Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Live: Plisskën Festival 2017 (Athens, December 1-2, 2017)

Liars, live @ Plisskën Festival 2017
The 2017 winter edition of Plisskën Festival followed the same concept as last year with gigs taking place across four stages in three different locations along Pireaus street and the emphasis on electronic and dance music. Rock acts, with the glowing exception of Liars and the dance-rock of Holy Fuck, were left out of the picture and guitar pop was barely there with Mac Demarco and Tops on the main stage on Saturday. To be honest, this year's edition left me with mixed feelings regarding the music on offer and sorely missing the festival's last summer edition with bands like Savages, Metz or Waxahatchee gracing its line up.

To focus on the positive, Liars return to Athens after several years was, for us at least, by far the most exciting prospect on the festival's line up and Angus Andrew with his reconfigured band did not disappoint, giving one hell of a performance with material from almost all of their releases so far. 

Andrew came on stage dressed in a wedding gown, a striking image in the spirit of the cover of "TFCF", the band's latest album, and soon after a tension building "Drum Gets a Glimpse", he unleashed a powerful, all-out rock assault which combined new songs like "Coins In My Caged Fist" or "Cred Woes" with many favorites from the band's remarkable back catalogue including "Mr You're On Fire Mr",  "It Fit When I Was a Kid", "Scissor", "The Overachievers" and "Mess on a Mission" to name a few. Liars are one of the best bands that came out of the early '00s indie rock explosion and with performances like this they prove that they still remain a vital rock force today. Undoubtedly, the top performance of Plisskën 2017!

Before Liars, on the second day of the festival (December 2) we also saw Tops from Montreal, opening proceedings on the main stage with their mellow indie pop, likable enough but without the killer tune that would make them standout, and Jessy Lanza who combines hard hitting electronic beats with sweet, soulful vocals and pop melodies that could lead to greater commercial success for her in the near future.

Tops, live @ Plisskën Festival 2017
Jessy Lanza, live @ Plisskën Festival 2017
The headliner on Saturday was Mac DeMarco whose performance, especially after the explosive Liars show that preceded it, seemed very weak to my ears, although most of the crowd seemed to be having a good time. I guess his "jizz jazz" style is not for me and the karaoke-style covers of Red Hot Chilly Peppers and 50 Cent that closed his set did not help much to change my mind.

Mac DeMarco, live @ Plisskën Festival 2017
On the first day of the festival we attended on the main stage the beat heavy, experimental electronic performances of Demdike Stare and Andy Stott, both of which would have benefited from a late night spot, but nonetheless managed to engage and move the feet of the relatively few people who turned up early enough to see them.

Demdike Stare, live @ Plisskën Festival 2017
Andy Stott, live @ Plisskën Festival 2017
The day on the main stage closed with the unlikely pairing of Holy Fuck and Mulatu Astatke who headlined. We didn't get to see the latter, but we did enjoy the upbeat performance of Holy Fuck, the second one in Athens for the Canadian electrorockers after this one from the great Synch Festival of 2008 (the good old days!). Their sound has not changed very much over the years, but they certainly remain a fun act to watch live.

Holy Fuck, live @ Plisskën Festival 2017
Check out below a video playlist with selected highlights from the winter 2017 edition of Plisskën Festival, featuring Liars, Holy Fuck, Jessy Lanza and Tops:

Liars, Holy Fuck, Jessy Lanza, Tops live @  Plisskën Festival 2017 (Piraeus 117 Academy, Athens)

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Listening Habits: 10-11.2017

The first year-end lists of 2017 are already here, but for now we are going to turn our attention to the albums and songs that earned our appreciation in the last couple of months of the autumn and leave the task of figuring out our "Best of the Year" list for the end of December, as usual.

However I can already say with certainty that the two albums at the top of our autumn list have already booked their place in our 2017 Top 10, as both St. Vincent and Protomartyr have delivered killer albums that are not going to leave our headphones any time soon.

"Masseduction", St. Vincent’s fifth album, adapts and subverts the concept of modern pop music, as dance-floor friendly rhythms and sweet melodic interludes echo the sound of the pop charts but they are transformed through Annie Clark’s unique perspective into something beguiling and deeply personal.

Protomartyr continue to march on the post-punk path that pioneers like The Fall or Pere Ubu have laid down and they are showing no signs of slowing down as "Relatives In Descent", their fourth album, is another fine example of intense, vital rock ’n’ roll.

Other stand-out releases among the fine albums we’ve enjoyed recently include the triumphant return to action of The Dream Syndicate after 29 odd years with "How Did I Find Myself Here?" (see also our recent live review here), the resurfacing of The War On Drugs who continue to operate at the height of their powers with "A Deeper Understanding" and, last but not least, the astonishing, krautrock-influenced, psychedelic pop that Jane Weaver has concocted with "Modern Kosmology", her ninth solo work.

Here are our 16 favorite albums for October - November 2017:

Top 16 Albums

2.   Relatives In Descent - PROTOMARTYR   
3.   Modern Kosmology - JANE WEAVER
4.   How Did I Find Myself Here? - THE DREAM SYNDICATE
5.   A Deeper Understanding - THE WAR ON DRUGS
6.   Cry Cry Cry - WOLF PARADE
7.   ken - DESTROYER
8.   Moonshine Freeze - THIS IS THE KIT
9.   Weather Diaries - RIDE
10. Cost Of Living - DOWNTOWN BOYS
11. Electric Trim - LEE RANALDO
12. Offering - CULTS
14. Losing - BULLY
15. Visions Of A Life - WOLF ALICE

Top 15 Tracks

1.  The Architect - JANE WEAVER
2.  Moonshine Freeze - THIS IS THE KIT
3.  New York - ST. VINCENT
4.  My Children - PROTOMARTYR
5.  Cali - RIDE
7.   Up All Night - THE WAR ON DRUGS
8.   Valley Boy - WOLF PARADE
9.   Cover From The Sun - DESTROYER
10. I Took Your Picture - CULTS
11. Uncle Skeleton - LEE RANALDO
12. Somos Chulas (No Somos Pendejas) - DOWNTOWN BOYS
13. Feel the Same - BULLY
14. Beautifully Unconventional - WOLF ALICE

Jane Weaver - The Architect