If you read our last newsletter, then you will have noticed that we were away on our holidays. Yes, we took a week off and spent a bit of time in Berlin and Holland. We were fortunate enough to be away at a time when there was loads of great live bands and DJs on where we were situated. On our first night, we took in Tame Impala and Melody’s Echo Chamber at the super cool Astra Kulturhaus. Later that night, we found ourselves on the rooftop of the Sharp Electronics skyscraper in Alexanderplatz. Before you ask, we weren’t feeling all gloomy and contemplating life; instead, we took in one of Weekend Club’s well-renowned rooftop parties. We had the pleasure of making it along in time to witness the downtempo electronica of Lulu Rouge followed by a glorious glitch-hop set from Glasgow’s own Hudson Mohawke. Overall, a perfect start to the holiday!

Making the switch from Berlin to Amsterdam a few days later, we made plans to take the hour’s train journey through to Rotterdam on the Sunday. Travelling through, the initial signs were looking good: temperature was pushing above 30 degrees, the dreaded hangover after a heavy first night in the ‘Dam wasn’t all that bad, we managed to dodge the 35 euro train fare. Result! Arriving in Rotterdam around 3pm we discovered that there was A LOT of things on the bill to keep us entertained. We’ve put together a couple of words on some of the acts that stood out.

K-X-P – The Workers Stage

Our first stop of the day came in the big top of The Workers Stage to check out Finnish band K-X-P. These chaps first came to our attention a few months ago around the time of Record Store Day. We came across a YouTube video promoting ‘Music Finland’ (a series of releases showcasing some of the country’s best new sounds) which featured a K-X-P trackDigging into the band’s catalogue a bit further, we were pretty blown away at how varied the band’s music is – no one song song sounds the same. This is hardly surprising when you take a read of their official biography. In it, they describe themselves as
“Original-Electronic-Motorhead-Space-Trance-Spiritual-Rock-Meditation-FreeJazz-Godz.” As a live spectacle, K-X-P are every bit as bonkers as we expected. On what was probably Rotterdam’s hottest day of the year, the three-piece arrive onstage drenched in the baggiest of black clothing. Frontman Timo Kaukolampi even went a step further by wearing a studded leather butcher’s apron which was most likely purchased in Amsterdam’s Red Light District where they had played 2 days before. It was surprising hear how massive the band’s sound was considering that there was only a bass and drums to accompany Kaukolampi’s electronics. They ended their set with a 10 minute version of the poppy krautrock of Melody which culminated in Kaukolampi aggressively taking apart his set-up and bassist Tumo Puranen pounding the life out out of his guitar. An absolute must see live!

Concrete Knives – The Workers Stage

Following on from K-X-P on The Workers Stage was young French outfit Concrete Knives. Releasing their debutBe Your Own King on Bella Union this year, Concrete Knives have gained many plaudits for their fun time live performances. On the evidence of this show, it’s clear to see why they have been praised in a big way. Reminiscent of bands such as Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Metric and TV On The Radio, Concrete Knives make for a perfect summer festival band. Right throughout the set, it was clear to see the enjoyment in the faces of the band. It was fitting that the band’s enjoyment was shared by those in the crowd who were full of glee when lead singer Morgane Colas came down to the barrier to show her appreciation. Prancing around like a young Karen O, Colas is the focal point of the band’s youthful exuberance. With an impressive debut and a great live reputation, Concrete Knives are more than capable of becoming a pretty big deal over the next few years.

Click here to purchase ‘Be Your Own King’ on vinyl

Deep Sea Arcade – The Thinkers Stage

Having spent pretty much the whole of the afternoon checking out bands in tents, we decided that by early evening it was time to head down to the main stage to enjoy the rest of the sunshine. We had a bit of a laugh checking out local hip-hop chancers Ronnie Flex. The set was made even more interesting thanks to our Dutch friend who was able to translate some of the lyrics which were akin to some of the stuff you’d expect to hear coming from Angry Boys’S.mouse. So bad, yet utterly brilliant! Moving on, we hung around to catch Aussie rockers Deep Sea Arcade. The five-piece from Sydney are cut from the same cloth as bands such as Jagwar Ma and Cloud Control. For whatever reason, every great band coming out from Oz just now appear to be taking all the classic sounds of British 90s indie, and throwing it in with a contemporary psych sound to create a perfect space-pop mix. The sound on the Thinkers Stage wasn’t great, so it was a shame to see it having an affect on frontman Nic MacKenzie’s vocals. The rest of the group were solid as a rock rendering the problems with the sound as pretty meaningless in the end up. Highlight of the set came in the form of the BRMC meets Charlatans swagger of Girls. Having only played a handful of shows in the UK so far, it seems as though they’re missing a trick. These lads would go down a storm.

Parquet Courts – The Workers Stage

Saving the best for last, we headed back into The Workers Stage to catch one of the hottest new bands of the year, New York’s Parquet Courts. The band’s debut Light Up Gold was re-issued for a wider release at the beginning of the year. Halfway into 2013, and we’d say it’s probably the best LP we’ve listened to all year. Kicking off their set with a couple of new songs, it was only until they hit out withYonder Is Closer To The Heart that the packed-out tent really started to show their energy. By the time Master Of My Craft had come on, the first few rows descended into a full-on circle pit. What makes Parquet Courts so exciting is that their sound is straight-up punk rock from start to finish, yet there are strong nods towards the likes of Television and Pavement. With Metropolis being a free festival, it was pretty intriguing to see how varied the crowd was. One of the funniest things we’ve seen at a gig in a looonngg time was witnessing a load of skinheaded Feyenoord casuals moshing alongside the hipster skateboard kids down the front. This proved how wide the appeal of Parquet Courts is. With new songs making up around a 1/4 of the set, it seems inevitable that the release of a new album is on the cards. If it can match the excellence of the first, then we shall be looking forward to something pretty special.