zondag 24 september 2017

Indie Stadt @Paradiso Wednesday 20 September 2017

Get tickets to The Black Angels and get five other bands for free. That is more or less what happened to me. The surprise was that two of those bands I had reviewed on these pages and now got to see live as well. When I arrived at Paradiso, 20 minutes before the first show, I wandered into a nearly empty main stage. Twenty minutes later at lights out, the room was nearly full. I got to see four bands. Let's go through the whole Indie Stadt experience.

Beach Fossils
The singer of this Brooklyn based band announced that this was the last show of the whole tour and the band seemed happy to have reached that point. No one was smiling or seemed happy to play this music. Although I can imagine that fatigue gets the better of people, there's a world to win when people show up in their hundreds to come and watch you play.

Beach Fossils were the right band to kick off the evening. Its light sounding indie rock with a lot of higher overtones made for an extremely pleasant opening of the evening. There's nothing dangerous about this band. The songs are all somehow perfect.

Several years I reviewed the band's previous album 'Clash The Truth'. I more or less summed the album up as follows: "The short version of this review is that Clash the truth is this deliciously, jangly indie pop record" (read on here if you like). This hasn't changed on the new album 'Somersault' of this June, a release I had missed. It is what I heard live. Nothing exciting, but a so nice. Although, Beach Fossils' take on 'Sweet Nothings' was fantastic and warped. It's song, 'Be Nothing', as such has nothing to do with The Velvet Underground song, still I couldn't help singing that as well.

Unfortunately the band had packed up all the merchandise by the time I came to its table. A missed opportunity. So happy to fly home it seemed. Somersault is slowly growing on me, so it may come to a review in the coming weeks anyway.

Elephant Stone
Is a band from Montreal, Canada. Also a band I reviewed its previous album of and missed the new one. I really loved that album. In fact it was in my top 10 of the year 2014. "'The Three Poisons' is a fun album with enough interesting plots to follow and bends that give it an unsuspecting sonic view that has started to endear me fast", I wrote here.

Live the band totally convinced. It must have been 1967 all over again for the people old enough to tell. Elephant Stone aims for the pure melody and then lays layers of estranging hippie stuff over the melody. Yet that melody is always and foremost the starting point. Yes, we experienced long solos on a sitar, there was always a song where things started.

Modern hippies, why not look it when you play it? This was great fun and even better than I had thought it would be. Time to get myself familiar with that new album.

Climbing down the stairs a group of people walked up and I didn't really took notice. Next I hear a voice: "there are only 50+ here. What is going on?" Looking at the group I saw a few 50+ people and one youngster. Yeah, it may come as a shock, but we still go to shows.

A Place To Bury Strangers
Strangers? I'd say this band opts for friends, lovers, family, neighbours, acquaintances, not to forget fans as well. If this isn't the in-attendance band at the new CIA illegal prison facility somewhere in the world, I don't know which band is.

A Place To Bury Strangers presented an onslaught on the ears, eyes, mind, body and I can't rule out the soul of some present, not to mention some upset stomachs here and there from the reverberations. Never have I witnessed a show so extreme in everything. Permanent stroboscope lights, reflected by stage fog. Drums and bass at an infuriating level of sound and over that all a guitar as a circular saw and something that went for singing. I thought I was going mad. And yet.....

....something happened here. The audience clearly liked what was going on. And the relentless pounding did get me into a sort of trance. Having moved to a place where things were just this little better sonically, I decided not to follow my initial reaction: to leave.

And that sound. With amplifiers that would not be out of place on the dashboard of the Starship Enterprise, I'm sure all these outer worldly sounds are a piece of cake to create. Never have I seen amps like the ones this guitarist used either.

And then some sort of a cart was wheeled in from the back by the lady drummer and bass player. The dance version of A Place To Bury Strangers was released in the back where I was hanging on to dear life. Fairly in front of me another side of the band played itself out, before things went back to normal on stage, with even harder pounding on drums and bass. There was one difference. From that moment on all three on stage were visible. With a white light playing a game with the face of the drummer as fascinating part of the show. Almost like a 20s silent movie with Buster Keaton or Harold Lloyd.

As I wrote, this was far beyond anything I'd ever seen, an experience. But once will do nicely, thank you. An experience to tell people about. It certainly makes for a nice story.

The Black Angels
The band I went to Paradiso for was The Black Angels. Having written extremely positive about 'Death Song', the band's latest album (here) this April, I couldn't wait to hear and see this. Especially one of the best songs of this decade: 'Life Song'.

And yes, the band played the song and exactly where I had expected it to be. Right at the end, before the encores. And it was as impressive as I hoped it would be.

The Black Angels takes its name from a The Velvet Underground song, so it was no surprise that after lights out, the strange, weird song sounded through the PA. 'The Black Angel Death Song' is not an every day, run off the mill song, to name your band and latest album after. It does say something about intention.

The Black Angels in general has a more direct and at times somewhat offensive approach to its psychedelia. No 1967 lovey dovey, flowers in your hair kind of music, but songs that estrange, hit into your face like a fist and extreme in the effects used. They all seem to be somewhere at the maximum of their abilities. At the same time this band knows how to write a good song, so extremity meets melody and that is where things get interesting as far as I am concerned. So, yes, The Velvet Underground, without going out all the way and the extreme sweetness, but also the psychedelia that New Yorkers eschewed in 1967.

Although honesty calls upon me to say that after circa one hour, I knew what to expect. There is just too little variety in the music to keep me on alert the whole time. What did amaze me, is the musicianship of the members. The switch from guitar, to keyboards or bass is something several bandmembers can make easily, each with impeccable timing in their playing on whatever instrument. This band knows what it is doing and what to score effect points with.

So I'm not complaining after all (o.k., I dearly missed 'Yellow Elevator #2', but that's all). 'Death Song' is live just as impressive as on record and I went home with a great vinyl version of 'Phosphene Dream'.

Quite a night, people of Indiestadt. I missed out on the other two bands, but a tremendous amount of noise came out of the upper venue when I left. Bartex was playing at earsplitting levels it seemed. So I got a little of it anyway and got away in time.


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