Second disclaimer: Next year, I'll take my camera with me...
Wednesday - arrival and absurdism
On to the music then, because after all, that's what we came here for. We already missed two days and I'm strongly thinking about going the entire week next year. I'll have to get in shape for that though, because Incubate is an exhausting experience. Our musical journey started by checking the bands we wanted to see that evening while enjoying our traditional first Incubate meal at KFC. We decided to take it easy that day, to warm up so to speak. And although our festival experience would involve loads of drones, guitars, drums and electronics, we started with something a little different.
Then the tough decisions appeared. A number of bands would appear at the same moment in different venues, the classic Incubate headbreaker. We decided to go to Little Devil where Burn The Iris was about to begin. This Dutch band definitely kicked off our Incubate festival with their crushing blend of metal and post-hardcore. They're a young band but I can see them climbing big stages in the near future. Like many people in the audience I was fiercely nodding my head along with the music. Our first 'hell yeah' moment came early.
Of course, we kinda expected that moment to come soon. After all, Merzbow and Full Of Hell were already doing their thing at Midi. When we arrived, the harsh drones and shrieking noise were already demolishing people's hearing ability but nobody seemed to mind. This was an intense set, at least musically. Apart from five people staring at their equipment, there was little visual activity going on. Still, I enjoyed it for quite some time although I noticed that not many people were there.
Because there the almighty Melvins were already on stage. I'll first mention a strange thing that happened afterwards. On facebook I read a complaint about Melvins playing the exact same show two days in a row but a friend of mine told me they played different shows, only ending in the same way. However, I massively enjoyed this concert, regardless of what they had played the day before. I, who never had seen the Melvins before, stood there, stunned by these double drums, almost in extacy. Melvins rule and they were the absolute highlight of this Wednesday.
Thursday - Indie and Irony
With not really anything else to see, we went over to Cul De Sac where Vague was just beginning. Here we were, after all the noise we'd been exposed to, now listening to one of the most promising indie rock bands I've heard in years. This music was refreshing, well-structured and had some great vocals. See, this is exactly why I like going to Incubate. Bands like this make it always worthwhile. At Extase Spectres played a decent set of psychedelic noise rock. Yet, we were still quite impressed with Vague.
It actually made me a bit upset about missing the Toner Low gig.
We ended the evening in the Midi, watching Plastician doing his dark thing. Once again, there wasn't a lot going on visually, but I really liked his music. So for a while, I parked my ass on one of the theater seats on the balcony, closed my eyes and let the music drift me away. For us, this was a good closer for this Thursday. Satisfied we went back to the hotel, wearing a brand new Dead Neanderthals t-shirt.
Friday - Jazz and jokes
This day was becoming quite disappointing, although the set by East India Youth was pretty entertaining. We decided that it was dinner time and by the time we got back, Daedalus was doing his thing at Midi. Once again it was pretty entertaining but not memorable. At this point I wished I had decided to go the Nature Theater after all. After a few minutes of Daedalus we went back to our hotel. While I checked the possibilities of taking the bus to Oisterwijk, my wife pointed towards a band which was about to begin at V39. She mentioned Bohren Und Der Club Of Gore from the booklet.
But it got better, at least musically. At Paradox Rapoon seemed to be the first act playing in a venue filled to capacity. I hadn't seen a full venue at Incubate up til then, and I was wondering why that was. I still am. Anyway, Rapoon was great, as Rapoon will always be great. His music has been playing in this household a lot of times in the past few years. We witnessed the gig from around the corner so we didn't see a thing but boy, did we enjoy what we heard.
The black metal band was Sun Worship, playing at V39. We only saw a few minutes at the end of their gig but it was enough to be approved. I'd like to see them again, these guys sound talented. We walked back to Midi to watch an EBM icon but we stopped outside of Dudok for a few minutes to listen to Converge. Now, I'm not really a hardcore fan so they didn't get my full attention. Yet, I think it's like Melvins or Belgian Asociality. If you like the music, you're always in for a good time at concerts. These guys just deliver bigtime, always.
I have to explain that. Years ago, I watched Das Ich, a band I loved back in my goth days. However, while watching them, I realised I was watching an unintenional parody of what Das Ich once was. The whole looked silly, a bit sad even. I quickly went home that night, just like I quickly decided to leave Esplendor Geometrico where they belong, as the glorious pioneers of rhythmic noise. The 'wakka-wakka' vocals didn't destroy that image but more of that might have so we went back to our hotel. I fell asleep with the sounds of Radare stuck in my head. For the first night, I slept like a baby.
Saturday - Bikes and beats
Anyway, we started our IncuSaturday at Dudok where Tarwater was about to begin. For some reason Tarwater never really did it for me on CD and, although it wasn't bad at all, here too I never felt that click. The music was fine but I wasn't very fond of the vocals. Maybe that's why I love To Rococo Rot more, who knows. So we decided to head over to the food trucks near Hall Of Fame because we had to be there anyway.
At Midi, Outfit had already begun when we arrived. I, not knowing this band, expected post-punk but received a sudden overdose of synthpop, not bad but not really my thing. We stayed for a few songs before returning to Hall Of Fame to see what all the fuzz about Tau is all about. The fuzz was right, this hippy-duo brought us of the most pleasant surprises with their acoustic trance folk, somewhere between Ozric Tentacles and Master Musicians Of Bukkake in an acoustic setting. This was promising to become a very good day.
Not far away, James Welburn was about to start his glorious entry at Incu15. Due to circumstances we could only see half of his show at the Paradox venue, but words cannot describe how great it felt to hear the awesome 'Hold' album being brought live. James' combination of layers of bass-drones and live drums certainly surprised the Paradox people (who are used to jazz) but Welburn did convince all of them with his highly impressive set. But James wasn't done there...
Maybe it was fatigue or maybe it was a stubborn cold coming up but suddenly we weren't feeling that well. We decided to call it a day, because the next day would become quite a busy one. However, I went to see one more act that evening, namely Veil Of Light and that was another highlight on this already packed edition. Veil Of Light came up with the darkest piece of rock music I've heard at Incubate since The KVB, inspired by bands like Sisters Of Mercy to Diary Of Dreams. Man, it was good to dwell in this goth-gaze again.
Sunday - Highlights and homesickness
Björn told me to go see No Joy and we did, but not for very long. Although I quite like shoegaze and have enjoyed the songs of No Joy before, I was still a bit mesmerized by the immersive concert of Barchan. So we went back to the Paradox venue to congratulate him on his victory. We met him and Tomas in front of the venue, talking to a very proud Wim from Silken Tofu who released the Barchan album 'Soliton'. I functioned as a sun block for Tomas for a while, which was a job well done.
At Midi we watched a part of Tomaga's act, including a wok-pan attached to the drums. It reminded me a bit of Barchan earlier because of the compeltely free form of making music. It was a great set, that's for sure and so was Noveller, also at the Midi. Once again blasting drones and soundscapes through the speaker, Noveller was suggested as one of the highlights of Incubate. I wouldn't really say that actually. It was very nice to hear, and watch, this but sorry, Barchan had won.
Wire didn't. Once again, a legend disappointed. Well, that's not really true. They didn't really disappoint, I just have never really been a Wire fan for some reason. Besides, they suffered some technical issues and the sound was just way too loud for this jangly kind of music. So we left them behind to look for a solid grand finale for Incu15 and we found that one in The Black Heart Rebellion. Their post-hardcore blasted through the speakers at the small Little Devil venue and grabbed everyone by the throat. It's been a while, but these guys are back in full force and with a massive attitude.
Monday - Goodbye and good work
If all goes well, we will be back next year and we will once again write a huge review about the festival. I think it's quite impossible to write a 'little review' about Incubate, at least not when you want to enjoy the festival at it's fullest.
To end: here is my top-10
3. Dead Neanderthals
4. James Welburn
5. The Mary Hart Attack