Wednesday 26 April 2017

On Stage: Deftones @ 013

Deftones doesn't visit the low lands a lot and when they do it is usually only for a single night. I am very spoiled living in Amsterdam when it comes to concerts, since many bands will visit this town. But for Deftones I usually have to travel, this time to the south again like I did a few years back. Of course I know it is most probably worth it.

Deftones at 013 Tilburg, April 24 2017

Travelling this far on a weekday isn't ideal, since I know I will be home quite late. That's why I don't visit the 013 venue a lot. After I came here the last time, this place has been rebuilt and the main hall is now a lot bigger. Still the concert sold out quite some time ago. Deftones are still very popular and for a good reason. Despite the mixed reviews I like the last album Gore, but maybe it was a bit disappointing for some after the very good Koi No Yokan. Of course the older stuff is always a treat to hear.

At the beginning of the show singer Chino Moreno needs to warm up a bit. His vocals aren't great yet and the sound mix could have been better as well. Moreno's characteristic way of singing always is a bit on the edge but that's what makes it so unique. Fortunately it only takes a short time for him to get warmed up. He's all over the stage, climbing the riser at the front a lot. Guitar player Stephen Carpenter is in his own windy world, with a fan blowing his hair up continuously. Bass player Sergio Vega looks like he's having a lot of fun, playing with a huge grin, while drummer Abe Cunningham can hardly be seen in the corner from where I'm standing, but his powerful grooves can be heard very well.

Deftones know exactly what the crowd wants and play their big hits, taking songs of most of their album. Only two songs of Gore make it to the set list. Back to back they play songs of one album before moving on. So 'Diamond Eyes' and 'You've Seen The Butcher' are paired up, followed by Koi No Yokan's 'Tempest' and 'Swerve City' and so on. And of course the band knows how to build up a set and save the best for last playing the big hits of White Pony and Around The Fur at the end.

By this time the band is in good shape and is rolling smoothly. The crowd is roaring and Moreno is asking for a circle pit; and gets one of course. 'Headup' closes the regular set and the band returns for two more in the encore. It's good to see this band still keeps knocking out good albums and live shows. So in a few years I will no doubt head back south again for their next show.

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01. Korea
02. Elite
03. Diamond Eyes
04. You've Seen the Butcher
05. Tempest
06. Swerve City
07. Gore
08. (L)MIRL
09. Kimdracula
10. Rosemary
11. Minus Blindfold
12. Teething(with Life's A Bitch (Nas Song) chorus)
13. Digital Bath
14. Change (In the House of Flies)
15. Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away)
16. My Own Summer (Shove It)
17. Headup
18. Back to School (Mini Maggit)
19. Rocket Skates

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Monday 24 April 2017

On Stage: Desert Mountain Tribe

Of course the special releases are great on Record Store Day, although record companies are starting to milk it again with insane prices and nasty scalpers who are after the rare ones to make huge profits on eBay. But one of the best things about this day is the many bands playing in the record stores. So what better way to finish this day by going to see Desert Mountain Tribe.

Desert Mountain Tribe at Q-Factory Amsterdam, April 22 2017

The show tonight isn't part of Record Store Day but is definitely a nice addition to today's program. I have seen this band play several times now and I really like their sound. It is a small venue with a small crowd tonight, since the band is still relatively unknown. but they set the mood right from the start when their psychedelic sound rings.

The combination of fuzzy guitar and bass with lots of effects and simple but powerful drums that always keep the groove going, is quite irresistible to me. On top of that it is the wonderful voice of Jonty Balls that completes their sound. You can hear a bit of Eddie Vedder in it now and then and he's always singing with a lot of heart, often closing his eyes.

The songs of their debut album go down well and tonight we also get to hear some new ones from new EP If You Don't Know Can You Don't Know Köln. The people that have shown up are definitely having a good time. Bass player Philipp Jahn and his brother drummer Felix, who are from Germany, brought a small group of their own German fans and they are having a good time at the front of the stage, creating a cheerful atmosphere.

At the back the geometrical visuals add plenty of psychedelic effects to the music. Together with the smell of a joint, which is rare these days at indoor concerts because of non-smoking regulations, all the ingredients are in place for a great show again. Too bad not many people have heard from this band yet, so it is about time they will get their well deserved break to a bigger audience.

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Friday 21 April 2017

Spinning: Japandroids - Near To The Wild Heart Of Life

Up till now the two of Japandroids wanted to make their records sound the way it sounded on stage. This meant that the recordings were quite "lofi" and not a lot was cleaned up in the studio. After a few years of radio silence, because of exhaustion, they are doing things differently this time. For Near To The Wild Heart Of Life the duo left the "lofi" approach and decided to actually make full use of the studio a lot and mix in all kinds of additions to make it sound more impressive. Residing in different Canadian cities this time, it was also more practical to turn it into an actual studio project, so they could record independently from each other.

And so now we can hear all kinds of overdubs, synthesizers and other instruments. They didn't care about how to make it sound live on stage, which worked really well. Things go wild with synths and harmonies on 'Arc Of Bar', causing it to grow into seven minutes of almost epic proportions. The title song 'Near To The Wild Heart Of Life' also sounds big and impressive with wild drum fills and guitars. Japandroids all of a sudden sounds like a band that can fill arenas with a massive rock sound.

Of course they were never a band that were restraining themselves or used a subtle approach, but now everything has been made bigger for an even wider sound. Closer 'In A Body Like A Grave' even turns into a sing along track, that will probably go down well at festivals this summer. In the end only the short 'I’m Sorry (For Not Finding You Sooner)' feels somewhat out of place. According to the duo the song started out as an interlude, but was later added as a separate track.

Nevertheless Japandroids have taken a new direction with a bold and courageous choice, that works very well. The band sounds more impressive and deep than ever without losing any power. Even better, they actually gained power and seem ready for the next step to a wider audience. This simply must turn into an explosive happening when they play the new songs live.

This review has been published on Festivalinfo in Dutch over here.

Listen to 'Near To The Wild Heart Of Life' on Spotify:

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Friday 14 April 2017

On Stage: Therapy? @ Melkweg

Although their commercial hay days are behind them, North-Irish rockers Therapy? still keep going strong. The band is still knocking out new albums on a regular basis and always adds a club tour around Europe. And those live shows are exactly why they are one of my long time favourite rock bands.

Therapy? at Melkweg Amsterdam, April 12 2017

Because live on stage these guys never disappoint and will never let you down. On top of that they are probably one of the nicest people in the music biz. I had to miss out on the last couple of times they visited Amsterdam, so I made sure I could see their show this time. The large hall of the venue is about half full which is less than I expected. Judging from the people around me I guess they aren't adding a lot of new fans and their fan base is ageing with them.

It doesn't matter to the three rockers who are always grateful for the people that do show up and would even throw a killer show with just me in the room. Founding members Andy Cairns and Michael McKeegan have been in the band from the beginning since 1989 and drummer Neil Cooper joined them a while back too. Cooper has his birthday today so the band has something to celebrate.

Both band and crowd start a bit hesitant and need to warm up. Singer Cairns' voice doesn't always sound in tune, especially in the low registers, but their music isn't about perfect vocals of course. It's all about energy and having a blast knocking out heavy rock songs that aren't always your standard straight rock tunes. The last and fourteenth album Disquiet came out two years ago and with that many records there's a lot to choose from. So the set list is a mix of newer songs, some really old ones going back to their first album Babyteeth and of course many killer hits.

Because you'd almost forget the number of great songs this band has. Many times you think "that's right, I forgot about this one!". Songs like 'Teethgrinder', 'Church of Noise', 'Trigger Inside', 'Stories', the vicious Joy Division cover 'Isolation' and of course the Hüsker Dü cover 'Diane', they are all there. The last one is backed up by the "invisible band" as Cairns calls it and features him and McKeegan doing the vocals. By now the band has already wrapped everyone around their finger with their positive stage presence and their unlimited energy.

In the encore the band goes full force for the last time and the last chance for people to go nuts and throw their beer around. After almost two hours and 27 song set this wonderful show is over. Therapy? proves it is still one of the most fun live bands around and you just got to love them.

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01. Knives
02. Stop It You're Killing Me
03. Nausea
04. Skyward
05. Tides
06. Trigger Inside
07. Stories
08. Disgracelands
09. Still Hurts
10. Isolation
11. Deathstimate
12. Teethgrinder
13. Innocent X
14. Church of Noise
15. Misery
16. Unbeliever
17. Meat Abstract
18. Diane
19. Accelerator
20. Lonely, Cryin', Only
21. Die Laughing
22. Epilepsy
23. Insecurity
24. Turn
25. Nowhere
26. Screamager
27. Potato Junkie

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Sunday 9 April 2017

On Stage: The Lemon Twigs @ Tolhuistuin

Last year I saw a video of two young guys who seemed to have come from the sixties with a song that could have been in a psychedelic rock opera. It turned out to be ‘As Long As We’re Together’ by The Lemon Twigs, a young band started by the brothers Brian and Michael D’Addario. They played my hometown that year but unfortunately I wasn’t able to go. However I got another chance last Friday and I wouldn't let this one pass.

The Lemon Twigs @ Tolhuistuin Amsterdam, April 7 2017

I can also catch most of the support act, Lo Moon, who play dark eighties sounding music driven by synthesizers which together with singer Matt Lowell’s voice reminds of Talk Talk. I love their sound and I'm definitely going to keep an eye on this promising band. Simply listen to 'Loveless' and judge for yourself.

The D’Addario brothers are both multi instrumentalists that could easily form a one person band by themselves. It doesn't stop there since both are also actors in Broadway musicals and for TV and movies. Brian starts up front on guitar and lead vocals, while Michael is taking place behind the drums, twirling his drum stricks. Live the band is completed with Megan Zeankowski on bass and Danny Ayala.

Their theatre background is obvious from their music, where they use the same dramatic elements. On top of that it is full of breaks that seem to go in every direction. Rock, prog-rock, glamrock, punk, pop, it’s all their. It can be a little overwhelming but it is so convincing that it is amazing to watch. Halfway the brothers switch positions and it gets more explosive as Michael is bursting with energy. His theatrical performance and stage presence is a mix of a David Bowie act and a young wild Iggy Pop. He’s all over the place, jumping and doing high karate kicks and it is simply wonderful. Meanwhile they keep playing their versatile music and do a great job at it.

People are singing along to the best known songs and judging from the full hall it looks like they are already building a solid following. Normally I would like to see a bit more focus in music when it is going into so many directions, but The Lemon Twigs make it sound and look so natural and fitting that it all makes sense.

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Thursday 6 April 2017

On Stage: Soulwax @ Paradiso

I can still remember it pretty well when I first saw Soulwax play. It must have been the 1999 edition of the Lowlands festival and the Belgian band had released their second album Much Against Everyone's Advice some time before that. The band, dressed in pastel colour suits, blew me completely away. A lot has changed since then, except that the two Dewaele brothers can still blow me away.

Soulwax at Paradiso Amsterdam, April 4 2017

Because that is exactly what they keep doing. For instance the Belgica soundtrack that sounds like a cross reference to their complete catalog. I hope to get my hands on the vinyl version on Record Store Day, when only a few will hit the stores. Recently they released From DeeWee, that bundles everything the band has done, rewraps it, spins it around and throws it at you in a superb way. Tonight they will play in a similar setup I saw them play at the Pukkelpop festival a year ago, for a show called "Soulwax Transient Program For Drums and Machinery".

This means there are three drummers on stage inside a kind of frame cube. One of those drummers is Sepultura's Igor Cavalera As if that's not already taking up a lot of space there's a lot of equipment like keyboards, synthesizers and amplifiers as well. The stage is so full that some members have to almost climb along the stage to get to their spot. The head featuring on the new album's cover is standing like a trophy at the front of the stage.

The brothers are facing each other at the center of the stage. I'm pretty close all the way to the right of the venue, which is really a good place but tonight it means I don't get the whole picture. When I'm going to get some drinks I stand at the bar for a little longer so I can see the whole stage. It looks almost symmetrical where one of the brothers is seeing the other one as a reflection (although they are not twins). It is an incredible sight. The new album comprises most of the setlist with some other songs scattered through it.

With hardly any breaks in between it's an almost continuous delightful mix of rock and dance, exactly what Soulwax is so good at, with an irresistible groove. This is where the added value of three drummers comes in. Sometimes they play the same drum parts, giving it more punch and power. At other times they will fill in different drum parts, broadening the beat and the groove. Slowly the venue has turned into a big dancing party as standing still is not an option. The regular set ends with a vicious version of 'NY Excuse' before the band returns with a few more new and older songs like 'ETalking' and 'Miserable Girl'. The band has to come back for a final encore and the night ends with the mellow and groovy 'Goodnight Transmission'. Soulwax are still brilliant and I can't wait to see them again later this year at Best Kept Secret!

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