Wednesday, 10 April 2019

On Stage: The Comet Is Coming @ Paradiso Tolhuistuin

It is good to see how some young jazz bands are able to mix modern music and jazz together into exciting musical adventures. They are appealing to a young audience and play some of the biggest pop festivals with great success. One of those band is The Comet Is Coming whose star is on the rise, to keep it in space. There's a new album out Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery and the band is touring in support of the new LP.

The Comet Is Coming at Paradiso Tolhuistuin Amsterdam, April 6 2019

The London based trio have found an exciting blend of electronica, jazz and anything psychedelic. The funky beats by Max "Betamax" Hallet and repeating freaky sax riffs by "King Shabaka" Hutchings are spiced up with spacy keys and pounding house beats by Dan "Danalogue" Leavers. It is clear why a young generation loves this, since these are great songs to dance to and the music is full of eruptive climaxes.

Once and a while Danalogue will say a few words, but mostly the band will simply keep on going, making sure the energy level stays high and the vibe never gets lost. Hutchings is working hard all night, making his sax squeak and grunt, trying to get the most out of the instrument. Sometimes the tempo goes down with gloomy dark keys that are an upbeat to more orgasmic explosions.

Even the obligatory break before the encore is kept short, so the trio can pick up as soon as possible where they left off. After 75 minutes the band plays the final note of the show, which seems to have lasted only half an hour. This wonderful trip through space sure lost any sense of time. Make sure to catch this band when you can on this tour or on any of those festivals this summer.

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Monday, 25 March 2019

On Stage: Soundgarden Lives! @ Patronaat

Last month I saw Navarone play a show in support of the new LP Salvo only a day after they played the final of The Voice of Holland. A few months before I saw them play a tribute to one of my favourite bands, Soundgarden. Now they are bringing this tribute closer to home and are visiting the Patronaat in Haarlem.

Soundgarden Lives! at Patronaat Haarlem, March 23 2019

Last year the band also played a string of covers on Dutch radio, ranging from Queen to Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd. They proved there what a versatile band they are and hopefully were able to convince people to go check out their own music, which is top notch as well. Tonight is actually a Chris Cornell tribute since they will also play songs from his other bands like Audioslave and Temple of the Dog, and from his solo career.

Playing these heavy rock songs alone is already quite a challenge, since Soundgarden didn't play middle of the road straightforward rock. Instead they used odd time signatures, changed them throughout songs, played complicated guitar lines and used complex song structures. If that alone isn't enough of a challenge, Chris Cornell had one of the most impressive voices in rock with unbelievable power and an incredible range. Fortunately Navarone have Merijn van Haren who will leave everyone stunned with his amazing vocals.

Why they decided to play with several other singers is therefore a bit of mystery to me. Tonight they are joined by actor Frank Lammers, The Charm The Fury singer Caroline Westendorp, Delain's Charlotte Wessels, Wudstik, and their own guitar tech Bas Wienhoven. Especially Wienhoven, former singer of local Nijmegen band The Liquid Machine, does a very good job. Lammers of course is an actor and knows he's not able to come even close to Cornell, but still turns his performances into lively ones.

But none of these singers is able to do Cornell justice like van Haren does. His voice and range are perfect for the difficult vocal parts of these songs. The rest of the band are impressive too as they work their way through the complex heavy rock songs with great ease. It all sounds very tight and it is obvious they enjoy playing this repertoire. I've been fortunate enough to see Soundgarden and Chris Cornell play a few times and it is sad to realize we will never hear them play that music with him. But it is great to hear this music live again, performed by a band who can make it sound so well.

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Monday, 18 March 2019

On Stage: Raggende Manne @ Melkweg

The Dutch word "raggen" means something like "to romp". Dutch band Raggende Manne are a phenomenon that is hard to explain. Their wild punk free jazz, or "hectic punk jazz" as they call it, with Dutch lyrics that are mostly absurd, is one of a kind. The band has been romping around for over thirty years although they disbanded end of the nineties until their return in 2013. They had a new album planned with an accompanying tour, until disaster struck.

Raggende Manne at Melkweg Amsterdam, March 16 2019

Before they could release the new LP Alles Kleeft and start their tour, singer Bob Fosko got diagnosed with stage four cancer. He decided that he doesn't want to make a big drama out of it and go ahead with the tour as long as he feels fit enough. A changing bunch of guest singers is helping him out every night in case his voice plays up. Tonight they are Ro Krom, Theo Wesselo and actor Bert Kuizenga. For the rest the band just wants to play and throw one of their insane parties like they always do.

Tonight there's simply no room for sadness. Fosko looks in pretty good shape and cracks a few jokes about his disease. For the rest the band and their singers turn the place upside down. Think of it as a two hour punk show, compressed into a single hour. It may all seem a joke, but the music is actually really good. This band will run you over like a steamroller, put it in reverse and then run you over once again. That's why the shows never last really long, although tonight it seems to last a bit longer than usual. It's one of the benefits of having four singers on stage.

It's obvious everyone in here tonight is having a great time and maybe the party on stage is even the biggest. The band can't leave of course without an encore where everyone gathers on stage for the final blow. The band returns a second time and plays their first single that turned into an unexpected hit, the six seconds lasting 'Nee, da's niks'. It's a suiting end of a festive night, a celebration of a unique band.

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Saturday, 16 March 2019

On Stage: FEELS @ Paradiso

There's a lot going on at the moment about gender identity and about the position of women in the world. Also in music people realize something is going on in a business that is being dominated by males. So there's now a focus on music made by women and fortunately there are plenty of great female artists. Like the FEELS for instance, the band consisting of three women and a male drummer, who are on the rise.

FEELS at Paradiso Amsterdam, March 13 2019

We get warmed up by Czech shoegaze band Manon Meurt. Their slow post rock music is interesting enough although it needs a bit more work in my opinion. The drummer is so busy coming up with uncommon breaks and rhythms that he forgets that a song needs a groove. The band could be onto something though.

Ty Segall himself produced the first self titled FEELS album and with that stamp of approval you must have something to offer. The band bring their brand new album Post Earth and starts friendly with a couple of indie rock songs that have beautiful harmonies. But then their music explodes into wild punk and garage rock that blows everyone away. Singer Leana Geronimo is convincing in both the more quiet songs as in the loud ones. She sometimes even puts away her guitar to step up to the front. Fellow guitarist Shannon Lay is mostly singing harmonies but takes the lead in a couple of songs as well.

These are skilled and experienced musicians. Geronimo is a multi-instrumentalist and has her own band Wild Geronimo. Lay is a singer songwriter herself and performs solo. This is probably the reason this bands has so much diversity to offer in their music. But they add their own sound to it, which makes sure there is a clear direction. Best of all it all sounds very tight and well performed. This is a band to my liking with groovy rock songs and lots of energy. To top it off Geronimo announces that they will return to Amsterdam in June to play the new Loose Ends festival. I already got me my tickets and I am looking forward to seeing this exciting band again

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Monday, 11 March 2019

On Stage: Mozes and the Firstborn @ Bitterzoet

Dutch garage rock band Mozes and the Firstborn are a group that know how to have fun with their music. There's always that tongue in cheek touch in their songs, without making it too cheesy. On stage these guys can throw a big party too so I try to catch them whenever I can.

Mozes and the Firstborn at Bitterzoet Amsterdam, March 7 2019

This time the band just got back from a 6 weeks tour in the US, where they release their music on the illustrious record label Burger Records. It makes sense that company contracted the Dutch rockers since they fit right in with bands like together PANGEA. That band is all about having fun as well and at the same time know how to write convincing and killer tunes. They even teamed up with them on their new LP Dadcore for the title track. Currently the four lads are touring around in support of that album, this time without their regular drummer and producer Raven Aartsen.

You can hear a broader sound on the new record, showing the band keeps on growing. Tonight this becomes even more clear when you hear the new and older songs alternating. New songs like that title track 'Dadcore' and 'Sad Supermarket Song' are powerful rock songs but are also quite different. Light happy punk songs are followed by Weezer like rock and heavy grungy 90s stompers. The band sounds confident and is playing more tightly than ever. This may sound like a playful garage rock band with gritty slacker rock songs, but these guys can play for sure.

Fronted by the charismatic Melle Dielesen there's plenty going on live on stage as well, with a lot of energy flowing. Dielesen has always been an entertaining singer to watch, but seems to grow more and more into his frontman role as the band gets older. He's able to get a party started anywhere he plays, even when the crowd seems a bit hesitant like tonight. But these irresistible songs together with a band having so much fun is guaranteed to win even the biggest grump over. Their music is far too gritty and hooky to become mainstream, which is only a good thing. But somehow I hope this band could get bigger, only because I know they could make so many people happy and give them a good time. They always make me leave with a big grin on my face, that's for sure.

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Thursday, 28 February 2019

On Stage: Bodega @ Bitterzoet

A wine shop or wine cellar is called a "bodega" in Spanish. In the US small convenience stores are sometimes called bodegas as well. It's also a band from Brooklyn New York that created a small buzz around them and are currently one of the most exciting NYC bands. Their sharp krautrock and old style post-punk does sound promising.

Bodega at Bitterzoet Amsterdam, February 26 2019

The small Bitterzoet venue has filled up quite well by a bit older crowd. It must be the retro style post-punk sound inspired by bands like The Fall that draws these fans. Bodega's first album Endless Scroll was produced by Parquet Courts’ Austin Brown and even recorded on the same Tascam machine Light Up Gold was recorded on. Indeed you can hear some Parquet Courts influences in their music.

Sometimes it also reminds of LCD Soundsystem without the electronics and especially the songs where guitarist/singer Ben Hozie and singer Nikki Belfiglio are almost shouting their lyrics reminds a bit of early B-52's. All together it sounds pretty tempting and the somewhat sarcastic tone in the songs give it all a bit of a light touch. It results in catchy songs that are great to have a good time with and at the same time leave enough to sink your teeth in.

It's mostly Hozie and especially the energetic Belfiglio who are upfront while the rest of the band steadily keeps the groove. There is no standard drum kit but drummer Tai Lee is standing behind a set of drums, pounding away with an intimidating look on her face. It does give the music plenty of groove, but is also a bit limiting. This may get in the way after a few albums, but isn't a real problem for now. For now they treated us to an hour of interesting rock music with an inspired performance.

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Wednesday, 27 February 2019

On Stage: Excelsior Supporters Day

The Excelsior Recordings record label always had a fine nose for interesting and quality bands. I like their mentality and a lot of the music they released and that's why I became a supporter of the label a couple of years ago. Now they are organizing the first Excelsior Supporters Day with a lot of music and performances by some of their most successful bands.

Excelsior Supporters Day at Paradiso Tolhuistuin Amsterdam, February 24 2019


By the time we arrive at the venue, the first of these bands is ready for their performance. Moss is one of the crown jewels of the label and has come a long way. They never made things easy for themselves but always stayed true to their own believes. Record by record they got better until they found their perfect form, resulting in the last album Strike. On stage they have found this form as well, looking comfortable and focused.

They try out a few new songs today and it almost seems as if you're in their practice studio, since these songs have not been rehearsed endlessly for live performances. Drummer Finn Kruyning asks what tempo a song is in and in another song they try to figure out where to start. This is a band that is not afraid to show this to an audience that has collectively embraced this band. I am looking forward to that new album they are working on a lot.

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The day continues with performances by Bewilder's Maurits Westerik, Awkard I (Djurre de Haan) and Bertolf(Lentink). It makes sense putting these artists on stage one after another, where Westerik and Awkward I perform solo on acoustic guitar. Bertolf brought his band and on top of that, Jelle Paulusma joins them for one song as well. It is the Excelsior way to encourage these collaborations and let artists discover their musical direction and spectrum, let them experiment and support them to explore joint projects.


The day comes to an end with one of the most successful bands on the label and without a doubt one of their most popular ones. Johan is one of my favourite bands and I am not alone in this. The beautiful songs with lovely melodies are so well done, it's no denying they are one of the best bands in the low lands. They had a very successful year releasing a new LP Pull Up and touring every stage and festival out there. It never gets old hearing these beautiful tunes where the newest songs already feel familiar between the classics.

This band simply is a delight to watch, who simply never are able to sound bad. This music is of such high quality that every single song sounds like a hit. Even when the band makes tiny mistakes it doesn't affect them or the music in the slightest bit. It results in a few smiles between members, but the band keeps going strong. What a great way to end this day.

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There's kind of a jolly atmosphere in here today, as if we're all part of this family, even though not every one is a supporter and it was also possible to simply buy a ticket. That is maybe the best compliment for this record label though, that they managed to make everybody feel part of a big family, both fans and artists. I hope this turns into an annual event.

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Tuesday, 26 February 2019

On Stage: Navarone @ De Helling

Dutch rock band Navarone entered the TV music talent competition The Voice of Holland this year. I was already aware of their unmistakable talent for a long time of course. They made it to the finals where they lost in the end, but were able to convince many people of how a good a rock band they are.

Navarone at De Helling Utrecht, February 23 2019

As a result the planned shows for their current tour around the smaller venues are now selling out fast. Tonight the cozy venue in Utrecht is a full house as well. The band looks eager to play, even though they are tired from playing the finals and partying big afterwards only yesterday. Singer Merijn van Haren has a lot to tell and is very chatty in between songs. It is clear they enjoyed their adventure a lot and hopefully it can get them to the next level.

The current tour is in support of their new record Salvo and many songs of that album make it onto the set tonight. Those songs are more accessible to a greater audience, but at the same time they may even be heavier than ever. Some of them like 'Cerberus' or 'Mind's Eye' draw inspiration from heavy nineties grunge bands like Soundgarden. It is no coincidence that Navarone are honouring that band in a tour that is running parallel to this one, playing only Soundgarden songs with guest singers next to van Haren.

As if van Haren himself isn't able to do Chris Cornell any justice all by himself. His voice never fails to impress. Even after a short night with heavy partying his throat is not letting him down. His mighty howl is impressive as ever, while the rest of the band backs him up with big solid grooves. Guitarist Kees Lewiszong is adding Pink Floyd like melodies to some of the songs, pays a little tribute to Hendrix in one of his riffs and can make his guitar scream whenever he wants. It's these things together with an incredible amount of energy that lifts the songs up even more in a live show.

The Voice of Holland fellow contestant Sanne de Winter joins the band on stage for a rematch of their battle in the show, singing Otis Redding's classic (and made famous by Aretha Franklin) 'Respect'. De Winter is a fine singer, but she simply gets blown away by Navarone and van Haren. It shows what an incredible band this is which deserves a much bigger crowd. Hopefully this TV show adventure can bring that and they can move on to larger venues. See you there guys!

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Sunday, 17 February 2019

On Stage: Thijs Boontjes Dans- En Showorkest @ Melkweg

After spending a marvellous three weeks in beautiful Colombia it's hard to get back to everyday life. Fortunately new releases are pouring in so fast it's hard to keep up, which means the busy club season has started as well. There are many concerts coming up and needless to say I'm going to try to see a large deal of them. But what better way to start than a fun night out with Thijs Boontjes?

Thijs Boontjes Dans- En Showorkest at Melkweg Amsterdam, February 15 2019

Many people are probably wondering who the hell I'm talking about, especially anyone from outside the low lands. Boontjes is a rock and roll artist who is singing songs in Dutch. His lyrics are little stories about life, love and anything that goes with it. His music therefore comes across like a mix of Dutch rock legend Herman Brood and Dutch maestro André Hazes. He even recorded a song 'Ballade van de Moord' with Hazes' daughter Roxeanne who sings it with him tonight on stage.

Boontjes adds plenty of humour to his lyrics and shows ,which makes it all about having fun and doing a little dance. Therefore he calls his band Thijs Boontjes Dans- en Showorkest (Thijs Boontjes dance and show orchestra). Boontjes carefully avoids to cross the line of bad taste or making things too cheesy.

Instead he simply adds all the ingredients for a plain fun rock concert with enough songs to sing along and dance to. When you look beyond the surface you will notice his music is actually really clever and there's more to it than you may expect. He brings a band with very skilled musicians that I happen to know of several other bands in the Dutch rock scene. The band creates an environment for Boontjes to thrive in and he looks very comfortable on stage with a lot of cool.

On his Hammond he emphasizes the swinging rhythm section consisting of drummer Bram Hakkens and bassist Jeroen Overman, who he played with in Dutch singer Douwe Bob's band. With Guido Blom guitar licks, who he knows from their old band King Jack, it adds a rough edge to the sound, so it doesn't become too soft. All in all Boontjes has found a successful formula to combine musical quality with entertainment and lots of fun. This explains why tonight's release party for his fresh new album Geen Achttien Meer is sold out.

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Friday, 18 January 2019

Damn Good Coffee

I'm in the mood for some damn good coffee, so I'll be gone for a while drinking a couple of quality cups while enjoying the sun and warmth. Rock on people! Fresh pots!

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Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Naughty Naughty Naughty Naughty @ Paradiso

The new year started kind of on a sad note when we had to say goodbye to two great Dutch rock bands last week, Death Alley and Birth of Joy. Fortunately there are quite a few talented young rock bands to follow in their footsteps. One of those bands is Canshaker Pi, who already left a big impression. Now they are throwing a party in Paradiso with a couple of other young talented bands and one group of veterans.

Naughty Naughty Naughty Naughty Naughty at Paradiso Amsterdam, January 10 2019


What better way to start a party than with the after party? It's usually the best part of a party anyway, so Afterpartees are perfect for getting this one going. The group has a new record coming up and are excited to try out new songs on the hungry crowd. Fronted by the always lively Niek Nellen the band is turning the stage into a jolly chaos. The band may not always very tight and Nellen's vocals can be out of tune or out of his reach now and then, but they make up for that big time with a huge amount of energy. The band has plenty of catchy songs and Nellen is pulling out every trick he has to warm up this crowd. This is definitely one of the most fun bands we have in the low lands.

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Real Farmer

Upstairs in the small hall it is very crowded and I am about to find out why. Real Farmer is a very promising new band that seems to come out of nowhere, but some members have been around in the scene for a couple of years. Their noise rock and post rock songs sound very convincing and I really like their sound. Everyone else is digging this band as well since it stays full until the end of their set. It reminds me of bands like Protomartyr sometimes and the group leaves a very good impression. I'm going to keep my eye on this band.

Scram C Baby

The only band tonight that has been around for a long time is Scram C Baby. So what are they doing on this night of young upcoming bands? Singer John Cees Smit is Willem Smit's dad, guitarist and singer of Canshaker Pi. How great is that? Father and son on the same stage on the same night? Scram C Baby are an established rock band, that just released a very good new album Give Us A Kiss. The group plays a top performance with clever rock songs and an inspired show. Smit is heavily promoting his son's band, waving the Canshaker Pi scarf whenever he can, like a proud father. I'm sure he taught him everything he knows.

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It's been a while since I saw 45ACIDBABIES play a support show. A few months back I saw singer Sophia de Geus play with her punk rock duo FFOOSS. Tonight it's time for her electronic side. This band is very creative, playing hooky and wilfully songs. Although the audience tonight is a party willing crowd, they can also appreciate this music that requires a bit more effort. The band plays a good set and is able to convince the people in the small hall.

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Pip Blom

Young rock artist Pip Blom is a star on the rise that already draws attention from abroad. Her songs are both rocking as catchy and there's always a pleasant vibe in her music. It all sounds fresh and lively and her band members are bouncing with her on stage like the curls on her head. Everything is still quite unpolished but that is part of the charm. After a number of singles and a first EP a couple of months ago, everyone is eagerly awaiting her first album to drop some day.

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Rotterdam band Lewsberg is becoming an indie favourite quite fast, impressing many people with their The Velvet Underground sound, with clear guitar lines and the half talking half singing style of Arie van Vliet. I really like their music but still have trouble getting into their static stage presence, that is part of their act. But when you focus on the music, it totally works and the songs of their first album sound simply great.

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Canshaker Pi

Of course this night isn't complete without a performance by the organisers themselves. You can leave it up to this band to end the night on a high. The band is clearly used to the line-up change now, as they fly into this show right away. It is wonderful to see how this band is growing and see the band members are slowly growing up. Their sound is maturing as well, getting more deep, without losing that edge that makes them unique. Without any obvious effort they are turning the floor into a wild dancing party with crowd surfers and stage divers flying around. It is well passed my bedtime when they return to the stage for the final encore and close the night with a big bang, giving everyone in here the party they wanted.

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It is great to see how a band like Canshaker Pi is now moving to the front of the alternative scene over here and is offering a stage to upcoming bands. It is really hard for these kind of bands to make a living from their music and it is very hard work. I really like how they are helping out each other. In the end everyone is winning here on this beautiful night.

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