After spending the day chilling around the student City and settling into my hostel (!), chaos broke at Dam square’s immense Grand Theatre for Swedish superstars I’m from Barcelona, who in amongst the contemporary walls of the theatre, opened up the festival positively.
Queen samples and melancholic lyrics bubbled over orchestrated, big band party music. When the balloons and the clapping started, I realised shots were needed to sedate them, before I choked on ecstatic happiness.
A short walk away lay Vera, Groningen’s favourite rock venue (apparently, Nirvana got spotted there and U2 once played for 10 guilders), the basis for British urban-country stalwart Lightspeed Champion to display his talent in a tight and eye-openingly deep set (elsewhere, The Ting Tings played). After getting lost on route, I caught the tail-end of Austria‘s Killed By Nine Volt Batteries, who peddled sludgy shoe-gaze rock, with heavy feedback in the vein of Kyuss, at Shadrak, a poky venue down a tight alleyway. Two tracks later, we were running back to Grand Theatre to catch the crazy sine wave, Go! Team-esque Alphabeat, who raised the roof with their funky, 80’s influenced disco in a sea of aural pleasure. Half way through, I hobbled off over to Muziekschool for hotly tipped Swedes The Kleerup who failed to disappoint even though slotted at the same time as France’s Zombie Zombie and Britain’s Ripchord. After watching a rather hair-raising show, where the country bluegrass and trip hop eventually became a geeky man in lens-less glasses shout-rapping, the sweat was pouring and my calf’s were niggling. Defiantly, I shot back to Vera’s for The DO, a dischorded, wailing and strung out grunge band, peddling minor chords and obnoxious, angst vocals. Pity it was in French.
Alarm bells rang. I ran, well, limped toward the electronic Dutch whiz-kid that EVERYONE spoke about; Adept. It was a 20min walk to the Simplon where they played. Luckily, I jumped in a taxi with some Italians en-route. We were lucky enough to catch the last ten and boy, it was worth it.
Heading back, I split my time between 7 venues in the space of an hour; I glimpsed 5 minutes of Krakow, playing acoustic melodramas in the upstairs of a lovely, quirky pub (De Speigel). I moved swiftly to see rude-bwoy rapper De Kraan to lift my spirits, with boom-bap beats and a super smooth, Dutch spoken flow that would impress MC Solaar. Then, after 10 minutes of Calvin Harris’ neon disco, it was off to see Iceland’s Bloodgroup, a disappointment as people were turned away. Instead we subjected to chart botherer’s The Hoosiers, who surprisingly played a tight set, the mostly European crowd lapping it up; on the way to see Friendly Fires, I got lost again. I gladly saw the dirty, nihilistic and vitriolic Blood Red Shoes instead, whose set was awash with filthy riffs and nagging feedback. On the way, we witnessed The Dykeenies literally destroying a small pub; they were heard at the end of the street.
Playing next to my Hostel, Does It Offend You, Yeah? concluded many a bemused Dutchman’s evening in a raucous, high voltage show, that literally blew everyone away.