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Musings On A Week In Music

  • Written by  Stef Siepel

Two concerts and two 1-day festivals in a week, including a stay at a friend’s place and at a hotel. Loads of acts to watch, loads of energy to expend, and loads of fun to be had. If all goes right...

National media pick up on the fact that Morrissey (playing in Tivoli, Utrecht) has ordained that no meat will be eaten in his vincinity. Said media especially seem to be concerned about the professional musicians that will be playing classical music in the same venue. How will anyone survive not eating meat for a day? Especially those who play Liszt.

In the comments section (note to self: never, ever read comment sections on these things) people are outraged. How dare a musician to tell a venue beforehand that it has to be a meatless venue for one day (they could have said no, if they wanted to...)! Guess at the core is the fact that we don’t like to be told what to do. Whatever the subject is. Probably says more about “our” God-like complex than Morrissey’s tbh (especially since loads of these commenting people all have the Divine and moral right at their side, so it seems). Though anyone who at age 55+ takes off his shirt and casually tosses it semi-naked into the audience might somewhere along the line have been inclined to develop one.

About 0.1% of those who complained about the singer’s demands were at the concert, btw. Which begs the question, why were all others giving a ----.

Morrissey’s voice has no age on it at all. The videos of animals being slaughtered get old pretty quickly though. My friend took off her glasses from her face and meat off her menu. So good day for Morrissey I suppose, despite his band’s best efforts to drown him out. When they don’t do that, like on the ol’ classic ‘Asleep’, concert is at its best.

St. Vincent is showing off her skills as the robotic hypnotic. Corny choreographs mix with rock and roll, theatrical dramatics with sexual innuendos, and all of that is connected together by Miranda July-esque short monologues about awkward conversations. And yes, some of those stories definitely qualify for that. Some are hilarious though. All need a bit more practice.

In the new Doornroosje venue (coat room still free. Best gesture ever) she starts with the pop, starting by hilariously miming the verb “running” on ‘Rattlesnake’ and ending the trifecta with ‘Digital Witness’ and ‘Cruel’. It seems like the focus of the rest of the show is on the rocking, the rolling, and the having fun with the crowd and her bandmates s. The latter who, iron faced, do all the corny Supremes-meet-android moves along with her. Her voice is awesome, her songs are intellectual, and the whole performance is jaw dropping.

The new Catch festival is in the new Tivoli building. About four rooms are in play... if you can unlock them! (It’s a game, honey!) It’s an Escher-esque maze out there, with loads of staircases always seeming to lead you to somewhere else. The room called Cloud Nine, by the way, is quite the ascension, and like going to Heaven indeed takes a lifetime. With that said, because everything is so wide apart, it never feels crowded, convoluted, or congested.

Nils Frahm has set up about fourteen-and-a-half synthesizers. In the encore he plays two of the three at the same time, reconstructing the battle-of-the-Ducks in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? single-handedly. He piles on layer after layer of rhythmic piano playing, the songs so expertedly crafted you just have to admire them. His piano playing; his hands move just so incredibly fast. If he types that way, when I am genius, famous, and 70, must remember to ask him to ghostwrite for me. If he’s available, of course.

Kindness puts the fun in funk. Anytime the singer tells an anecdote about what his band was up to last night (they apparently hijacked a jam session at a local cafe) you know it is about dancing and having fun. Especially if that anecdote turns into a rendition of some old dancefloor classic or another (memory is hazy, but might have been Womack & Womack’s ‘Teardrops’, or some Whitney tune with “dancefloor” in it.); just so amazingly fun. Obviously loads of Kindness’ tracks make it onto the setlist as well, both old and new. It ends with about a ten minute Chicago House tribute, which has the band dancing as hard (if not harder) than the audience.

Years & Years, pre-show, stand on stage, and it reminds me of the famous Picasso tableau Band-Doesn’t-Know-How-To-Fix-Technical-Issue, painted around 1904 in his famous Blue period. Ten minutes too late the band starts, and certainly many youngsters have gathered to catch a glimps of the charismatic Olly Alexander, who also happens to have quite a voice. Break out potential is certainly there, with some lovely singles like ‘Real’ and ‘Desire’. Live ‘Take Shelter’ actually disappoints, being my favorite in recording, and though undoubtedly inches away from stardom, there is some youth to be detected in the performance. So the existential question is, do you kill off your own youth for a mature sound and a full feature in next month’s Hit Parade?

Youth is also on display at the London Calling Festival in Paradiso. The Mispers have some nice hooks, and the two guitarists (one acoustic, one electric) throw in some nice riffs. The vocals no one can actually hear, which is too bad, as a couple of songs definitely show some promise. More than Fever the Ghost does. The singer comes on in a sort of beekeeper outfit, which is splendid! Except, you can’t hear him and it looks ridicilous. The band keeps throwing out so.much.noise. that it becomes hard to find the actual song in there. The sound cleans up as the gig goes on though, reaching its peak after the show has ended.

Josef Salvat reminds me of the New Girl episode where Smith pretends he is one of the Mitt Romney sons. Salvat is the singing one, and he sure has the vocal skills. The songs are pretty decent too, though the ones with just him and the piano do drag the whole thing down a tad. His moves does make my mind wander about a visibly big schism between electro performers and the kids at the Catch festival and the more indie rock-ish audience and bands at London Calling. The electro kids & artists can motherblimey dance! And the others give it a valiant effort. It’s White Men Can Dance vs. White Men Look Awkward As They Attempt to Dance. Subcultures eh, gotta love ‘m.

Spoon though. Blimey, Spoon. They’re just the blueprint for any American indie-rock band, they know how to do it right. Sure, the start of the performance is marred by technical issues. Britt Daniel asks if we can hear him. That is tech code for turn-up-the-bleeping-sound. When they arrive at the middle part and come up with the trio of ‘Summon You’, ‘Turn My Camera On’, and ‘Inside Out’ you are reminded what a good band sounds like.

A concert by them is like playing a collectible card game and buying a booster pack. I got some awesome doubles, but also loads of cards I didn’t have yet! Still missing some in my collection, though hopefully one day I’m gonna catch them all! Oh yeah, and Paradiso, buy an airconditioning system for Heaven’s sake! After all the gigs in the new venues in Nijmegen and Utrecht, being in Paradiso makes me all hot and bothered, and not in the Disco kind of way! Fainting was never so enticing an option.

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