Spoelstra, Julie Mittens, The Ex – Baar En Boos Leiden, 18/02 /10

let’s look back with thanks; the place has been a source of genuine musical fun for us

Can’t believe it… the last review night at the Bar en Boos for Team Incendiary. Despite a protest march through Leiden and numerous actions stretching back a year or so, it seemed that the Koppingsteeg’s 40 years reign of anarchic, enlightening, fun and plain mental goings-on was over. Still, let’s look back with thanks; the place has been a source of genuine musical fun for us, especially over the last 5 years or so.

It was no surprise the place was heaving, what with the news of the court order and The Ex headlining, and Incendiary saw many familiar faces swanning about. First on the bill was Spoelstra, who had a guitar to go with his pedal table.  As usual, Spoelstra’s set was quirky, irreverent (there was ironic whooping) slightly demented and a hell of a lot of fun. Tracks flowed thick and fast, both from his magnificently gnomic LP The Mighty Intranet, and his equally unhinged I’ve Got Issues the Shape of Italy EP. I think the 40 minute slot was the longest he’s played, and he certainly revelled in the space to experiment and jump about. In fact Spoelstra seemed very happy to run through a repertoire of classic rawk poses for the benefit of the audience. Definitely worth seeing if you haven’t and his best show witnessed to date.

After the fun and games of Spoelstra, we grabbed more cheapo beer and then settled back to take in Ye Mighty Julie Mittens, who set about pulverising one and all with a truly towering performance. As ever with the Mittens, things built up from a rumbling, organic stew of white sound to intermittently break free with a jagged wall of noise, or surge upwards towards some yet un-scaled atonal pinnacle. This gig was truly special though, if only for the way bassist Michel held the audience in a seemingly endless rolling loop during one of the set’s quieter moments. There were members of the audience who began to move along to the dipping, swaying bass rhythm almost to the point of being mesmerised. A truly beautiful gig.

Some act for The Ex to follow, that’s for sure, but there again The Ex are some act. I know very little about their back catalogue but I’ve seen them a number of times and they are some proposition. In some ways I am very happy to have The Ex unveiled as a beautiful revelation each time I see them. Now I know that this isn’t very informative reviewing, so I will say that the band are propelled by a fabulous sense of rhythm (their tracks are infectious) and a beautifully measured, balanced sound that always has the listener taking note of what’s going on. There’s something of Remain in Light / Fear of Music era Talking Heads about them, but rougher, more agit-pop, scruffier… The band did about 3 encores, finishing with a beautiful torchlight slowie by the lady drummer.

A fabulous evening and frankly I don’t remember much more of it.