maandag 10 december 2018

15 Years Snowstar Records: The party. Tivoli/Vredenburg, Utrecht

Cedric Muyes by Wo.
On 20 December 2003 Snowstar Records released its first record. It's on Spotify and listening to it I fully understand that the label has its roots in punk(rock). 'Picture Beautiful' of the band Go Ape! is as 'Dookie' as Green Days come in life. In fact I like what I'm hearing. 15 years is a good a reason to party as any, Cedric Muyes, who started the label 15 years ago, said and what better reason to showcase a few of the label's bands along the way?

The fact that most members of the band Go Ape!, that must have gone out of existence long ago, were present attests to the family feeling surrounding Snowstar. Members from a band that fills the Johan Cruyff Arena to bands so obscure 99.99% of the Dutch population may and never will have heard of were present to enjoy the music and the party. Even Dave von Raven walked in with a lp case in his hands, but was part of the disco set afterwards. From the NPO 2 studios in the afternoon with The Kik to Utrecht at night is a small step for a musician.

The more surprising is the direction the label took since, specialising in music that is softer than soft pop. Many bands on Snowstar have a signature signing quiet, inverted, dreams, contemplation, soul and life searching, just to mention a few character traits. As I have written on that last week announcing the party, I'll continue here with the evening itself.

Donna Blue by Wo.
Three Snowstar Records acts played a showcase for the audience. The evening started with the label's latest signing Donna Blue. A huge suitcase with red lettering spelling Donna Blue filled a part of the stage in Cloud Nine, the gravity defying venue in TiVre on the top floor. The duo has added a drummer and bass player for the live shows. The reverb drenched pop music, influenced by ages long gone, is escapism at its best. Emotions only fly in the music, the singing is as devoid of as imaginable for a person who, at least outwardly, can not be touched by anything or anybody.

It took me a few months to get used to the music of Donna Blue but after the penny dropped there's been no holding back. Live the band is even better than on record. So many of the little details in the music came across even more sharply on stage. The addition of a live drummer and bass player gave the sound extra depth, making it come alive even more. The sharp percussive sounds could all be heard. The four released songs were played and a few not released. From what I heard things will be good in 2019 and beyond. The band I really wanted to see, delivered fully. The melodies can hold me spellbound, the perfect mix heightens the experience.

Unfortunately for Kim Janssen I am not a fan, so I'll refrain from commentary, except for sharing something I heard someone say that I agree with. "How is it possible that there are so many musicians on stage, yet so little variation in the melodies within songs?" When the drummer and bass player are the most exciting to listen to, my observation, it gives pause. But in all fairness, it was far from a punishment to listen to the show. All played very well and with obvious love for the music. Kim Janssen's show was a good one, but just not my music.

I Am Oak by Wo.
I Am Oak also is not an expert in variation on melody, yet so different. The band has a lead guitarist who is always on the look out for a melody, providing the much needed variation and light. I Am Oak mostly plays songs that are dead serious, moody, perhaps even dark, yet rays of light are let in at times, creating a mix that to me is attractive. Thijs Kuijken is a somewhat hesitant frontman, but seemed far more at ease on stage than circa three years ago in Haarlem, when I saw the band for the first time. Musically the band knows exactly what it wants and does just that. I Am Oak is what I would call the typical Snowstar Records band. At heart as soft as silk but when it growls the origins of the label come out to give the audience a sonic ear wash. From a purring kitten in your lap to a roaring, devouring lion in one song. It all happened at the 15 year Snowstar Records party.

Without a doubt things remained in full swing in Cloud Nine but sometimes things get in the way like trains to catch and stuff. With the 7" of Donna Blue and the 'Owls' cd by Luik, perhaps the most Snowstar of Snowstar releases of all, in my bag it was time to go home.

15 Years Snowstar Records. With a new 7" by Donna Blue and the new I Am Oak and who knows what more underway for 2019, the party is far from over yet. Thank you again, Cedric and Sander for a great evening and until next time around!


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