Saturday, June 27, 2015

Live: Plisskën Festival 2015 (Athens, June 5-6, 2015) - Day 2

In the second part of our coverage of Plisskën Festival 2015 you'll find our impressions, photos and videos from the performances we've enjoyed the most at Hellenic Cosmos Cultural Center on June 6.

Waxahatchee, live @ Plisskën Festival 2015
Our Saturday started very early in the afternoon with Waxahatchee playing an excellent set in front of just a handful of festival-goers who had the good sense to be on site in time for Katie Crutchfield's band live debut in Athens, coming just a couple of months after releasing one of the best albums of this year, the wonderful "Ivy Tripp". 

The highlights of Waxahatchee's performance included also tracks from their previous, equally great, "Cerulean Blue" album and despite a few sound hiccups, the strength of the material elevated their set among our favorites of the festival, certainly deserving of a much better place in the line-up.

Sleaford Mods, live @ Plisskën Festival 2015
The other great set of Plisskën's second day came several hours later, around midnight, when idiosyncratic punk-hop Nottingham duo Sleaford Mods took over the second stage of the festival for a mind-boggling, totally awesome performance, full of entertaining, anger-fueled tirades against everything and everyone who gets Jason Williamson's goat.

The songs from last year's excellent "Divide and Exit" formed the backbone of their set list, including "Tied Up in Nottz", "Middle Men" and "Tweet Tweet Tweet",  but we also got a first taste from forthcoming album "Key Markets" which is expected in July. Looking forward to it.

Mikal Cronin, live @ Plisskën Festival 2015
The last performance we attended at Plisskën Festival in the small hours of Sunday came from Mikal Cronin and his band and was also among the best ones of the festival. Cronin has a knack for creating memorable, psychedelic garage-pop melodies and his three solo records so far have provided us with plenty of great songs, a lot of which were present in his set, including "Made My Mind Up", "Say", "Shout It Out" and "See It My Way".

Earlier in the day, we got to see a super-charged set by San Francisco's Thee Oh Sees, powered by a thundering duo of drummers.

Thee Oh Sees, live @ Plisskën Festival 2015

John Dwyer's band has just released its new album "Mutilator Defeated At Last", the latest link in an admirably strong chain of powerful, psychedelic garage rock releases and looked fired-up on the main stage of the festival.

Ariel Pink, live @ Plisskën Festival 2015
The same, sadly, cannot be said about Ariel Pink's short set which came a little later on the main stage and didn't satisfy the majority of his fans who were certainly expecting much more from the eccentric, experimental musician who recently released the adventurous, acclaimed "pom pom" LP.

Steve Gunn, live @ Plisskën Festival 2015
An early afternoon performance that left us a good impression came from singer-songwriter Steve Gunn and his band. Although we are not very familiar with his work, his melodic set convinced us that we should take a closer look to his extensive discography.

Perfume Genius, live @ Plisskën Festival 2015

The second day of the festival included also appearances by Perfume Genius (as Waxahatchee, also too early in the day to attract a larger audience, but quite a stir nonetheless), rapper Pharoahe Monch, noise-makers Liturgy, eccentric noise-popers Pow, local garage heroes Acid Baby Jesus and Mogwai who were the headliners of the main stage but lost us to Sleaford Mods.

Pharoahe Monch, live @ Plisskën Festival 2015
Check out below some of the live action on the stages of Plisskën Festival 2015 on June 6th and click here for the highlights of June 5th.

Waxahatchee - Lips and Limbs, live @ Plisskën Festival 2015

Sleaford Mods - McFlurry, live @ Plisskën Festival 2015

Mikal Cronin - Say, live @ Plisskën Festival 2015

Thee Oh Sees - Encrypted Bounce (A Queer Sound), live @ Plisskën Festival 2015

Steve Gunn - Milly's Garden, live @ Plisskën Festival 2015

Monday, June 22, 2015

Live: Plisskën Festival 2015 (Athens, June 5-6, 2015) - Day 1

Highlights from the 2015 edition of the steadily growing Plisskën Festival which took place at the Hellenic Cosmos Cultural Center on June 5 and 6.

Savages, live @ Plisskën Festival 2015
The Athenian alternative music festival which made its debut in December 2010, has further expanded this year to include a total of 4 stages and a strong, diverse line-up of more than 60 acts, featuring ..And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, Ariel Pink, The Horrors, Mogwai, Mudhoney, Savages and Thee Oh Sees. Let's have a look at the performances we enjoyed the most on the first day of the festival which had its best year yet:

June 5th

As you can guess by the photo we chose to feature at the top of this article, the performance that impressed us the most in this edition of Plisskën Festival came from Savages, the fiery rock quartet who is responsible for one of the best debut albums of this decade. Two years on, the band seems more confident than ever on stage and, judging by the quality of the new material they included in their live set, it seems certain that their comeback album will be just as thrilling.

Jehnny Beth's commanding presence on stage easily won over the crowd and soon ended up singing among the festival goers, while the trio of Ayse Hassan, Gemma Thompson and Fay Milton was simply amazing. By the time they reached the end of their thrilling 45-minute set with the powerful "Husbands", Savages had made a lot of new friends in Athens and received the warmest applause of the day.

Savages - I Am Here (live @ Plisskën Festival 2015)

Other notable performances of the first day of Plisskën included the return in Athens after many years of Texan noise rockers ..And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead who played an explosive "best of" set to triumphantly close proceedings on the second open-air stage of the festival, grunge godfathers Mudhoney and their latest Sub Pop offspring, Metz, who both caused noise tsunamis in the early afternoon on the main stage, Iceage who have recently started mining a more melodic, folk-influenced, vein of punk, Pharmakon, a.k.a. Margaret Chardiet, with her pulsating electronic tremors, the soothing electropop of Austra, the primitive garage rock of The Coathangers, The Twilight Sad's sad, gothic-tinged tales, the psychedelic goth-grooves of The Horrors and the experimental techno of Squarepusher.

Check out below photos and videos from all these performances and stay tuned for our highlights from the second day of the festival:

...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, live @ Plisskën Festival 2015
Mudhoney, live @ Plisskën Festival 2015
Metz, live @ Plisskën Festival 2015
Pharmakon, live @ Plisskën Festival 2015
Austra, live @ Plisskën Festival 2015

The Coathangers, live @ Plisskën Festival 2015
The Twilight Sad, live @ Plisskën Festival 2015

The Horrors, live @ Plisskën Festival 2015
Squarepusher, live @ Plisskën Festival 2015
...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead - Richter Scale Madness (live @ Plissken Festival 2015)

Mudhoney - Get Into Yours (live @ Plissken Festival 2015, Athens)

METZ - The Swimmer (live @ Plissken Festival 2015, Athens)

Iceage - Abundant Living (live @ Plissken Festival 2015, Athens)

The Coathangers - Watch Your Back (live @ Plissken Festival 2015, Athens)

Friday, June 19, 2015

Live: Shellac @ An Club (Athens, June 4, 2015)

Each and every time I've watched Shellac live, from the very first time around '93 or '94 at London's Garage when the band had only a few singles under its belt, up until the two recent gigs, firstly at Barcelona's Primavera and then this one a few days later in Athens, I was left absolutely amazed by the sheer power of their playing and their electrifying energy.

The magnificent trio of Steve Albini, Bob Weston and Todd Trainer are the punk rock equivalent of a well-oiled racer car that accelerates from zero to a hundred at the drop of a hat. Just one strike from Trainer's drum sticks and their turbo-charged rock engine starts roaring at maximum velocity.

Their set list is also faultless, methodically built to perfection; they have kept in play key tracks from their past ("Wingwalker" was present at that very first gig I saw 22 years ago and remains to this day a glowing highlight of their sets) while they select just the right ingredients from their recent work. Songs from "Dude Incredible" blend perfectly with career highlights like "My Black Ass", "Copper", "Prayer to God", "Watch Song", "Steady as She Goes" and, of course, the magnificent "The End of Radio" which never fails to amaze.

It's no understatement, and I'm sure that almost everyone present at the packed An Club on that night will agree, that Shellac's killer 90-minute performance, the opening event of Plisskën Festival 2015, was not only the best one of the festival, but actually the gig of the year for Athens.

We have, of course, to give credit also to local heroes Bokomolech who opened for Shellac, exactly as it happened 18 years ago at the same club, when Albini (who recorded their second album "Jet Lag") and his gang made their live debut in Athens. Let's hope we won't have to wait this long for the next one!

Bokomolech, live @ An Club
Shellac - Steady as She Goes (live @ An Club, Athens)

Monday, June 15, 2015

Primavera Sound 2015: Highlights from May 30th

The third and final part of our coverage of Barcelona's Primavera Sound 2015 festival - check out below all our favorite performances from the last full day of the festival which took place at Parc del Fòrum on May 30th, including The Strokes, tUnE-yArDs, DIIV and many more:


I knew as soon as I read the festival's timetable that I had some tough choices to make, especially on Saturday. The Strokes were the headliners of the day at Primavera stage and given that I had never seen them live before, I had to fit at least part of their set in my schedule. At the same time, a quarter to midnight, at the ATP stage on the opposite side of Parc del Fòrum, Babes In Toyland, one of my favorite '90s bands, were making their Spanish comeback after two decades, while tUnE-yArDs, one of my current faves, would be on the Pitchfork stage at half-past midnight.

To cut a long story short, I started with The Strokes, missed completely Babes In Toyland's set (and had to make do with watching it on YouTube later) but, thankfully, I got to see the majority of a magnificent performance by tUnE-yArDs which turned out to be amongst the best of the festival. Merrill Garbus has created a truly unique, utterly euphoric sound and is doing a great job in recreating it live by mixing electronic sounds with a variety of percussive instruments, Nate Brenner's bass guitar, her trademark ukulele and, of course, her astonishing vocals given an extra boost from her back-up singers. Respect!

Tune-Yards, live @ Primavera Sound, May 30th, 2015


It's been quite some time since "Oshin", the very promising debut by DIIV, but judging by their excellent, highly energetic performance on Primavera's Pitchfork stage, the band from New York is about to make a dynamic comeback. Their set included several new tracks from their upcoming sophomore album (confusingly titled "Is The Is Are"), which managed to excite the crowd despite the fact that for most of us this was the very first time we were listening to them, and, of course, some of "Oshin"s highlights, including the track everybody wanted to hear live, the great "Doused":

DIIV - Doused (live @ Primavera Sound, May 30th, 2015)

The Strokes

They walked on Primavera stage fashionably late (maybe they were waiting for the end of the Spanish football cup final?), they kicked off with "Machu Picchu" followed by "Someday", an indication they would split their set between their new songs (that, let's face it, is not what we came here to listen) and their classic hits, and proceeded without much between song banter to give an efficient performance that would get their numerous fans singing every time they decided to revisit their past glories. I was glad I was able to see them even at this late stage of their illustrious career, even in the overcrowded conditions of a big festival, but after half an hour I knew I had to make my way to one of the other stages.

Here's "All The Time", the track they were playing as I was rushing to see tUnE-yArDs:

The Strokes - All The Time (live @ Primavera Sound, May 30th, 2015)


I will not say much about Shellac's late night performance in one of the smaller stages of the festival except state the fact that the approximately half an hour that I've witnessed was absolutely terrific. We'll have more about them soon, as a few days later we had the pleasure of attending their sold out show at An Club in Athens (the kick off event of Plisskën Festival). Also, it seems that Steve Albini watched Sleaford Mods earlier in the day on the same stage (we didn't, but made up for it next week in Plisskën) and was sufficiently impressed to declare them the best band in history during his band's set. 


HEALTH had gone MIA for quite some time now, but they are about to make their comeback with new album "Death Magic" very soon and, based on their impressive performance on the Pitchfork stage, you can expect an explosive mix of industrial dance beats and gothic, noisy guitars. Sounds promising - here's their cover of Pictureplane's "Goth Star":

HEALTH - Goth Star (live @ Primavera Sound, May 30th, 2015)


It was really late when Hookworms took to the stage (nearly 3 in the morning) but their powerful set helped us to somehow muster up the strength to stay on our feet for another 40 minutes. Great energy from a band that has the potential to produce truly exciting rock music in the years ahead.

Other notable performances we got to experience on Primavera Sound's third full day included Einstürzende Neubauten's unique, industrial experimentation, Kevin Morby's charming folk-rock, Foxygen's burlesque theatrics (not sure about the music, but their stage show was certainly something else), Younghusband's melodic pop and Fucked Up's ambitious (and entertaining) hardcore.

Einstürzende Neubauten
Kevin Morby
Fucked Up
Earlier in the day, before we make our way to Parc del Fòrum, we had the opportunity to see once again in action the wonderful Ex  Hex at Parc De La Ciutadella - a great way to start your day, without a doubt:

Ex  Hex, live @ Parc De La Ciutadella
To close our Primavera Sound 2015 saga, let's hear some more live music from the festival:

Ex Hex - New Kid (live @ Parc De La Ciutadella, May 30th, 2015)

Kevin Morby - All of My Life (live @ Primavera Sound, May 30th, 2015)

Fucked Up - I Hate Summer (live @ Primavera Sound, May 30th, 2015)

Check out here Part 1 and Part 2 of our Primavera Sound 2015 coverage.

Coming up, all the action from Plisskën Festival...