Friday 9 September 2016

ITGWO 2016 Day 3 + 4

Halfway the Into The Great Wide Open festival we've seen some pretty amazing performances already and we still have so many to come. Bring on the second part!

Into The Great Wide Open 2016, Saturday September 3 2016

The day starts real sunny although the weather forecasts show rain coming up later today. Let's enjoy the sun while it lasts.

Bixiga 70
What better way to start this day than with Bixiga 70 from São Paulo, that play swinging afrobeat juiced up with Brazilian influences. The band turns the field into a hot swinging dance party and are enjoying it themselves a lot too. The instrumental songs have explosive percussion and sparkling horns played with a lot of heart and enthusiasm. The band completely connects with the cheerful crowd and have to come back for a few encores. And so we start this day with a big smile on our face.

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Remy van Kesteren
In the woods we meet up with Dutch harp player Remy van Kesteren, who shows the instrument can be rock 'n roll too. The clever compositions that are both jazzy and groovy sound great and combined with his good band it goes down well. The friendly Van Kesteren is telling short stories in between which give the performance a light touch which is perfect for this time of the day and at this place. Sometimes he's also using a loop station to stack harp parts with each other which is quite impressive. I wonder how many of the kids today will pick up harp playing.

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Mozes and the Firstborn
Young Dutch rockers Mozes and the Firstborn have been away for a while but are now back with a new album Great Pile Of Nothing. I really like their catchy songs and slacker attitude. Here, between the trees it feels right at its place and it creates a relaxed vibe. The band looks refreshed and eager again. The new songs still need to sink in and sound a bit more mellow. I'm looking forward to hearing the new album. In the end I'm still enjoying this band a lot.

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We decide to stick around for Israelian sisters Haim (there are more Haim sisters!?) of A-Wa, who sing in two languages, that sound exotic like the Midle Eastern yemenite music they play. It's uplifting music that sounds both swinging and cheerful. The three young women look lovely and colourful in their nice dresses and the whole band radiates positive energy. It creates an enthusiastic atmosphere with happy faces on and off stage.

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GoGo Penguin
One of the nice things about this festival is its diversity and that it doesn't shy away from asking a bit more from its visitors. GoGo Penguin are a young jazz trio led by double bass player Nick Blacka. Together with piano player Chris Illingworth and drummer Rob Turner they play groovy jazz songs that sound exciting and sparkling. There are no long solos which is common in most jazz music, but instead keep the groove going while playing variations around a theme. They prove jazz is definitely not boring and for middle aged or old people. Instead they make it sound modern and exciting.

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The Golden Dawn Arkestra
By now the predicted rain has started so why not call for help from the sun god? The Golden Dawn Arkestra, formed by Topaz McGarrigle a.k.a. Zapot Mgwana, has landed with their space ship. Their funky disco music is inspired by Sun Ra, who is Mgwana's father according to his mother. The inspiration is obvious from their outfits and the name of their inspirator on a black cloth. They mention the sun god Ra as well and are dressed in strange costumes. Like a Sun Ra show it is seemingly chaotic on stage and several songs are accompanied by some of the members dancing. The dance with led lit hoola hoops is very effective in the dark. There's a lot to see but the music is nice as well. The very danceable songs are funky and swinging and played with a lot of heart. It definitely makes us forget about the rain and hopefully Ra will make the sun return tomorrow.

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Conjunto Papa Upa
we end the night at the thrilling show of Conjunto Papa Upa, a name that sounds very exotic and which is the Venezuelean/Dutch/British trio around Alex Figueira. The very percussive music is a mix of Venezuelan music, samba, cumbia, psychedelic sixties and African influences. It's an explosive mix that is exactly what this small but party hungry crowd needs. The band is firing up the crowd with danceable grooves and at one point jumps into the crowd while continuing to play. It's no surprise the band has to come back for an encore.

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By now the rain is pouring down, so we are eager to get inside. However the rain can't spoil another wonderful day.

Into The Great Wide Open 2016, Sunday September 4 2016

The last day traditionally is the day where we slow down. The program for today is shorter and less packed so we have more time to relax. Of course there are still plenty of bands worth checking out and fortunately the sun has returned.

The music of this young British band is a great way to start the day. The dreamy and bluesy pop songs sound wonderful in the woods and is exactly what we need. The musicians look totally into the moment and are clearly enjoying their show between the trees. They look very focused and their atmospheric music is very effective.

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Ben Miller Band
After this relaxed start it's time to spice it up and the Ben Miller Band is the right band at the right place. It's quite obvious where this band is hailing from and their blue grass and country music is fitting their appearance as well. The band is all positive vibes and looks genuinely pleased to be playing here. Their set is slowly building up to a big hillbilly dancing party between the trees and they leave us all happy and dancing.

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Baloji & L'Orchestre de la Katuba
At the main stage another party is starting. Baloji is a Belgian rapper with Congolese roots and he's accompanied by L'Orchestre de la Katuba. Congolese rumba is mixed with hip hop and soul and Baloji is firing up the crowd. He also doesn't shy away from politics and addresses some problems Africa and Congo are facing and his view on the matter. It suits the music and his personality well and adds some extra fire. Sometimes his moves and posture remind of a young Michael Jackson. The members of the band all get their time to shine today and their energy is reflecting on the excited crowd.

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Rag 'N' Bone Man
It's not a closing act that will make the crowd party one last time, but the impressive Rory Graham, or Rag 'N' Bone Man, knows how to leave us with a happy feeling. His soul music with hip hop influences is strong and so is his voice. It's as if it is really for him to sing this way, bringing his songs straight from the heart. The big man looks like a large teddy bear and he is radiating positive vibes. It's a wonderful performance but I think a festive band would have been more fitting to close the festival. In the end it is not a bad ending to another wonderful edition of Into The Great Wide Open. DJ St. Paul makes sure we can end the festival at the main stage with a big party and we continue to dance for a bit more.

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I had to look it up but this was my sixth edition of this amazing festival that never disappoints. Many bands are excelling here and it's one of those places where both artists and crowd are getting the best out of each other. We spend another couple of glorious days on this lovely island before we head home where I am already dreaming about next year.

All Pictures Day 3
All Pictures Day 4

Into The Great Wide Open Day 1+2

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