Monday 28 October 2019

London Calling #2 2019

The times the London Calling festival was only all about new British bands is long gone. The bands are not only strictly from Britain now and the music is more diverse than ever. It was mostly indie about ten years ago when we visited the festival at Paradiso frequently. But after a few editions with mostly mediocre bands we stopped going for a while. Now post-rock, garage rock, punk, shoegaze and new wave bands are coming to this festival and things are interesting again.

London Calling at Paradiso Amsterdam, October 25 + 26 2019

It's also part of the Indiestad pass selection, which makes it almost a no brainer to go and try to cherry-pick the best bands. That isn't always as easy as it sounds, since trying to make it into the overcrowded small hall is always extremely difficult so we decide to stay downstairs in the main hall and watch the bands there.

Friday October 25


Once started as Romy Vager Group, Australian band RVG draw inspiration from 80s bands like The Smiths, The Go-Betweens and The Soft Boys. Singer Romy Vager sings her lyrics with incredible power and heart, while at the same time playing catchy and clear guitar lines in the greatest The Smiths fashion. It truly is a great introduction to this band, who really are able to impress me.

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Night Moves

Also drawing inspiration from the 80s, all the way to their looks, but from a different perspective are Night Moves. They are drawn to the soft rock side of that era with poppy songs and warm synths. However this is not the most interesting part of the 80s and the sugar coated songs aren't really interesting. There isn't a lot of variation and after a while singer John Pelant's shriek voice is starting to get on my nerves.

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The Murder Capital

Time to get things going again with Dublin post-punk group The Murder Capital, who had quite a year. Their name is buzzing around in the music scene also because of their intense live shows, as I got to witness myself a few months back. The band starts out with a couple of slow songs to build up the atmosphere. While they patiently build up the tempo the boys are all over the stage swinging their guitars around. Singer James McGovern walks around stage, working the crowd, delivering his dark vocals with great power. This is an angry band who have a lot to tell about what's bothering them and know how to draw attention. Of course it is it a lot of show, but at the same time these alpha males here on stage mean business. Their post-punk songs are dark, heavy and intense, clearly influenced by other post-punk bands from the Dublin area but also from their famous fellow Dubliners U2. By the end of their set, the Irish group has turned the whole floor into a wild pit and you'd wish they could keep going for a lot longer.

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I am really looking forward to Squid who were so good at the Into The Great Wide Open festival. This band is rising quickly and for a good reason. Their songs are very clever with Talking Heads and LCD Soundsystem references, where they know how to keep things interesting. Tonight they are bothered with a lot of sound problems, that don't really get fixed throughout their set. It doesn't get the band down, but their songs lose some detail because of that, which is exactly what makes them so good. Despite all of that, the band once again proves to be one of the most interesting new bands on the rise this year. The combination of groovy songs with incredible hooks and the somewhat hysterical vocals of Ollie Judge are spot on. It's hard to resist a song like 'The Cleaner' and I can't wait to see them again soon.

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Heavy Lungs

We finally can make it upstairs where we don't want to miss Heavy Lungs who have already kicked off their wild show. Like fellow Bristol citizens IDLES this is a wild punk band. Their music is even more intense, in the same style as METZ. The band's delivery is part of this as well, with wild singer Danny Nedelko leading the pack. The band keeps knocking you over with heavy punk songs in a ferocious way until you simply have to surrender and join the pit. If that is not enough, Nedelko jumps off stage to drag in the last doubters.

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After this explosive show I call it a night. This has been an incredible London Calling night, maybe one of the best in a long time.

Saturday October 26

After yesterday the line-up for today maybe looks a bit bleak. Although today has The Twilight Sad on the bill, which in itself is already a good reason to swing by Paradiso.

Orville Peck

I walk in during Orville Peck's show and wasn't quite ready for a cowboy band. Singer Peck, described as "a masked gay crooner", is dressed in a western style Mexican themed glitter suit. He is wearing a kind of "Lone Ranger" mask with a veil. Like Peck everyone else in the band is wearing a cowboy hat. There is at least one hard core fan in front of the stage, as he wears a cowboy hat as well. Peck sounds like The King singing country songs, which in itself isn't that weird and could be interesting. His voice is pretty good and the band clearly can play. But this is definitely not my cup of tea and it sounds more like The King had a drink and a valium too many. The fan at the front loves it though and throws his hat onto the stage at the end of the set. I'd tip my hat to him if I wore one.

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The Twilight Sad

Every edition London Calling will have a band that has been around for a while and don't qualify as a new promising band. This time The Twilight Sad are the ones to play this spot, who played the festival ten years ago as well. The Scottish band has been around for over fifteen years and released its fifth album in January. I was expecting it to be full but that is not the case. But you can see many people came down to see this band though. They won't be disappointed as the band plays an inspired show. Singer James Graham sings with plenty of heart and emotion, together with a lot of theatre but never over the top. The band takes its time building up the dark songs, that have a lot of depth and detail. There are noise and krautrock elements in their music, which has great melodies and hooks as well. The band proves this tonight with a convincing show that pleases most of us here.

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Like yesterday I'm going out with a bang tonight, this time with YAK. I saw this band earlier this year in the summer at the Loose Ends festival and liked their raw psychedelic garage rock sound a lot. Tonight the trio convince me even more with a lively and hot rock show. It reminds me of the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion now and then. The songs are heavy with pounding drum grooves and fuzzed out guitars. Singer Oli Burslem works up a sweat and the youngsters at the front are willing and eager to dance. It is a fitting end to a very good London Calling weekend.

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All Pictures

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