Monday, October 30, 2023

Amsterdam Hosts Another Sensational Year of London Calling Festival

One of Amsterdam’s most loved festivals London Calling returned to the beautiful Paradiso for their 31st festival of the best new and upcoming bands and artists from around the world. 

It’s hard to explain the exceptionality of this event and how personal and intimate the sets are from the artists. 

The 19th century church transformed in to one of the most visually and audibly spectacular music venues in 1968, and Paradiso has since been a staple venue in the indie/alternative music scene for bands and artists.  

To kick off a day of pure music adrenaline was the epic Maruja. The quartet took to their stage in dark eyeshadow ready to pounce on the audience with their incredible post-punk noise. Their whole set was one of the most profound and unforgettable moments of the whole festival but especially during their inspirational track ‘Thunder’. The noise that exuberated everyone’s bodies through their heavy sax and tumultuous vocals was nothing short of breathtaking. The bands involvement with the audience juxtaposed their boisterous sound by jumping into the crowd to play their music to create moments of intimacy which everyone in that room adored. Maruja are a phenomenal 4-piece from Manchester who have perfected their mesmerising sound and are ruling the post-punk/jazz experimentalist genre wherever they go.  

Later in the day, the nave of Paradiso welcomed electro-modernist band Pale Blue Eyes, a band full of joyful music from Devon, UK.  The venue was a perfect match to PBE’s sound as the astounding stained-glass windows behind them reflected on to their shimmering instruments and contagious energy. Watching down from the balcony you could see a wave of moving, dancing bodies enjoying their psychedelic alternative tracks making the whole room atmospheric.  

Another strong and powerful UK band on the lineup, STONE made the audience go feral with their roaring rock sounds and infectious vitality. The mosh pits opened as soon as STONE entered the room and festival goers were instantly hooked on their power and enthusiasm. One of the highlights of their sets was when the alternative quartet performed one of their earliest yet most ponderous tracks ‘Waste’. STONE frontman Fin Power jumped into the crowd, and he surfed along the front of the stage with watching fans adoring him and the rest of the impressive band. Festival goers thrived during STONE’s set at Paradiso and left the audience wanting more.  

Next to take on the iconic Amsterdam venue was the truly unique septet KEG. The art-punk band from Brighton brought their enthralling compositions of hard and soft sounds to London Calling music lovers. The band showcased their latest release ‘Quip Quash’ which got everyone in the spirit to bounce to the mixture of synths, trombone and catchy guitar riffs. The most satisfying part of the set, if not the whole festival was the way KEG blended their tracks ‘Presidential Walk’ into ‘Heyshaw’. They magically transformed 2 separate tracks in to 1 with an incredible sounding short interlude. The sound the band produced is something remarkable. They manage to make their busy band full of different instruments and musical influences into a fluent sound of their own but still holding on to each instruments individual noise, which is pure magic. KEG are an unbelievably talented and provocative band to listen to and even more so to see live.  

One of the last bands of the night with most definitely one of the most poignant sets of the festival was dust. A quintet from Newcastle, Australia with a solely idiosyncratic sound that are constantly pushing personal and musical boundaries through their musical talent. Their debut EP released earlier this year ‘et cetera etc.’ is a record full of vulnerability and personal reflection which they perform with virtuosity in all their live shows. Guitarists and vocalists of the band Justin and Gabe gave the rowdy audience the perfect song to satisfy their mosh pitting needs, with their politically honest and grounded single ‘The Gutter’ featuring a beautiful chaos of all the instruments and noise dust create. Another track that is imperative for every experimental jazz/punk music fan to hear live is ‘Alternator’, a song that introduces you to every member of dust and the sound they create. Adam’s majestic saxophone playing thrives in this track which leads perfectly into the interlude on the record, but he somehow manages to make it sound even more breathtaking live. Kye’s ridiculous drumming talent also shines on the track which is also intensified live. The backbone of every dust beat is his looming drum and symbol which creates that iconic heaviness of the band. 

The ‘Interlude’ introduces you to Liam on bass with a catchy loop blending in to one of the most personal and intimate tracks from their album ‘Ward 52’. At first listen, this song gives the impression of it being a grungy, deep track, but reading into the lyrics you will find a brave and emotional story that holds a lot of empathy. To finish off dust’s immaculate set, the band performed the most inspirational and heartwarming song off the record ‘Joy (Guilt)’. The vivaciousness that oozes from every member of dust during this track live is completely awe-inspiring. The passion and strength this song holds is performed by the band with those emotions in mind leaving the audience reciprocating that same vivacity. A track that is powerful in its message and its musicality making it the most perfect way to end their set and one that will hold a special place in any dust fans hearts.   

London Calling is one of the most outstanding festivals for music lovers. They provide gig-goers with a formidable line up every year and fans cant wait to see who their next favourite band will be at London Calling 2024. 

Alice Mason

Instagram: @alicemxson / @alicegoestogigs

Image: Pale Blue Eyes at London Calling 2023 – by Alice Mason

1 comment:

  1. London Calling is a festival held twice a year, about 25 bands over 2 days.


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