Sonic Visions 2011

Sounds from across Europe and beyond
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“Waat soll de Gaitz?” was to be the key phrase for our first experience of Luxembourg, and in particular, the fourth annual Sonic Visions Festival 2011. Roughly translating into English as ‘what the fuck’, this overly used comment would thankfully only act as a self-serving comic greeting/exchange between the festival’s organisers and myself. The quality, entertainment and service on show meant the Sonic Visions itself would induce no complaints of the sort. I would think that having a 2-day indoor foreign music splendour 5 mins from ones hotel would help.

The handy settings aside, it would be worth mentioning again that Sonic Visions 2011 is now only in its fourth year, yet gaining deserved recognition from musicians, fans and music industry ‘moguls’ alike. For every artist which was mildly new, from a Brit point of view, there was plenty more which ticked the all-important 'headlining' boxes.

On stage and perfectly fluent in indie-funk, the UKs Metronomy were first to seriously wow, playing as they did a beat-infectious set which proved to be well schooled in what’s required of getting the best from audience moves.

Whilst Finnish indie-popers French Films were entertaining all with their pure, unadulterated and heavily tagged 'upbeat enthusiasm', over on the Rockhal Cafe stage (it was an actual cafe) Belgian electro pop threesome SX proved to be one of the main Sonic Visions 'finds' as it were. SX at first played to the low expectations that those of us who knew nothing of their sound, and then blew us away with a sensual set of electronica that was part Kate Bush, part Mazzy Star, and plenty brilliant. Perhaps it was the lead singer, perhaps the euphoria which comes after being up for 19 hours straight, or perhaps just the brilliant tunes which seemed to flow endlessly like the beer on tap, but there was something truely spectacular about seeing a young, new band like this.

Reptile and Retard was another true treasure found at Sonic Visions, and another which would have most of us talking through the rest of the night and ever since. Without a guitar in sight, Reptile and Retard produced the most rock and roll show we've seen in a long time. They haven’t yet released a record, and have already toured across the world, and have this entire bar rammed and screaming their name by the end of the first song. This was their last ever show as 'Reptile and Retard' - and have since changed their name to Reptile Youth.

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Reptile Youth live at Sonic Visions 2011



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While Saturday brought the anticipated lack of sleep and vicious hangover, for those of us up to see it, it also found more of the Sonic Visions leitmotif of 'all about the artists', in the form of more industry insight with Edinburgh's own Olaf Furniss of Born to be Wide on the mic, to deliver more insight into the development and existence of modern day music.

More Finns were again on the agenda for the penultimate Sonic Visions 'finale' night with Rubik taking centre stage with their healthy mix of Sigur Ros-cum-surf pop joy. Elsewhere, and no doubt pulling the majority of the previous night’s crowd from slumber, the main evening’s entertainment came with the Drums. A shish-swaying frontman accompanied by some more tunes that in lineage, might have seemed good enough for most, however, (eh, me) only the band’s signature track 'Money' was enough to take any kind of worthwhile prose-pulling headline, never mind shape.

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The Drums live at Sonic Visions 2011



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In stark comparison, and playing to a much lesser crowd, The Computers were an unsurprising strong contender to be the 'rawk' band of the festival. The frontman, who’s name throws me, at one point taking his Manchester-honned guile to the middle of the crowd to pull pose after pose, scream after shout, and set the Clash visitors amongst us up for an interesting interview post gig with other members of the band.

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The Computers interviewed at Sonic Visions 2011



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Sonic Visions is still incredibly young given the arena it which it competes. But all is in place to make for something extra next year. The ethos is there, the bands are coming, and the signs show that all is well that ends well for those keen to discover. And despite my profession’s personal egoism, I suppose it is indeed after all, all about the artist. What the fuck?

Review by Ray Jackson and Mark Millar
Videos by Mark Millar


For more interviews and performances from Sonic Visions, please visit: http://www.youtube.com/user/markmillar

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