Two weeks in Italy with the family was just the tonic to the ills of Rock Werchter and by the time Mum flew out of Rome I was back on track. Fortunately, because my next stop was another festival and all the glory and horror of four days in your own filth.
To celebrate being alone again I slept on the floor in Rome’s Fiumicino airport with the other temporarily homeless, before rising early to fly to Bilbao. Redbeard and I were soon reunited and back trying to figure out another unorganised festival set up. In contrast to the Belgian precision the Spanish were positively ambivalent. We wandered up the hill behind the stage and, with no one to tell us any better, joined the rest of the people trying to make sense of camping on a slope. While the view was spectacular the novelty of angled camping wears off pretty quickly when you are constantly sliding out the bottom of your tent.
Last night a packed Galatos was treated to some of the best international hip-hop has to offer with a stellar performance from the notorious ganja- toting Action Bronson. For those who have yet to hear the lyricism of this former gourmet chef, expect the best of eclectic sample inspired boom-bap, food laced lyrics, and a hearty serving of all the usual gangster trimmings: weed, women, the hardships of being a pimp, and did I mention weed? Lots of weed.
My final days in Holland arrived with the relentless speed of a Dutch train. Like everyone else I was caught, swept up in the temporal momentum and chaos of exams, last minute guests and goodbyes. What had I taken from this time? Would I ever be back to this cycle-mad place? Answers fell by the wayside as the days slipped away and then I was off for one last bike to the station, sweating under the heat of a continental sun and the sum total of my possessions.
Some of my best memories of Europe will be the gigs that I have been lucky enough to go to. This trend continued last night at Ekko, where I was blown away by the ferocity of Gonjasufi’s psychedelic hip hop.
Ekko is a great little venue not far from the centre of Utrecht. An open bar and collection of tables fill out the spacious room, with bright graffiti bringing a modern edge to this converted house. Beyond the bar is a door through to the dark stage, and as we arrive people are shuffling in.
I don’t know much about Gonjasufi: He is a yoga teacher (no idea how I know this-but wiki confirms it…); I have his first album; and am aware of his loose affiliations with Flying Lotus and the other members of the Low End Theory. This is certainly enough to get me in the door but as we stand nodding to the opening act I realise that I’m not actually sure what he looks like.
The stupidly early start-time of half-nine and Gonjasufi’s haunting vocals suggested it was going to be a fairly languid set and we had medicated accordingly. Was this guy playing now who we had come to see? He certainly looked alternative enough, with one dread hanging down the front of his face and rest of his head shaved to shiny black. Perhaps Gonjasufi had shaved his famous dreads off?
I’m going to take a brief break from the Asian adventures for a bit of a Dutch update. Last night I was lucky enough to head up to Amsterdam to catch Shigeto perform at the mecca for live music that is Paradiso.
Paradiso is an old church that has been converted into a concert venue, and on any one night a number of different artists will play in the different rooms spread throughout the building. The main hall is cavernous, with the high ceiling and tiered balconies creating an impressive sense of grandeur. When coupled with heaving bass and an enthusiastic Dutch crowd it makes for parties like no other and I have already enjoyed a few evenings of worship within its confines.
Smaller artists play in the kleine zaal (small hall), and so with coat check successfully navigated (not quite as straight forward as you might when in the early throes of a truffle trip –it’s the small victories, right?) we pressed through the throngs of people flooding the foyer and headed up the stairs.