Friday, July 07, 2006

Klinkende Munt 2006 Day 2 - 06/07/2006, Brussels

I skipped day 1 to watch France qualify for the World Cup final. Priorities.

Acoustic Ladyland
The band name initially faithfully represented its music: modern post-bop jazz covers of Hendrix tunes. To be honest, it was a little boring. Between their first and second albums, they morphed into an instrumental rock-almost-punk band. Last Chance Disco is really good and fun. Now, it would seem that they've morphed fully into a punk band. The ingredients remain similar (Pete Wareham's rough-hewn tenor saxophone wailing and declaiming of simple, punchy riffs, Tom Cawley's finely-textured keyboards, Tom Herbert's pared-down electric bass and Seb Rocheford's drumming, either everything-at-once punk or beats with more room to breathe), but there's more singing by Wareham, more decibels and more wall-of-sound-ness, especially on the new songs that will be on their upcoming album (or maybe I just haven't listened to Last Chance Disco loud enough).

I tend to prefer their songs that are less dense and have more rhythm, so I was a bit disappointed there weren't more of them. At those times, Cawley's crucial contributions became clear. At the band's loudest, the sound system struggled with the volume: the saxophone was often a bit lost in the mass and the keyboards weren't very clear.

Afterwards, I discussed MySpace (a recurring theme, it would turn out) with Tom H. and the Hnita's Peter Anthonissen. Teun showed up and informed me that Jef had signed with Universal Music (Belgium).

Clotaire K
The highlight of this concert was when a guy came on stage wearing a skull mask, Freddy Krueger claws, a black t-shirt and shiny suit era pants and danced around, mock-attacking the other band members. Apart from that, it was semi-convincing 10 year old IAM with a dash of North African influences. It didn't help that the front man kept on berating the crowd, even though little of what they were doing deserved wild enthusiasm. At one point, the DJ would scratch for 5 seconds, then stop, and applause would be demanded. Over and over...

Soweto Kinch
I was eagerly awaiting this one, as I'd never seen Kinch live and really like Conversations With The Unseen. I'll get the disappointing parts out of the way first. One, the repertoire was mostly taken from the two year old album, but in virtually identical arrangements. While "Snake Hips"'s pot-pourri is still pleasant to hear, I expected far more deviation from the record. Two, it was more traditional than I expected. So there were a lot of solos that failed to really matter. Kinch is unabashedly a bop-derived alto player, which isn't a problem - it actually highlights and enhances the newer hip hop elements he brings in - but while he's got plenty of technique, too often I didn't feel like I was getting more than that. Now for the good stuff.

Kinch is a super-charismatic stage presence: funny, spontaneous, outgoing, charming. He's a good rapper and an excellent lyricist. "Jazz Planet" has a cheesy concept (what if jazz was the dominant music?), but the words and flow make it work: "What if jazz could solve world wars/And swinging on 2 and 4 was a government law," a bit about boy bands scuffling for work and lip-synching being a dying artform practiced only at summer camps in Dartmoor (Dartmouth?), DJs sitting back at concerts and muttering about jazz musicians stealing all the gigs, etc. "Adrian" started out as a fairly traditional bop ballad, but in the middle, Kinch rapped mesmerisingly, at a slow tempo and with just the bass as accompaniment, about the song's hapless, tragic hero. Before going off stage, Kinch requested six words from the audience for a freestyle. They were: North Korea, peace, cables, fever, hip hop and bebop. Kinch linked them all together impressively and imaginatively, with each key word preceded by 3-4 lines that allowed it to arrive naturally and climactically.

The encore was "A Friendly Game Of Basketball," by far the best instrumental piece. After a ricocheting head, trumpeter/singer Abram Wilson took a solo that started to bring the energy level up, Kinch and drummer Troy Miller then proceeded to engage in the most hard-driving uptempo improvising of the night. It was fantastic, but at a level they should have reached after a few songs, not right at the end.

More photos here (wardrobe alert: I have the same blue short-sleeve shirt the bassist is wearing, and might even have worn it yesterday if I didn't need to sow a button back on).