Monday 22 February 2016

On Stage: King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard at Oedipus Brewery

Two things that go together very well are rock music and beer, or even better live music and beer. A rock band playing in a brewery sounds like a match made in heaven. Unfortunately I was too late to list myself among the first hundred people on the Indiestadpas facebook who were allowed to go to one of the two shows of King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard with their Indiestad pass. Apparently I was at the top of the reserve list and was among the lucky ones after all.

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard at Oedipus Brewing Amsterdam, February 20 2016

The Oedipus brewery is a small brewery that embraces craft beer and cooks up some crazy brews. They have always been active on festivals and other cultural activities so it's a good match to host a rock show. The brewery isn't exactly centrally based in Amsterdam, but can be found in a small industrial area in Amsterdam North across the IJ water, which includes a ferry ride from the central train station. The second show starts at midnight and the weather is simply horrible. Many people arrive at the brewery soaking wet and maybe this is why it doesn't seem to fill up completely although it is sold out. Probably some people decided to stay at home, especially the ones with a Indiestad pass, which is a shame because I'm sure plenty would have loved to take their place.

With so many beers to chose from this night will become a feast for our taste buds and ears. Since there's no real stage, I can only see the heads of the band members that are standing. I really can't see both drummers, no matter how hard I try. The people that did make it to the brewery are in a great mood and when the band starts playing, the first few rows immediately start dancing and jumping. The psychedelic rock songs sound great, even though the sound isn't really good. But what can you expect in a large hall that was not built to host rock concerts. The fuzzed out vocals of singer Stu Mackenzie sound great but it makes it almost impossible to understand what he's saying. It doesn't matter since the music can do the talking for them and it goes down well with the crowd who keep dancing and crowd surfing.

The group is great at playing the groovy hypnotic songs that seem to drift between prog rock and garage rock with a jazzy twist here and then, some of them driven by bluesy harmonica. Mackenzie plays the flute on some songs which is a nice touch, but also a risky one since it's a controversial instrument that is not everyone's favourite. But songs like 'Trapdoor', 'Hot Wax' and the wonderful 'The River' are a delight to hear live while sipping one of those wonderful beers. Apparently some of us had a bit more than just a few beers, as one guy climbs the top of the bar, to make a giant dive into the crowd from quite a big height while the band shake their heads to keep him from doing it. It sounds crazy but he could have hurt other people and himself for that matter. For the encore Mackenzie returns all by himself for an acoustic song to end the night in style. Even though it's not the perfect location for a rock concert, the brewery definitely is one with the right vibes and with a band like King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard you really can't go wrong.

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Friday 5 February 2016

On Stage: together PANGEA

Whenever the garage rock band together PANGEA is coming to town you better make sure you catch them, since they are guaranteed to bring the place down and will give everyone a good time. So when they were visiting Amsterdam again I made sure I was not gonna miss them and made my way to the Sugarfactory.

together PANGEA at Sugarfactory Amsterdam, February 1 2016

Supporting act of the night is the new garage rock band St. Tropez. They started out as a bit of a mystery but not for very long when people found out it was the reincarnation of Dutch rock band Go Back To The Zoo. A little while later they announced that GBTTZ no longer exists and they were focusing on their new group. Tonight the band proves this is a good choice. Although with GBTTZ they made quite a few catchy songs that was appealing to especially a young crowd, St. Tropez seems to fit the group better. Bass player Lars Kroon now also is the lead singer of the band and is doing a good job at it. He jumps off the stage a few times to dance in front of it or to do a wild stroll across the floor with his bass still strapped on. According to the band they have written many songs and their performance tonight makes me look forward to hearing them.

The crowd is warmed up quite well by the time together PANGEA takes the stage, so right form the beginning a pit forms that will stay there for the entire show and will only grow bigger. The band makes clear why they are such a good live band that people like so much. Their songs have a lot of variation ranging from catchy pop songs to wild and rough garage rock songs with heavy riffs.

The band is touring in support of their new EP The Phage and we can hear a few songs from it. I don't think the people in the pit really care which songs they play, just as long as they keep playing. Half of the people in the small venue is dancing like crazy to the uplifting rock songs, while stage divers are constantly climbing the stage and crowd surfers keep going round. Their big hits 'Badillac' and 'Too Drunk To Cum' are greeted with cheers and excitement by the young crowd. In the end the band can only watch this scene approvingly and be pleased. Another victorious night and another place they have played to pieces. Unfortunately the dark and smoky venue makes it impossible for me to shoot decent pictures, so that's why you the crappy ones. See you again next time guys!

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Tuesday 2 February 2016

New Sounds: DIIV - Is The Is Are

After his successful first album Oshin Zachary Cole Smith formed DIIV and toured extensively. While on tour he wrote more than 150 songs so it may not come as a surprise that the new album Is The Is Are is a double album that has seventeen tracks in total. Listen to it below or on Spotify:

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Monday 1 February 2016

On Stage: Tame Impala at Heineken Music Hall Amsterdam

After Kevin Parker released the third Tame Impala album Currents, things happened fast for him. All of a sudden he broke through to a bigger audience and that new status came with bigger festival slots and the smaller clubs he was used to playing were replaced with larger venues. So he now kicks off the European tour in the sold out Heineken Music Hall instead off a sold out Paradiso like a few years ago.

Tame Impala at Heineken Music Hall Amsterdam, January 29 2016

Bigger venues like that bring bigger crowds but also higher expectations. Tame Impala never were a band that would play the crowd but had to rely on their musical skills. The HMH may be a venue that sounds great but it’s also one that lacks the atmosphere of a smaller venue like my beloved Paradiso. Support act Jagwar Ma experiences that first hand tonight. The sound is not great the first half of the set and the threesome are drowning on the big stage. In the second part of their set the sounds seems to improve and their grooves sound a lot bigger and more convincing now. But they aren't ready yet for a venue of this size.

Tame Impala already proved to be able to entertain big crowds during the past festival summer and right from the start it is clear Parker and his band are totally up for the next step. The band kicks off with big hit ‘Let It Happen’ supported by large psychedelic visuals and confetti cannons, setting the mood right away. This can be risky since after such a big opening things could die down, but they are not letting it slip. Instead they are crafting their own universe around their music, dragging the crowd in. Parker actually looks very comfortable on stage, settling into his role as frontman of a big band, chatting to the crowd and thanking them several times. This brilliant musician has come along way with his music.

Even during a few slow songs like 'Yes I'm Changing' where he puts down his guitar and walks around stage like a first class crooner. He takes a stroll to either side of the stage, even sitting down at the front for a short while. The music is spot on and they made small changes to the arrangements to make them some of them sound bigger or extend them. Of course a song like ‘Elephant’ already sounds big enough with its pounding guitar groove, but some others sound a bit more meaty and sometimes get exploding endings. The more electronic sound of Currents blend in well with the older more guitar oriented songs, with the bigger hits scattered throughout the set.

The confetti cannons blow a few times more and the set runs smoothly. It is a very good place to be in, this newly crafted Parker universe. The crowd is dancing, you can smell a joint here and there and people are actually singing along to songs that aren't really singalong tunes. In the encore we get treated to a wonderful version of ‘Feels Like We Only Go Backwards’ and since Rihanna covered it, the band ends with ‘New Person, Same Old Mistakes’, which they never played live according to Parker. In the end this was a spectacular show with a band who are on top of things and are still growing. And who knows how far they can fly this spaceship?

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More Pictures

01. Intro
02. Let It Happen
03. Mind Mischief
04. Why Won't They Talk to Me?
05. It Is Not Meant to Be
06. The Moment
07. Elephant
08. Yes I'm Changing
09. The Less I Know the Better
10. Eventually
11. Alter Ego
12. Oscilly
13. 'Cause I'm a Man
14. Why Won't You Make Up Your Mind?
15. Apocalypse Dreams
16. Feels Like We Only Go Backwards
17. New Person, Same Old Mistakes

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