Cross-linx Festival 2017
This annual ‘multidisciplinary’ music festival weaves its way around the Netherlands every year, typically bridging the pop, singer-songwriter and indie genres with modern classical and jazz – without getting too saccharin in the process. This year’s visit to the Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ and Bimhuis brings a fair amount of acts with strong followings in Amsterdam, but pairs them with new partners in the hope of delivering something fresh and brilliant. Thus, Norwegian singer-songwriter Ane Brun (pictured), who’s already followed a path from folky singer to international adult pop star teams up with Zapp4, a Dutch string quartet renowned for reinterpreting pop and rock. Esoteric Danish indie outfit Efterklang return from the dead to perform their own opera (‘Leaves’) in collaboration with The Happy Hopeless Orchestra. Evocative singer-songwriter DM Stith, the operatic songstress My Brightest Diamond and experimental Australian violist Padme Newsome each get sets in which to shine throughout the night, but also combine with Sarah Kirkland Snider’s Unremembered Orchestra, a classical pop project lyrically inspired by poems and paintings of Nathaniel Bellows. If that sounds like a lot to compute, there’s even more in the line-up to delve into, so get set for a late night.
Rotterdam-based DOOL deliver a fistful of everything. Erupting into heavy riffage, it could be doom metal or classic rock or industrial gloom. But gothy basslines weave their way in and out of the power chords, subsiding into moments of psychedelia and trance, even opening the door to ghostly wailing sax in place of cock-rock guitar soloing. The reason for this dark and heavy melange is a who’s who of members from the Dutch indie, noise and metal scenes, including lead vocals by Ryanne van Dorst, better known from Elle Bandita. Earlier this year they released the album ‘Here Now, There Then’, capturing the subterranean atmospheres they’d seemingly hoped to. Oh, and support comes from Bathsheba, their compatible down-tuned Belgian brethren.
Car Seat Headrest
Will Toledo and his band Car Seat Headrest released their Matador Records debut last May. Though they’ve been on the road consistently since, one has to wonder how many hours of recordings he’s stacked up in the meantime, be it in the back of buses or hotel rooms. Prior to the release of ‘Teens of Denial’, the 25-year-old had taken on the world with just a guitar and budget studio equipment, self-releasing at least 10 albums. Yet, if that sounds like a youth with lots of ideas and not enough editorial control, ‘Teens of Denial’ and its preceding catch-up compilation ‘Teens of Style’, highlight a songwriter drowning in catchy guitar rock, whimsical lyricism and a healthy respect for late-‘70s radio pop. Originally scheduled for Paradiso Noord, this gig’s deservedly been scaled up into Paradiso’s main hall.
This experimental American band, born in the early ’80s, dissolved in the late ‘90s, then rebirthed in 2010, have been in cracking form in recent years – almost to the point of overshadowing their work in the previous two decades. Repetitive, fiery, deafening and, well, punishing, the four studio albums and three live albums they’ve released in this period contain blissful moments that will make your skin tingle and destructive movements that will leave you begging for mercy. But for every 20 minutes of dissonance and feedback, the release, relief and surprises that follow make it all worthwhile. Will this be Swans’ last visit to Amsterdam? Maybe. Maybe not. Last year frontman Michael Gira announced that this incarnation of the group was on the way out, but their tour in support of latest album ‘The Glowing Man’ continues onwards like a shockwave through the earth’s crust. Whatever’s left as it fades to rest should at least be interesting.