I’ve never been all that comfortable with the bands in a living room idea, as it reminds me of all those dreadful parties I went to when I was a teenager.
Now this could be something special, I Am Oak’s dippy folk vibe and sparkly pop songs from Secret Love Parade – all in a front room. These huiskamerconcerts are beginning to get enjoyable. I’ve never been all that comfortable with the bands in a living room idea, as it reminds me of all those dreadful parties I went to when I was a teenager. Still, Marcel from SUB071 has sorted out a pretty cool routine and on the whole everyone who turns up rubs along okay.
Tonight there’s a fair sprinkling of student types, and types who could do with a square meal. This gawkiness is explained by the fact that Secret Love Parade and I Am Oak are some of the darlings of the Dutch indie-pop scene. I Am Oak is first; it’s just main-man Thijs Kuiken to start with, wearing a jumper with a Red Deer design on it. The only other “groovy” people I’ve seen with this kind of clothing on are British Sea Power. Otherwise it’s lunatics or charity shoppers… Thijs starts with a keyboard-based song which sounds remarkably like an early Julian Cope something like Search Party or When I Walk Through the Land Of Fear. The rest of the live band join him and proceed to knock out a thoughtful, sometimes woozy set, heavy on harmonies and quiet instrumentation; (well, we are in someone’s living room after all). It’s a wee bit like a sing-along at Sunday school. A lot of I Am Oak songs groove seriously along in a middling to slow tempo, and seem to be in one key. At times, you do look for more light, shade and well, sparkle. Luckily, this is provided in a track about hands (yes, hands), and the closing number which involves a fair bit of screaming - taking most of the audience by surprise. A good ending indeed.
After a little beer and olive-fuelled interval, The Secret Love Parade (great name isn’t it?) prepares to do battle. Two girls, one with guitar, the other seated behind an organ, wow the slightly lairy element in the audience (incredibly there is one) with pop songs brimful of charm and wit. There’s something so sincere and open about what they do, and how they do it, that it’s impossible not to love their music. Put it this way, if they didn’t mean it, the whole concept would fall apart in about 2 minutes. There are songs about boys, the joys of monogamy called Share the Bike (the lyrics for which are, please believe me, incredibly touching) and sad ponies. The guitarist has a nice line in nearly fluffing her part and then ripping out with a lick to make up for it. By the end, the crowd is wholly with them, due in part to their winning charm, but mostly because they are quietly brilliant.