Spoelstra, Oldseed, This Leo Sunrise - Linkse Kerk, Leiden 19/09/09

Spoelstra, Oldseed, This Leo Sunrise - Linkse Kerk, Leiden 19/09/09

A cracking triple bill for Saturday night revellers, despite the competition; apparently there was something on at the Hooglandse Kerk which required black tie and tails… But, as the bottles of Galgeleer started to kick in and render us squiffy, and as The Linkse Kerk’s heady mix of radicalism and good old fashioned bum-around ambience started to kick in, we decided dressing up wasn’t going to be part of the evening for us. I even got to do my Mark E Smith impersonation to the barman, who got it, the beggar. And the council want to shut this place down? Are they mad?

First on the bill was Leiden’s very own Spoelstra, (known as Jeroen Warntjes) a gifted type who owns and doubtless understands wires, pedals and odd bits of mixing equipment. His was the role of warm up act, which he pulled off with considerable aplomb. Not that that observation should in any way be misconstrued as demeaning; far from it. Warntjes has great charm and his music has a rough and ready, “can-do” vibe to it that is far from the introverted stereotype that bedevils these one person bedroom bands. Most of his tracks are built on a loop pedal of sorts and have as their driving force a cranky, crackly guitar sound that is very appealing. He also likes to create messy, slightly drugged spazzcore/glitchcore mini-symphonies that are the veritable sand in the Vaseline. Quietly tremendous, and insidiously inspiring.

Following this was the headliner Craig Bjerring, otherwise known as Oldseed who was busy promoting his new EP, The Terror. For those who need an introduction to Oldseed’s music, please think alt-country, driven by an acoustic guitar and subtle use of a delay pedal. What sets his stuff aside from a lot of the competition is (on this showing) the quality of his lyrics and his delivery, which is very impressive indeed. Never reverential (and not afraid to have a crack with, and sometimes at his audience), there was a dry wit at work both within and without the songs themselves. The music’s strength is to be found in the patient, determined nature of the structure – something I suppose you can’t avoid when writing with an acoustic guitar - which allies itself with a slightly anthemic, widescreen feel. I’m not normally a fan of acoustic singer-songwriters, but I bought the EP, (which should tell you something) and it’s wonderful. For the final track, Oldseed was joined by members of the final act, This Leo Sunrise, to knock out Nadine, (which you can currently find on This Leo Sunrise’s MySpace); a fitting end to a great gig.

This Leo Sunrise are a five piece, who have an earnest, ‘authentic’ vibe about them, that would have put me off slightly if it wasn’t for the singer’s wired performance. The lad gave everything, especially when he swapped his semi-acoustic for an electric banjo which somehow gave the songs a great, spiky feel. And when the band all joined in a chorus, or when the drummer got everyone by the scruff of the neck and shook them into some form of inhibition, the chance of a genuine lift off seemed tantalisingly close. At times this reporter was left wondering whether there wasn’t a little Nick Cave or Triffids worship being played out. But that’s no crime, and the songs are very cleverly structured and beautifully arranged. And they seem very confident that the different accents that viola and banjo bring to their sound will give them something extra. Certainly a band to keep an eye on.

All in all a top night, made all the sweeter when Incendiary found themselves ranting on with nary a care in the world about Can and Mozart to an increasingly frenzied Oldseed…

Words: Richard Foster