Damian's Metropolis Review

Eventually somebody important did appear, you could tell they were important as they wore a body warmer (in 30 degree heat!) and had a walkie talkie strapped to their waist.



I woke up with a bastard behind the eyes. I'd love to say that it was the fault of Brakes, but they never forced me to drink anything. It was my own fault. Travelling down to Rotterdam I didn't feel much better either, in fact I felt a lot worse. Still I made it there for about 12:30 and Brakes weren't due to start until 1pm. I had plenty of time. Or so I thought.


My name wasn't on the press list, which was a bit of a problem as I had arranged to interview three bands that afternoon. I had to stand aside as hundreds of people filed past me, off to enjoy their day. I stood and waited. A couple of other journalists joined me. They weren't on the list either. Unfortunately the kids that were manning the press list portacabin didn't have a brain cell between them, so we just had to stand around and wait for someone important to appear.


Eventually somebody important did appear, you could tell they were important as they wore a body warmer (in 30 degree heat!) and had a walkie talkie strapped to their waist. She looked thoroughly bored, poor lass, but at least we gave her something to do.


"Pshhng ficking fhhhn niet op mijn lijst."  She shouted into the walkie talkie.

"Fsshn frishhhhhn grnnnn foorrrrrnnnnn>"  Came the reply.

"She says you can go in," said Little Miss Important and so finally, after almost an hour's wait, I was given my spangly orange wristband, aka the ever important backstage pass. I then set off in search of Brakes, which was a feat in itself.


Now then, organisers of Metropolis, what the hell was wrong with last year's layout? Nothing, that's what, so why on Earth did you change it? I understand that the Cirque De Soleil had taken roost in the Ahoy Car Park next door, shutting off where last year's main entrance was, but why the hell did you move everything? Why did you feel the need to split the main stage up from the two main tents? In fact, why did you decide to hide the main stage away in a corner? You just made rods for your own back. Instead of having one main backstage area that's easy to staff, organise and navigate, you created two. That meant more fencing, more staff, more hassle for the artists and journalists too. It also made it a bit of an arse for the general public. Last year, you could wander between the three main stages rather easily, this year we had to go off wandering through the woods which, no matter how nice, was totally unnecessary. It also meant that you ended up with more areas of the Zuiderpark covered in litter. Well done. Good job. Great logic.


There's such a thing as common sense, so use it. PUT IT BACK THE WAY IT WAS IN 2004 NEXT YEAR PLEASE!


Now then, where was I? Oh yes, on the road to see Brakes. Well I passed a couple of the local stages first, which scared me half to death. The Ska band I passed first should have been put down and even though I wouldn't know what end of a trumpet to blow in I swear I could make a more pleasant noise than their guy managed, whoever they were. The second band I passed had me in stitches. It was a red hot day and there was some kid dressed in a large black hat, white fur coat and skin tight jeans. The mascara that he'd obviously so lovingly applied to his face was running all over the place and he looked absolutely atrocious. The music wasn't much better, but at least they were amusing.


That's them Brakes that is!


I finally wound my way through the woods and found the Brakes, just as they were about to finish. Wonderful! I'm told they were very good though. I did manage to hear Comma Comma Comma Full Stop though, but seems as that only lasts about 6 seconds I don't think I have the right to review them to be honest. So once they finished their set, which was received with fine applause from the crowd, it must be said, I headed backstage in search of nourishment. I found it in the form of a bottle of lager.


Next up on that stage were Stars, a bunch of musicians from Montreal. I say that because, although they are a band, they look like they're all in different bands from each other. The drummer looked like he was in a punk band, the guitarist a member of some garage rock band. The bass player thought he was a gangster with his grey hat and pencil moustache and the keyboard player looked like he was lost altogether, as if expecting to be playing to a barmitsvah or something. As for the front two, for Stars work off a boy/girl vocal dynamic, Amy looked like she was part of some school band and Torquil, the front man, reminded me of that funny little guy from Ally MacBeal, the one who hums when he's nervous.





An odd looking bunch, it has to be said and their set wasn't helped by a half hour delay due to a lack of power. "You know, we can send men to the Moon," moaned Torquil, "and yet we can't get a guitar to run on the same fucking power supply as everything else." To say he was annoyed would be an understatement and it took a long time for things to improve. Despite a set plagued by power problems, atrocious feedback and a sound guy who obviously didn't know what the hell he was doing, they did manage to bring a smile to most people's faces.


It took a while, but they got there. "We are Stars and we play songs about sex and death," Torquil announced at one point and the crowd responded kindly because everybody likes songs about sex and death. Once they got a groove going everybody loosened up. There's a lot of talent hiding in this band, it's just a shame that the technical problems damaged them so much. Still, underneath all the feedback and hidden vocals I got the feeling there was a good band trying to get out. I liked them a lot, although they were helped somewhat when the bass player, after his bass guitar sound disappeared altogether, clambered onto the drum riser to entertain himself and then promptly lost his balance and fell backwards, landing flat on his arse in the centre of the stage. He got a large round of applause for that, I can tell you.


Stars' bass player - before the arse over tit incident! 


Typically Canadian, in that everything they do has to be bigger, longer and wider than anything else around Stars just throw layers of sound on top of each other for fun. Why build up a wall of sound when you can build a skyscraper of sound? Only Canadians could up with something like this. I'm sure they've played better gigs but they showed enough to deserve a second chance someday.


Due to the late start for Stars, the plan I had lain out for the rest of the afternoon pretty much went arse over tit from then on, but at least I got to drink some more beer for a while to eradicate that hangover before checking out The Cribs, who were marvellous. Fast, aggressive and cocky as hell these three lads from Wakefield came on stage, battered living hell out of their instruments, screamed a lot and then left, to rapturous applause. Rotterdam loved them. They opened with Hey Scenesters, a fantastic tirade against those who go to gigs because it's cool rather than for the music (this must be played in the Paradiso every night!) and immediately got the crowd bouncing. They never let up from there. They were extremely cocky, "This is uz first time here in't Rotterdam and I thought I were gonna hate it but you guys are pretty fuckin cool actchulleh" but they were cool as fuck. This is the band the Libertines wanted to be.


The Cribs. Looking down on you.


I went to check out Black Mountain, but as I wandered into the tent they said, "Thank you very much. Good night," and left the stage. Bugger. I hung around for a while before checking out a bit of Electrelane, who must be the cutest band I've ever seen in my life. Very cool. Very sexy. Very good. Unfortunately, having drank away my hangover, I was then absolutely famished so had to leave their set half way through and set off in search of something to eat. I got lost in the woods a little but eventually found my way to the main stage, where The Dears were playing. God they were shit. They know what they're doing up there and their songs are ok, but they're so fucking lofty and full of themselves they just come across as a bunch of arrogant twats. Sometimes that can work (see the Cribs) but not here. Most of the crowd at the back were asleep. Nuff said.



Hayseed Dixie. Available for children's parties.


I hung around the main stage area to check out Hayseed Dixie. I thought they were excellent and so did the crowd. I was surrounded by mullets and Motorhead t-shirts but I felt right at home and everybody loved the bluegrass metal covers. Ace of Spades and Hells Bells never sounded so good. Bloody marvellous they are, but they're a scary looking bunch. You wouldn't want to leave your kids with them, that's for sure.


I found my way back through the woods in time to check out a bit of Spektrum, but I wasn't that keen to be honest. Then, after drinking some licquorice concoction with Sons and Daughters I staggered into the tent where Mugison was playing, but he scared the absolute Bejeesus out of me so I ran away to hide.



Sons & Daughters, love and laughter.


I did venture back in to check Sons and Daughters out, who were bloody marvellous and my favourite act of the day. Great songs, great look and great attitude. Nuff said. All that was left to do after that was check out Death From Above 1979, who were ok, but not good enough to keep me from playing Frisbee with the Brakes, which was fabulous and a perfect end to another day in Zuiderpark. I love this festival and I'll most probably return next year too, I just hope they put the layout back as it should be.


Words : Damian Leslie