There’s also quite a lineup of bands in the audience too, a veritable roll call of Subroutine bands and ULTRA-Nieuwe acts. An indication of the growing power and popularity of this label? Or just a collection of like-minded souls who suddenly realize that yes, they all know each other & are happy in each others’ company?
Weird. Normally Incendiary gets a nosebleed in Amsterdam – it’s not really a place we’ve ever felt comfortable in - but tonight we’re amongst friends & friendly acquaintances, lots of them it seems. After happily spending a couple of hours yarning to Zoe, who runs Cake Amsterdam (you should really order your stuff here) we shufty on down to OT301 on the Overtoom to take in the Subroutine release party for Space Siren’s glorious debut LP, Mr Wagner Please Give Us a Call. There’s quite a lineup of bands supporting Space Siren this evening – New YX, Wooden Constructions, Wolvon and Svetkoff Lamps.
There’s also quite a lineup of bands in the audience too, a veritable roll call of Subroutine bands and ULTRA-Nieuwe acts. An indication of the growing power and popularity of this label? Or just a collection of like-minded souls who suddenly realize that yes, they all know each other & are happy in each others’ company? Time will tell, but it’s worth listing the acts in the audience: Ravage Ravage, AC Berkheimer, Spilt Milk, April, Nouveau Vélo and Kattadreuffe, not to mention some hip and trendy journalists lurking around. A real muso beanfeast.
The first band that trod the boards was Groningen’s Wolvon - whose bearded countenances and lumberjack attire belied the kind of music we would get. Wolvon deal in a sludgy, grimy riff-fest that swings between an out and out blitz of sharp, grating guitar noise and a sort of lethargic, truculent slob pop, which at times is very similar to TFC’s stuff from A Catholic Education. The vocals were (and you must excuse any thought of puns ‘cos they’re really not intended) howled out on the night: whatever they’re trying to say isn’t immediately discernible to the casual listener, but no matter… The drummer was a dervish at times, the band’s power definitely stems from the propulsive rhythm section but it’s not all pyrotechnics, as there are some good songs in amongst the thick wall of sound. So nothing new, but this band have something very interesting about them.
Then we got New YX, who are beginning to grow on me every time I see them with their feisty take on power pop. There’s a definite hint of Throwing Muses with them, maybe it’s the fact that they’re one of the only bands – I can’t think of any other over here - who can do that gutsy, sensual and extremely feminine guitar sound that the Muses pulled off circa Real Ramona. And this is nothing to do with guitarist Líu being a girl (of all things… ). They are complete naturals on stage too, not only do they look brilliantly unaffected - in a kind of “just got out of bed and my armpits reek but fuck you” way (an impression which I’m sure they would shrug off in any case) but if any band could win on charm points alone it’s this lot. Their cheeky poppy sound is akin to some clockwork toy that can be wound up over and over again, just for the heck of it. The only disappointment was that the vocals were too quiet, too low in the mix… they needed to be a fair whack louder.
A break, a drink, a ridiculous amount of talking the same inane piss to people I know over and over again and it was time to take in Wooden Constructions who have been much praised recently. We dug them at the V139 Vinyl Magazine / Lebowski opening in the Warmoessstraat a month back, but frankly the room was crowded and people were chatting and the band was bloody miles away to make any impression other than one of “must check this out at a later date”… On this particular night, the band’s power was evident and striking. They have two secret weapons: a ridiculously, brutally simple set of danceable songs and their angular singer, who oozes confidence in a kind of “Dionysian rebel” way. It’s essentially a theatre-school take on throwing shapes à la the Lizard King, but done with enough attitude and devilry to stop anyone thinking the lad’s a plank. People have mentioned that the singer dances like Ian Curtis, and maybe there’s a hint of that but the person that sprung into Incendiary’s mind was the demented singer from ¡Forward Russia!... Wooden Constructions’ high octane sonic struts, accompanied by vocals that sounded more like yelped, parade-ground commands created a sort of up-tempo hipster aerobics class which seemed to have no end of wiling members.
After all the excitement it was time to garble some inanities to Space Siren before they went onstage. The band were dolled up, Gwen and Ineke wearing silvery, spangly attire and Corno sporting a red tie that made him look like a teacher on a field trip. No matter, as Space Siren proceeded to thump out a brutal, uncompromising set based on their new record. They have come on in leaps and bounds this past year, the tentative nature of their live sets - where Incendiary always felt that something was missing – is now ancient history. That “something” is surely their confidence and happiness in their new material, sure their EP & singles were good, but this is a record that has a real emotional history etched into it, and it seems that this allows Gwen to act out and sing about these songs in a much more assertive and sure-footed manner. The songs are fabulously rich in sound too, there’s a grating, bristling, grinding quality to them, at once alien and determined but also very poppy, at times showing a pastoral side that can leave you in a head spin. It’s a beautiful and strange vibe they have, and I do think you would be well served by listening to the record a few times before seeing them live, as they answer to no-one but themselves. My only disappointment is they’ve dropped the D.A.F. cover which would be a classic round off for their sets now. But that’s my problem not theirs.
More talk and a run for the which meant we caught a tiny bit of Svetkoff Lamps, who still throw shapes in the style of Sonic Youth. No bad thing; as we’ve said before that this band can really, really play well. They use their technical nous, allowing the music they create to act like a circus dog jumping through hoops. It’s not too academic as there’s enough rock and roll spirit here to keep things moving on nicely.
After this we embarked on a drunken cycle ride to CS and froze on the platform waiting for the night train. Worth it mind.