Copenhaarlem – SUB 071, Leiden, 10/9/13

It’s akin to listening to an audition to become NL’s number one flood defence warning system.

 

September’s been shit on the weather front it must be said. And given the gale whipping through Leiden on the night that Geertruida Records slunk into town, I would not have been surprised if no-one had turned up at the SUB at all. But they’re a resilient lot down at the Multiplex. Actually there was a pretty healthy crowd in to see the 4 acts; a mix of Dutch and Danish duos, all who have recorded on the ever-exciting Haarlem label. 

We were supposed to get 4 turns of 15 minutes each but given the permissive vibes that the SUB exudes, that rule went quickly out of the window, with opening act HimmelschiffExcelsior clocking in at nearly 30 minutes. Not that anyone saw a problem with an extended set per se, as the band’s shimmering noise was a tremendous antidote to the cold and damp. Joints got lit, people found their neutral space and the studious pair, (both sporting hairstyles last seen back when Loop were but young pups), concentrated on a building up a pedal-drenched noise that was a jumble of Telescopes, Galaxy 500 and a sort of beat-less ode to the Scene That Celebrates Itself. Damned enjoyable. After that we had Treasure of Grundo, who – yet again – were anxiously wondering whether their smorgasbord of pedals, nobs, keys and other detritus would combine to make a decent enough sound.  This is SUB, and arty fey synth boys, (who need a pie inside them) trying out dystopian sounds are looked at with distrust. I love their LP Dýsantzú, mind; it’s a masterpiece of cold, John Foxx style synth pop. And despite the inevitable scrabbling around during the gig, (both desperately pressing things to elicit some response), enough approximation to the record was made to conjure up some of that work’s existential grandeur. Oh what the fuck, it’s GOOD to see bands having to work for their corn, their music needs to be given a thorough testing anyway. And in my books they are well worth checking out. 

Then to matters more earthy. Those Foreign Kids have made the bozo rock record of the year in Zero Gravity Somersaulting Craze, and in the gloaming of SUB the band proceeded to crank out their massive, Glitterstomp racket with the minimum of fuss. The best thing about them is that when they play live it all looks like nothing is actually happening. Up they step, nonchalant as hell, press things, and out pops this huge gloopy syrupy noise that threatens to blow down doors. It’s akin to listening to an audition to become NL’s number one flood defence warning system. Ears ringing, the audience stood numbed by the assault; wondering what exactly they should do despite being confronted by a whole host of groovy tunes. It felt weird but damned good.

Finally, as if to bring some rock and roll normality to all of this pose striking, the Beardy Durfs popped up and blasted out a high octane, fag-in-the-locker-room rock and roll that was fast, clean and brilliantly uncomplicated. They were fabulous on the night; just because they did the simple things so well. The drummer – a dead ringer for some beer advert’s idea of what a trawler captain should look like - battered his skins throughout; looking imperturbable, worried only about the amount of noise he could make if given half the chance. The guitarist contended himself on growling through a set of songs about love, beer, sex and pizza. All was well. SUB rejoiced and those elegant Haarlem types didn’t feel uncomfortable in the Leiden bear pit. More of this, please!