Those who have preconceptions about how girl singers should front bands should go and see Rolo Tomassi.
Metropolis Festival – Rotterdam 05/07/09
You know what, you can’t beat free festivals: especially Metropolis, with its carnival, Breughel-esque air. This summer festival is yet another excuse for Rotterdam to come out in force to sun its collective tattoos, eat processed meat with wild abandon and show off all manner of “hard” dogs. I’ve often been convinced that Rotterdam has more ink in its skin than any other Dutch city... The contrast with Amsterdam is striking, not only in the (marked) difference in physical appearance between the peoples of the two cities, but in the manner of what constitutes a good day out. You wouldn’t get such an easy going attitude to what is considered “bad taste”, or indeed “fun” in the Dam, that’s for sure.
Amateur psycho-analysis aside, this is one of Incendiary’s favourite festivals in that however much filler is in the line up, there are at least two very good reasons to spend an afternoon in the Zuiderpark. Arriving in sweltering heat, Incendiary’s first job was to check out Baddies and Broken Records, who (such was the nature of the stage times), played in direct competition with each other. Baddies first: billed as a frothy mix of Queens of the Stone Age and Talking Heads, and looking like a bunch of office juniors stripped of their ties, the band cranked out a pretty standard set of rock songs that for the most part failed to ignite any interest outside of a general acceptance that, yes, they were okay in parts. Near the end, things got a bit more strung out, more cavalier in execution; riffs got more druggy and the atmosphere got more charged. They do have something, but we’d have to see them again to nail whatever that something is. Broken Records initially had Incendiary worried with the amount of instruments & members they had on stage, but all fears that this was going to be some chortlingly academic work-out were dissipated with a fine, clattering set of angry folk pop. Really, this lot have spot of grandeur and swagger about them, the songs are (at times) verging on hypnotic and I advise you to check one of their shows out.
After that it was time to escape from the sun and Face Tomorrow, whose gloomy, introverted emo did nothing to help us along. Luckily Fucked Up came along and dispelled all thoughts of endless moping in front of mirrors with a really great set of no frills hard-rock, tipping a titfer to Iggy and Angus in equal measure. Fucked Up’s “secret” weapon is the large gentleman who fronts the band, a certain Mr. Pink Eyes. Outside of belting out stentorian rock vocals, it seems that climbing rigging, performing on an adjacent stage, and regularly immersing himself in the crowd are his forte. Indeed so often were these actions performed that Team Incendiary wondered whether a psychosomatic urge to get away from his band was being made manifest. But, (frippery aside), take note.
Whether any of Incendiary will ever listen to Fucked Up in our bedrooms is irrelevant. Live, they are a great proposition, and on this showing highly recommended. After Fucked Up, something completely different was in store. Asteroids Galaxy Tour seem to be in love with that high gloss lounge sound. Trippy, groovy, jazz-pop inflected, soulful, there’s not much more to say. And, as ever with this kind of music, the tunes really have to fight their way through the thick layers that constitute the sound. This is not to say that the band don’t have songs; far from it, they have the infectious Around the Bend, and there were times throughout the set where people nodded along quite happily. But it was just okay and mildly diverting; and despite the band giving everything they could give, the gig floated away on the summer breeze without anyone really noticing.
Off to the 3fm stage where, (apparently), Dutch Radio 3fm is supporting new Dutch music. Hallelujah. Luckily all cynicism was blown away by the mighty Daily Bread, who have certainly come a long way from that afternoon pub gig in Groningen in January. Gilded Youth is beginning to take an interest in them, and the age of the audience has dropped quite markedly. No more chin-stroking journos and hipsters, rather ungainly young people dancing. Kimberley has developed a nice line in stage patter too, and Chris & Stefan’s drum, bass and pedal attack seems an even more towering proposition than before. The thunder that they get from a relatively simple set-up is still shocking. One of our grizzled companions (who’d never seen them before) muttered “New Order” during one of the bass lines. Comparisons with Hooky? Well, yes, I can see that too, despite that Seeds organ sound. There’s certainly the potential to develop their sound into something pretty glorious.
Back to our tiny Glade of Avalon amongst the Goths, in time to catch some of Winne’s set, which is highly enjoyable in its eclectic mix of samples and pretty dazzling mic skills. The set has a jaunty swagger, and a light, mercurial feel which (in my relatively untutored view) really helps hip hop. We like it when it’s cheeky… Mdungu follow with a great set of West African/Fela Kuti inspired groove music with some weird surf underpinning the sound at times, (I surely can’t be mistaken in thinking someone in the band likes Dick Dale). It’s pretty weird to see the band being mostly white but hey, it’s a glorious, righteous noise and the music wins, not preconceptions. Check them out.
Those who have preconceptions about how girl singers should front bands should go and see Rolo Tomassi. It’s fair to say that (on this showing at least), the band blew a lot of people away and confused acres more with their dense intricate mix of rawk nihilism and uber-nerdiness. Only a British alternative band (with all the mental baggage that can engender) could come up with such an inchoate idea of what constitutes music. Zappa put through a blender is a fair description. But hell, they’re glamorous and it’s refreshing to be shocked into altering one’s perception of what music should or shouldn’t be about. It’s been too long in coming. So strong were feelings that Incendiary was inspired (in a moment of glorious to offer their all-purpose raffia mat to a bemused band post-show.
Post Rolo-T, Incendiary’s head was caned, and negotiating the metro (with its new oyster card system) wasn’t what we really needed. Still top marks once again for a brilliant municipal event.
Words: Richard Foster
Pics: David Stapel