On my way to Café Pollux again for late night shenanigans. This is one my favourite places to have a fun drink. You’ll always meet some eclectic people. Always. Fritz, the bar-owner is great. He knows how to look after his customers. Always with a smile and a wink. There are some good conversations to be had in this bar. On the sweet-stakes, there is a little puppy hanging around and tonight it is definitely passed its bedtime.

The bar sells the ‘Mary’ and ‘Johnny’ from the Brouwerij de Prael nearby. Good stuff. During my inaugural visit to Pollux, I saw a trio gig there. Curious to meet some Amsterdam musicians I stopped to talk to the drummer and he mentioned a few places that I could go to that catered for open jams etc. One of those being Zaal 100, a jam every tuesday night. I don’t remember much else!
The website for Zaal 100 looks great. The place seems to be busy and creative. Will put this place on the To-Do list.

So I’ve been to about 6 gigs so far. Whoop! There’s nothing like having a reason to travel like when you have a gig to see.
The Revival Hour‘ is a band based in the US. You should check them out. I love their songs. My friend John Mark, with whom I was in a band many moons ago, called The Earlies, had in fact posted on Facebook about his upcoming tour of The Netherlands. Lovely coincidence that I have friends gigging here of all places, so soon after moving over. Excited to meet him. It’s been years.

I saw them in Nijmegen, close to the German border, and also in Haarlem, a town only twenty minutes away from Amsterdam. Luckily, the band had time to hang out afterwards and it was a lot of fun.

Tilburg was my next venture. Was lucky here too as some Manchester friends Graham Massey and Paddy Steer came to do a gig for the festival there. ’25 years of Acid House’ was the event.
The band before them, the ‘Gang of Four’ were on and I was excited to see them as well. After waiting for an age for the band to come onstage, they finally ran across and began to groove, but I was not expecting to see only one original member left. By the time they had played a few tunes I was getting a little bit irritable. The sound guy just hadn’t got it right. The main riff guitar was practically inaudible, masked by the drums and clean sounding bass. What a shame. Should sound like full on guitar slaughter to fill up most of the sonic mass. Why did they not use their own sound guy?!
One of their infamous stage acts had been to bash apart a microwave. They rekindled this here but the bashing didn’t seem relevant anymore. Did we feel the anger? What are they saying? Why does it feel like a gimmick now? Ah well. New times ahead.
Punters also left to hang out somewhere else and it was half empty by the time they finished. I felt sad and wanted to support them in their diminishing audience but I was half annoyed myself!

808 State were on after, and in my opinion, outshone everything from before and also afterwards. It was what I thought, one of the best sounding and best grooving gigs I’ve heard in a long time. Great sound, great riffs, great bass, great melodies, great tunes. I haven’t danced like that for ages. Cheers Manchester friends. I had a great time.

Some of the musicians that I had met before coming to Amsterdam were Anne La Berge and Robert Van Heumen. They tour separately but also together as a duo called Shackle and had early on organised a gig at STEIM. It was part of this Kyma International Sound Symposium which was at that point held in Brussels. I’ll talk about STEIM later.

I met Anne and Robert when I took part in their workshop called Converging Objects. It was in London a few years back and I had much inspired thought from them. Anne, a virtuosic flautist, has a penchant for improvising microtonal textures and melodies, and an array of percussive flute effects, all combined with electronic processing. Robert, is a composer and improvising musician using an extended laptop-instrument to perform highly immersive and hyper-dynamic electro-acoustic music using the real-time, audio synthesis software called SuperCollider and STEIM’s live sampling software LiSaThey are incredibly strong and inventive, and very down to earth. I like that a lot.

“Their aim is to explicitly and subtly exploit shackling in both concept and material….At the heart of their duo is a self-designed, cutting-edge digital cueing system which operates as a sometimes visible third member. Both prodding and reactive, the Shackle system suggests musical directions and textures to these two highly gifted performers, opening up a fascinating array of sonic choices for La Berge and Deckard to play with and against.”

For this gig they played with two Kyma systems, kyma is touted for its powerful control, and pristine quality of audio. They are expensive! And by the way, my college has 5 of these.

Well, it was a great gig and I met them both at the end. I’d not seen them for a few years so I was a little apprehensive if they’d recognise me…What’s more is that the gig was at STEIM, a place I had revered for such a long while, stepping foot in there was a pretty good feeling. There are so many amazing musicians who have stepped foot in that place since the 70’s. I was very much in awe.

I bumped into a guy called Rogier Smal who had graced us with his drumming genius in Manchester a few times. Great musician, he also enjoys getting off the stool and spinning cymbols and things on the floor and rearranging his drumsticks in neat piles. When I saw that particular gig in Manchester I was intrigued as to what the experimental free scene was like in Amsterdam. There seemed a natural and instinctive link towards performance art. Interesting. I’m definitely up for checking out more musicians, and I’m in the right place.

He played two gigs the week after at two venues called W139 which is a great big exhibition space on Warmoesstraat, and OCCii, an old squat venue that had survived Holland’s ‘squat culling’ a few years back. 100% Volunteer-led, it provides a great space to rock out in.

Lastly but not least The Sonology Showlab. The Institute of Sonology‘s finest, gathering together for a newly set up monthly gig at the venue Café De Vinger in The Hague. There were three acts of electronics this time, all different and a lot of fun. We had Peter Edwards,  who has a long history of circuit bending and experimenting back in the US, and Dan Gibson from the UK who is discovering new ways to augment his cello (both on the STEIM Sonology Masters course), and Edgar Rubenis.