As the festival season is closing in and about to shred our nights into pieces (if it hasn't already), time to take stock of the revelations and confirmations of this first half of 2018.
Again my venue-scouring "hobby" has taken up most of my free time and has kept me away much from dvd duty, ... which makes me wonder if I shouldn't rather turn this blog into a more up-to-date lively report thing instead of erratic post-editing stuff. Well, we'll see that later ... Anyway, the first jaw-dropping moment didn't take long to hit again this year. Late January is the unusual period when the friendly "Schmoulbrouk" people hold their "Schmoul Festival" I've been used to going to for quite a couple of years now. One of its 2018 edition highlights was a Portuguese 100 % rock'n roll DNA man. I've been following the guy for quite a while now, particularly when he was part of his first band, Wraygunn, back in the early 2000s, but I'd never had the chance to see him live. After flying under the radar of fame for some time, he came into the light in 2009 with his really nice album "Femina", featuring several special women guests (Asia Argento, Peaches, Lisa Kekaula, Maria de Medeiros ...) to sing his songs. Over the years, he has never lost this rough and loud faith and even took on an initiation trip to Rancho De La Luna (a well-known place for stoner rock devotees), in the Mojave Desert, for his latest record, "Misfit". Beware ! Here comes the Tiger ... with a very appropriate message to you ... :-)
A bit later in the year, the "Le Printemps De Bourges" kicks the season off for the big ones. This festival is our local SXSW-like event with headliners hitting the stage for a week, along with more confidential acts and many free open steppingstone stages spread across the city. To me, the Rising of Sap Award of this edition goes to a Liverpool band that definitely belongs to the second category above. With just an EP in store ("Eat My Sass" !!), this arty punk queer bunch of lads was part of a sort of "special newcomers night" that has just never failed to be apt and interesting over the years (congrats to the scheduler !). Just have a look at what we attended that night : Sons Of Raphaël, Queen Zee, Dream Wife, Cabbage, Zeal & Ardor, Jessica 93 !! Oddly enough (and this is what's nice in that kind of discovery night !) the band that stood out for their freshness and brashness wasn't the one I expected ! This is rowdy, this is dirty, this is lechery, this is ...
But the apex of this first term probably comes from a band I have already been able to feel, enjoy and ... fear :-) the mayhem live : Duchess Says. The Canadian Montreal-based band was back in Europe for just a few dates. I got restless and did everything I could to go and see them in a kind of festival bringing natural wine and live shows together, ...which is after all quite a good recipe to appreciate music ! :-) Some friends who didn't know the band but were intrigued decided to join me that night and they just got blown away !! This was their last date of the tour and I was a bit afraid of overselling it. Maybe they were a bit tired ? I learned one thing that night : Annie-Claude is never tired !! She sprung up like a devil out of his box from the first notes and crawled at people's feet and hovered over their hands as much as wreaking havoc on stage. That night, our four followers of the Church of Budgerigars (!!!) just did what they've been used to doing for fifteen years now : playing an irresistible danceable chaos, as the "steady" framing of the video above testifies (:-) ), leaving people smilingly breathless ! And, Philippe, thank you so much for this mind-blowing bass sound (1:07) !!
On that same day, I first met the band that may well become my personal revelation for this year. Awkwardly scheduled right in the middle of the afternoon on an impersonal free open stage, Martinique and Andreas delivered a furious noisy punk grunge show despite the scarce audience and the many technical glitches they had to deal with. How have we managed to miss this band out for so long ? Since 2003 ? With more than ten albums released and a couple of side-projects fulfilled ? Possibly because they come from Pretoria, South-Africa, and they haven't come over here that often so far ?! It seems to be changing. For the better ! I've seen them again twice since and they're just lovely accessible people to talk with, close to their independence and DIY ethics. A band definitely worth watching live for Martinique's heavy hair-tornado drumming and Andreas' strings sharp chopping ! ;-)
As I was writing these few lines, I had to put it all on hold to go and see an "old musical friend" who did mean a lot to me in the late 90s. In a way, the band was our national response to this loud era stirred by Nirvana, Pixies, Weezer ... They had a few hits down here (like the one above) but (un)fortunately never grew big, at least not as big as they would have truly deserved. Sadly, a tragic accident put a definitive end to the band in 2005. After a healing period, the lead singer decided to walk back on stage as a catharsis process. Even if I knew she was still around after all these years, somewhere, playing and always collecting great reviews for her albums, I lost touch with her and never took the time to appreciate her work live ... until this week-end. This is this kind of moment when you want to catch up with time buying all the albums you shamefully overlooked over the years, realizing how much you've missed this delicate soft voice in the thunder. Off the beaten track, away from any major's scope and with disarming humbleness, she is still moving on and from the few songs of the next album that were played that night, she is damn right to do so !
Funny, writing these lines, I've just realised these four bands come from all over the world. Nice and comforting. Music knows no boundaries !