Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Light Asylum, live @ Death Disco, (Athens, May 26, 2013)

Light Asylum, the Brooklyn, New York, coldwave electro duo consisting of Shannon Funchess and Bruno Coviello, played for the first time in Athens last Sunday. Their hour-long set at the Death Disco club took us to the darkest recesses of EBM, with relentless electropunk and industrial rhythms creating a nightmarish disco soundscape. Light Asylum conjure up the image of a Grace Jones-fronted Suicide playing as the house band of Fangtasia - now that's a True Blood episode I wouldn't want to miss!

Check out below "Knights and Week Ends", one of the tracks from the duo's debut EP "In Tension", as performed in Athens and click here to see their latest Facebook cover photo taken in front of the Parthenon:

Light Asylum - Knights and Week Ends (live in Athens, May 26, 2013)

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Plisskën Festival 2013 (Athens, May 18, 2013)

Plisskën Festival continues to grow and for its third edition there was even more bands and shows on offer. The festival kicked off with a couple of small club gigs on May 16 and 17 featuring acts like The Haxan Cloak, King Tuff, XXYYXX and reached its climax with the all-day main event at the Cultural Center "Hellenic Cosmos", the site where Plisskën’s first two edition took place in 2010 and 2012. The festival closed with another small venue event on May 19 with Shigeto, Egyptian Hip Hop and Pattern, bringing the total number of participating acts to 32, an impressive increase from last year’s 23!

The one thing that this fledging new music festival is missing up till now is the ability to add one or two major headlining acts to its lineup that will attract more people to the event and help grow its reputation beyond the limits of Athens. This year’s edition was undoubtedly the best organized effort so far in the festival’s brief history and if the event manages to persevere in the current adverse economic climate, it can certainly grow to become one of summer's important meeting points for alternative music fans.

Here are some of the highlights from Plisskën Festival’s main event on May 18, 2013 at Hellenic Cosmos:

Fucked Up

It doesn't take long for a Fucked Up gig to turn into the Damian Abraham show. The lead singer of Toronto’s finest hardcore punk rockers always makes sure that whatever boundaries may be between band and audience are demolished right at the start of each show, becoming part of the mosh pit within minutes of hitting the stage. The Plisskën appearance was no exception, with Abraham screaming the lyrics to tracks like "Queen of Hearts", "The Other Shoe" or "Police" while hugging and moshing with the enthusiastic fans all over the place, as far from the stage as the mic cord would allow. Meanwhile the rest of the band members on stage made sure that the show would go on regardless of hurricane Abraham’s whereabouts, by unleashing some of the finest, most brutal punk rock noise you're likely to hear on any festival stage this year.

Fucked Up, live @ Plissken Festival 2013
Death Grips

Death Grips may base their music on hip hop and electronic rhythms but their digital sonic attack shares the same punk rock spirit with Fucked Up who preceded them on the main stage. Even without drummer Zack Hill, vocalist Stefan "MC Ride" Burnett and hooded (despite the heat) keyboards/sampler manipulator Andy "Flatlander" Morin gave a powerful performance that managed to rock the crowd despite the fact that by the time they came on stage (past 2 am) most of us had been on our feet for more than 9 hours!

Death Grips, live @ Plissken Festival 2013
Girls Names

Girls Names, live @ Plissken Festival 2013
Girls Names released earlier this year their fine sophomore LP "The New Life", which brings back to life '80s indie pop and new wave. The Belfast band played Plisskën's main stage in the afternoon and despite the day's hot temperature you could feel a chill coming down as the ghost of Dark Wave past was being summoned by Girls Names' striking performance.

Ebo Taylor, live @ Plissken Festival 2013
Other notable performances of the 2013 edition of Plisskën Festival came from Afrobeat elder statesman Ebo Taylor, up and coming singer, songwriter King Krule, Baltimore noise rockers Dope Body, Iceland party people FM Belfast, and local one-man act The Boy.

King Krule, live @ Plissken Festival 2013
Check out below some of the best performances that we were able to capture on video: Fucked Up, Death Grips, Girls Names, King Krule and FM Belfast live at Plisskën Festival 2013:

All photos by alegra, except for the Damian Abraham shot at the top which belongs to

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Swans, live @ Fuzz Club (Athens, May 17, 2013)

Two years, one month and the release of 2012’s epic "The Seer" have elapsed between Swansfirst ever visit to Athens in April 2011 and their return this past Friday. Essentially the only difference between now and then was the venue that hosted the gig. Everything else regarding the intense, unforgettable experience of witnessing firsthand the sonic rituals of Michael Gira and his band remains unchanged.

The material chosen for their two-hour set at Fuzz Club may be completely different from that of the Gagarin 205 gig but the way they approach and present their music is essentially the same: an open ended noise experiment that creates a unique universe of sound regardless of the point of origin. The compositions themselves and the way they have been recorded (or will be recorded) is not what matters. The essence of the Swans live experience lies in the onstage exploration of the limits of each composition and the search for new ways to go beyond them, driving the sound at its extremes. 

Swans' performance, exactly like the first time, included moments from their past, present and future. "Coward" from "Holy Money" reminded us of the band’s violent, repetitive proto-industrial sound of the mid '80s, "The Seer" represented their latest epic sonic quests, while we also got to listen to a couple of unreleased compositions to prepare us for what it is yet to come.

At the moment that we needed it the most, the beast called Swans has awaken from its sleep and every time it opens its wings and roars, the terrible and awesome sound crushes bones. You really need to stand in front of it and let its sound devour you to truly understand the infinite dimensions and limitless possibilities of its pure, (un)holy Noise!

Swans, live @ Fuzz Club, Athens (May 17, 2013)

Sunday, May 12, 2013

I'll Be Your Mirror Festival, live @ Alexandra Palace (London, May 4, 2013)

The music festival season is upon us; next week we'll be attending the Plisskën Festival here in Athens, but last week Cool Music Central was in London for I'll Be Your Mirror, the sister event to the All Tomorrow's Parties Festival which usually takes place in holiday resorts. IBYM instead takes place in cities around the world and this May's event, which was curated by Yeah Yeah Yeahs, took place at London's iconic Alexandra Palace venue (the People's Palace!).

The event featured some of Yeah Yeah Yeahs favorite artists playing live in two different rooms, the huge Main Hall and the more intimate Panorama Room, plus special screenings of films and documentaries for the film buffs including Les Amants du Pont-Neuf, Rumblefish, The Devils, Taking Off and Breadcrumb Trail (an in-progress Lance Bangs documentary about Slint). The 12 hours of great music on offer didn't give us the chance to visit the cinema but we did take notes on what we need to check out in the future. Here's what we did get to see and listen to during our Saturday at Alexandra Palace:

After a hasty browsing of the records on sale at Rough Trade's pop up shop in the venue's Palm Court (there was plenty of time for that during the rest of our stay in London), we headed straight for the Panorama Room were Anika was opening the festival with her seductive, laid back dub grooves. Unfortunately we didn't catch all of her band's set but we were there just in time for two of her best covers from the recent eponymous EP, The Shocking Blue's "Love Buzz" and Chromatics' "In The City". In the video playlist at the end of this post you can watch "Officer, Officer", the track that closed Anika's set.

First band of the day at the large (and rather too luxurious for rock 'n' roll) Main Hall of Alexandra Palace was New York City five-piece K-Holes. The band was formed by ex-Black Lips guitarist Jack Hines but their sound is more no wave than garage rock, with singer Vashti Windish stealing the spotlight with her energetic performance and sax player Sara Palmquist adding a certain James Chance element to the proceedings.

Big Freedia performing "Azz Everywhere"
Over at the Panorama Room, Big Freedia was housing a highly entertaining New Orleans bounce rap party, while the Divas demonstrated how to properly shake your booty:

The Divas shakin' it - anything goes at a Big Freedia party!
And continuing our frantic to and fro between the two rooms, we're back in the Main Hall where we stumble upon a different kind of party: New Yorkers Prince Rama present the future dance hits of the End of the World (which, frankly, sound a lot like a cross between '80s electropop and '70s disco-funk) and judging by the zombie invasion that happens at the end of their show, the End we're talking about is the infamous Zombie Apocalypse! Prince Rama may not have the best tunes of the day but thanks to their joyous performance and relentless positive energy, they certainly delivered one of the most fun sets of the festival.

Prince Rama
...and the zombie invasion of the End of the World!
The party at the Main Hall continued with the repetitive, experimental electronic grooves of The Field (perhaps better suited for a late night than a mid-afternoon performance) and with the always entertaining garage rock of the Black Lips who were surprisingly very well behaved given their hell-raising reputation (perhaps the influence of the stately Alexandra Palace?).

The Field
The Black Lips
Between these two Main Hall performances, we got the chance to catch up with Dirty Beaches at the Panorama Room (it's been a year and a half since Alex Zhang Hungtai's Bios performance), who informed us that they have just flew in from Russia while their tip for the most happening city of Europe right now is Berlin (apparently the place to be for beautiful babes and free drugs - it seems Merkel's policies are working very well for some European citizens after all!). The intense 30-minute performance combined electric guitar with electronic noise and percussion bringing the Dirty Beaches' lo-fi sound closer than ever to that of Suicide.

Dirty Beaches

The Locust
The noise intensified back at the Main Hall with a rare performance by The Locust and the triumphant return of The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion who played at lightning speed and maximum power an hour-long set with material from all their albums. It's twenty years since the first time I saw them play live (a few miles south from here, at the now sadly defunct London Astoria 2 venue) and I can verify that they haven't lost anything from their incredible showmanship!

The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
Mick Harvey
After a bit of relaxation with Mick Harvey giving his interpretations to the hits of Serge Gainsbourg, it was time to head for one last time to Alexandra Palace's Great Hall for the headline performance of the festival from our hosts. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs have taken us into their world with the music acts and films they have chosen for this day, now it was time to bring their music into the mix.

Oh yeah, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs!
"Sacrilege", their fine new single, made for an excellent opening of the set even without the gospel choir. Karen O came on stage in a funny hat and large round glasses which were quickly replaced by a mosquito-styled pair for their second track (no prize for guessing its title), "Mosquito". The first blast from the past came immediately after with "Bang", taking us all the way back to their legendary first EP, which was also represented by "Miles Away" (check it out at our video playlist along with the mighty "Heads Will Roll").

The 15-track set featured selected highlights from all their three previous albums, with "Zero" going down a storm and "Maps" along with an explosive "Date With The Night" forming the perfect encore. One-third of the set was made up of "Mosquito" songs, which stood up well against the celebrated older material, proving that the Yeah Yeah Yeahs are standing the test of time better than any band of their generation. So, there you have it...Q.E.D.: the theory of evolution applies to music as well and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs are the living proof!

The evolution has begun: Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Yeah Yeah Yeahs played: Sacrilege, Mosquito, Bang, Cheated Hearts, Under the Earth, Soft Shock, Subway, Zero, Gold Lion, Despair, Y Control, Miles Away, Heads Will Roll. Encore: Maps, Date with the Night

Half-hour of live music from I'll Be Your Mirror festival, starring Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Mick Harvey, Black Lips with King Khan, Dirty Beaches, Prince Rama, Big Freedia, K-Holes and Anika:

IBYM video playlist

Other performers in the IBYM festival: King Khan and the Shrines, Jah Shaka, J.G. Thirlwell's Manorexia, DJ Jonathan Toubin.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Savages, live @ Rough Trade East (London, May 6, 2013)

To celebrate the release of their awesome debut album "Silence Yourself", post-punk quartet Savages played a storming 30-minute in-store set at London’s Rough Trade East record shop. As luck would have it, we were in the UK capital over the past weekend to attend the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ curated I’ll Be Your Mirror event (live review coming soon!) and, of course, we wouldn’t miss this unique opportunity to catch live one of the hottest new bands around, even if it meant buying two copies of their album in order for the both of us to get wristbands for the show (if anybody’s interested in our spare copy, drop us a line - it comes with the rare bonus live EP "I Am Here"!).

As they say, seeing is believing and, believe me, it didn’t take more than one song for the band to win us over and convince us that all the fuss surrounding them at the moment is not just media hype - Savages are the real thing! Singer Jehnny Beth has the voice of Siouxsie Sioux and the movements of Ian Curtis, guitarist Gemma Thompson plays riffs that cut like a knife and the rhythm section, consisting of bassist Ayse Hassan and drummer Fay Milton, is simply incredible, propelling the songs with Gang Of Four-meets-Au Pairs punk-funk precision and power. Savages are not trying to reinvent post punk. They know how to harness the medium’s power and use it to make stunning music that can stand its ground next to the best that this genre has offered us over the last three decades.

Savages played: City's Full, No Face, I Am Here, Strife, Waiting For A Sign, Shut Up, She Will, Husbands

Savages - No Face, live @ Rough Trade East

If you can’t be there to one of the band’s upcoming gigs, today is your opportunity to see them live through a webstream of their headline London show at the Ministry Of Sound nightclub (Thursday 9th May at 9pm GMT / 4pm EST / 1pm PST). Click here in just a few hours to watch history in the making!

Savages, live @ Rough Trade East, London (May 6, 2013)