Last Wednesday I’ve posted an article including some tips for the electronic festival PITCH. Last year was a blast and this year the organisation took it to ‘nother level. Six instead of four stages, almost twice the audience, two times bigger area and even more (live) acts. Read here my report of day one of PITCH Festival.
The day began early with one of the highlights of last year; Mount Kimbie. The London-based duo just signed to WARP and is gonna be releasing their follow-up to debut album Crooks & Lovers. I was really looking forward to hear new material, but sadly it didn’t turned out like it expected. The new music sounded not finished yet and maybe to location also wasn’t; compared to last year they were now playing at the huge Gashouder, which wasn’t the right spot for them.
After thirty minutes I decided that I heard enough, because I wanted to go the one of my tips; Jacques Greene. Pleasantly surprised I was when I saw that he didn’t use a MacBook; instead he brought a completely filled table with analog sequencers, his own mixer, a modular synthesizer and another musician; Ango, who played keys and sang on two tracks. Especially with this kind of music, you not often see a complete live set like this. The set started pretty house like, a bit less dreamy compared to his excellent EP‘s. After a modified live version of his remix from Lotus Flower owned this duo the crowd. The second part of the set was more r’n'b oriented, including 90′s rhythm and two tracks with Ango on auto-tune vocals. I couldn’t help thinking of other smooth Canadian r’n'b vocalists like Abel Tesfaye (The Weeknd) and Drake, but with Flatline caused this two for the first highlight at day one of this festival.
Next one was one of the headliners; SBTRKT. I knew that this masked man just like Greene came together with one of his guest singers on his album; Sampha. This man is good with synths, sampling and provided 50% of the vocals of the self-titled album of SBTRKT. According to the approach on stage it seemed that this guys know what they’re doing; with a large backdrop, live drum kit, stage perfoming, everything looked good. But.. it sounded terrible. Especially the mix between drums, synths and vocals where just not right and made this performance sound like a mess. Earlier I’ve seen some things of SBTRKT live on YouTube, and it never sounded like this. Too bad, so hopefully I’ll see them at a better location soon.
Next up was another one of my personal favorites: Vondelpark. The EP’s Sauna and NYC Stuff & NYC Bags caused high expectations. But also this couldn’t live up to the (high) expectations. The music sounded not so clear and catchy on stage as on the recordings. Hopefully can this band translate their upcoming full-length debut better on the stage than they do right now.
Then Jameszoo; the wonder boy from Den Bosch is on a roll this year; starting at Noorderslag, 5 Days Off, Motel Mozaique and this day on PITCH. And he did he did it tremendously. Not with his tropical jazz beats from his earlier released EP Guanyin Psittacines, but with electronic glitch and instrumental hiphop. Last year demolished Hudson Mohawke the same place, now did Jameszoo this job, with the same power and energy. Maybe you can call it easy choice of him to play this kind of music instead of his own difficult rhythms, but it didn’t became some kind of lame trick. He still put a signature on this sounds; still tropical sounding including some bird samples. I can already reveal that Jameszoo is going to do something special at this year edition of Incubate, hopefully more information about this soon!
After this stunning performance I saw some pieces of the show from one of the new sensation from England; Jessie Ware. Some of her new tracks are produced by Julio Bashmore and SBTRKT so I was expecting a bit more exciting music than I heard at this performance. It wasn’t so bad; she’s got a great voice and good playing musicians behind her, but for me personally it was a bit too sweet and not thrilling enough
The location where Jesse played was called the Bacardi 150 stage; a summer club kind of vibe with half-naked chicks dancing on a bar but not perfect for every kind of music. The next act fitted actually exactly in this stage; Azari & III. It was my third that I saw this old skool house act from Canada but this was by far the worst time. The last two times were Dinamo Azari & Alixander the third, the two pale guys who are responsible for the music, playing at electronic drum pads and synths; this time, sadly enough, only pushing buttons behind their MacBooks. Even though the two male singers tried, like always, to stir up the place this didn’t felt like the last great times.
Then the headliner of the day; The Weeknd. I can understand that not everybody like this music, but everybody must admit that this was definitely headliner-worthy. Frontman of the most buzzed act of last year Abel Tesfaye was good-by voice and the musicians played really well together. It’s good that this band took his time just to rehearse together and turn the songs of the free mixtapes in their own. It would have been easy have they just played live instantly when the buzz started to roll. But no; they waited a full year and that’s a move that you’ve to pay some respect.
At te first part of the set sounded almost like a greatest hits show with a lot of space for work of the first mixtape House Of Balloons. Sometimes the tracks where pretty different compared to the recordings; more energy and somethings even only vocals with a smooth (PRINCE!) guitar. The show was really well-directed on stage, including a stunning light show and a frontman who was constantly performing the audience. This was also the negative side of the show. Last year I just downloaded the first mixtape with no further information, photos, music videos, gigs or any other promotion material. With this performances they played carte blanche and caused that the mystery around The Weeknd was completely gone. Also the second part of the set sank down; a bit slower, less interesting tracks and sadly no Dirty Diana. But still a bold and dignified headliner.
Unfortunate the night program of PITCH was a bit disappointing. Modeselektor was ok, but not amazing. Nice visuals but I expected musically a bit better; a lot of the new record Monkeytown. Then James Blake; the sensation from last year played a dj-set which was really well communicated in my opinion, but it seems that not every visitor was aware of that; a lot of people where just walkin’ away in the first ten minutes which was sad; you have to give a dj-set some time before you can judge something like this. But also I have to admit; Blake didn’t made easy for the audience; weird garage tracks mixed with soft 80s songs. But still, Blake is also played some crowd favors live Outkast‘s Ghetto Music and James Blake’s own CMYK and his A Milli remix.
At last I have to give an honorable mention to The Gaslamp Killer. The covered-by-facial-hair DJ managed for the second time running to be the resident of PITCH or maybe even more the binding factor between these (most of the time not really social) artists and producers. Even though his solo show sounded almost like a gimmick (“Here is the new Hudson Mohawke!!!!” -10 seconds later- ”Here is another new amazing track from Flying Lotus!!”) he caused an almost fraternizing atmosphere and presents himself even more like the face of the LA-beat scene. With short appearances on stage at shows of James Blake and the next day at Nosaj Thing, Shlohmo and even Dutch producer Krampfhaft brought The Gaslamp Killer some levity to the festival. Tomorrow you can read part two of my report of PITCH festival including review performances of Shlohmo, Gold Panda, Nathan Fake and more.