Monday 30 October 2017

On Stage: St. Vincent @ TivoliVredenburg

Every album or show Annie Clark comes up with is an event by itself. As St. Vincent she has thought everything through, her music, all the design and publicity around it. This time she even did interviews in a environment she fully orchestrated herself, in a pink room, all in line with the new album. Clark always seems to be in control and it makes you wonder about her new tour around the new album MASSEDUCTION.

St. Vincent at TivoliVredenburg Utrecht, October 27 2017

First the stage curtains open for a short film 'The Birthday Party' on a big screen at the back, her director's debut, an awkward story about a kid's birthday party that doesn't exactly go as planned. After a short break the curtains are drawn again for a short stretch and we see Clark all the way to the left of the stage, while another set of curtains hide the big screen. While she's playing some of her biggest hits she slowly moves to the right side of the stage as one of her roadies moves the microphone into the right spot. No band this time, only Annie Clark, her collection of guitars and a backing track. Her voice is clear and strong and she shows her amazing guitar skills. When she makes it to right side of the stage the curtains are closed again.

When Clark returns she has changed her outfit and is now standing on a low and small round stage, with the big screen again showing behind her. We get to hear the whole new album from start to finish while arty visuals are showing behind her, or the screen will just simply slowly change colour. It looks and sounds great and the album with songs like 'Pills' and 'Happy Birthday, Johnny' is incredible. It's been out for a few weeks now and together with a couple of music videos that have been released, some of it already sounds familiar to the fans.

Clark obviously is a unique artist, sometimes even compared to David Bowie, with a thought through concept and it is clear she's a great musician. However the lack of a live band makes the whole performance quite static after a while. The tight production of the show doesn't leave room for any improvisation making the performance quite static. The visuals are quite stunning and artistic so you get the feeling you're playing a part in one of her music videos instead of watching a live show. She only addresses the crowd a few times and doesn't really make a connection. In the end though that is what a live performance makes special.

Although the show is really clever and you have to admire her creativity, it leaves you behind feeling a bit unsatisfied after it's over. Maybe that is even the idea and is that what MASSEDUCTION is all about besides sex, drugs and rock and roll: a person in today's society who is surrounded by all these temptations driven by non stop commercials, the powerful media and cheap entertainment. They are hard to resist and in the end force a label on everyone, which in the end it just is not really satisfactory. Maybe this time Annie Clark made us part of that concept instead of just being spectators.

All Pictures

Official Website | SoundCloud | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube | Spotify

01. Marry Me
02. Now, Now
03. The Strangers
04. Actor Out of Work
05. Cruel
06. Cheerleader
07. Strange Mercy
08. Digital Witness
09. Rattlesnake
10. Birth in Reverse

11. Hang on Me
12. Pills
13. Masseduction
14. Sugarboy
15. Los Ageless
16. Happy Birthday, Johnny
17. Savior
18. New York
19. Fear the Future
20. Young Lover
21. Dancing With a Ghost
22. Slow Disco
23. Smoking Section

Read more!

Friday 27 October 2017

On Stage: The National @ AFAS Live

The last time The National were touring, they shared updates on what equipment broke during their shows. Microphones had to be replaced the most, which shouldn't come as a surprise when you saw singer Matt Berninger handling them. His intense way of singing included dropping mics, kicking the stand and pounding it against his head. These passionate performances together with their lush songs are exactly the reason why I love them so much.

The National at AFAS Live Amsterdam, October 25 2017

The new LP Sleep Well Beast doesn't really show a drastic change of direction, but it does introduce new elements to their music. Especially the arrangements of the songs are more adventurous and gives their sound more variation and depth. Tonight the band kicks off with four tracks of that album in a row and will end up playing almost the whole album, only skipping 'Dark Side Of The Gym'.

It shows the band is confident about their new album and songs and for a good reason, since it is one of their best. It also brings the same variation into their show where dark and slow songs like the gorgeous 'I Need My Girl' and 'This Is The Last Time' are followed by the more playful 'Turtleneck'. The horns sounds so wonderful in the new songs and you have to give a lot of kudos to the Dessner brothers who compose the songs. It is clear they have some very creative and musical minds.

It could be the Dutch weed, referenced by Berninger when he mentions he loves Amsterdam, but the band looks very relaxed on stage, more loose than I have ever seen them. Maybe it's also because by now they don't have to prove anything any more, after a string of very successful albums. It especially makes Berninger a bit less focused as he messes up his lyrics a few times. On the other hand, I really like this relaxed environment, as it makes their show less serious. Maybe it loses a bit of its intensity but I think the variation in the music makes up for that.

Berninger spends even more time in the crowd, filming with someone's phone and travelling quite a bit of distance. In one of the encores he even makes it all the way to the bar. The roadies are working hard to guide the mic cable when he does. He still looks quite uneasy on stage when he's not singing, walking nervously in circles like a caged animal. His vocals aren't always in tune, but this is kind of part of his style, always singing on the edge.

An acoustic almost unplugged and gorgeous 'Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks' without microphone, where the crowd massively joins in, proves his amazing voice and ends the night. Tonight we saw a different The National, one that is having fun on stage and is enjoying every bit of it. I like that a lot and hope to see them next year again at one of the summer festivals.

All Pictures

Official Website | MySpace | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube | Spotify

01. Nobody Else Will Be There
02. The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness
03. Walk It Back
04. Guilty Party
05. Sea of Love
06. Bloodbuzz Ohio
07. Born to Beg
08. I'll Still Destroy You
09. I Need My Girl
10. This Is the Last Time
11. Turtleneck
12. Santa Clara
13. Karen
14. Slow Show
15. Conversation 16
16. Carin at the Liquor Store
17. Day I Die
18. Fake Empire
19. Sleep Well Beast
20. Empire Line
21. Mr. November
22. Terrible Love
23. Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks

Read more!

Thursday 26 October 2017

On Stage: Motorpsycho @ Paradiso Tolhuistuin

For almost thirty years Norwegian band Motorpsycho have been playing music, knocking out albums almost yearly and crafting their sound. By now they have almost perfected that sound and every new album is a joy to listen to, as if they ever made a bad one. Their latest LP The Tower is even one of the best they have done, so I am really looking forward to hearing it live.

Motorpsycho at Paradiso Tolhuistuin Amsterdam, October 24 2017

Drummer Kenneth Kapstad who had been with the band for 10 years left before they started recording the new album and was replaced by Tomas Järmyr. But as long as core members Bent Sæther and Hans Magnus Ryan keep working together like they have always done, it won't have a big effect on Motorpsycho. They are the beating heart of the band and a magical duo.

Added to the live line-up is Kristoffer Lo who is playing extra guitar and almost anything non-guitar related tonight. At the back mostly psychedelic visuals are playing, that are partly obscured by all the equipment on stage from my point of view. It's as if we're in a space ship and the screen is a window to the outside world, a strange world, a peek into the Motorpsycho universe.

And the band is taking us onto a journey into that wonderful world. For two and a half hours we're on board of that ship where the band is steering it comfortably into any direction they want. At the core there are always the guitar riffs and grooves as the skeleton of their songs. From there they slowly let it grow into psychedelic, prog rock and jazz directions, always tasteful, never too much. With a thirty year legacy they have hundreds of songs to choose from, but tonight they play almost every song off the new album and add a few oldies.

It's a beautiful journey, one full of wonders and beauty, that never gets dull but instead stays interesting from start to finish. And yes, their vocals are pretty bad, something every Motorpsycho fan will admit and is used to. The Motorpsycho universe may not be perfect, but it's absolutely gorgeous. I can't wait until the next time their space ship docks to one of the venues nearby.

All Pictures

Official Website | Facebook | SoundCloud | Vimeo | mySpace | Spotify

01. A.S.F.E.
02. Bartok of the Universe
03. Intrepid Explorer
04. In Every Dream Home
05. Heartattack Mac
06. A Pacific Sonata
07. The Cuckoo
08. Lacuna/Sunrise
09. Ship of Fools
10. Taifun
11. Un chien d'espace
12. The Tower
13. Plan #1

Read more!

Friday 20 October 2017

On Stage: J. Berndardt @ Tolhuistuin

Belgian alternative darlings Balthazar are still on a break and some of its members are using their spare time to engage in other musical projects. Especially Maarten Devoldere in Warhaus and Jinte Deprez as J. Bernardt are doing well and have released wonderful albums. I saw both of them play a few times now, but I just can't get enough. Time to see J. Bernardt again.

J. Bernardt at Paradiso Tolhuistuin Amsterdam, October 17 2017

Somewhere during the show Deprez mentions it is a sold out house tonight, which is obvious from the packed venue. The first time I saw him with this project at the Into The Great Wide Open festival last year. It was the first show and afterwards I briefly talked to him where he stated it needed some more work since he wasn't really pleased. By now his record Running Days is out and the shows are running smoothly as I already experienced later that year. The lights on the stage create a nice atmosphere (although make it impossible for my small camera to take decent pictures) for the minimalistic electronic music.

Most of the songs are midtempo, which means it won't make you go wild, but it does invite you to dance. Of course Deprez is used to large stages and this smaller one is no problem for him. He's moving around the whole stage and it is obvious he feels comfortable there. I like the sound of his music, the way the calm songs slowly unfold themselves while Deprez is almost crooning as he's singing them. He mostly starts samples and creates loops for his songs to build on while a keyboard creates texture and drums provide rhythm.

Deprez is a charismatic performer who flawlessly feels when the attention of the crowd is slipping. When it does, he will address them to make sure they are back in the game. With only one record out, the show doesn't last very long of course, but it is nice to see how this project grew into a convincing live show.

All Pictures

Official Website | SoundCloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Spotify

Read more!

Wednesday 18 October 2017

Desertfest Belgium 2017 Saturday

I like music with good grooves and most music I listen to has exactly that. It doesn't have to be rock music, but can be all types music. I do like rock music a lot which is obvious and stoner rock is exactly the kind that features heavy grooves. Desertfest is a festival in London, Berlin and Antwerp focusing on stoner rock, doom, psych and sludge. Since the Antwerp edition is pretty close and featured Graveyard, we decided to pay it a visit.

Desertfest Belgium 2017 Saturday at Trix Antwerp, October 14 2017

Although not all bands are playing stoner rock and I'm not really into doom and sludge, there are many interesting acts on the bill. We arrive at the venue early and catch the last 10 minutes of A Supernaut. I didn't get a good change to see what they were all about so let's head to the next one.

Hidden Trails

Belgian band Hidden Trails are one of the less heavier bands today and play psychedelic prog rock music, focusing on long compositions that build on atmosphere. Singer Jo Neyskens has a pleasant clear voice and it reminds me of Steven Wilson now and then, especially in the more quiet songs. The trio are playing very focused and I like their sound. The songs have plenty of depth and sound layered. Traces of Pink Floyd and the psychedelic side of Motorpsycho can be heard. A good way to start the day.

Official Website | Facebook | SoundCloud | YouTube | Spotify

The Vintage Caravan

Somehow it seems Iceland doesn't have a lot to offer to me musical wise, since famous Icelandic acts like Björk, Sigur Rós, Of Monsters and Men really don't appeal to me. Fortunately there are also bands that can please me a lot better. The Vintage Caravan play no-nonsense classic rock complete with hair flipping and the rock poses that go with it. This sounds like they are going through all the clichés which is actually true, but the band are having so much fun with it and add just enough tongue of cheek that it doesn't get too ridiculous or cheesy. It also helps they have a bunch of good songs, play well and singer Óskar Logi Ágústsson's voice has improved from the last time I saw them. It may not be very original, but sometimes you don't need a lot more.

Official Website | Twitter | Facebook | SoundCloud | YouTube | Spotify

King Hiss

The live reputation of Belgian band King Hiss is pretty big by now after tearing down stages at several festivals this summer. I was expecting a fuller house because of that, but I guess most people were getting ready for Stoned Jesus who are playing the main stage later on. It doesn't get this band down at all. Nor do the technical problems at the beginning. Once all amps and effects are fired up, there's no stopping in King Hiss. A mind splitting mix of stoner, smudge and heavy metal rocks the stage and makes the venue tremble. "The bastard child of Mastodon and Kyuss" they call themselves and that is a good way of describing their music. Add to that the incredible voice and charismatic stage appearance of Jan Coudron and it's clear this band is onto something. Coudron is all over the stage, has a few incredible moves and is constantly in touch with the crowd, energizing them with his enthusiasm. What an incredible show!

Official Website | Facebook | Twitter | SoundCloud | YouTube | Spotify

Stoned Jesus

Many people apparently did skip King Hiss to get a good spot for Stoned Jesus since the main hall is quite full. For a good reason it turns out, since the band from Ukraine are playing a convincing show. Coming from a stoner doom solo project by Igor Sidorenko their music now has more psychedelic melodies that make their music lighter and brings more variation. Live it sounds pretty tight and the band is having fun on stage. This energizes the crowd who get what they came for, which is a lot.

Official Website | Facebook | Twitter | SoundCloud | YouTube | Spotify


Noise rockers Unsane have been around for almost thirty years and the current line-up has been together for most of that period. The band took a break from 2000 until 2003 after founding member and singer Chris Spencer got seriously injured when he was attacked during a concert. The threesome's performance is loud and heavy with Spencer mostly screaming his lyrics. It is definitely intense and you can see these guys have been together for a long time, playing like a well-oiled machine. However they are constantly playing at the highest noise level, without leaving much breathing room. After half an hour we're completely numb from the pounding noise. It would have been better if they could mix in some of their lighter songs here and there.

Official Website | Facebook | Twitter | Spotify

Troubled Horse

Swedish band Troubled Horse are touring with Graveyard as a support act which explains their name on the bill. Singer Martin Heppich's face is painted black which gives a gloomy effect on this dark stage. Music wise there's a lot going on in their garage sound, too much actually. All guitars and drums are trying to play as much and loud as possible and it makes their songs really messy. This band is simply overdoing it in many ways and it makes their performance far from convincing. We decide to take a look at the merch stands instead.

Official Website | Facebook | SoundCloud | YouTube | Spotify


When you're listening to Beastmaker's music it's hard to deny they sound like Black Sabbath. It is clear they draw inspiration from old heavy metal and classic hardrock. The band does a good job recreating that music but they look so serious on stage. Also I find there's not a lot of variation in their music, as if they are playing the same chords, riffs, grooves and fills in every song. In the end it even gets a bit boring.

Official Website | Facebook | Twitter | Spotify


Another big name on the bill is doom metal band Windhand and the main hall has filled up again for them. Doom metal is definitely not my kind of music but maybe they'll surprise me. The slow heavy grooves and gloomy visuals create a dark and sinister atmosphere. Singer Dorthia Cottrell has a good voice but she's far from charismatic or active on stage. When she's singing she isn't exactly a ball of energy and during the long solo's she's just simply standing there waiting her turn. This definitely isn't for me.

Official Website | Facebook | Twitter | Spotify


Headliner Graveyard on the other hand are definitely something for me. From the moment I saw the Swedes for the first time they have grabbed me and never let go. They were supposed to play over here last year but then the group disbanded to my disappointment. Fortunately it didn't take long for them to reform and now they have come to make up for lost time. Deeply grounded in the blues their music can be heavy with big grooves and a big sound. Other times they go back to those blues roots and play a heartfelt ballad with crying guitars. And of course there is singer Joakim Nilsson with his amazing sandpaper voice that cuts through the music with incredible howls and deep lows. Together with the laid back approach of their music it is why I really love their sound. Tonight again they are showing what makes them such a good band with a focused performance and their best music. I'm really happy they are back and hopefully we can expect some new music in the near future.

Official Website | Facebook | Twitter | MySpace | YouTube | Spotify


We don't want to go home yet and decide to check out the last band of the day. German duo DŸSE know how to end this day on a high with crazy noise rock music that seems to go in every direction. But the two make sure it never ends in a mess but know exactly what they are doing and play very tight. Who said Germans lack a sense of humour? These two guys have great jokes and don't look too serious while at the same time their skills are superb with great control over their instrument. The duo has a lot of fun themselves on stage and I can see only smiling faces around me. A great way to end this long day.

Official Website | Facebook | MySpace | Spotify

This has been a wonderful day at the Desertfest festival. I did notice that many bands are not exactly playing my kind of music but when they have a few bands in the line-up that are appealing enough like today I will definitely be back some time.

All Pictures

Read more!

Friday 13 October 2017

Spinning: METZ - Strange Peace

It only seemed a matter of time before noise rockers METZ would team up with one of the greats of the noise rock scene Steve Albini. It actually makes a lot of sense that Albini would produce an album by the Canadian band, who draw so much inspiration from his work. Strange Peace is the result of that explosive collaboration where everything falls into place.

METZ alreay had the relentless repeating grooves in their kick-in-the-nuts music, but this time they have managed to come up with a more diverse sound, where the eruptions have even more impact. The album kicks in loud and heavy right from the start on 'Mess of Wires'. The drums are upfront in the mix so they keep pounding away on your ears. In 'Mr. Plague' they sound like an unstoppable repeating pile driver with grinding guitars. The intro of 'Drained Lake' sounds like bashing metal where the Johnny Rotten-like vocals cut right through them.

Beyond all that violence, an uneasy feeling is seeping through. 'Caterpillar' sounds dark and ominous where in 'Sink' a pestering guitar predicts trouble. "I've seen it watching constantly" we can hear, "all day long it's been calling to me", any moment you expect that horrific Pennywise to jump you. Songs about those uneasy feelings in life that will paralyze you, make you numb. The uncomfortable feeling in 'Cellophane', about how you can feel powerless, like being wrapped in plastic.

METZ' world is definitely not a happy place, but it never was. The album's closer 'Raw Materials' seems to die down halfway but then slowly rises up again with more trouble coming, until it erupts, tearing everything apart. Strange Peace is METZ at its best where Albini gives more direction to the wild explosive band. This time it is more than just a kick in the nuts, it is someone grabbing them and slowly squeezing. I know that doesn't sound really good, the album is like that, but in a good way: a form of satisfying self-flagellation.

Official Website | SoundCloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Spotify

Read more!

Monday 9 October 2017

On Stage: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds @ Ziggo Dome

Like with good whisky, Nick Cave only gets better while aging. In a career that stretches over fourty years, he never has disappointed. Even better, whenever he releases new music it exceeds expectations and never fails to impress. In that long career he slowly built a growing fan base and where I saw him in the Heineken Music Hall (now called AFAS live) a few years ago, he is now playing a sold out Ziggo Dome that is triple the size.

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds @ Ziggo Dome Amsterdam, October 6 2017

What can you expect in such a big venue when the last album Skeleton Tree is so personal and intense because of the tragic passing of his son during the recording sessions? We don't have to wait long for the answer as the show starts with 'Anthrocene' which immediately sets the mood for the rest of the night. Cave grabs us by the throat and won't let go any more, his face close to ours while his eyes are full of fire. No fancy production with stunning visuals, but a simple light plan and a huge cloth as a backdrop, that's all he needs.

He keeps walking up and down the huge stage and of course gets in touch with the people in the front rows a lot. Sometimes he will wave them to come closer, but it is as if he's asking us all to come closer. He has something to share with us. He whispers it in our ears, his dark stories. Or he will spit it in our faces, his piercing eyes looking right into our soul. He is wrestling demons, chases them away, kicks them out, laughs at their faces, while his dark music is embracing us.

Sometimes he will look more fragile digging deep into his music. The beauty of 'Into My Arms' for instance, while his The Bad Seeds are playing in the background, but who are so important in creating this atmosphere. The focus is mostly on his last two albums playing gems like 'Higgs Boson Blues', 'Girl In Amber' and the absolute gorgeous 'Distant Sky' with Else Torp joining in, projected on the backdrop while her beautiful voice offers consolation. All we can do is watch and listen in awe as everyone in the big venue is absolutely quiet, sending shivers down my spine.

A few of his biggest hits are mixed in, a fierce 'From Here To Eternity', a haunting 'The Mercy Seat'. During 'Red Right Hand' Cave starts singing too early, one of the rare mistakes tonight. He faces his band, seems to snigger a bit with Warren Ellis and then continuous. Ellis, his right hand and partner in crime, has a more discrete role this time, but Cave always knows he's there, giving him a big hug to the end of the show. During 'The Weeping Song' he jumps into the crowd and finishes the song at one of the cameras set up in the hall. When he comes back he is bringing lots of people with him, who dance to 'Stagger Lee'. He is obviously enjoying himself and tells them to sit down to end the show with 'Push The Sky Away'. Cave managed to resize this venue to a living room, as if he's playing only for you and a few friends. He makes you forget about everything around you, sucks you right in with his charisma and intense songs. Like a good whisky I want a sip of him every time I get a chance.

All Pictures

Official Website | SoundCloud | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube | Spotify

01. Anthrocene
02. Jesus Alone
03. Magneto
04. Higgs Boson Blues
05. From Here to Eternity
06. Tupelo
07. Jubilee Street
08. The Ship Song
09. Into My Arms
10. Girl in Amber
11. I Need You
12. Red Right Hand
13. The Mercy Seat
14. Distant Sky
15. Skeleton Tree
16. The Weeping Song
17. Stagger Lee
18. Push the Sky Away

Read more!

Wednesday 4 October 2017

On Stage: The Veils @ Paradiso

I thought I didn't really like The Veils until I saw them play the Amsterdam Woods Festival a few years back. I was worried this music would be too heavy on the dramatic side, however I was proven wrong. I liked the dark music and the Nick Cave kind of vibe of it. Time to see them again.

The Veils at Paradiso Amsterdam, October 2 2017

Since then the band released a new record about a year ago, Total Depravity, and visited our country a few times this year. Last month an acoustic EP was released Swimming with the Crocodiles with acoustic versions of five songs from the Total Depravity album. It is obvious the show is also still part of the tour around the last full album where the set list contains three quarters of that LP. Other songs are scattered in between. The songs still have plenty of dramatic effects and the dark vibe that I can appreciate. Singer Finn Andrews' voice sounds strong and clear where the rest of the band play focused in the background in support of the songs.

Andrews addresses the crowd once and a while but seems a bit puzzled when he does. For the rest he lets the music do the talking which is more effective. In general the songs are revealing themselves patiently, slowly building up to explosive outbursts with Andrews' intense voice. His almost preaching style of singing together with his heart-breaking vocals add to the dramatic and dark music. Together with a tormented look on his face as if he's trying to chase away the demons, the old church Paradiso once was, is the right setting for this band.

Once and a while the band is set against a blood red lit background to make this picture even more striking. After the regular set a piano is rolled onto the stage and Andrews plays a few songs solo. It is a nice intermezzo in this show and a small preview of his solo shows in December. The rest of the band returns to the stage to play two more songs and end this Monday night in style.

All pictures

Official Website | SoundCloud | Twitter | YouTube | Facebook Spotify

01. Here Come the Dead
02. Axolotl
03. Do Your Bones Glow at Night?
04. Low Lays the Devil
05. Swimming with the Crocodiles
06. Nux Vomica
07. House of Spirits
08. The Pearl
09. A Birthday Present
10. Iodine and Iron
11. A Bit on the Side
12. Total Depravity
13. Not Yet
14. King of Chrome
15. Begin Again (Finn solo piano)
16. The Valleys of New Orleans (Finn solo piano)
17. New song (Finn solo piano)
18. Guiding Light
19. Jesus for the Jugular

Read more!