Tuesday, 10 September 2013

ITGWO 2013 Day 1: Back In Paradise

After two years it feels like coming home when we get off the ferry. We arrive at the wonderful island Vlieland for another edition of that one of a kind festival Into The Great Wide Open. As soon as you get on the boat the fun is starting. Only happy faces and good vibes. The sunny and warm weather don't hurt either.

Into The Great Wide Open 2013 Day 0, September 5 2013

We get to the island a day before the actual festival is starting. There's already a short program with some bands playing the night before. I didn't realize, it even started earlier tonight than last year. The boat we booked simply doesn't arrive on time so we have to miss DAAU. I hope to see them again soon.

Bed Rugs
Instead we kick off with Belgian band Bed Rugs who treat us to some great psychedelic rock music and long jams. Their inspiring performance is lively with all members looking active and focused. The enthusiastic percussionist sure is having a good time. The band even knows to impress a few young kids who are sitting down on the floor, marvelled by what's happening on stage.

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We spend the rest of the time outside, sucking up the atmosphere of the festival while downing a few cold beers.

Into The Great Wide Open 2013 Day 1, September 6 2013

When we wake up it's sizzling hot. It's impossible to stay in our tent any longer. But this island has a solution for that: the sea, one of the many things that makes this festival special. A swim in the cold sea definitely cools me down and I feel revived. We ride around on our bike a bit, have some coffee and then make our way to the Sports Field stage for the first performance of the day.

The Kik
The Kik's front man Dave von Raven is no stranger to this festival. He played here a few times before and also was the MC on a few editions. Now he's here to open up on the main stage. Their light beat music with happy lyrics is a nice way to start the day. Von Raven of course is chatting with the crowd a lot in his usual fasion. He's overdoing it in the first half though. It prevents their performance from gaining tempo. In the second half his chat sessions are shorter which helps. The band is trying to be too funny sometimes, especially when they play two party songs that don't fit in their repertoire. They need to go easy on the jokes otherwise there's a chance of turning into a gimmick.

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Sheep, Dog & Wolf
Totally different is Daniel McBride from New Zealand. He's a young multi-instrumentalist that is using loop stations to build layered songs. His album Egospect is full of freaky and jazzy tracks. Live he's performing with a drummer. He's playing guitar and saxophone by himself, while building his loops. It is hard to get into and that turns out to be too much for a part of the crowd. There's quite a lot of chatting in the back of the beautiful "Naar Buiten" stage in the woods. Now and then it comes together though and you hear and feel the great music that you'll find on his record. Hopefully he can find a way to show that more convincingly on stage.

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Jacco Gardner
The same thing is happening for Jacco Gardner today. His dreamy psychedelic sixties inspired music seems perfect for this festival. But the sunny weather this afternoon is slowing down his songs. It sounds too lazy and proves too much for the crowd who can't keep their focus. Maybe in the dark in the woods this would have been a more inspiring performance. Now it gets lost on the sports field, no matter how cool his drummer is. The dreamy songs just won't stick today in the sunshine.

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Bent van Looy
Das Pop front man Bent van Looy is at the right place on the stage in the woods. There are two electric piano's at his disposal, that he's using to perform the songs that he wrote when he lived in Paris. His charming personality and short tales to explain his lyrics are a successful combination. The convincing performance of the slightly melancholic songs on his fine solo album are keeping the crowd focused. He may not be the world's most gifted singer, but he makes up for that in charisma. The lush surroundings are doing the rest.

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Earth Mk. II
Jacco Gardner produced the album of new band Earth Mk. II. It is a nice album with psychedelic songs influenced by the same era that Gardner is drawing inspiration from. Their songs have more modern and pop influences though and cannot really compete with Gardner's work. Live on stage their performance isn't exactly inspired. The band members look quite static and shy. Master mind of the band is Hugo van de Poes, buddy of Gardner with whom he played in The Skywalkers. Van de Poes is also singing at the same time, which doesn't help for a more lively performance. The vocals aren't really spot on either. His voice is a bit monotonous and their performance is becoming quite weary in the end. It's clear this band needs to go and play many more shows to grow.

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Valerie June
It seems everything The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach touches these days turns into gold. He produced Valerie June's album Pushin' Against A Stone and gave it his unmistakable sound. The blues and country songs themselves however aren't that great and the performance itself a bit boring. June's voice, which is quite shrieky, is even getting on my nerves after a while.

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Claw Boys Claw
We get close to the stage for these old rockers. Enforced with drummer Jeroen Kleijn they look and sound better than ever as they already proved earlier this year and on their latest record Hammer. Like a diesel engine they are slowly warming up. The first couple of songs are lazy songs with heavy riffs. Combined with the baritone voice of Peter Te Bos it is their signature sound of "swamp" rock.

Halfway the engine is running smoothly and full force. Songs of the new album sound just as good as the old ones. There's even a pit forming in front of the stage. Te Bos, although in his sixties, still is a rebellious boy. He jumps into the crowd like he always does and takes off the top part of the wooden festival logo at the side of the stage. It is the word "great" which he puts down at the front of the stage. When he climbs on top of it with a big smile, the only thing missing is the exclamation mark: great!

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Chic ft. Nile Rodgers
Later than planned living legend Nile Rodgers takes the stage during the sound check. He's taking pictures of the crowd and the festival site. The big smile on his face is looking promising. There's plenty for him to laugh nowadays, since he's totally hot again after his collaboration with Daft Punk. When the band takes off he explains that they are not a cover band. All the songs we're about to hear are simply his. It may sound arrogant, but it is not a superfluous pompous statement. Many people may not be aware of it.

Despite the soundcheck the band faces many technical problems in the beginning. They stop for a while to get it fixed. After that the field turns into a full on disco party. All his big hits by David Bowie, Madonna, Sister Sledge, INXS and of course Chic make it into the set. The band is throwing a fully orchestrated disco show, played by great and professional musicians. It's a very tight band with the wonderful grooving bassist Jerry Barnes. Both female singers have a strong voice and take solos by turn. When the band finishes DJ St. Paul drops the one song he agreed never to play live without the original performers: Daft Punk's 'Get Lucky'. Needless to say this keeps the party going for a little longer.

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While sipping a last beer on the camping site at our tent, we see lightning in the distance while the clear sky is showing thousands of stars. Fortunately the thunderstorms are far away and the rain never reaches the island.

More Pictures

Into The Great Wide Open 2013 Day 2
Into The Great Wide Open 2013 Day 3

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