“Soundtrack” Live at the Melkweg, 14/08/04

Still weird, still chaotic and arty. Soundtrack passed the test.

Still weird, still chaotic and arty. Soundtrack passed the test.

What is it with this Soundtrack night, anyway? I mean the people who thought up this as serious entertainment must be nutters. The very idea of getting bands to create "on the spot" musical accompaniments to hand-made films is fraught with problems in itself. But to promote it as a nights’ entertainment for the average punter, (indeed, to require that your average punter pays money for the privilege of watching a band behind a screen, well…) that takes bottle.


Actually, I’m sounding all down-beat here. August 14th at the Melkweg was fantastic and, to be fair, I was prepared for a fairly shambolic evening. The first Soundtrack was a messy, funny, charming affair that reeked of the late 1960s, (an audience walk out, flowers, noise, very weird films, you can guess the sort of thing). I have to say that I was wondering just how the concept of Leiden’s Soundtrack would survive in the slicker surroundings of the Melkweg. For a start, they had a proper screen instead of a tacked up sheet. So, I grabbed myself a beer and settled back.


First up were Bonicha, who laid down a real stoner vibe. Melodic, eery, floating, very feminine music drew the bemused punters away from the bar and up to the stage. This was more like it. I found them a strange band to pick for playing behind a screen, as you’d expect something more broody and experimental. Still, they really got people in the mood for some more. Check them out.


Next came the Freakout. I’d seen them play with an experimental line up at the first Soundtrack (having apparently "lost" their drummer en route to Leiden). Boy, do this band know how to make things difficult for themselves. A new born child, their incarnation at the Melkweg only hours old, the Freakout had (according to Melkweg gossip), survived their own sound-check by a hairsbreadth. Some of the band didn’t show up, most didn’t know let alone like each other. Band members stormed out before and DURING their performance. I mean, walk out on your Melkweg debut? Amazing. It could have been the UFO club, 1969 Berlin, or Rotten twatting Matlock on-stage. This was experimental music as it should be, not irony, no creepy MTV isms. This gig was embarrassing, loud, funny, brilliant and annoying in equal measure. Roses were thrown at the audience, the screen for the film came up too early and singers fell over. If they wanted to (or were able to) get on with each other, they could be huge, or miniscule. At any rate better than the sham guilty urchin stuff the Libertines are pedaling around. Look out.


The following act on the bill of fare were the Electric Fans. Amsterdam’s best band stripped down their sound and went for mystery. Choosing to confront the uncompromising film set before them, they created a clattering, nagging rhythmical sound-scape. Their music was silent and suggestive, but never weak or loose. Certainly, lesser lights would have been content to hide behind a wall of noise. Think of the greatest recordings of the Teardrop Explodes, or Amon Duul 2, this is the territory the Fans tread. A brilliant performance full of colour, light and movement. Genius.


So there you are. Still weird, still chaotic and arty. Soundtrack passed the test. Let’s hope the Melkweg took note and we get some more. That idea doesn’t seem so stupid now.