This is not so much a review as it is an impression.
3voor12 is a Dutch internet-based music platform and they recently sponsored gigs by different bands during a music festival that featured up and coming bands in different venues all across my home town of Utrecht this past Saturday. One band inspired me to write.
I find myself at a small stage room tucked away in a corner of the city centre’s shopping mall. The grey carpet, round bar with fixed stools and the curtained podium together hearken back to a 1950’s ad-firm lounge. Soundcheck proceeds noisily behind the curtain and my expectations have nothing to go on besides an emphatic “They’re really good,” given to me by my friend, whose opinion on music I trust wholeheartedly.
The curtains open. Two women to my left, one man straight ahead and two men to my right. Crystal clear angelic voice; keyboard, flute and song that pulls at your heartstrings; masterful complementary drums that could easily stand alone; electric guitar, bass and synth flesh out rhythm and melody; electric guitar and effects add detail and complexity.
One can’t help but recognize oneself in the look of the men onstage as they swoon, enthralled by the saccharine voices of their ensemble’s counterparts. Sometimes teetering on the brink of incoherence, the mercurial patterns of the music bring to mind an epic ride on a winged Imogen Heap in a swan dress across an amorphous mountain valley. Soft, sweet song builds into a rising crescendo before you’re assaulted by a harmonized cacophony that, rather than repels, acts to draw you inwards and upwards with the collaboration of sound to follow the direction the singers seem to be taking, their toes being all that’s left to connect them to the ground.
This experience leads me to believe they need and deserve more widespread recognition. The first thing I say after their short, but very impressive, show was “What’s their name again?”.
It’s Hundred Waters.
I hadn’t heard of them before, but I will not forget and I hope to hear that name many, many times in the future.
Photos by Dongwei Su twitter flickr
30-10-2012 Tivoli de Helling, Utrecht, Netherlands
Interspersed with Dutch tongue-twisters, Jarle Bernhoft’s final show of the tour was characterized by lots of laughter and a wild whirlwind of emotions, ranging from silly dance elation to heartfelt, tear jerking wistfulness. Shivers of aural pleasure drew a blanket of tingling gooseflesh from my skin time and time again during the hour long show set on a master plan of upbeat songs that invited sing along and spotlight soul that evoked immediate enraptured silence.
The multi-instrumentalist Norseman that shot to YouTube fame with the live recording of “C’mon talk” slid into an easy rapport with the crowd with silly jokes, clever references to the venue in his songs and resounding charisma to give the whole show a very personal atmosphere.
Skilful use of 5 different instruments, vocalizations and a bit of beatboxing on a loop machine backed impressive guitar play, while a clear falsetto all the way down to a reverberating bass let every well placed word ring with honesty.
Bernhoft has shown himself to be a true stage performer, standing up to demonstrate a ridiculous dance move, admitting to the hit and miss nature a particular song enjoyed during the tour and inviting the crowd to join in a song with a smile and a hand-on-heart thank you every time. He reeled with laughter and obvious delight while the crowd sang his gospel as his faithful congregation during the encore. Though exhausted in the end, he didn’t seem to want to leave and the crowd would have had him stay forever if we could.
Jarle Bernhoft is a brilliant artist and I can personally guarantee the awesome delivery of everything a concert should be at one of his shows.
The warm-up act for Bernhoft was provided by Lucy Swann. Also from Oslo, Lucy Swann put me in mind of a soulful mix between Imogen Heap and Björk. The surprisingly good (surprising, because I had no idea what to expect) Norwegian beauty tugged at my heartstrings with a lightly veiled homage to the Proclaimers and one of my top-5 favourite songs ever. Definitely worth an ear.