Monday 22 September 2014

Flaming North Sea Surf Festival

Surf music had quite a revival halfway the nineties when the movie Pulp Fiction came out. It slowly declined again to the more or less underground scene it was before. Now there seems to be another sort of revival. The good thing is, it never died out and there are still great surf bands around. Dutch surf masters The Phantom Four even organize a North Sea Surf Festival and this year it's the fourth edition. So in the afternoon we drove off to the actual North Sea on the last day of summer and in the evening we went back to Amsterdam for some good surf music.

North Sea Surf Festival at Melkweg, September 20 2014

The line-up has around nine bands on the bill and the festival starts a bit too early for us in the afternoon. So by the time we make it into the venue the festival is in full swing and halfway the line-up.

Dirty Fuse
Dirty Fuse from Greece have just started their set and dressed appropriately in Hawaii shirts are treating us to nice surf tunes. Their sax player is a nice addition to the standard surf line-up and also adds a bit of edge to their middle of the road surf songs. It's a good way for us to kick off the festival though and get us in the right mood.

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Steinar Karlsen
Norwegian guitarist Steinar Karlsen is the lead guitarist and song writer of rock band Hot Little Mama and was even nominated for a grammy with Good Time Charlie. Tonight he's playing two short solo sets in the cinema where we join the first one. It's a bit of a weird setting for rock 'n roll, since we're seated where normally you want to shake your booty. Karlsen is a skilled guitar player and is playing interesting compositions. It's good that he's keeping it short, since you do miss the energy and power of a full band.

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The Phantom Four
This band shouldn't need any introduction anymore. They are the front runners of the surf scene in our country and probably globally as well. Tonight they once again prove why, with an energetic and swinging set that calls for dancing. Phantom Frank is firing up the crowd with great solos while the band is grooving along. With your eyes closed you're at the beach and ready to hit the waves. It's exactly what happens when a surf board is showing up from back stage and a surfer is shortly looking for the perfect wave in the crowd.

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Fifty Foot Combo
This band from Gent Belgium was quite a big name until they ceased to exist in 2006. Now they have risen from their ashes for their twenty year anniversary and even released a new EP. The band is showing why they rose to fame with a lively set of great rock 'n roll. A freaked out Hammond together with reverb-drenched guitars played with a lot of heart gives the crowd exactly what they want. It's impossible to stand still and so we shake it a bit harder.

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It's already time for the last band of the night. The masked Daikaiju members from Alabama are taking the world by storm. Their mix of surf, prog rock and psych rock is winning over many hearts and especially their live shows are quite a spectacle. The band prove to be good musicians and their clever songs sound impressive. The masks are quite a nice addition and also an interesting one, not showing any emotion in their faces this way. Therefore they have to exaggerate their moves which makes it a bit too much I think and draws the attention away from the music. The band take audience participation to a whole new level when they all step off stage, including the whole drum set and continue in the crowd. Then it doesn't take long before the guitarist climbs the stage again and invites everyone over to come along with him. It's obviously hard on the security people who don't look amused. They are frowning even more when the drummer is spraying cigarette lighter fluid on the cymbals to play them while they are on fire. It is quite a spectacular end of the festival though.

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This was a good day with great music, that normally you will find in dark small stages or bars. Hopefully The Phantom Four are able to organize another edition next year. I sure will try to make it again. Maybe this time on the beach?

More Pictures


  1. Great review!
    I was there as well. It was a great line-up. As the evening progressed the acts got louder and bigger. My favourite was Daijkaiju. Holy Jesus, this was some spectacle! I am really happy that the surfscene is still small & not very commercial...

  2. Thanks, it was a great night. I like the way the surf scene seems to remain underground. It seems to make it more honest and both musicians and fans are in it for the right reasons.