon arriving and after less than a song's worth all manner of guitar amp engineering is required. Cory Hanson describes the situation as "typical festival" in a tone that could be taken a couple of ways but mainly he sounds fatigued so maybe they've been on the road too long (in support of forthcoming album 1000 Days - watch out for our review next week). Either way it means a short walk around the corner and a longer viewing of The Shivas.

The Stadskelder turns out to be the basement bar in an otherwise respectable looking hotel; another of tonight's narrow rooms with a bunch of musicians sweating away at the far end whilst (in this case) a tiny crowd looks on appreciatively. Photographers come close to outnumbering fans but that doesn't put the trio off from delivering up a great sun-drenched, Californian sound with surf elements and nods to Redd Kross and suchlike. A world away from the wood-panelled room in the bowels of a Dutch hotel and the rapidly cooling night outside but all the more enjoyable as an end to the night's entertainment for that very difference.

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