Incubate Festival 2014 – Sunday Review By Guido Segers
There’s an element of sadness to the final day of a festival. After seven days Incubate comes to a close. Weary feet are put in front of each other for one more round, but tomorrow reality returns to the city of Tilburg and the lives of the colourful visitors of Incubate.
Still, the line-up promises more than enough joy today with great acts that will amaze and bewilder their audience. The musical circus that is Incubate will hardly end with a whimper, but with an obvious bang.
Heading out into the roaming grounds of fabulous music once more, the first stop is Consouling Sounds, where Canadian Erich Quach translates anguish into a torrent of guitar. He pushes this through various devices to create the soundtrack to sadness, while sitting by himself on the central stage.
While the sun is shining outside, the music filled with sorrow darkens the faces of the onlookers. Brilliant visuals form the backdrop to Quach’s work, which only emphasize the beauty of decay. The droning sound is like an early autumn wind that tells us the end is nigh, and so it is, because tonight Incubate comes to a close again. Though even the end has a bitter sweet taste and feeling to it, thanks to Thisquietarmy.
This duo has full claim on the title ‘The Bonny & Clyde of Rock’n’Roll’. They play their shift for today in the record store and Sounds is packed for their wild old school ride in the same vein as Iggy & The Stooges and The Cramps. Jangling guitar sounds and rapid rhythms on the drums and the hair swinging in front of their faces, they look and feel the part.
Lady Izzy on the drums is ramming on the skins loud enough to make the CD’s shake in their cases, while guitar player and howler Pigor plays energetic enough to splash sweat around on the floor. With a healthy amount of fuzz and thrashing rhythms the band displays a healthy mixture of gritty garage rock that should work out well on the Psych fests around the world. The band jams on and gives an energetic wake up call to those who are in need of one.
Scottish composer Ben Chatwin has taken the stage in the dark and gloomy Paradox, where he performs his rituals with analogue electronics and guitar, weaving dark and haunting soundscapes. His facial expression is that of calm concentration, a guy who knows exactly what he is doing and where it’s going.
Today the Britton focuses on the electronics part, playing live synths and weaving them into various patterns and forms. It may not be the most unnerving and shocking sound you’ve heard this far, it is pleasant and calm nonetheless. There is a clear link to the early pioneers of ambient in the sound of Talvihorros, fleeting between cosmic and fading, which is one of the most pleasant performances to just dream away by.
The Asteroid #4/ Electric Eye
Since I tried to catch both bands I can mention them in the same bit. The Asteroid #4 is playing in Extase. Their lazy psych rock is played with as much enthusiasm as their crowd is listening to it. People are generally just chatting while the band puts out some of their laid back, shaggy songs. They’re not bad, just a bit uninspired. They sound nice, a bit dreamy and spacey while retaining a certain compact feeling. Truth be told, they did play the great psychedelic rock fests already, so maybe the Americans are not as inspired by the small venue.
Electric Eye is playing with a lot more energy in the bigger Dudok hall. With the right lights and plenty of people checking them out, their experimental sound is full, complex and played with passion. Their sound is a bit like having Wooden Shjips with Syd Barret on vocal duties, which works out live as well as you think it would. Announcing that they’re the last part of the Norwegian invasion for Incubate, they are a worthy display for the countries rich music scene. Droning guitar riffs and frail melodies never waver in what is a convincing and intriguing set.
There’s an intriguing mixture that makes up the sound of Canadian doomrockers Black Wizard. It’s something old and something new that makes up their heavy hitting stoner sound with a touch of the classic Black Sabbath mixed in there. It helps that the Little Devil is a small, greasy looking venue (in the best possible way), totally suitable to the dirty groovy work of the quartet.
Perhaps it’s captivated in their album title: Young Wisdom. There is definitely something like that in their sound, the old vibe with a fresh take. It seems there’s a bit of psych in their too, but that’s hard to discern in the hard rocking live act the band appears to be. The classic vocals soar and the rest is just rock ‘n’ roll, good enough to make the visitor raise their glass and the horns for the Black Wizard.
Was this the best show for today? It might actually be, because Lento is clearly not afraid of the stage, nor the limited amount of people dripping in and plays ferocious instrumental post-metal. Yes, there’s the accursed ‘post’ word again. It fits perfectly with the sound of these Roman warriors.
So let’s say what it is you hear, because that is what you need to know. There’s the powerful and dense guitar work of a band like Neurosis, while embracing moments of sludge like EyeHateGod. At the same time, it pays homage to its contemporaries like Cult Of Luna with atmospheric build-ups or the majestic, heavy sound of Russian Circles. Mainly the band is just ploughing through the earth with thick slabs of guitar sounds shoving all in their path aside.
Combine those features to a full sounding and energetic live act and you really have everything you wanted from a live show. To play without vocals and be interesting for an hour is a challenge, to keep people intrigued is an accomplishment and Lento definitely achieved that today.
If any band could have done with a more atmospheric stage, it probably is American band Zaum with their Eastern Mantra Doom. The dark basement that is the Stadskelder just hasn’t got the right vibe (nor sound to be honest). The duo makes due, having set up candles to create a bit of the mysticism they’ve incorporated in their music. Long, creeping notes stretch out, both vocally as well as the guitars and the listener is off to strange lands.
In the desert, surrounded by sand dunes, the quest for Zaum seems to be a Lovecraftian journey for hidden secrets and unknown demons of the east. Though calm and lingering, the tones may seem, there’s a hidden threat to their sound. Clearly the most dedicated worshippers at these altars of endless riffs are Kyle Alexander McDonald and Christopher Lewis themselves. As in trance they perform songs from their album Oracles, heads bobbing along and make the dark basement seem far away.
Not everyone will appreciate the sound of Falloch. In fact, reviews of their album This Island, Our Funeral from this year and its predecessor Where Distant Spirits Remain where reviled by the metal press for their bland crossover between metal and post-rock. It does feel a bit weak in the live performance, but still I went in with an open mind. The mind that brought the first album has left, leaving the band with vocalist Tony Dunn. That is probably the weakest point of their act, apart from their clear disinterest in whatever they seem to be doing.
Musically I actually like the sound of Falloch, but then again I didn’t want to kill Deafheaven after Sunbather or any other band doing such blasphemous things. Their post-rock/metal sound is a bit shrill or thin, it is full of clean atmospheric passages that really need a strong vocalist to make it work. A second issue is that the lyrics have the poetical strength of a nursery rhyme written by a person who prefers to rhyme constantly with colours. Live the focus easily shifts to the vocalist and then to the lyrics, which can be actually daft. I don’t know if the rest of the band is into what they are doing, but I have a hard time seeing it.
Apparently the band is inspired by the atmosphere of Scottish nature, but the result is more the atmosphere of a 16 year old hanging out in a rainy park in Glasgow just after his girlfriend dumped him for being a wimp. There’s some good hooks in their music, and I can definitely taste a bit of Agalloch hidden there, but either Falloch starts playing pop-rock or they start playing post-metal with some actual black. This gig looks and feels alright, but is also uninspired and confused. I’m sorry, I did like a lot of parts but seeing a band that collectively stares at the ceiling or their feet while playing mediocre songs that are a tad bit too emo is not my idea of the rough and majestic Scottish nature they depict on their album covers. I believe in Falloch though.
The expectation was to get from this German band, what previous act Falloch displayed in the Little Devil: dreamy ambient mixed with a kind of post-metal, without much teeth. Now, that is not going to happen with these guys. Expectation is everything and not without reason they did play Roadburn. Even though vocalist Cedric Holler is a bit under the weather, the blend of shoegaze and black metal comes out much stronger than you’d think. The music swirls around the venue in a continuous haze of distortion and drums, full and strong.
Though perhaps they are not the most fierce band, their performance is captivating and intriguing. Full of long ebbing guitars, floating rhythms and energetic live performance. The Little Devil fills up during their show and that is only right by what this band deserves. The music feels like a continuous flow that sweeps you away, only to put you back on your feet at the end of the set.
God Is An Astronaut
They might be that band that everyone gets compared to that does anything with a rock/metal oriented repetitive build ups, that doesn’t make this Irish group anything less than a sensation. They are playing in the Midi, which has been proven to be a perfect venue for this music, as the closing act of Incubate. An honour the band is well aware of as they say.
Though most post-rock acts have a tendency for silence and hiding a bit in gloomy light and possibly behind hair, these guys are at the front of the stage and have no problem chatting away between their songs. The songs are the familiar mixture of space-, kraut- and post-rock. There is something very clean-cut about their sound that makes it so flattering and accessible. No 20 minute songs or endless complexities, its rock ‘n’ roll at its heart with other elements filling up the vocal gap.
The Irish boys play a set full of their best work with their best effort, enjoying every moment of it as much as the weary audience does. The last coins are flipped for some beers and backs are straightened for this final bit. When the band tries to make a picture of them with the audience for their Facebook, no one stands with their hands down and everyone joins in. It is exactly that wonderful epic post-rock of God Is An Astronaut and the warm, enthusiastic audience, that should round up this great edition of Incubate.
A silence must have descended on Tilburg after that. The final rocket had been fired and the festival is over. Luckily, next year from 14 to 20 September Incubate is back for the 11th round. I for one cannot wait.
Scribed by: Guido Segers
Photos by: Paul Verhagen (www.achromemoments.nl)