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Le Guess Who? 2015 - A Second Opinion #4

  • Published in Live

Homeboy Jacco Gardner gets of to a rocky start with some technical difficulties. In Dutch he apologises, says he thinks it might take a while, but luckily it is solved reasonably quickly after which he and his band can play their brand of psychedelic pop, which is perhaps the best way to call it. There are loads of psych elements there, but they do make sure to never veer into the crazy, the completely out there. The organ sound especially puts its stamp on the vibe of the band, and with the projections on the screen behind them they try to enhance the vibe.The band recently released their newest album entitled Hypnophobia, which is, apparently, specifically about the moment between dreaming and waking up.

So they play a bit from that album, including single ‘Find Yourself’. The last track segues into a prolonged instrumental outro. Especially there I wish they’d put a little bit more oomph in all that. What I was hoping for is a freak out, passing the turn around to multiple band members, and maybe even get some pandemonium going with some major rhythm from the drums and keyboard and perhaps even some noisiness off of the guitars. That’s not really what they come up with though, giving a rather tame ride-out. Still, the young guns give a decent and enjoyable show, also visibly proud they got to host a stage at the festival.

Ariel Pink has brought the crazy into Utrecht, with his theatrical, artsy brand of punk-pop that includes some nifty hooks and dancey rhythms. And it includes, too, some dinner theater, some crazy fun, and some nsfw background projections. Having seen them live before, this is the most listenable turn I’ve seen them give, though still I am not as impressed with them live as I was with for instance an album recording as Before Today. Going from the amount of people there to witness the band’s live show, though, maybe I’m not in the majority on that one.

How about some heckling? Benny Maupin, a Jazz great, is still finetuning his set-up thirteen minutes over his starting time. When he finishes, he decides to first leave the stage, causing someone to call him out on that. The reasoning being, apparently, that, you know, a 75-year-old man that has played with Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock and assorted company can definitely not take his time to get things inch perfect and to his liking. Though, maybe it was more the fact that you want to hear more than just 45 minutes of fine, old school Jazz music from the Benny Maupin quartet consisting of an up-right bass, keys (both piano and board), drums and, of course, Maupin on an assortment of horns.

So there he goes, playing some smooth Jazz songs, with only the third song on the setlist causing a bit of a lull as that one is decidedly down-tempo, maybe too much so in this setting. He makes up for that by diving into ‘Butterfly’ immediately after, a 1974 track Maupin created with Herbie Hancock. That definitely is returning to quality right there, a quality mostly apparent when Maupin is the main player. Sometimes he takes a step back to let his trio of players do their own thing, but when Maupin picks up the horns, gives us that smooth Jazz sound, then you remember why, to many, that genre is the pinnacle of musicianship. Some of those turns are of a calm beauty that, with whiskey in hand and sitting in that expensive, leather lounge chair, one wishes more nights would end with.

And so does Le Guess Who?, the 2015 edition, which was an interesting one. The lack of personal favorites landed me at classical, experimental, and into the unknown, which provided surprising, beautiful, and interesting moments. A real exploration through the musical landscape, with everything being available and on hand. With that said, being a musical omnivore, the fact that there was so little I would even so much have on my iPod for regular listening in my spare time, and subsequently there being so many real highlights that can really hit the heart or move the body, does beg the question whether a four-day pass would have been a worthwhile expenditure. Last year the balance between the adventure of discovery and things that are within the sphere of the music I love was a bit better for me personally (with St. Vincent, Owen Pallett, Sharon van Etten, amongst others). Still, with things like Destroyer, Majical Cloudz and Kamasi Washington, along with wading through the unknown, the trips to Utrecht were still worth the trouble for me.

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