We walked in to see this Romanian genius in full flow. Man, he looked off his tits; rocking this 'unwanted lunatic at a family do' red kagoule-cum-dad's coat. Zipped up. Over a jumper.
Dodo Women's Group - Pic courtesy of Erik Luyten - All rights reserved - www.erikluyten.nl
You know those days where all plans go to ratshit? This was one of them. After interviewing the very genial Viet Cong, we decided to see them and Ought at Ekko to kick our Friday fun off with a bang. We always like the venue, it's a great welcoming place normally. However, all plans were completely fucked over by the doorstaff who were rocking this self-important, philosopher thug act; you know, sneering contempt allied with continual attempts to be harder AND smarter than you. One, who looked - or wanted to look - like 'Bad' Vlad Putin was a real diva. OK, yes, yes, no exceptions, we understood and we decided to go elsewhere, he won, and he can tell his grandkids about it, we'll leave him to his bedside Nietsche... but there were about 7 or 8 press people from all over the world and they were told to get to the back of the queue. And they were genuinely upset. Even the entreaties of one of the bands' reps got nowhere with this bloke.
Before peeps start saying 'hahaha fuck you, hoist on your own petard' and roll out the whole thing about press having this charmed life, being able to swan into gigs and make up a right load of ill-informed shit... look at it this way. I will probably write 10,000 words - in two days - on this festival. I also know that bands use reviews to drum up interest for further shows, or releases, etc., etc., ad nauseum. Yeah I know it sounds like whinging but some of us do care, and do work - for nothing I may add - and look to be fair and honest at all times. So when you get some nobber playing God with their ill-conceived, back-of-a-fag-packet perceptions of what press actually do it really, really gets my goat.
Rant over. We went to RASA to catch Ogoya Nengo and the Dodo Women's Group. But instead of seeng the Kenyans we walked in to see some soulful bloke (who turned out to be Sven Kacirek, the Head behind this marvellous LP) shaking some sort of quiet trip out of a range of hand-held percussion instruments. It was ok but, well, ok. Bit underwhelming to be honest. Luckily, Ogoya Nengo and the Dodo Women's Group really did shake some action. Dressed in traditional costume, (one carrying an ostrich feather flywhisk, and a bongo player wearing a sartorial carcrash of casuals/footy hoolie v neck with a straw skirt) the band lined up and slowly got this sprightly, meliflouous groove going. Then - and only then - did Nengo and the Women's Group start to take over RASA, filling the room with this powerful, almost unearthly vibe; Nengo speaking in spirit or animal voices, and wresting a soulful and surprisingly tough racket out of her companions. It was really something, and not the sort of reverential thing I was expecting, to be honest.
Then a lung-bursting dash to the outer reaches of the festival to catch Rodion G.A. in the lovely and peaceful Vredenburg Leeuwenbergh church; a truly atmospheric place that (given Rodion's weird, otherworldly vibe) was a cool choice for some hot 70s-80s synth action. Or so we thought. We walked in to see this Romanian genius in full flow. Man, he looked off his tits; rocking this 'unwanted lunatic at a family do' red kagoule-cum-dad's coat. Zipped up. Over a jumper. And bifocals which caught the light; making him look like a devil. But it wasn't an easy gig that's for sure. For one, yer man Rodion was fond of a protracted mumble between songs. In Romanian. Second, it looked like he really didn't give a shit, outside of baiting the sound fella, which pissed some more off. People would come in, try to get into it in that dreadfully patronising 'I'm watching music from around the world and it's fortifying ma soul as a sensitive person' kinda way (sucking it all in in the same tasteful manner they use when buying ethnic cushions) and then get increasingly alienated by the dismissal of any stage craft. Incendiary loved watching this stand off. I also think a fair few were disappointed not to see loads of mad hand-made '70s equipment (preferring to fiddle about with this metal box that looked like an old VCR) and decided to judge him on that. It just goes to show the difference between what we want or perceive, and what 'reality' really is in this shiny pre-packaged world of Pop Musique, eh? The music was (of course) boss, slabs of white noise sounding like some old scuzzed out glam racket; a sort of bleached out broadcast from somewhere you'll never visit; full of interference and tape hiss. Magic.
At this point all the things we'd fancied seeing converged on one time zone; a sort of whirlpool of impossible choices. Dr John playing a birthday gig? Iceage? Sir Richard Bishop? Nouveau Vélo? UKanDanZ? On our way back from Leeuwenbergh, we decided to put our heads round the door of lovely old ACU to see Nouveau Vélo for a minute. And immediately felt bad for the band as the sound was fucking awful; the Mighty Vélo sounding like someone had poured melted fudge into their amps. Such a shame as they are brilliant band who deserve the breaks. Still, people were digging their beautiful pop patterns; I suppose if you can listen and appreciate a band whose entire upper register is muffled to the point of non-existent and still dig, it says something of their quality.
Off to UKanDanZ at RASA. Fuck the bright lights and headliners, let's find out what's going on in the margins. And we are so glad we did; UKanDanZ being one of the highlights of the festival for us. How to describe this racket? Well, imagine some low grade but existentialist/highbrow Sabbath crunch, or a cleaned up, energetic, prim take* on Speed Glue & Shinki, with this sleazy jazzy sax smeared all over the top, like jam on a hot piece of toast. There was also a bit of French band Trunks too; the same sort of crunchy, crunky racket; though I suppose not surprising since most of UKanDanZ are French... ANYWAY; UKanDanZ patiently picked at the seams of RASA, slowly loosening everyone up with this weird but moreish Franco-Ethiopian mix. Singer Asnake Guebreye (Asnake! Worra rock name!) dropped this beautiful melismatic vibe over the top of the grind; all the while pulling shapes, running through a set of high kicks, moulding the music round his own expressive and very soulful personality. Things were getting loose with Guebreye playing out - and directing - this charming, Ethiopian take on a rocking soul review. How the fuck he did all his kicks and spins is beyond me, as he had these mad crocodile shoes on that looked like the ultimate worst footwear to dance in; true ankle breakers. No matter, he shook some rug, inspiring one of the bongo lads from the Dodo Women's group to come onstage and slide through his legs. We got an encore, which really started to Sab-out, and a sort of Polonaise. Astounding gig. You really have to check them out. After that we danced to the Rebel Up deejays and took in some of the Parquay Quarts's 'tribute garage' gig at Pandora, which was groovy enough, but I really don;t get this bunch; all a bit samey and cosy for me.
Strange old evening, but we got there in the end.
*No, REALLY. I know some Heads may complain and report me to the Trades Descriptions dudes, but really.