Thursday, 10 September 2015

ITGWO 2015 Saturday and Sunday

After that incredible Friday I doubt if we can top that in the two days still to come but we sure are going to try. It's a bit hard to wake up early so unfortunately we have to miss the first couple of bands.

Into The Great Wide Open 2015, Saturday September 5 2015

Ryley Walker
We decide to kick off our day at the lovely stage in the woods where Ryley Walker is about to start his set. He starts out on his own with a nice acoustic song. I'm a bit worried this will be "just another singer songwriter" but fortunately the rest of the band joins in and a wonderful performance follows. The mellow songs have enough meat to chew on and keep you focused. Walker turns out to be a funny character that has no trouble entertaining his audience. This is one of those shows where place, artist and crowd totally connect together and magic happens.

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Gabriel Rios
After this amazing start we head to the sports field to see a new side of Gabriel Rios. Where he used to lay down a mellow tropical party he is now showing his sensitive side with small intimate songs. A cello, horns and a double bass are helping him out. It's an admirable choice to go this way, but his performance is a bit pale.

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Alamo Race Track
Then we need to hurry again to cycle to the dunes and catch Alamo Race Track. Their alternative rock songs should be at the right place here and it has filled up nicely. The sun is even shining now and then, which is a delight after yesterday's rain. Alamo Race Track has so many beautiful songs to choose from, but live it doesn't always work out. The band is a bit unpredictable that can play amazing shows but sometimes it's just not their day. Today the music sounds nice but the band doesn't really connect with the audience so the spark is kind of missing. Still it's always good seeing them play their atmospheric songs live.

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Leon Bridges
Aaaaand it's back to the sports field since soul singer Leon Bridges is playing there. His star rose like a comet this year, as over half a year ago no one knew who he was. Now he has drawn quite a big crowd to watch him sing his retro soul songs. Joined by two members of White Denim, his band sounds great and his smooth voice goes down well with many. But his stage presence is a bit too modest so it never gets really wild. Hopefully in the future he can bring more to the stage and then things will look pretty good for him.

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Polar Bear
We go into the woods to see some jazz, played by Polar Bear. Two saxophone players are playing sharp and shrill solos on top of mellow groovy jams. It does sound like an exciting experimental jazz concept, but somehow it's never really taking off. The songs are too stretched out to make them hold the tension and although well played it's hard to keep focused. Also the band looks a bit pale and uninspired as well, maybe too impressed with their surrounding.

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Seun Kuti & Egypt 80
Because of cancellations Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 were found as replacements and according to the MC were flown in from Lagos, through Casablanca and brought in by water taxi. That's why they start out later than planned and I have to skip some other bands, but I'm nuts for afrobeat and Seun Kuti is a treat you cannot pass on. This is a great band to have on this festival and the band look happy enough to play here. I simply love the long jams with the horns and the many layers that seem to lead a life of their own, but still blend in so nicely. Seun Kuti is a delight to watch, and like his father is a charismatic front man who is all over the place with spectacular dance moves. He may not be the greatest sax player, but makes up for it in energy. I have seen them play better though where they can truly light up a place. Maybe it's the big trip they had to take today, or the relative short set they are playing, who knows. Still I love it and can only have huge respect for them to go through all this trouble to play at this festival.

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When Tom Barman is not playing with dEUS, he's not sitting at home. He may be making a movie, or play with Magnus. Or in this case find himself playing in the jazz combo Taxiwars, a project by sax player Robin Verheyen. The result is an exciting mix of jazz and grooves with the typical, sometimes spoken word, vocals of Barman. It turns the woods into a dark smoky jazz night club from the fifties or sixties where private eyes zip their whisky. The band looks like they are enjoying it a lot and the crowd feels this energy. Again this is the perfect place for such a performance.

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One thing is for sure today, that we will be ending on a high. zZz are turning indoor stage The Bolder into a sleaze fest with their out of control organs, never ending grooves and mysterious lyrics. You can only dance to this dirty gritty hypnotic music and that's what everyone is doing. People are crowd surfing and partying and things get nice and sweaty, the way this musics suits the best. Oh man, that track 'Juggernaut' is so good, I want it to keep going forever.

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We stay around to dance and drink some more until the night program comes to an end. And so does this day that turned out to be wonderful again.

More Saturday Pictures

Into The Great Wide Open 2015, Sunday September 6 2015

It's a cliché indeed but time goes so fast when you're having fun. It's already the last day of the festival and it's impossible to wake up on time to see the first bands. It's gonna be a shorter day but let's go out with a bang!

All We Are
We find ourselves at the dunes stage to dance a bit with All We Are. It's quite contagious what they play, some kind of indie rock with a dance edge. The sound is really loud though and it robs the music of any subtleties if there are any. The pounding bass does make you want to dance and the falsetto vocals bring the Bee Gees to mind. However it is as if the band can't choose between danceable disco or head nodding rock. For disco it's not subtle enough, since the sound is too blunt, and for rock it may be too light. But for now it will do just fine.

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We stick around and help ourselves to some delicious razor clams before Ought take the stage. The band are in a good mood and especially drummer Tim Keen is smiling throughout the set. It's a weird contrast between the sunny weather at this moment and the dark moody music. But the songs are sharp and singer Tim Darcy's, sometimes spoken, word vocals sound interesting. The creative drum parts are giving the songs a different edge, turning them into original compositions. The band looks to be in the moment and the crowd is picking up on this. This band will probably work even better in a dark club but this performance was already pretty good. I'm looking forward to their new album Sun Coming Down that comes out later this month.

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The Undertones
We leave the stage in the dunes and make our way to the main stage where a punk rock party has already started. Punk veterans The Undertones are having a fun afternoon with everyone and their jumpy punk songs. The songs and the band may have lost their sharp edge and their original singer, but still know how to please a crowd including all the kids. Singer Paul McLoone is all over the stage and the band totally connects, bringing lots of energy. I don't know who's having more fun, the band or the audience. 'Here Comes The Summer' may not be entirely true but The Undertones bring the summer back for a short period.

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For the final show of the festival we head into the woods one last time, where TORRES is playing, the musical pseudonym of Mackenzie Scott. Her dark moody songs with touches of grunge remind of PJ Harvey and St. Vincent and this place should be ideal for her. It does work today to some extend, but it looks as if Scott is holding back a bit. Her honest songs are strong enough though and her voice is convincing. All in all she leaves a good impression and this is a fitting final show at this stage.

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Then it's time for the final blow when Afterpartees are the ones to really close it down. Of course they are the perfect after party band, not just because of their name, but also because they have "party" written all over them. The boys turn the place upside down one more time with some guest musicians and lots of energy and sweat. Since they only have released one record yet, the set list includes many covers that fit in perfectly. Everyone is partying hard for the last time, proving that this festival doesn't just dwell upon nice weather, but due to a very strong program, a wonderful environment, a combination of atmosphere and good food, and a group of like-minded people can always grow into a wonderful experience. This edition was no less than the previous ones, despite the weather, so hopefully we will manage to get tickets again for next year.

More Sunday Pictures

Into The Great Wide Open 2015 Thursday and Friday

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