Friday, 26 August 2016

On Stage: Grandaddy @ Paradiso

After seeing nineties alternative rock favourites Grandaddy play the Pukkelpop festival it tasted like more. Fortunately the band was playing my home town and favourite venue only days after and I was ready for more of those sweet grungy songs.

Grandaddy at Paradiso Amsterdam, August 25 2016

The main hall of the venue is not completely full, which is a good thing since now I can find a fine spot and it's nice to have a bit of space around me in today's heat. After their show on Saturday it isn't a surprise any more what we will get. A big screen is hanging at the back to show the accompanying visuals and the changing images in between songs. Every song has its own visual which varies from changing colours, psychedelic patters and short videos that are ranging from artistic to plain funny.

The band is still in great shape and front man Jason Lytle's voice is clear. His high vocals together with the laid back sound give the music that warm and melancholic feeling. Tonight we are reminded again of how many great songs this band recorded. 'Laughing Stock' which builds up so nicely around the guitar and keyboard and then moves into a rocking grunge song. The wonderful 'The Crystal Lake' that sounds cheerful and sad at the same time. 'Stray Dog And The Chocolate Cake' with that catchy keyboard hook. And of course 'A.M. 180' that also has an irresistible keyboard hook that had us jumping up and down in the nineties.

By the looks of it the band is enjoying themselves as well and are genuinely happy with the enthusiastic response. Lytle still is the somewhat absentminded musician who can tell a story without finishing it only after a few sentences to continue playing. There's no better man for this job and he fits his music perfectly. We also get treated to a few new songs which reveal that not much has changed in the Grandaddy universe. And why should it, when your music still sounds so refreshing after twenty years?

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01. Hewlett's Daughter
02. El Caminos in the West
03. Laughing Stock
04. The Crystal Lake
05. My Small Love
06. Levitz
07. Check Injin
08. Chartsengrafs
09. Stray Dog and the Chocolate Shake
10. Disconnecty
11. A.M. 180
12. Now It's On
13. Way We Won't
14. He's Simple, He's Dumb, He's the Pilot
15. Fare Thee Not Well Mutineer
16. Summer Here Kids

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Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Pukkelpop 2016 Saturday

The Lowlands festival has been on top of my festival list for many years and therefore their sister festival Pukkelpop in Belgium, that takes place in the same weekend, has always been a no-go. But since we gave Lowlands up a few year ago, we are now finally able to head down south and visit this festival in Kiewit for one day.

Pukkelpop Saturday at Kiewit Belgium, August 20 2016

The day starts out very smoothly and from our friends' house only half an hour away, it is a quick drive down to the parking lot. There we hop on a shuttle bus and find ourselves on the festival site sipping a Belgian lager within no time. The sun has come out as well, so we couldn't be off to a better start. We explore the site a bit and then go into one of the tents for the first show of the day.

Andre Brasseur & Band
Andre Brasseur is a Belgian organist and keyboard player that rose to fame in the sixties and seventies, mainly in his own country, although he had a few international hits most notably the song 'Early Bird'. The 76-year old musician may have started his second youth as he is looking very lively and enthusiastically behind his organ. The swinging rock, jazz and blues songs are a wonderful way to start the day. Brasseur has formed a good band around him who remain a bit on the background. Of course the star of the show is the old veteran himself, who is enjoying his festival appearance and the mostly young crowd.

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We get reacquainted with the British band VANT that we saw play the Best Kept Secret festival a few months ago. The lads look pretty good again and give it their best. It's still early so it's not really crowded in front of the stage. But the group doesn't let that get them down and play their catchy rock songs with a lot of heart. Maybe it's the relatively low turn up today or maybe I need to get into it a bit more myself, but their show looks less convincing this time and more played on routine. The band is working hard however and if they can keep going like this I guess things will work out for them in the end.

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Highly Suspect
The trio Highly Suspect is a band on the rise especially since they earned a few Grammy nominations last year. It's about time we get to know them a little better. Their music is a mix of hardrock and alternative and sometimes you can also hear a bit of grunge in there. The band is tight and also play in an intense way. Singer Johnny Stevens' voice isn't always to my liking but that's my personal taste. The three rockers play a convincing show in the end and are another band to watch.

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By then hardcore band Defeater have already started playing their set at a half full "The Shelter" stage. It's not bad what they are showing and some songs do sound pretty good. At those times the band is powerful and singer Derek Archambault is moving around the stage a lot. But his voice isn't very versatile and their songs do sound alike a lot.

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All Them Witches
We hear the sound check of All Them Witches and it sounds very promising. Their psychedelic and dark blues rock sounds very vintage from time to time. When I listened to their music I instantly liked it and it is convincing live on stage as well. I read about their growing live reputation and that doesn't prove itself today. The band looks solid but it isn't exactly an explosive show. It is nice enough to keep an eye out for in the future though but for now we leave to make sure we don't miss too much of King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard.

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King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard
Because I know out of experience that this band's live reputation is very justified. Their last record Noganon Infinity blew me away as well so I simply had to see them play again. The seven piece band doesn't disappoint for a bit. It's an energetic long jam that almost doesn't stop, just like the record. The band simply doesn't let go and the two drummers keep the psychedelic trips going with full force. Singer Stu Mackenzie picks up his flute now and then to add an extra dimension to the psychedelic trip but especially when he's rocking his guitar the music is excelling. I love this band! The best thing is I get to see them again in two weeks time at the Into The Great Wide Open festival. Live is sweet! And shaped like a purple doughnut at the moment...

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In the nineties I was pleasantly surprised with Grandaddy's music which now seems like a lifetime ago. I lost track of the band around Jason Lytle and when they split up, this kind of went passed me. They have reformed a few years ago and this is the first time I get to see them play again. Their spacy fuzzed out music takes me back twenty years again and I immediately remember why I like their music. It's the warm sounds of their music combined with some melancholy but with a very light edge. It's nice to see them again and I'm looking forward to their full show later this week.

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Biffy Clyro
We get back to the main stage together with a wonderful Belgian "frietje stoofvlees" (fries with some kind of meat stew, simply delicious). Biffy Clyro have come a long way and their music evolved a lot. From quite complex rock songs they moved to a more mainstream sound with sometimes easy and simple sing-along lyrics. It has brought them a lot more fans and therefore I expected more people at their show. They are playing at the end of the afternoon on the main stage while, the weather has turned into full blown summer sun. The Scottish band always play with a lot of heart and that's not different today. Songs like 'Bubbles' and 'Black Chandelier' are still major crowd pleasers and the band sounds very tight as always. I don't really like the poppie songs that are aimed at teenage girls to sing along to, but their more powerful and rough songs are quite good.

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We hang around the main stage for a while, where more of those lovely Belgian beers follow. Then Bring Me The Horizon starts playing which turns out to be metal for teenagers who act like they are really tough. Moments later we find ourselves at Thrice, which would normally not be my top choice either. The emo hardcore band is playing a pretty solid show though. It's just that this is simply not my kind of rock music and I find it hard to stay focused. Somehow this type of rock music sounds all alike to me. Still not a bad way to kill some time with friends and a few cold beers.

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By now it's time for the toughest choice of the day. One of the reasons I wanted to come here this day, was because of LCD Soundsystem. But they are playing at the same time as Swedisch rock band Graveyard. I decide to stay for a few songs at the Graveyard show and am happy I did. The band is amazing and it's a shame I keep missing them when they play nearby. Their swamp blues sound is heavy and laid back and the band are always playing in a relaxed style. The short part that I see is very tight and it's hard to pull myself away from here.

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LCD Soundsystem But by the time I make it to the main stage I'm really happy to see beloved LCD Soundsystem there, who rose from their ashes not too long ago. This disco punk rock band fronted by James Murphy, are always a delight to watch. I love their edgy and groovy songs with that rough wild side. Within no time I'm totally into their music and show again that is supported by a great light show and visuals. Of course the big disco ball is hanging above the band as well. The show is taking off slowly like a heavy machine speeding up, but once it rolls on full speed there's no way stopping it. By the time it is starting to rain no one cares at all and you can only keep on dancing. The set list is not a surprising one but does have all those great song on it. 'Daft Punk Is Playing At My House' is there of course and early in the set, but especially 'Turbulation', 'Yeah' and a vicious 'Dance Yrself Clean' do their job. 'Losing My Edge' couldn't be closer to the truth and 'All My Friends' ends their show in style. What a band!

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One other highlight of the day should have been those genius Soulwax brothers, but it's a long journey to the Dancehall stage for us and by the time we get there it's packed of course. We stay outside and dance to the music while trying to catch a glimpse from what's going on inside. Their show is called "Soulwax Transient Porgram For Drums and Machinery" and I see two drummers high up in the air at either side of the stage and find out later there is a third one in the middle as well. Of course it's one big party in there and the two brother blend their music into one big rough funky disco party. It's a bit of a let down that we made it to the stage so late and couldn't get inside, but on the other hand we had a good time there.

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Marky Ramone's Blitzkrieg
Now it's time to go out with a legend. Unfortunately the Ramones are no longer there since all members of the original line-up are jamming at the great gig in the sky. Marky Ramone was the drummer for the Ramones for a long time as well though and is the only surviving member of their most famous era. Now he's keeping their legacy alive as Marky Ramone's Blitzkrieg and doing a great job at it. He found a fine bunch of friends to play with him including a very convincing Ken Stringfellow on vocals. It's great to hear all those classics like 'Rock n Roll Highschool', 'I Wanna Be Sedated', 'The KKK Took My Baby Away', 'Pet Sematary' and of course 'Blitzkrieg Bop'. This may be the closest you can get to what a Ramones show must have been like. I can try to write a long story about it, but it's better to just raise my fist and shout "Hey Ho! Let's Go!". What a way to end this day!

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We celebrate a wonderful day at Pukkelpop with a couple of last beers before we head home in the same smooth way as we sailed in. This was a very good first time at this festival and we are already thinking about coming back next year for the full three days.

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Monday, 15 August 2016

Last Night On Earth @ De Marktkantine

Remember those nights where you would go see some bands play good honest rock music and you would be out all night, getting shit faced? Yes, those nights where you would get home when it was already turning light again, the birds are singing and your ears were still ringing from the music. Exactly, there aren't so many of those nights left. Nowadays the bands start before 21.00 and by 23.00 has to stop so some DJ can take over. This is exactly what rock bands Death Alley and Shaking Godspeed thought as well and therefore came up with the Last Night On Earth festival.

Last Night On Earth at De Marktkantine Amsterdam, August 12 2016

The idea is simple: get a few bands together, start at 23.00 and see who is still standing at 05.00. The thought behind is great: give us old timers a night where we can relive those crazy nights again with great bands, cold beers and party like there's no tomorrow and give a younger generation the chance to experience it as well. To make things even better, the event is at De Marktkantine which is only a short crawl away from where I live.

Of course Death Alley and Shaking Godspeed are playing themselves, but they also got zZz to join them. Peter Pan Speedrock will play their last show in Amsterdam and to spice things up a bit more, beat poet Joshua Baumgarten will be the glue between the band. By the way, there's a boxing ring as well.

There's no time schedule so we make sure we are there right from the start. We down a few beers, explore the venue a bit and wait for the first band to kick it off. Shaking Godspeed are the ones to start and play a very tight set. They had to say goodbye to their drummer Maarten Rischen but found a great replacement in Ruben van Asselt. Recently the band released a new album Rumspringa where they worked together with music theatre group Orkater and recorded all songs in Dutch. The language may be different but the music is still undeniably Shaking Godspeed. If powerful, groovy rock tracks full of twists and turns and endless boogying doesn't get you going, what will?

Next up are Death Alley while by now the venue has completely filled up. Later singer Douwe Truijens will tell us that the night has sold out, which is great news. The band play a great blend of classic hard rock with psychedelic influences, which means that you can hear songs that remind of Black Sabbath followed by Pink Floyd style jams. Fists are in the air and the band turn the hall into a sweaty beer drenched rock cave.

It looks like this is the highlight for many people since it gets less crowded after their performance. That's not a problem, since that is part of the idea. It's all about partying until your head falls off and you simply have to go home to your bed. At the end, only a few people will be left. In between bands we stroll around the venue, watch a few boxing matches where people are actually hitting each other pretty hard.

By now the stage is being prepared for zZz who have something special up their sleeves, however the change over takes longer than needed. Shaking Godspeed singer and guitarist Wout Kemkens is joining them and the three of them play the best zZz songs where Kemkens is adding psychedelic effects on his guitar. Unfortunately it's not the best zZz show that I've seen and the songs sound a bit messy. I'm not sure if that's because of the experiment with the extra guitar or just because maybe it's not their night. Or maybe it's simply the late hour for everyone. Because of the late start it looks like their set has to be cut short.

By now the number of people has grown smaller and smaller. I'm left all by myself now as well and decide to call it a night too, despite Peter Pan Speedrock's last show. I'm sorry guys but we really need the younger generation to take it over from us. It's still dark when I walk home and no birds are singing yet, but still this was a great night and one of the best ways to experience rock music. Hopefully this will be a returning event and next to Sleazefest and Klikofest it would be a welcoming addition.

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