Thursday 29 November 2018

On Stage: Interpol

A lot has changed since Interpol were one of the new exciting bands in the early 2000s. They have been around for over twenty years and their breakthrough album Antics is almost 15 years old. Oh how time flies, but fortunately Interpol is still around. After struggling for a few years, they came back with a good album El Pintor and this year its maybe even better follow up Marauder. Even better, they are playing a relatively small club for their stature.

Interpol at Tivoli Vredenburg Utrecht, November 27 2018

Of course this show sold out long ago and it's nice to see this band up close again. A lot of new songs from the new album make it on the setlist tonight. You notice that those songs have a lighter touch than the dark older ones. That doesn't mean they are now playing happy disco tunes, but it is a slight change of their sound.

Like always the band doesn't use a huge spectacular light show, but uses lighting in a functional way. A few disco balls are now and then used effectively together with strobe lights, creating a big contrast with the otherwise modest lighting. The band like always is quite static on stage, keeping a distance from the crowd. In their case this actually suits their music and only makes the gloomy atmosphere of the songs more threatening.

The group plays very tight and like their light show, never play too much, but exactly what is needed. The dark guitar sound mixes well with the synths and are backed up by a very groovy rhythm section. Both drums and bass add this little extra funk into the mix, preventing the music from becoming too depressive. This is what I really like about their sound, that groovy combination. And of course the thundering vocals of Paul Banks, who doesn't waste any time talking in between songs. Instead the band simply keeps going in their steady but powerful tempo until finally indestructible fan favourites 'Evil' and 'Obstacle 1' end the show in great style.

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01. Pioneer to the Falls
02. C'mere
03. If You Really Love Nothing
04. Public Pervert
05. Roland
06. Complications
07. Say Hello to the Angels
08. NYC
09. The Rover
10. Rest My Chemistry
12. Stay in Touch
13. All the Rage Back Home
14. The New
15. Flight of Fancy
16. Slow Hands
17. Lights
18. Evil
19. Obstacle 1

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Saturday 24 November 2018

On Stage: Bob Billy @ Checkpoint Charlie

Sometimes you come across a band by chance. Like in the case of Amsterdam band Bob Billy that I got to know through a friend of ours who is close to the band. I never heard of them before although the three friends have been making music together forever. I finally got a chance to see them live in a bar I never visited before either, Checkpoint Charlie.

Bob Billy at Checkpoint Charlie Amsterdam, November 21 2018

Checkpoint Charlie is a cozy place just West of the city centre that hosts bands occasionally. On this Wednesday night it is clear most people in here didn't come to see a band but just to socialize with friends. It isn't more crowded than usual I guess and it is one of those occasions where a band simply has to enjoy playing live on a stage for the few people that are actually paying attention. Bob Billy don't seem to have a problem with that and look like they are enjoying themselves.

The band bio states that the songs are sounding a bit like Depeche Mode with now and then some Beastie Boys feeling thrown in, but I mostly hear a Red Hot Chili Peppers vibe. This is absolutely fine though. There are groovy rock songs that pack a punch and more light pop oriented tunes. Bob Billy knows how to add catchy elements to their music and most songs are very suitable for dancing. Too bad the people that are watching are sitting down, so there isn't exactly a lively dance floor in front of the stage.

The band consists of singer Sander Kuit, Hayo Dusseldorp on bass and Alexander van der Werf. There used to be more band members, but now drums and percussion loops are used as backing tracks to the music. That works fine, although I do miss a live drummer to give them that extra power and spice up the live performance. Kuit does a good job though fronting the band with a charismatic stage presence and inspired vocals, especially for such a tiny audience. I like this band and their music, who already won a couple of prizes and had songs featuring in movies. I would love to see them play a bigger audience next time.

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Tuesday 20 November 2018

On Stage: RADAR - FFOOSS + JAGD + Ploegendienst @ Melkweg

I've been following the promising band JAGD for a while and I go see there shows regularly when they play in the neighbourhood. It turns out they are part of the monthly event RADAR at the Melkweg, a night with upcoming new bands. So I get to see two more bands as a bonus. Say no more!

RADAR at Melkweg Amsterdam, November 17 2018


First up are the rock duo FFOOSS who play edgy fuzz rock with a bite. Haven't I seen singer Sophia de Gues before? Yes, it turns out she's also part of electropunk group 45ACIDBABIES, that I have seen somewhere in the past. Here she can show her rock side with cousin drummer Jannes van Kaam. The two play a convincing set of dirty rock songs that are exciting, full of fire and plenty of attitude. I do miss a bit of low in their sound though, which is the risk of playing without bass. But I really like their music and it's a good start of this night.

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Amsterdam band JAGD have just released a new EP 'Maudlin' with four brand new songs, that are a bit more heavy. It shows the band still keeps growing and brings more depth to their song writing. Live this shows as well, where they have now more variety in their sound. The new songs sound more bold and bring out their inspiration from Arctic Monkeys and The Strokes even more. The jumpy guitars of Jos Neering, the pumping bass of Luuk Meijer, the catchy drum grooves by Timo Mes and the floating, fierce vocals of Nanne van der Linden, all combine into irresistible rock songs. Like always the band plays a very tight and lively show with a lot of heart. Every time I see them the band looks even more comfortable on stage. It's time bookers pick up on this band more and let them play bigger stages.

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As if JAGD hasn't already fired up everyone in here, Ploegendienst are the ones to finish the job. The punk band fronted by Ray Fuego has an explosive and aggressive approach to punk music and their songs are direct punches in the face, or the crutch. Fuego is firing up the crowd and shouts nasty remarks at the sound engineer as he seems unhappy with the sound. It is clear he's in charge here. Beer flies around, there are people headbanging and moshing at the front of the stage to the wild punk songs. It may be a bit too much for some people in here, but I like the energy of the hardcore punk songs a lot. There's a lot of electricity flowing in the room and it wakes up everyone up to keep this night going strong.

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So we stick around for a while to drink a few more beers and dance to the silly but fun DJ set of De Rooie Jager. I didn't know this monthly event was a thing here at the Melkweg, but if the level of the bands is this high I'll definitely keep an eye out for upcoming editions.

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Sunday 18 November 2018

On Stage: Tusky @ Sugarfactory

I loved the rock band John Coffey and it was really too bad they disbanded a few years ago. Their live shows were legendary and the energy of the band was simply hard to resist. Fortunately from its ashes rose Tusky, with John Coffey's guitarists Alfred van Luttikhuizen and Christoffer van Teijlingen (now on bass), completed with drummer Bas Allein Richir and John Coffey guitar-tech Sjors van Reeuwijk. The music is still punkrock but more straightforward powerrock than John Coffey. Think about a mix of early Foo Fighters and The Offspring and you get the idea. Time to see how if this band can live up to the live reputation of its illustrious predecessor.

Tusky at Sugarfactory Amsterdam, November 16 2018

The debut album of the band Rated Gnar is promising enough just from its cover art. A pink background with a cheerful but at the same time disturbing hairy male cartoon figure and the Tusky logo as its head. Just as the cover art the songs are both cheerful and energetic but also heavy, powerful and a bit aggressive. Enough to raise your fist to any way. As if it comes as a surprise, on stage this combines into a lively rock show that checks all the right boxes.

Van Luttikhuizen and van Teijlingen have seen many stages of all kinds of sizes during their time with John Coffey. This is clear from the convincing way they play at the front of the stage and act as if they are playing a much bigger venue than the small Sugarfactory. This translates into a big ball of energy and a fired up crowd. People are crowd surfing, moshing and even form a wall of death. The music does the rest and it is clear everyone inside here is having a great time. When van Teijlingen asks for a circle pit around the sound table, people obey willingly and start running around the sound engineer who is desperately fencing off the expensive equipment. He's smiling though as he knows it is just innocent play and he knows how these shows go down.

The catchy punkrock songs are a perfect soundtrack of course for a wild night on the dance floor and Tusky's music can be regarded as such. It is rock music to have fun with and have a good time. This is exactly what the band is showing on stage as well, simply four guys having the time of their lives playing in a rock band. That's exactly the way I like it. Like their album art, Tusky is a band that is about simply having fun, but with a rough edge. John Coffey is dead, long live Tusky!

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Tuesday 13 November 2018

On Stage: White Denim @ Paradiso

Ever since I heard White Denim's album Fits I'm a fan of these talented musicians and their mind blowing songs. Their music feels like a roller coaster that rides along several rock genres and is full of crazy twists, turns and an occasional looping thrown in. Their latest release Performance is no different, so whenever they are playing in the neighbourhood I want to go see them.

White Denim at Paradiso Amsterdam, November 10 2018

The main hall of Paradiso isn't sold out, but there's a bigger turn up than I expected. It appears this band's fanbase is slowly but gradually growing. This is a no nonsense group who simply pick up their instruments and fly right into it. Singer James Petralli doesn't waste a lot of time talking in between tracks. Instead the band is playing many songs back to back, keeping the momentum going. This doesn't miss its effect, since the crowd starts to move more and more while the show progresses, the cheers are getting louder, the applause bigger and the pit in front of the stage is growing and getting wilder.

The four musicians from Texas don't seem to pay a lot of attention what is going on in front of the stage and are concentrating on their complicated music. Because this isn't your average rock band with blues rock songs, but a rock tornado that is showing us every corner of Paradiso and the rock spectrum. Prog rock, classic rock, garage rock, blues, soul, you name it, all these elements can be heard tonight. Petralli's voice is quite pleasant and packs plenty of soul and blues that totally fits the music.

I've seen this band several times now, but boy are they on fire tonight. They keep swinging punches at us and they are all direct hits. By the time they are done, they leave the crowd knocked out and gasping for air. After they played the Into The Great Wide Open Festival a few months back, I read a review where the critic called them cheesy and talked about a "fun-fair" vibe. If bands like this are playing fun-fairs, then I'm definitely going to check out some of these fairs soon.

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Sunday 11 November 2018

On Stage: Bughouse @ Willem Twee

Dutch jazz saxophonist Benjamin Herman isn't someone to sit down and relax. He's always playing in different combinations with a variety of artists, including some of the greats but also new talent. To celebrate his 50th birthday this year, Herman is releasing three albums, next to the XXV album by New Cool Collective to celebrate the 25th anniversary of that band. One of those albums is Project S, an ode to the Citroen SM, with mellow music inspired by Fausto Papetti and Serge Gainsbourg. A second one will be a record with young talents and should come out any time now. The third one is a punkjazz album, inspired by his eighties heroes Xero Slingsby, John Lurie and James Chance. This is the music he will be playing tonight.

Benjamin Herman's Bughouse at Willem Twee 's-Hertogenbosch, November 8 2018

For this project Herman gathered young musicians Reinier Baas on guitar and bassist Peter Peskens, who you may now from Jungle By Night and The Mysterons. Legendary punk and hardcore drummer Olav van den Berg is behind the drum kit, which turns out to be a very good choice. Van den Berg adds just the right amount of power and speed to give the music that raw punk edge. It may be a combination that raises an eyebrow here and there, but jazz and punk go quite well together.

Somehow throwing a saxophone into the mix, immediately gives it a an eighties feel, the time Herman draws his inspiration from for this project. It sounds incredible and it looks like the four are having a great time playing their energetic songs. Reinier Baas has no trouble adding some dirty and distorted riffs and screaming solos, while Reinier Baas is playing heavy grooves on his bass. Van den Berg's loud, powerful and lightning fast drum grooves are the solid foundation for these hyperactive songs.

Herman looks just as comfortable in this combination as he does in any jazz group he has played in. He has developed a sax sound of his own, that is recognizable in any kind of music, including in these punk songs. The alt sax is a great fit for punk and Herman's parts and solos are spot on, giving the songs that rushing and raw feel. And of course he plays it with the same enthusiasm that we're used of him. It proves again what a versatile artist he is, with a stunning career.

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Wednesday 7 November 2018

On Stage: Father John Misty @ Paradiso

Father John Misty, moniker for Josh Tillman, seems to be able to write lush music with great ease. He keeps releasing wonderful music and I like his relaxed style of singing and playing. His combination of rootsy folk music and blues rock seems just right for me and he is one of the few folk musicians I really like. So I was very pleased he was going to visit my home town.

Father John Misty at Paradiso Amsterdam, November 5 2018

It's a sold out show at Paradiso tonight, although it looks like people aren't really packed together. This is a good thing since this place can get really full sometimes. Without a lot of fuzz Father John Misty enters the stage and starts playing. His backing band are behind him and will stay to the back for the rest of the night. Dressed in a white suit it is clear Father John Misty is the star of the night and all spotlights are on him.

He is focusing mostly on his last two albums Pure Comedy and God's Favorite Customer with some songs from his other two albums mixed in. He ignores his life before Father John Misty completely and doesn't play any song from the period he called himself J. Tillman. I'm not sure why that is and maybe there's no particular reason behind it, although his style was different back then. In the end there's plenty to enjoy from his four Father John Misty records.

In a relaxed fashion Misty is going through his music that feels a bit like a routine in the beginning. The melancholic songs sound great though and his voice is very good and clear. When he loses his acoustic guitar and starts moving across the stage things get more lively, going through his usual expressive gestures and poses, with little dances and twirls. He doesn't say much in between songs and is not wasting a lot of time. Ballads like 'Things It Would Have Been Helpful to Know Before the Revolution' and 'The Palace' are simply gorgeous and things get more intimate in these moments. He reminds me of a combination of Billy Joel and Elton John sometimes.

It becomes clear how good is music is when you hear all these songs. During the night you lose the feeling he is going through his routines and I get lost in the music. Before I know it he has left the stage and returns for a four song encore. He takes time for a little chat, kind of going through a comedy act that is both a bit awkward as funny. Then he finishes the night with the swinging 'Date Night' off his last album, showing he's definitely able to rock as well. Father John Misty proves he's quite a unique artist with a rare talent for brilliant songwriting.

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01. Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings
02. Mr. Tillman
03. Disappointing Diamonds Are the Rarest of Them All
04. Nancy From Now On
05. Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins)
06. Total Entertainment Forever
07. Things It Would Have Been Helpful to Know Before the Revolution
08. Ballad of the Dying Man
09. I'm Writing a Novel
10. I Went to the Store One Day
11. Hangout at the Gallows
12. When the God of Love Returns There'll Be Hell to Pay
13. Please Don't Die
14. Real Love Baby
15. Pure Comedy
16. Holy Shit
17. The Palace
18. So I'm Growing Old on Magic Mountain
19. I Love You, Honeybear
20. Date Night

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Tuesday 6 November 2018

On Stage: IDLES @ Melkweg

There's a lot of stuff going on in the world today, lots of crazy things and a lot to get angry about. IDLES are a British band who use these themes in their music that sounds angry and urgent. At the same time it rocks very hard and their live shows are starting to become legendary as they proved on Later...with Jools Holland a few weeks back. Let's see if they can bring this to the stage at Melkweg as well.

IDLES at Melkweg Amsterdam, November 4 2018

As if there was any doubt beforehand, of course this band has no trouble taking Melkweg by storm. From the first song on this place is on fire and goes completely wild. The Bristol band play their songs with a lot of energy, chaos and madness on stage. The band members are running around stage like mad men, doing crazy dances, fronted by charismatic singer Joe Talbot. At the back drummer Jon Beavis is watching everything with a huge smile, now and then laughing out loud with some of the craziness going on around him.

But it isn't all fun and games, because the band do touch on serious ground in many songs. Talbot mentions this in some of his in between speeches. The songs are packaged in lively and savage rock songs, that are easy to scream along to. But it is clear the band is addressing serious issues that they really care about. Their music is the perfect way for them to channel this anger and frustration, and get their message across.

Talbot addresses the crowd in a relaxed manner while at the same time thanking them many times. It's obvious he is in total control of this crowd and can play them any way he likes. He is often singing to individual crowd members, as if he wants to convince every single one of them personally. He could let them tear this place apart but he settles for a a huge jumping pit in front of the stage. One moment there's a proper stage invasion that fills it up completely with wild crowd members. At the end of the song Talbot asks them kindly to leave the stage so the show can continue. Within no time the people have left the stage and the band continues playing.

Although IDLES may sound and look like a punk rock band having fun playing wild music, they prove today they have found a good balance between fun and social awareness. There doesn't seem to be a better time for their music to find its way into the hearts of many youngsters who like the band feel there is something not right in the world and need a way to blow off steam. What better way than to go crazy with IDLES?

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01. Colossus
02. Never Fight a Man With a Perm
03. Mother
04. Faith in the City
05. I'm Scum
06. Danny Nedelko
07. Divide & Conquer
08. White Privilege
09. 1049 Gotho
10. Samaritans
11. Television
12. Great
13. Love Song
14. Benzocaine
15. Exeter
16. Cry To Me
17. Well Done
18. Rottweiler

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Monday 5 November 2018

On Stage: Rolling Blackouts CF @ Paradiso Tolhuistuin

Melbourne band Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever released their second album Hope Downs earlier this year and it is one of the most fun albums of the year. Their light summery garage rock is catchy and clever at the same time, while the band themselves are known for lively shows. Time to find out myself.

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever at Paradiso Tolhuistuin Amsterdam, November 3 2018

The venue gets dark at the start of the show and disco balls turn on while we hear The Style Council's 'Shout To The Top'. It's a cheerful start of the night that is about to only get better. Because Rolling Blackouts CF turn out to be a wonderful and tight band that also pack plenty of musical talent. Their songs may just seem straightforward happy rock songs on the surface, but actually are really clever when you listen closely.

The group is effectively using the two electric and one acoustic guitar, resulting in nice melody lines that are playful. Combined with the tight rhythm section the music is very pleasant on the ears and sounds fresh and sparkling. The three guitar players, Fran Keaney, Tom Russo and Joe White, take turns at vocals and all three of them are actually quite good singers, which is pretty rare. Sometimes the guitars just keep on ringing, stretching the songs into never ending irresistible dance tunes.

Now and then the disco balls will start spinning and flashing again as if the band is opening the dance floor once more. Dancing is exactly what is on everyone's mind this Saturday night and the music doesn't miss its effect. The band puts so much joy, energy and heart into their show, that it electrifies the room and everyone that is in here tonight. They mention that they are definitely going to party tonight in Amsterdam, but it is clear the party already has started early.

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01. The Hammer
02. Clean Slate
03. Wither With You
04. Talking Straight
05. Sister's Jeans
06. Sick Bug
07. An Air Conditioned Man
08. Colours Run
09. Exclusive Grave
10. Bellarine
11. Julie's Place
12. Mainland
13. Fountain of Good Fortune
14. French Press
15. Time in Common
16. Wide Eyes
Encore 2
17. Heard You're Moving

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