Time to take a break from our presentation of the Primavera Sound ’10 Festival in order to take a look at what happened this weekend at the seventh edition of the Synch Festival in Athens. One of the side effects of the economic crisis was the scaling down of this year’s festival to two days, with less groups playing and fewer people attending, especially on the first day. Despite the problems, Synch remains the most interesting music happening of the Greek summer and there were still several great performances on offer. Here’s our Top 5:
1. A Place To Bury Strangers (Open Air 2, June 5)
The lineup of the second day of the festival was dominated by all sorts of dance acts. We had electropop from Hot Chip, afrobeat and jazz fusion from the collaboration of Jimi Tenor & Tony Allen, French techno from Laurent Garnier. And among all this happy dance music, we had the second coming of the apocalyptic guitar noise of A Place To Bury Strangers, sticking out like a sore thumb.
We had the pleasure of seeing the New York band up close and personal this winter (review here) when they played the tiny and frankly unfit to hold their huge sound Rodeo Club. This time around, at the Open Air 2 stage of Synch, we were finally able to properly hear the band as they proceeded to ritually demolish their instruments under the lights of the Acropolis - a sacrifice to the Gods of Noise. The hour-long set included most of our favorite tracks from their two glorious records ("Keep Slipping Away", "Deadbeat", "To Fix The Gash In Your Head" to name but a few) and as an added bonus we were also able to get our hands on a vinyl copy of the excellent "Ego Death" 2010 tour EP. Some people like to dance. Our choice for this Saturday evening was to get lost in an electric summer storm and bury our heads in the noise along with friends and strangers alike.
2. Peaches (Open Air 1, June 4)
The first visit of Peaches to Athens (the first city of sin, as she said) was long overdue. Her live show has always been a wild party that combines punk rock energy, X-rated sex show, hip hop-electro beats and crazy dancing. Her latest album "I Feel Cream" may be a bit too close to the dance mainstream for comfort, but its tracks take new dimensions when presented live. The always provocative Peaches certainly knows how to rock a party. She constantly changes outfits, stripping layers away and ending up with a pair of shorts with a light that points to her G-spot, she’s climbing up the stage, crowd-surfs and even takes a quite spectacular walk over the audience’s heads. She demands participation and the people duly obey to their mistress, singing verses back and waving T-shirts over their heads at her orders. As an added bonus, we also get to hear apart from the new tracks some of our old favorites from the first three records, most notably "Fuck The Pain Away" (from her stellar debut "The Teaches of Peaches") "Shake Yer Dixx", "Kick It" (from "Fatherfucker") and "Boys Wanna Be Her" (from "Impeach My Bush").
3. Hot Chip (Open Air 1, June 5)
I only got to see about 35 minutes of Hot Chip’s performance as the calling of A Place To Bury Strangers was impossible to resist, but thankfully in this time I was able to listen to both of my favorite tracks from the band; namely "And I Was A Boy From School", their show opener, and the superb "Over And Over". Recent single "I Feel Better" was also among the highlights.
4. Fuck Buttons (D7, June 4)
This time I got to see a bigger part of the Fuck Buttons show than the 15 minutes I caught about a week ago in Primavera. Unfortunately the conditions this time were far from ideal, as the closed-space D7 stage was way too hot and smoky and actually watching the band on stage was rather hard. The aggressive and unpredictable rhythmic noise coming from the speakers, though, was as potent as ever and well worth enduring the adverse conditions of the crowded space.
5. Get Well Soon (Open Air 1, June 4)
I’m not among the biggest fans of the sensitive rock of this likeable German outfit, but they certainly left a good impression playing on the festival’s main stage on Friday. Their sound is sometimes a little too close to early Radiohead for my taste, but they do have some truly inspired moments that shone during their performance. The songs that stood out for me included "If This Hat Is Missing I've Gone Hunting", the Underworld cover "Born Slippy Nuxx", both from their debut album "Rest Now, Weary Head! You Will Get Well Soon" and "Angry Young Man" from their sophomore effort "Vexations".
Synch 2010 live action with: A Place To Bury Strangers, Peaches, Get Well Soon (Technopolis, June 4-5)
If you'd like to check out what happened in the two previous Synch festivals, here are the relevant links:Synch 2009