Friday 7 September 2018

ITGWO 2018 Day 3 + Day 4

The first two days of this festival showed all the beautiful side of it with all its amazing music, food and art. The second half promises to be just as good so we're up for another two incredible days.

Into The Great Wide Open 2018 Saturday September 1

The festival likes to explore the Vlieland island and will move stages around. This year the stage near the lighthouse in the dunes has returned, but in a different setting. It has a simple stage setup and there are no bars or food stands. Instead it focuses on more experimental music.

Onyx Collective

So we head to this incredible place where we were already a few years ago. Onyx Collective are playing experimental jazz while people are enjoying the sun. Even though the music is quite complicated and asks quite a lot from the listeners it works quite well on this lush day. Some people are dozing off to the weird sounds and vocals. This seems to be the best way to hear this complex music and to let it take you away and just let it float.

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Alfa Mist

After a break we return to the lighthouse for another jazz performance. Alfa Mist continue where Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock have left off. The producer and pianist has come up with nice gentle groovy songs with sparkling keys and trumpet. Electronic effects on the trumpet add another dimension to the music that dwells perfectly here in the dunes. And so we sit back once again in the sun and let the music do the rest.

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Canshaker Pi

We make our way into the woods to catch the last bit of Canshaker Pi. I’ve seen these guys play several times and love their hooky rock songs with a slacker twist. There’s a pit in front of the stage where people go wild. The band has changed two of their members and this has changed their chemistry as well. It kind of misses a bit of edge now but hopefully a lot of miles on the road will regain that.

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Yo La Tengo

I have heard great things about Yo La Tengo, especially their live performances. The band has made a lot of different types of music and you never know what their performance will bring. They start off very quiet, with rootsy songs that somehow cannot really grasp me. Halfway they pick things up with heavier work and start rocking out. Still I can’t really get into it and the music is lacking a really good groove, despite the skills of the musicians. It doesn't really help that the three members aren't exactly showing they are having a good time. This band has a huge reputation and I can hear why they are so loved, but for me it doesn't work.

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The Vaccines unfortunately had to cancel and Dutch rocker DeWolff are filling in. They are a worthy replacement and are taking full opportunity of their unexpected visit to the island. The classic rock songs go down well with the eager crowd on this sunny afternoon. Even though they are still young, these guys have been playing together for most of their life. The band works hard to please the crowd with screaming guitar solos, a growling organ and rolling drums and comes up winning with an inspired show.

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Oumou Sangaré

Malinese singer Oumou Sangaré is pretty big in her home country and for a good reasons she proves here tonight. He voice is beautiful and full of power and the songs are melancholic but also very good to dance to. The crowd is willing to do exactly that and joins Sangaré and her band in the African dancing party. With a huge smile she’s enjoying the view and it is clear this happy festival crowd has embraced this wonderful singer.

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The Ex

It is time I get to see legendary Amsterdam band The Ex who have been around for almost fourty years. The veterans show why tonight with an inspired show, that is full of fire. The rocks songs are not your standard ones, but are melodic tunes that often end up in rough noise eruptions where the guitar players are shredding their guitars with a huge grin on their faces. Drummer Katherina Bornefeld is tastefully holding the boys together with tight drumming.

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Django Django

The Scottish band Django Django are the ones that get to close the main stage today on a high. It turns out that is not a problem with a festive crowd that is very willing to dance to the light indie rock and pop songs, that are kind of like modern disco and are meant to move your body. Their latest LP Marble Skies has plenty of those groovy songs and together with some of their big hits, the field is having a great time. But the band doesn't really set fire to it, while the circumstances are ideal to let it rip. So instead everybody is gently rocking instead of having a wild dancing party. Still not bad to end a great day.

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All Pictures Into The Great Wide Open 2018 Day 3

Into The Great Wide Open 2018 Sunday September 2

It's hard to believe the final day has arrived, after three days so chuck full of music it is dazzling. Today is a shorter one but still there is so much to enjoy that we're up for another good one.

Sunflower Bean

The last day is always a long stretch but Sunflower Bean have no trouble waking us up. Julia Cumming leads her band into powerful rock songs with some ballads scattered around the set. She has a real rock attitude and a pretty good voice. Guitar licks heavy on overdrive are bouncing off the trees in the woods. It is working better than coffee and within no time we are all wide awake.

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Boy Azooga

We leave the warm sun for a bit and enter the dark indoor stage, where Boy Azooga have started their set. We come in at a mellow part, where the band is exploring their sensitive side. It is clear these guys can play, but this part of the set can't win me over. The band comes across as a bunch of very nice guys though and I really want to like it. Towards the end they pick things up and play a couple of nice uptempo tunes. It is not a bad performance but I was hoping for a bit more spice.

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Things are totally different at the stage in the woods where singer Joe Casey is wondering what we're doing here at this beautiful day, watching them play their depressing music. Of course he's joking and by now I am used to his sarcastic and cynical comments. But he's cutting his band short here, since even on this beautiful spot, their dark music doesn't miss its effect. The band is sharp and tight and Casey is spitting out his lyrics in his usual posture, leaning against the mic stand, holding a can of beer. It's hard not to look at him and not get hypnotised by his mimicry, while his band is almost carelessly playing along. Once again I'm impressed by the powerful performance by this one of a kind band.

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Jeff Tweedy

At the main stage Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy has started his solo show. The stage is almost completely empty except for Tweedy and a small flight case next to him. He looks like a happy camper but his songs cut deeper than that. Tweedy is joking and is obviously in a good mood. It is a mellow performance on this sunny warm afternoon and he's joking that he's "tearing down this joint" when a sign falls down at the side of the stage. I am surprised it isn't more crowded since I suspect Wilco is a big band among the visitors here. I'm not really into Tweedy's roots and folk music, but I can definitely enjoy his cheerful performance here today.

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Hannah Williams & The Affirmations

The festival always likes to close with a feel good performance by an artist that isn't really a headliner but will send everyone away with a smile on their face. This year Hannah Williams and her Affirmations are the ones to send us home and she's doing a great job. Williams' voice is incredible and her band is wonderful too. Her soul music isn't exactly something you haven't heard before but it so well performed that it is hard not to enjoy it. Their version of Led Zeppelin's 'Dazed and Confused' sounds compelling and genuine. She's the right person to end the festival here at the main stage. After we dance some more to DJ St Paul of course who always knows how to keep the party going a bit longer.

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Another edition comes to an end where I didn't see any real surprises, although I saw plenty of good performances. But this festival is about having a great time with good music, good food and beautiful people. This goes for the musicians too who obviously love playing here. This festival summer comes to an end in the best possible way.

All Pictures Into The Great Wide Open 2018 Day 4

Into The Great Wide Open 2018 Day 1 + 2

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