donderdag 21 juli 2011

de-Affaire - Day 4

de-Affaire is a free outdoor festival in Nijmegen spanning seven evenings (+ 2 afternoons)

A typical start to a midweek on Tuesday at de-Affaire, with some of the die-hards already there for the very first band Aucan. Little groups are scattered in front of the main stage to soak up the atmosphere and to discover all the acts, no matter who is playing. The “who” in this case is an electro-rock outfit, with the emphasis on rock. The electro is just a means to get to that. So don’t expect very intricate soundscapes, as the core of the sound seems to be the slow thrust to which you can headbang. That is the thing that is the most instantly recognizable. Which seems to be a bit of an easy way out, because it is a sort of safety net. Whatever else we are doing, we always have that to which the audience can react. But it also distracts from whatever else they are doing because it becomes the automatic focus, and thus it comes across as rather simplistic. But, this probably is also part of their more rock aesthetic, as opposed to bands who use the electro rock to compose a bit more, like a Holy Fuck.

Next up on the main stage is Fenech-Soler, who are getting plugged a bit by the guys from Kitsuné. It is electro pop/rock, but obviously not at all like Aucan. What they put up there are real (pop) songs. I’m kind of torn on this one, because there definitely is some stuff to like. But lets save the positives for a moment, for the thing that had me not that excited was that at some times it felt rather like some American electro band who get the teens so riled up these days. Also, the songs for some reason aren’t really that danceable that the roof gets blown off. Then again, what I do really like is that they expand their songs with some dance bits and some extra percussion and rhythm pieces. I always find that adds to a live gig more than if you just play your songs like they are on album, especially in this kind of genre. So definitely kudos for that.

Architecture in Helsinki is up last, and my goodness, they are fun. With fun being the operative word here. They really hark on 80s pop, and they use it and unashamedly mold it into a party. They look cheerful, bit offbeat, and with their little dances and with their catchy tunes they surely get the crowd going. And their happiness and enthusiasm are contagious. They do some songs off of their new album called Moment Bends, including new single ‘Escapee’ which is a pretty good example of what they are about. So yeah, it is sugary, and if you don’t like your entertainment and fun then this might not be your thing. However, if you don’t mind a bit of sweetness and a bit of silliness then this is definitely the stage to be at. And they do get a good part of the by now sizeable crowd going, and it is hard not to get a smile on your face while watching this.

So why am I not talking about the smaller stages? Well, there is some experimental stuff there, and I like that. And I like that they do that. However, if something like that is not your thing, then there is not much use in standing there. And Der Warst is too fiddly (and I’ve got something against those gameboy noise music anyway), and Spokes is a bit too inward for my personal tastes. At Club Voerweg Mosq & Lucas are too laddish, and 2562 starts at a time we do like to get back for a look at Architecture in Helsinki. But it is always fun to have a look at the more experimental acts to see whether they tick a box or not. It is surprising that these acts are so experimental though, for last year you had bands like Toro Y Moi and The Hundred in the Hands performing that stage, which are far more accessible than the bands on display there this year.

Whether it was the fireworks or not, when the night comes the place is filled with people. What a contrast with the Saturday, and how good to see. And perhaps even better to see are all the familiar faces being at the festival day after day. It is just fun to know that you just know for a fact that certain people are going to be there, even though you don’t actually know them or what they might have going on in their lives. I’m really intrigued by that, and it makes the festival extra fun.

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