Werfpop festival, Leidsehout - 10/07/05

Mr Bits, dressed modestly in white, played his casio with a series of jerky, saucy manouevres, allowing me to fantasize about George Formby playing Blackpool Pier in the ‘thirties.



It was an infernally hot day that Sunday. A perfect day for watching bands whilst lazing in the park, you'd have thought. Well, yes and no. The actual watching of the bands was at times difficult; the only cover afforded from a blazing and very cruel sun was either directly in front of the stage where the band was performing, thus risking profound deafness; or in front of the directly adjacent stage, where you could only sneak a side-long glimpse of the act (whilst mercifully maintaining some semblance of hearing). Oh well...


What made it imcomparably worse was the dreadful nature of the first two bands. Regular readers of this magazine will know by now that I am normally averse to critisizing new acts. I don't particularly like attacking the efforts of people who are prepared, merely by standing on stage and playing their music, to be much braver, more positive and much more pro-active than me, the sedentary reviewer. But there are times when I despair of Dutch new bands, because they all sound the same. And I'm sorry Griffin and Joyfalds, this means you. Nearly every song is written in the same key, every effort boasts the same introspective lyrics, the singers all try to sound like that whining guy out of Kane. If that's not enough there's always the drop in tempo mid-song (to allow a soliloquy of sorts to take place). But, most worryingly, there aren't any tunes! No tunes! No hooks, no melodies, no catchy moments! It's all very well trying to express your feelings but there has to be some audience interaction, some feeling amongst the gathering that there's a more hopeful or funny (however black the humour) twist in the mix. And no, don't quote Joy Division at me by way of counter argument, (some of the members of these bands sported Joy-Div tees and made it patently obvious that they were on a fairly self reverential Curtis trip), because for all the doom mongering, there was plenty of raw, exhilarating stuff in their catalogue. Young Dutch bands. Take heed. All this whingeing must stop, you hear me?  


Luckily Kitty Contana were on next and whilst their music was derivative as hell, (I'm not going to start to decodify or classify the influences their up-beat punk/funk drew on as it would take too long), at least we had something to tap our foot to, something to whistle along with. And, after the previous ninety minutes, it came as a blessed relief. I liked them; obvious, boorish and garish as they are, they put on a good show.


Waldorf was alright, but I didn't really pay much attention, as the heat was becoming oppresive, forcing me to abandon my perch at the front for the quest to find some shade. So, apologies to Waldorf. I'll seek you out soon and review you at length, I promise.


In the shade I decided to take a sly peek at the other concert goers; as by now the Leidsehout was filling up with people out for a day's revelling and I must say that it was a remarkably benign bunch; the Epica Goth army were doubtless still up in the trees hanging out with their elvish friends, leaving the field open for Leiden families - for the most part bedecked in jewelry and burnt to a crisp. There were the odd groups of professional festival goers, driftwood from the late eighties with their scrubland hair and Celtic tattoos, as well as the odd Goth blinking in the sunlight. But pride of place had to go to two kids who looked just fantastic. One girl turned up in a billowing black and white polka dot dress, bedecked in bows and flouncy lace. Combined with her nineteen-forties facial make up (red pouty lips and heavy, almost sculpted foundation) she looked sublime. As did a friend of hers, a nervous, spotty youth, who had somehow managed to lay his hands on a complete U.S. Doughboy uniform, replete with gaiters and webbing. His hair was side parted to a milimetre's accuracy. Dedication on this scale moved me. I had to shake his hand.


The time observing the make up of the crowd (which was punctuated regularly by the task of obtaining beer and food) was the time in which Kraak en Smaak played their deejay set. It was alright, but somehow unsuited to a hot summer's day. It didn't carry. Still, I've heard good things about them, so I suggest you make your own minds up when you see them next. The next act, however, did carry most forcibly. Seymour Bits was my highlight of the day, not least for the inanity of his set, which involved a deejay dressed as Batman and two lascivious, gyrating dancing girls. Mr Bits, dressed modestly in white, played his casio with a series of jerky, saucy manouevres, allowing me to fantasize about George Formby playing Blackpool Pier in the 'thirties. The music was high-gloss, mid-eighties funk, reminiscent of Prince or Giorgio Moroder. It was a class act, no doubt about it. 


Opgezwolle also had something about them, they were a tad ramshackle, and I was thankful for it. Normally I'm not a big fan of hiphop but they do have something, a rough cheeky charm, devoid of heavy posturing and very reminiscent in its feel of the early eighties. Fuck knows why, but their set threw up the image of my mates proudly riding their BMXs round our estate sometime in 1983. Ahh, nostalgia... 


At this point I decided to go. Beef were doubtless great and I'm sure everyone enjoyed it and for the record, I like them too. It's just that I'd had enough for one day. And for what it's worth, I'm sure Epica and Dimitri don't really need to be analysed in the pages of this magazine. So we'll leave it at that, shall we?


Words: Richard Foster