Metropolis, Rotterdam 2/07/07

The band did a good job in carrying the vibe (which always is a bit weird at Metropolis, maybe it's the profusion of pit bull terriers, but you can never really relax at this festival…)


Metropolis, Rotterdam 2/07/07


Mud; an awful substance. And mud combined with baking hot sunshine, a sunshine which forces to your knees in search of shade and energy retention – is a cruel combination. Still, plastic bags were found, arses were parked, drinks were procured and Tribe Incendiary settled down rather squelchily to watch Rotterdam's Metropolis festival. An early decision was made (in view of the mud) not to wander between stages, as this year the tents of the alternative bands had been eschewed in favour of a large double stage; The Thinkers and Workers Stage (a glorious misnomer given the state of the music industry) thus rendering too much movement pretty unnecessary.


So we settled down to experience the sounds of who were three rather earnest Menomena, Canadians who used a variety of technologies and instruments (including a fucking huge tenor sax) to make very heartfelt, slightly flat emo-esque sound-scapes. This was all very well, but you got the feeling that making music like this is far more fun for the band to make than it is for us to actually listen to it. There were moments when Menomena began to rock out (and our heads began to nod approvingly) only for them to whip out their tenor sax, (mid song in an unwitting emulation of prog bores Henry Cow) or (worse), an applemac; and render the whole thing academic. Muted applause from Tribe Incendiary I'm afraid.


After this we shifted about 25 yards to see Peter and the Pirates who nearly lost us with their appallingly banal lyrics on the first song. I mean there's the beauty of simplicity and then there's nicking your little sister's poetry. P&TP are very poppy and pleasant and they all look like identikt Brit-lads, (jeans polo shirt and trainers). There really wasn't more to say about them until the last three songs, when they threw melody out of the window and just developed a stonking, one chord groove that lasted all of 20 minutes. Incendiary's heads nodded rather more forcefully and they were saved a literary garrotting.



Once again the plastic bag shuffle took place; this time performed to make the watching of Blanche possible. Now this act was more of a proposition; after a load of lads in nondescript clothes, we had a girl coming onstage like Jackie Onassis in a flowing white gown and a set of dudes looking like they'd been beamed out of Haight Ashbury circa '68. What followed was a set of perfectly acceptable 'Airplane re-workings that got you tapping your toes in a groovy, laid back manner. Sadly the Lady in White only sang two songs; as the ones she did were the best of the set. Still, Blanche had conferred a groove to Metropolis and we thank them for that.


Now you can't beat a good contrast now can you? Change is as good as a break and all that. What better way to follow the wistful Blanche with noisy and enthusiastic Norwegians in red tracksuits? Datarock had, due to some happy line-up shuffling been transported to "our" stage. Their synchronised bouncing and clapping and general hollering amidst their "electro–indie" set (God I can really get down with the kids eh?) meant that Datarock lifted the hazy goodwill and added something more manic. Things got very New Order-ish at some points, and Radio 4-ish at others but that's never a bad thing. They were great fun.


More noise was in store, albeit of a more poppy variety with 1990s. There's not really much to them outside straightforward adolescent pop/rock songs, but that, I suppose is their charm and woe betide those who take them seriously. They did a good job in carrying the vibe (which always is a bit weird at Metropolis, maybe it's the profusion of pitbull terriers, but you can never really relax at this festival...) More white boy noise came along in the form of Jay Retard, whose sound is best described as teen garage. The band also boast bass player who could challenge David Gray for head-nodding. It was all enjoyable, if slightly forgettable stuff.


In direct contrast to this maelstrom of teen thrash, Kubus and BangBang broke Metropolis up with a brilliant set, at times reminiscent to this reviewer of Kool Keith. They certainly seemed very happy to be here, throwing in a lot of Lahndahn-style banter. What stopped it from being a macho fest were the great observations from BangBang, who is a very thoughtful and insightful feller. I mean when did you last hear someone give it up for poetry? It was an incredibly charismatic show. Rotterdam always loves (and knows) its rap and the tattooed and pitbulled-up hordes treated this set with reverence and acclaim.



Everyone then fucked off, which was a crying shame, as Archie Bronson played a superb, nay blistering set and the white kids finally got the chance to go ape to some "proper" white noise thrash, albeit with that blues-y, psychedelic, Groundhogs-style twist, which Archie do so well. Sam screamed throughout, the sax blared in a very menacing manner, and the drums had seven shades kicked out of them. Those who stayed should be grateful... as whilst Kubus & BangBang saved the day, Archie added some cream to the cake (really... I should report the football shouldn't I?)




After that we squelched past a somnolent Senor Coconut (a shame, his wonderful muse is best suited for dark clubs, not a field full of wet Dutch) and home, slightly worse for wear... Still, there's always next year.



Words: Richard Foster