Thursday 15 October 2015

On Stage: The Hickey Underworld at Paradiso

After winning Humo's Rock Rally, a Belgian national music contest for bands, in 2009 The Hickey Underworld went ahead and tried to conquer their home country. The band did it a pretty good job at it, considering their loud grunge rock with twists and turns isn't quite your middle of the road rock music. With their third album Ill that is out for half a year now, they are back in the Northern part of the low lands as well.

The Hickey Underworld at Paradiso, Amsterdam October 13 2015

Before I can get into Paradiso I have to beat the huge line that is waiting outside to get in. There's a sold out concert in the main hall as well and The Hickey Underworld's show is starting about the same time. This proves to be a not so smart move from the programmers and I end up getting in at the show twenty minutes after it started. I find the small hall more than half empty which surprises me since it's also free for Indiestad pass holders. Maybe they are all still outside in the huge queue, I don't know. It doesn't get the group down, on the contrary, they are determined to stay on stage until everyone has caved in to their pounding rock songs.

The heavy and solid rock songs remind sometimes of Deftones with lingering guitar riffs and slow grooves beating away. But when they pick up the speed it shifts more to hardcore territory with head splitting noise and ear deafening volume. Original guitar player Jonas Govaerts unfortunately had to leave the band because of a hearing problem and is replaced by Tim van Hamel, one of Belgium's finest rock musicians. Sometimes it is as if singer Younes Faltakh has trouble keeping up with the volume and the pass, since his vocals are not always really clear and are easily overthrown by the wall of sound his band mates build. In the end that's not a huge problem since the group is one that needs to sound dirty and make up for everything with an endless amount of energy.

But this band is more than just a loud rock band. Many songs have unconventional song structures and sometimes want to give you an uneasy feeling. At other times it's like grunge disco with a four on the floor beat and guitars that make you want to dance or crap your pants. Drummer Jimmy Wouters isn't really happy with the crowd's response and keeps asking for more feedback even jumping from stage to push everyone to the front. In the end the hard work all pays off and the crowd simply has to surrender to the Belgian band who leave them behind after the encore gasping for air. Fortunately for me the show turns out to be long enough to make up for my late entry and I leave home happy after all with their new LP.

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