If you go down to the woods today you’re in for a pleasant surprise... Well, only if you’ve never visited the fairytale-esque, slightly eerie and heavily woodland-surrounded nation of Luxembourg that is. The festival in question is Sonic Visions, and if you recall our review from last time round (of course you do), you’ll understand the kind of, perhaps, lesser-known quality waiting to be uncovered. However, the festival organisers do ensure they book their crowd pullers. This year they appeared the form of gloomy '80s something-or-other sound-a-likes The xx and also with the French four-piece turntable disco group C2C, who, with France being right across from the Rockhaul, seemed to summon half their nations gig-goers to change their surrendering ways and invade the Sonic Visions venue, such was the mass of people queuing out the door to catch a glimpse. Although to be honest, it wasn’t really to our taste, and after about two-to-three "songs" worth of head-pounding base, it was time for a visit elsewhere.
Back onstage, and before the C2C crowd had the chance to invade, Oscar and the Wolf were the first act to get the press pencils scribbling and punters' toes tapping with their smooth, gliding electro beats, not to mention a lead vocalist whose voice remarkably resembled that of Glasgow’s own Tommy Reilly (remember him!?). In a similar ilk, Canada’s Austra came with a further fusion of shape shifting electronica, the female lead vocalists seducing everyone in sight and pulling shapes from the most stubborn. One thing was becoming increasingly clear early on in Sonic Visions 2012 - fans of this genre were going to be spoilt for choice. The peculiar and intriguing sounds of Elektro Guzzi were picking the dancers up off the floor where C2C had left off.
On Saturday we were told to expect a much smaller turnout for the festival - fine by us, given that one of the UK’s most hotly tipped new bands Django Django were on the bill for later, and we had every intention of seeing first-hand what all the fuss has been about. Prior to that, Luxembourg’s very own Monophona proved to be another unexpected surprise of Sonic Visions 2012, albeit one we were actually told to watch out for – their lead singer was a kind of visual cross between French actress Melanie Laurent and Swedish songstress Emiliana Torrini for a start, and the band themselves offered a more relaxed alternative to most other goings on around Sonic Visions. Feeling almost ready for bed, there was just enough time to down another drink and make a dash for the Rockhaul Café to catch Say Yes Dog, another unexpected and welcome addition to the home-grown Luxembourgish talent here, playing as they did strange but infectious set full of weird little dance songs, a little bit Hot Chip and a pinch of the last Liars record, complete with a towering and hilariously "normal" looking frontman.
As the night drew to an end and that 10am flight back to the UK loomed ever closer, Django Django were already tuning their instruments for the steadily growing crowd in the Rockhaul’s Club arena. Much has been already said and written about this mish mash of ex art school students, a fact that’s an immediate turn off in itself, and now was the time to decide whether one was in fact "with" the critics or against them. The term "unbearable lightness of being" springs instantly to mind when thinking about Django Django and their live performance; translated, they were faultless. Songs which would ordinarily take four or five listens on record immediately adapted to a live setting, recalling moments of artists like the Archie Bronson Outfit or the Beta Band in their prime. It would be crude to use the word "fun" when describing a band such as Django Django and how they came across, however that’s exactly what they were, and more to the point, they had the tunes to match. It only took a trip to Sonic Visions to find out, one of many worthy excuses.
Words by Ray Jackson
Photos by Gill Gordon