Friday 12 September 2014

Into The Great Wide Open Day 0 + 1: Paradise Island

Usually the journey to a festival is more of a burden than a joyful ride. Getting up early to get a decent camping spot, the long traffic lines, dragging around your heavy luggage for too long until you finally can sit down for a well deserved beer in front of your tent. Into The Great Wide Open is nothing like that. We drive up to the harbour of Harlingen, drop off our luggage, and relax on the boat where the wind is clearing our minds and raises our spirits into the right mood. By the time the boat arrives, the rat race of everyday life feels far away. And we even are in time to see one of the bands!

Into The Great Wide Open Day 0 + Day 1, September 5 + 6 2014

It wasn't clear if we would be able to make Magnus, but everything runs smoothly and in the dark we make our way to the new stage, Fortweg, tucked away in the dunes. There we are greeted by an unreal picture, a new world that we are eager to explore. Colourful lights of cosy food stalls and bars, a tower with a real slide on top of the mixing table. Quite a big crowd is already dancing to the band playing on stage.

Tom Barman's electronic adventure seemed to have died after its birth in 2004. However a new album is out now and it actually is quite alive. Millionaire's Tim Van hamel is playing guitar while Barman's partner in crime on this project, CJ Bolland, is laying down the beats and base for this electronic rock crossover. Barman looks quite happy and is doing his best to get the crowd fired up. This is working the best when the balance between rock and techno is just right. Too bad the rest of the band couldn't make it, since it would have spiced up the mix even more. And of course the guest vocals like Tom Smith on 'Singing Man' can't be matched tonight. Still it is an entertaining show on this unique spot.

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So we're all warmed up for a great weekend. Time to down a few more beers and test out our dancing shoes.

The weather is a bit too cold for me to go for a swim. So it's fried eggs and coffee instead before we head to the main stage for the first performance of the day.

Erlend Øye
More than any artist has Erlend Øye shown up here. He loves this festival and seems to come up with any excuse to be able to perform here. This time is his fourth time on the island and together with his music friends is showcasing some of his Italian songs. He's living in Italy nowadays and apparently found inspiration there. These songs are quite sugar sweet and light, sometimes a bit too much to my liking. But Øye's laid-back performance and the sunny weather is quite the right setting to start off the day on a positive note.

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Dans Dans
In the woods we find an interesting name on the bill. This group is not you're middle of the road band but plays jazzy tunes. It sometimes sounds like a soundtrack to a dark Hitchcock movie. There are no vocals, only now and then guitarist Bert Dockx will play recorded voices on a cassette player, by holding it to the strings of his guitar. The band is playing well and tight and are able to create a mysterious atmosphere between the trees. It turns out to be the perfect place for their soundscapes.

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The Dutch alternative band Daryll-Ann are still playing their reunion shows and couldn't be overlooked this year as the band that started it all for the Excelsior label who has plenty of connections with this festival. Also most of the visitors who are in their thirties or forties will remember this band and there should be plenty of fans around. It doesn't get really crowded though, but the band are in good shape and their wonderful songs go down well. Guitarist Anne Soldaat's solos and riffs impress once again, the harmonies sound fresh and today the songs get the right flow to reveal all of their beauty. The sun and the drinks are doing the rest.

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It's time to head back to the dunes again where we find Audacity, a garage rock band on the Burger label, who are working up a sweat. This is garage rock in its purest form with vocals that are slightly off and far from perfection, guitars that are sometimes just out of tune and drums wandering off from time to time. All combined in one explosive ball of energy and played by four young blokes who give it all and are enjoying the hell out of it. Sometimes it's all you need.

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The Miseries
We move back to the sports field where there's a small stage called "Platte Kar", which hosts very new and promising bands and sometimes a surprise performance. Dutch singer/songwriter Tim Knol is performing there with his garage rock band The Miseries. Their compact songs are catchy. Maybe surprisingly, Knol's vocals go very well with these energetic rock tunes. With just one vinyl single out maybe it's time for a full album guys.

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Buffalo Tom
Remember the nineties and this band from Boston? It may seem as if they have recently reformed, but they actually never went away. Their glory days may be behind them, tonight they are showing there's plenty of energy left with a convincing performance on the main stage. The many forty-something visitors enjoy this flash back from their own glory days. Their hits from that era like 'Summer', 'I'm Allowed' and the still solid 'Taillights Fade' are greeted with big smiles. A vivid version of The Faces' 'Stay With Me' tops it off.

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Vaudou Game
The mysterious woods have a mysterious band for us tonight. Fronted by the charismatic Peter Solo this band from Togo and Benin, small African countries squeezed in between Ghana and Nigeria, offer an exotic and hot mix of afro-beat and funk. Solo, a bit dressed like a happy witch-doctor, is firing up the crowd, repeating French words like "l'eau", "nature" and "l'air", creating a hypnotic atmosphere where resistance to stand still is useless. He's backed up by a fantastic and tight band and Solo is once and a while watching one of his band mates play wonderful solos in total admiration, with a big smile on his face. I'm looking forward to their debut album Apiafo which comes out end of this month.

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After this wonderful party we don't want to stop now! Fortunately there's plenty of dancing going on at De Bolder.

More Pictures

Into The Great Wide Open 2014 Day 2
Into The Great Wide Open 2014 Day 3

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