Thursday 29 March 2018

On Stage: No Age @ Bitterzoet

Halfway their performance at Bitterzoet No Age's drummer and singer Dean Allen Spunt recalls the last time they played The Netherlands. After their regular show earlier that day they were invited to play on a boat, but were so fried they couldn't finish any of their songs. The noise rock duo from LA has quite a live reputation and are back with a new album Snares Like A Haircut.

No Age at Bitterzoet Amsterdam, March 26 2018

There are plenty of duos that are able to work big crowds, but not many where the drummer is singing. Spunt isn't exactly Phil Collins but is doing a good job at both. It is a drawback when the drummer is singing, since it can become quite static, especially when there's only two people on stage. Guitar player Randy Randall is standing in front of a big stack of Marshalls, but is hiding behind his hair the whole night. It doesn't exactly set the place on fire.

The duo have quite nice songs though like 'Glitter' and the explosive 'Fever Dreaming'. When you listen to their EPs and albums they are full of these kind of songs. They mix in some weird effects and electronics and try to this on stage as well. It actually slows down the performance a bit and Spunt's uncomfortable speeches in between don't really speed up things either.

It doesn't mean this is a bad show, since it isn't. The music is good and there are plenty of good songs on the set list. Just somehow you expect their music to be face melting where people lose their mind and hang from the ceiling. It is simply not as rough or explosive as you can hear on their records. Maybe a bigger drum kit could help as Spunt's one looks a bit small. Or maybe they should have used the huge guitar they sound checked at the beginning but never used. I still had fun though, but was expecting a more wild night.

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01. Cruise Control
02. Stuck in the Changer
03. Sleeper Hold
04. Secret Swamp
05. Snares Like a Haircut
06. Separation
07. Fever Dreaming
08. Glitter
09. Drippy
11. Popper
12. Soft Collar Fad
13. C’mon, Stimmung
14. Tidal
15. Send Me
16. Air
17. Teen Boy

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Wednesday 21 March 2018

Tune In Your Head: Snail Mail - Pristine

On Austin's SXSW Snail Mail fronted by Lindsey Jordan had a very successful run and managed to stick out. New single 'Pristine' shows why: Read more!

Wednesday 14 March 2018

On Stage: The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart @ Tolhuistuin

I'm not sure it is a well chosen band name but Kip Berman at least he tried to be original when he came up with The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, named after an unpublished children's story. It does end up with good results when searching on Google which is one of the things to take into account nowadays. Berman has steadily been writing and recording music for over ten years now and is now touring in support of the latest LP The Echo Of Pleasure that came out half a year ago.

The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart at Paradiso Tolhuistuin Amsterdam, March 12 2018

Berman proved he can write good songs and continues to do so. Catchy choruses sometimes backed up by friendly guitar chords, grunge like sound walls at others. He has come up with a good sound which also holds up live on stage and it reminds of The Jesus And Mary Chain and The Smiths now and then. Berman's vocals aren't always spot on though and he seems to sing in the same register most of the times. The new songs aren't a lot different from the older ones, maybe just a change in details. Everything glues together nicely on stage. However the band is playing a pretty bleak show as they aren't exactly radiating a lot of energy.

Berman looks like a nice guy. He doesn't talk a lot but when he does his little chats feel a bit uncomfortable. These moments are also causing the show to slow down even more, which isn't helping the performance that is already lacking fire. Not much is happening on stage, causing the audience to lose interest. This is obvious from the lukewarm response after a song finishes. The only time there's a connection is in the first encore when Berman is on stage all by himself singing Leonard Cohen's 'Suzanne'. This concert was part of the Indiestad pass so many people came here because they own this pass, like me. I'm afraid they didn't make a lot of new fans tonight.

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Monday 12 March 2018

On Stage: GoGo Penguin @ Paradiso

I've always liked penguins. There's something about their funny behaviour that I find comforting. It tells me to not take everything too seriously. Just look at them moving about in their kind of tongue-in-cheek walk of life. So a band named GoGo Penguin can't go wrong in my book, especially when they play groovy exciting jazz music.

GoGo Penguin at Paradiso Amsterdam, March 9 2018

There's a blackout in Amsterdam that cuts the power of the entire city centre including Paradiso. Fortunately before the end of the afternoon, power for the venue has been restored and shows can continue as scheduled. The Manchester trio has a wonderful new album A Humdrum Star out and plays many of the new tunes. Pianist Chris Illingworth's light melodies are backed up by the incredible rhythm section consisting of Nick Blacka on double bass and drummer Rob Turner. They don't waste a lot of time talking in between, except for the few times where Blacka thanks the audience or introduces a song or members of the band.

And why waste time anyway when you can use it to play these amazing songs that sound both classic and modern? The double bass give the songs the jazzy feel where the break beats on drums add a modern edge to it. The result is that the classical sounding piano melodies become very groovy and danceable. It sounds like a weird combination but it works incredibly well.

The trio know how to avoid the clichés and pitfalls of jazz music. The songs are not divided in individual alternating solos that are unnecessarily stretched. Instead all instrumental compositions, that they wrote themselves, have their own structure and keep capturing everyone's attention. Halfway the lights go out but the music continues while people light the stage with their cellphones. Another power problem? Probably not, but it is a nice touch. Like the penguins the threesome add some tongue-in-cheek elements to their solid performance, emphasizing the fun in music.

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Wednesday 7 March 2018

On Stage: King Gizard and the Lizard Wizard @ Paradiso

After releasing five albums last year and destroying every festival and club stage out there, you would think Australian psych rockers King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard would take it a bit more slow. But no, these guys are already on the road again. Good for me, since after three weeks of a gorgeous vacation I'm up for a solid psych rock party.

King Gizard and the Lizard Wizard at Paradiso Amsterdam, March 5 2018

By now the seven piece rock monster is an established name in the live circuit and has sold out two consecutive nights at Paradiso. If they keep going like this, it could be the last time in a venue of this size before they have to scale things up to larger size venues. Less than a year ago the band played a relentless set here that tore this place down. Tonight there's a slightly different approach, cutting through the stack of records they brought out last year.

This means they are not constantly firing off their high tempo tracks on high speed, but instead are playing a more groove based set. It isn't any less effective since right from the start as the band opens with 'Rattlesnake', crowd surfers and stage divers appear around the hall. The variety of songs shows the enormous diversity of this band, going through several styles like classic rock, metal, folk rock, psych rock, prog rock, jazz, but always providing it with their personal garage rock signature. Psychedelic visuals projected all over the back of the venue behind the band support the music.

Once more they make clear they are one of the best live bands on the scene at this moment. The band is very tight and can play their audience anyway they like. Tonight they build up their set slowly, with groovy songs building up tension. Until they finally release the beast at the end, playing the lead off triplet of songs 'Robot Stop', 'Big Fat Wasp and 'Gamma Knife' from Nonagon Infinity. The venue explodes and the whole floor is one big sweaty mass of dancing people. The band cools everyone down with 'Beginner's Luck' closing the night without an encore and leaving everyone begging for more. This band knows how to keep everyone on their toes. See you next time!

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01. Rattlesnake
02. Greenhouse Heat Death
03. Nuclear Fusion
04. All Is Known
05. Doom City(Crumbling Castle Outro)
06. Sleep Drifter
07. D-Day
08. The Book(Instrumental)
09. Billabong Valley
10. Welcome to an Altered Future
11. Digital Black
12. Han-Tyumi the Confused Cyborg
13. The Lord of Lightning
14. Cellophane
15. (Unknown)(New Song)
16. Crumbling Castle
17. The Fourth Colour
18. Robot Stop
19. Big Fig Wasp
20. Gamma Knife
21. Beginner's Luck

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