Heineken Opener Festival 2013

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After going in 2009 with Gabriel and Kaz (and running into the Polish girls Mila, Basia, Ania and Magda), as almost a signifier of how life has moved on, I returned this year with Alex, Olivia and Jacqui from my MA course. As we planned it, the line-up kept getting better and better. Blur and Kendrick Lamar played Wednesday night, Arctic Monkeys, Tame Impala and Nick Cave on Thursday. Friday brought Queens of the Stone Age and The National, Saturday The Kings of Leon and Rhianna kind of bizarrely turned up on the Sunday with Dizzie Rascal.

We missed the Wednesday due to work and the last two days out of choice butdespite major hiccups (airline lost my bag; Alex got drunk and missed the bus; we got to the show pretty late on Thursday), it all worked out rather brilliantly. The musical highlights were Nick Cave letching it up, The National’s Matt Berninger being wasted on stage and the whole Queens of the Stone Age gig. The true gem was Olivia losing her shoe in the mosh, only for us to see it flying towards the stage later in the gig and reclaiming it. A disaster became a great story.

The rest of the time we hung out eating in odd restaurants, drinking vodka and going to Sopot for the Polish seaside. Anyone who’s been to Sopot, where the German monarchs went to holiday will testify the town is nice, the beach is alright, the water is freezing. As a unit we were cool, getting on well and taking it out of each other, Olivia especially ;).

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After the festival Alex and I headed south to Krakow while Jacqui returned to Vienna and Olivia hung out with her friend Ewa until flying to Eindhoven. Krakow was as pretty as ever, the vodka is still cheap and the tourist hordes are greater than ever. The directions to strip bars were more persistent. As pretty as it looks, Krakow has overrun itself with tourists. Even stag dos don’t get a look-in.

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Music and Festival Fun To Come

Its almost summer festival time. This year we’re going to Poland for the Opener festival again. Gabriel, Kaz and I went in in 2009, met up with some Polish friends, enjoyed the weather, vodka, beer and music. Basement Jaxx, Prodigy, The Roots and Arctic Monkeys rocked it up. Coldplay headed one night but we skipped that and the Kings Of Leon put on a good show abeit showcasing a fairly shit album. And that’s what the summer is often about for bands. Showing the world their new albums, selling it over summer before they return in November to encourage the Christmas sales.

This year at Opener the acts are even better and far more tailored to my wishes (Thanks Opener!). Nick Cave, Queens of the Stone Age, The National, Tame Impala, Animal Collective, Devendra Banhart , Modest Mouse, Blur, Crystal Fighters and Castles etc etc. For the price 120 pounds for 4 days, its a bargain. Added to the cheap price of booze and life in Poland, we’ll be happy. I say we because right now 4/5 of us are going plus I’ll catch up with Ola for the first time since Jerusalem in 2010!

So to the albums. These are by no means all but some of what’s been occupying my ears, mind and feet over these last few, hot months.
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Queens of the Stone Age – …Like Clockwork 7/10

Its good, catchy, less rocky, gentler and more heartfelt than before. Maybe Josh is getting older!

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds 5.5/10

Slightly more morose than his more recent albums, more akin to his older albums in the mid-90s, Cave is still a great storyteller and his songs imbue into your bones.

Foals 6/10

Its good but I have heard all this before from British indie rock despite a great depth

Daft Punk – Random Access Memories 8.5/10

This is a long album and full of highlights, middle lights and some tunes you flick by. Its incredibly slick and feel-good and the last few tracks are a real rousing finale. Giorgio by Moroder is absolutely fantastic.
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Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City 9/10

I really like this album. It’s instantly loveable, deeper than the previous efforts. The sound is still diverse, ecletic and booming while the band’s themes are more grown up. Ya Hey is an immense tune.

Kurt Vile – Walking on a Pretty Daze 8.5/10

Ahhh this album puts anyone in a confused or irritated mood take a step back and just relax. Vile’s lyrics contain pearls of wisdom. His languid guitar solos are destressers of the highest order. 9 minute songs fly by. Its perfect for city centre walks here. Vile really takes you into his world.

John Grant – Pale Green Ghosts 8/10

I am a late discoverer of John Grant. My mate Matty raved about him but only this year have I listened. Grant is a serious musician with real talent, direct amusing lyrics writing his sad story with pathos, arrogance and some great one liners.

Primal Scream – More Light 6.5/10

A new album and the first one I’ve wanted to listen to repeatedly since….ahh I dunno….15 years. The opener tells the story. Bobby is a rant over post-modernity. His targets are usually fellow artists who’ve failed to politicise their art, preferring to take the cash and mooch around Shoreditch. Alas while his aim is good, his solutions fal at the door of excess.

The National – Trouble Will Find Me 8/10

Matt’s voice got light and smokier (ironically as smokes less) but his alcoholism and melodic narrative of personal doom continues. Its a more restrained album musically, reminding me of Alligator which is no step back. The drums come to the fore again. The themes are often criticised by non-lovers as samey but in reality like Camera Obscura, this consistency is their strength. Its the nuance that’s important. Heavenfaced is beautiful (along with many others).

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Disclosure – Settle 6/10

If anything is samey, its electronic music but while Disclosure maintain their sound in general, they add extra texture with guest vocals and a diverse range of themes. Its a long album. Too long. But while you can stand it, or as background to preparing to go out, its good accompaniment.

Johnny Marr – 5/10

I can’t remember the name of this album. I can’t remember any the songs or any of the riffs. But yet I don’t feel I wasted my time. After each of my three listenings, 20 minutes I couldn’t recall any of the songs but I still felt good about the album. I suppose its catchy, pleasant, then forgettable indie rock. I liked it even if I can’t remember.

Grownass Man – The Shouting Matches 7.5/10

Bon Iver sits in the studio with his two old friends and pulls out some funny, loose country bar rock. Damn its good even if it does feel like a session played in front of friends and family and some approving locals in the middle of Minnesota.

I’d write about more albums but I need another listen. More soon

Lawless

So Nick Cave, Australia’s true musical artist has written a new film. Set in the US Prohibition era, it tells the tru-ish story of various families battling for control of the illegal alcohol trade in a state county. Looking similar to The Proposition and reminiscent of some of this albums. The cast and budget is far more impressive. Dark, malevolent and dirty I’ll be watching.