ULTRA2012 WEST - Rotterdam – Worm - 11/03/2012

The prism that is ULTRA issued another, as yet undiscovered shaft of colour forth from its complex form. Wild dancing ensued – the Roodkapje lot turned up in bridal wear and Incendiary, Subroutine and ULTRA deejays were told to stop making people so happy by playing tunes they wanted to dance to.




Saturday in Rotterdam and the people travelling on the ULTRA train are feeling a bit frayed… April and Minny Pops chatted in Bazaar over a nice detoxing pumpkin soup of all things – after all, it had been some night after the show in Eindhoven. But taking the Piet Mondriaan quote emblazoned in neon on Eindhoven’s station wall as our motto kept spirits up – “Conventie, een sort herinnering, is het grootste beletsel om te genieten van leven en kunst.” No shit, Sherlock ... Worm was all about enjoyment – pure and simple. Convention (albeit of a rock and roll variety) would be more noticeable tonight though - the artistic tenderness and fragility from the two previous nights would be crushed under the 24 Hour Party People vibe of Worm, things would become stranger and more lurid, the attack would be harder, more metropolitan, more concrete and steel-bound.

Before all of this a true ULTRA moment in the nearby Tiki’s where Gonnie Rietveld from Quando Quango and Harold Schellinx were due to read. The owner didn’t seem all that keen – people were coming in to eat and stories of post punk absolution seemed far away. Fuck it, fuck the bar, and let’s fuck off. So we all did in a glorious stroppy walk out…

Over to Worm – the venue is split between a groovy downstairs, which comprises of a shop a bar and a space to eat, with an upstairs where you can watch films or bands. It’s a superb setting but one that nearly backfired on the ULTRA night in that an increasing number of people were having a really groovy time chatting in the bar and goggling all the ULTRA / Minny Pops / Lebowski / Vinyl merch… understandable but even playing Songs in the Key of Z didn’t shift the buggers out – though yelling a few obscenities did mean that the film from RedThePlaneet did get a good airing

And what to think of this film? It was great, that’s what! Strange, funny, uncomfortable and blessed with a barmy subject matter (garden gnomes taking over the world, totalitarian style) the whole thing – done as a sort of cartoon reportage – was an incredibly funny way to start proceedings. In many ways this was the most ULTRA thing in the night and helped leaven out – in an artistic way - the guitar-heavy programme that followed.

More daft music (Gonnie Rietveld and Wally Minny Pops began a running and lengthy battle on the turntables that grew into a weird and increasingly demented kind of side show in the bar area) and then it was time for AC Berkheimer.  Berkheimer are a great band, sometimes they dive under people’s radar given the introspective nature of their music and their slightly reserved on-stage personalities - and I thought this would be a difficult gig for them in the sense that the stage wasn’t built for intimacy, but no; tonight they were up for attack, up for doing something out of the ordinary. Their dreamy, metallic alt-folk was tougher, brasher and driven by harsh insistent rhythms. Even the way they looked meant business; Gwen and Dagmar were looking incredibly inspiring too – like some Gothicke Countesses presiding over an underground garden party.

Following this invigorating and salty opening blast we had Harold Schellinx and new Minny Pop Nathalie Janssen accompanying Harold on another bravura reading of his from the ULTRA book, which was nice enough but a bit lost in the cavernous Worm. And then we had a delay… apparently the sound lads thought that it would be better to change the running order due to technical reasons – albeit not telling the door staff or indeed anyone else…  Nope this wasn’t gonna happen – Hallo Venray was on next and this was what a lot of the increasingly busy Worm had come to see.  This delay began to fray everyone’s tempers (and meant that most people went to watch Wally & Gonnie’s increasingly mental deejay stints) but eventually we had – that most non-ULTRA of ULTRA acts – Hallo Venray…

Now I like this band a lot. And I’ve seen the a number of times but even though I knew that they’d chosen to play their first record – You Don’t Hit a Guy With Glasses On -  in its entirety, I wasn’t prepared for such an onslaught. “Do you wanna, do you wanna, take a ride?”, said Henk, opening up the show with a series of staccato bursts on his guitar then we plunged headfirst into Some Friends. An incendiary version of Jungletown followed and then Black, Facts of Life, all marvellous. Each track was introduced by Henk in his charming, laconic manner – for such a nice reserved man off stage (he truly is a gent) seeing him transformed into a strutting, confident rock animal is truly something else. As usual the band kicked up an absolute maelstrom of noise, drums and bass created an increasingly imperial backdrop for Henk to present his guitar pyrotechnics on. An encore meant Gasoline, which was absolutely magisterial - Henk’s bottle slide guitar just oozed cool and determination. After seven minutes of brash they left to cheers. Possibly the most powerful and adept gig of the weekend – and the biggest non-ULTRA surprise – but hey ULTRA is a state of mind, toch?

Then we got Rogier, a grindcore act - who were unfailing in their determination to make the biggest, maddest and funniest noise of the night. Whatever your views on grindcore, especially with pitch shifters - and I can assure you many views are quite vehemently anti – you have to admire the utter balls of making such a racket in the name of entertainment. There’s an intelligence with the work that is at once bozo but also very smart. And this is the punk of now, don’t think it isn’t. Though Incendiary enjoyed it a lot, after a while our liver began to rumble through the noise and our head span. (In this condition, the visitor was faced with a choice of escaping to the bar area where strange alien noises were being made by Gonnie and Wally or taking this metallic sound wave full on)… What Rogier really lacked were visuals –we desperately needed a backdrop of tanks rolling over the Steppe or fleets of aeroplanes flying overhead on their way to a bombing mission, then the audience – lulled by the straight, bluechip rock of Hallo Venray  could have made more sense of it. As it was, just like an army with inferior weaponry, many fled in the face of such an onslaught.

More delays ensued, meaning an increasingly frustrated set of technicians, band and audience, but finally we got a gig – the last – April. April were marvellous in Eindhoven, but tonight they earned their spurs in many people’s eyes in having the gumption to pull off an energetic and soulful set after waiting the whole night and overcoming a load of sound difficulties. They have a sort of gawky soulboy fire about them; their big simple tunes are fired by total belief -that’s why they sound so good, they could never in a month of Sundays convince people with their music if they didn’t mean it. Reflective tracks like Always a Good Night are very difficult to convince people with in a live setting, but they did on this night. This band has guts and talent.

After that – pure unadulterated relief! Despite the crazy atmosphere, despite fighting off loads of Museum Nacht people (that was a funny subplot, kicking out people who thought Worm was a museum – and seeing their incredulous expressions as they murmured “it’s not free?”, was fun) and despite the sound issues, this was another triumph. The prism that is ULTRA issued another, as yet undiscovered shaft of colour forth from its complex form. Wild dancing ensued – the Roodkapje lot turned up in bridal wear and Incendiary, Subroutine and ULTRA deejays were told to stop making people so happy by playing tunes they wanted to dance to. By a couple of serious girls dressed as bridesmaids. Top night. Mad as toast, though…


Some links

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1VeaKy2TAbM Hallo Venray playing Gasoline at Worm

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QxGsk3IoAFc AC Berkheimer

Rogier http://www.discogs.com/artist/Rogier+Kuzee