31st January 2015
Grauzone Festival Day 2: The Woken Trees, The Membranes, Toy, Mick Harvey, Zounds, DAF, Shopping, Lola Colt, The Oscillation, The Damned, Clan of Xymox
After two successful one-day festivals, this year’s two-days happening set out to break all records. The multidisciplinary festival offered once again the best of the 80’s music and lifestyle with art and film and a lot of life music of course. And all this took place under the roof of the Melkweg, a former dairy factory. As my friends and I travelled from Germany to see DAF, we only came for the second day. And being busy watching all the bands, I had not enough time to have a look at the exhibitions or to watch a film.
Anyway, though it was really exhausting for me, I have to say that we really liked the atmosphere of the festival and the venue was really lovely. More so as it was a blessing to hear some other kind of music from the 80’s, or referring to that time, than I am used to from the other festivals I usually go to. When looking at the people who came to this festival, I came to the conclusion that Punk Rock/ Psychedelic Rock/ Dark Wave is not dead. Of course there were people of my age but fortunately there were also a lot younger people. And this was reflected by the bands as well: there were the old stager on the one side who performed already in the good old 80’s and on the other side the offspring carrying on a tradition but giving the sound a fresh touch with musical influences of today.
The shows took place in three venues of the Melkweg: The Max with a capacity of 1,500 people, the Oude Zaal with a capacity of 700 visitors and the Theatre (partly seated) with a capacity of 200 guests. The acoustic was really good in every of the three venues but the light shows were unfortunately quite poor. Of course it fits somehow to the musical genre but nevertheless I found it most of the time much too dark.
The Woken Trees
Hailing from Denmark the six piece band started in 2010 to make music in the tradition of bands like JOY DIVISION with a gloomy and moody sound of Post Punk/ Industrial. The 2012 released debut album ‘NNON’ was well- reviewed. The guys had already performed at the Roskilde festival and the Wave-Gotik-Treffen. On this day the guys were the opening act and started their show in the Theatre. Although it was quite early the venue was almost completely filled. Their dark and misty sound reminds me not only of JOY DIVISION but also of THE FIELDS OF NEPHILIM. And so it is understandable that the audience listened very attentively but hardly dared to applause as it felt somehow wrong in this atmosphere. // http://www.thewokentrees.net / https://www.facebook.com/thewokentrees // Rating: 7 / 10
For the next show I had to change the venue as the band performed in the Oude Zaal. And here we had already some old stager from Blackpool, UK, who started their band already in the seventies. As Post Punk band the guys pioneered the Avant Noise scene of SONIC YOUTH, BIG BLACK and the like. Their sound had an impact on the underground scene of the 80’s. Front man John Robb is also journalist and described this scene back in those days in his book. After disbanding for some time the band got together again in 2009. As they all believe in the creative freedom of blending different genres and styles together they kept their joy of making music which is reflected in their live appearance. Of course you could hear the Punk Rock roots when THE MEMBRANES performed but they also showed that it is not enough or satisfying enough to be able to play two guitar riffs in the old Punk tradition. And so, at one song I imagined to have heard a dependence on ‘The ace of spades’ of MOTÖRHEAD. Quite cool show with an even cooler singer, who also played the bass so casually while always moving fast back and forth on stage. // http://www.themembranes.co.uk / https://www.facebook.com/theMembranes // Rating: 8.5 / 10
In 2010, this band was founded by five guys in London, UK. They toured already with THE HORRORS and THE VACCINES in front of big audiences of 20,000 people. With the critically acclaimed sound, the band already made it to play at sold out shows and have appearances on bigger festivals like the Hurricane Festival in Germany. The sound is described as distinctive blend of Krautrock, Shoegaze and Post Punk delivers a Psych-Pop trip, to me it was more a kind of melodic Indie Rock. As being notable for having sold-out shows, the band performed in the biggest venue of the Melkweg, the Max. And indeed lots of people came to see TOY and enjoyed the performance very much. // http://www.toy-band.com / https://www.facebook.com/toy.band // Rating: 7.5 / 10
It seemed to me that when the planning for the venues was made, the organisers didn’t think that so many people actually wanted to see the acoustic performance of the legendary singer/ songwriter from Australia who had such an enormous influence on the history of Post-Punk music. When we tried to enter the Theatre it was packed and the air felt like being in a sauna which made the sensation of the show not so agreeable. The multi-instrumentalist works also as producer, was one founding member and creative head of THE BIRTHDAY PARTY and NICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS. For 36 years he was arranger, co-writer, producer for NICK CAVE before he left the band in order to start his solo project, producing soundtracks and working as producer for musicians like PJ HARVEY. With having launched 6 studio albums he entertained the audience with a diverse blend of his solo career much to the joy of us all. // http://www.mickharvey.com / https://www.facebook.com/MickHarveyOfficial // Rating: 8 / 10
Another legendary Anarcho Punk band performed in the Oude Zaal. Thirty years ago the band from Reading, UK, ZOUNDS released successfully its first EP ‘Can’t cheat karma’ which entered the independent charts soon. After five successful years the band disbanded but started to work together again in 2010 with a new line-up and only one year later they already launched their new album ‘The Redemption of Zounds’. Also the singer, who is songwriter and guitarist as well, Steve Lake, released a book ”Zounds Demystified” about the songs, life and times of Zounds including all the band’s lyrics and illuminates each with a relevant commentary, not long ago. In the old cool Punk Rock style the guys entertained a huge crowd and we learned that we need a new BOB DYLAN, LADY GAGA and new SEX PISTOLS. The vocal quality reminded me a bit of the voice of David Byrne from THE TALKING HEADS. // http://www.zoundsonline.co.uk / https://www.facebook.com/zounds2 // Rating: Total: 8 / 10
This duo is one of the most influential Neue Deutsche Welle/ Electro Punk bands worldwide. Many Electronic/ EBM bands nowadays are naming DAF as the band that inspired them. Starting in 1978 as a five piece band, the band reduced to a duo of Gabi Delgado and Robert Goerl. The band’s history is famous for disbanding and reuniting but nevertheless it has gathered throughout the years a big loyal fan base and still young people discover DAF and become fans as well. On this evening I learned that not only German people like DAF as the MAX was packed. But of course there were some fans like us, who travelled to Amsterdam in order to see their favourite band as the band does not do extended tours nowadays. Furthermore another possible separation was announced though no final decision is made yet.
Unfortunately there was a technical problem with the CD player at the second song so that they had to start again. But this did not disturb the big party in the audience and at ‘Ich will’ (I want) a young lady climbed up the stage and danced close to Gabi who reacted very professionally and laid back and even thanked the audience and the lady for the little dance. The audience was in an excellent spirit and I could only conclude that the Netherland ‘Jungens und Mädchen’(boys and girls) like DAF, too, like we do. And though it is not common at festivals, due to the tight time table, the audience demanded loudly for an encore by shouting and stomping with their feet and effectively got one. // https://www.facebook.com/daf.deutschamerikanischefreundschaft / https://www.facebook.com/gabi.delgado.752 / https://www.facebook.com/goerl // Rating: 8 / 10
The London based trio performed in the Theatre. Their debut album was launched in 2013 and was critically acclaimed. Apparently they are influenced by the sound of THE SLITS, THE CURE, THE AU PAIRS, GANG OF FOUR, TALKING HEADS and SIOUXSIE SIOUX. I also heard some Ska elements in their fresh sound. Apparently the young ladies at the guitar and bass and the guy on the drums had lots of fun while performing and this good mood went straight to the audience who evidently enjoyed the performance and many in the front rows danced to the songs. // https://www.facebook.com/weareshopping // Rating: 8 / 10
Another London based band set up in the Oude Zaal to entertain the audience. LOLA COLT consists of six members, three women and three men. The press called this band as 2014’s breakthrough bands. Surely a proof that Punk influenced sound is still cool and relevant nowadays. The vocal quality of the singer, who actually comes from Denmark, reminded me strongly of SIOUXSIE SIOUX. Their live performance was really catchy though I would call their sound rather Alternative Rock/ Psychedelic. Anyway the longer you listen to LOLA COLT the more you have to admit, if you were sceptical at first, that the critics were right. This is really a new exciting band. // http://www.lolacolt.com / https://www.facebook.com/LolaColt // Rating: 8 / 10
And here we have another London based band which entertained the audience in the Theatre with a sound mixture of Psychedelic/ Post Punk/ Funk with a touch of cosmic music à la NEU! In 2013, the band released already its third album. Once again the Theatre was much too small for this band, too. Nevertheless the people had some space to dance and enjoy themselves. // http://theoscillation.com / https://www.facebook.com/theoscillation // Rating: 7.5 / 10
THE DAMNED are not only old stagers but kind of forefathers of Punk Rock. The legendary band released the first Punk Rock single in 1976. Throughout the decades, including separations and reunions, the band evolved by integrating diverse musical styles like Gothic/ garage Rock/ Psychedelic/ Cabaret/ Theatrical Rock. The Oude Zaal was packed when THE DAMNED entered the stage and in no time the venue turned into a lion’s den with people dancing and partying with the band. The light was still poor but now there were at least some nice effects.
Though the band was supporting act for THE SEX PISTOLS back in those days of their beginning, Captain Sensible bitched a bit about them with a twinkle in his eye by saying that by the time when they released already their fifth album it was THE SEX PISTOL’s first album that went on N° 1 in the charts. Such little stories together with the energetic performance made the whole show very entertaining. // http://www.officialdamned.com / https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Damned/10644147851 // Rating: Total: 8 / 10
Clan of Xymox
The main and final act was a local band which can also look back on a career of three decades. But despite all the bands before CLAN OF XYMOX were always more a Dark Wave/ Electro than a Punk Rock band. And to highlight the gaps it was the only band on this evening without a drummer (except MICK HARVEY of course with his acoustic performance). After all the Punk Rock now the sound was now a bit more slowed down, relaxed and more melodic. On this evening too, umpteen women were sung about by the singer who could actually win a Robert Smith look- a-like contest. And how do you realize that this band seems to tour more in the German language speaking countries than in its home country? When the singer thanks the audience in German. I have to say I felt a bit flattered at that moment. But the audience in the packed Oude Zaal didn’t take it the wrong way and enjoyed the show like we did, too. And with this placid concert the festival ended. // http://www.clanofxymox.com / https://www.facebook.com/pages/clan-of-xymox/111769160178 // Rating: 7.5 / 10
All pictures by morTICIA