Iederéén staat op de longlist. Maar als ULTRA de Pop Media Prijs 2012 wint, geeft de auteur het integrale geldbedrag aan 'n nog nader te bepalen jonge Nederlandse band, ULTRA in geest. Stemmen dus! Stemmen kan tot maandag 26 november 2012. Een stem voor ULTRA is een stem voor de muziek! (Het boek, dat is af. Maar de muziek, daar komt nooit een einde aan...)
july 18, 2012.
I do not think I ever before saw a venue smaller than Sub071. Or better: I cannot remember having ever before performed in a venue as small as Sub071 (though Staalplaat's basement in the Flughafenstraße in Berlin comes close). When I took its measures in approximate 1 meter steps, it got me to 6 by 2.5, not including the stage at the far (well... far...) end, which added another 1.5 by 2.5 meter steps.
Though 'underground' is what it looks and feels like, the space actually is on the ground floor of an enormous, abandoned, dark office building (De Leidse Poort), right in the heart of the city of Leiden, on the corner of the Schuttersveld, at a mere stone throw's distance from the train station.
The former office block has been squatted since the summer of 2006. It is a squat that is tolerated by the Leiden municipality, which is not unhappy having someone look after the property for free, while it continues to fight a (I presume) complicated and expensive, but (surely) protracted, legal battle with the owner of the building, a notorious speculator in real estate. For security reasons, though, the temporary users are not allowed to go up higher than the (if I got it right) second floor. It's pretty surreal to imagine that massive void above your head, standing in the probably no more than 50 m3 that is used as the 'concert hall', where for some five years now Wot Nxt's Marcel van Schooten and others have been programming their 'underground' events. "Not just one style," Marcel says. "We book whatever we like, though most of the time the music will have something 'raw' to it." One of the evening's visitors told me he actually had come, thinking he'd get to hear'n'see some of his favorite Spanish grindcore. But for that he came near to a week too late. "A week too late!", the bearded young man sighed, "though I've been here áááll the time... That's mighty weird... But then, well, the best concerts always turn out to be by bands that you never ever heard of in all of your fucking life..."
I met Nathalie Janssen (left in the picture) during last spring's ULTRA 2012 tour. At the TAC in Eindhoven, she was one of the Minny's backing Wally Pops in a rendition of Plurex 0005 (Kojak, Footsteps, Nervous). The day after, on Saturday March 10th, Nathalie also came to Rotterdam, where ULTRA descended upon Worm. As for some reason (indeed, one never knows) she had brought along her guitar, I asked her to join me there and then in an impromptu reading from the ULTRA book.
That was at, say, 9.30 pm.
At 9.45 we took 5 minutes in the artist lounge to prepare.
I opened the book at random, and came upon pages 134/135, where I sum up all the rubbish on a parking lot somewhere along the highway (which, as a matter of irrelevant fact, is based upon an actual recording of me doing such an inventory). When I started reading, Nathalie (who besides a guitar player also is a freshman in philosophy) immediately recognized young Wittgenstein (the Tractatus one). This, so to speak, made us friends for life... It must have been around 10 pm that Saturday in March, that Nathalie & I took the Worm stage, in between sets by AC Berkheimer and Hallo Venray.
Although of our Worm performance no documentation that I know of has survived, it actually was the reason that on this Saturday July 14th I found myself in Sub071 with La Vie De Bohème (a five piece band from Haarlem, in which Nathalie plays the guitar) to do a live 'try-out' of Het Moet Zo Zijn, a track that - in the wake of the ULTRA 2012 events - will see the light of day as a 7" vinyl (shared with Gul Night Out, a band from Leiden that also could be seen as part of several ULTRA 2012-related events) on the Smikkelbaard label, a collaboration between Wot Nxt and Richard James Foster's Incendiary Magazine, who envisions the upcoming release as a record of utter wanton libidinousness...
... one should not let oneself be fooled by Sub071's objective size. As Richard assured us: "Just you guys wait. Once the lights go down, this fucking place becomes h-u-g-e ...!"
And it did indeed. Sort of.
The concert at Sub071 opened with Monotoon, which actually was no other than La Vie de Bohème, doing a 30+ minutes drony ad hoc piece that - 'monotonically' - centered around E. Even under a different name, that's a pretty surprising (and courageous) thing to do for a band that describes its music as 'Dutch electro pop', and boasts a repertoire of musically rather traditional cabaret-like pop songs, be it with an undertone of absurdity.
I, for one, enjoyed Monotoon a lot. Though remaining 'monotone', the five young musicians displayed a lot of versatility, spicing up the piece with quite a bit of timbral and rhythmic variation. Monotoon sounded like a curious (and - good! - pretty disrespectful) 'electro' version of pre-punk classics like, say, the Velvets Sister Ray.
It makes La Vie de Bohème part of that interesting faction of young pop bands, for which - in these days of Retromania - history, indeed, has become 'a reservoir of possibility'.
At the occasional odd moment during Monotoon's performance, Floris van der Veen read statements from Willem Frederik Hermans' Dutch translation of Wittgenstein's Tractatus. That made for a useful bridge to the second part of the night's 'lecture', for which I had brought a large collection of facts, most of which I picked up the evening before in the streets of Amsterdam.
"I think I will become a poet, just like you," one of Sub071's visitors told me, when all was said and done, with a broad and somewhat mocking smile. "Then I too can go perform in underground squats like Sub, and throw stuff around..."
[ Now hop over to this year's lo-pro SoundBlog audio diary, where you will find a short impression of my performance with La Vie De Bohème at Sub071 (as well as some sound bites from rehearsals in Haarlem, on June 24th and July 13th). Then stay tuned for the record, due in September. Many thanks to Richard and Marcel. Muß es sein? Het Moet Zo Zijn. The Ludwigs (both the one and the other) will be proud of you! ]
[Read some more & other thoughts about this peculiar evening, on Incendiary Magazine: Monotoon, La Vie de Bohème, Harold Schellinx Sub071 Leiden 14/7/12]
tags: Wittgenstein, Beethoven, ultra, post-experimental, La Vie De Bohème, Sub071, Smikkelbaard, Leiden
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