Today, it's raining cats and dogs (what a weird expression). Occasionally, the sun comes out but not long enough to truly enjoy it. I'm writing this review in between cleaning up sessions. There are camping beds in my living room, where Lord Kesseli and the Drums spent the night. I'm too lazy to clean it all up in one session, plus I'm trying to score tickets for Roger Waters, so this is a very good time to sit down and reminisce about the amazing evening we had last night. And with "we", I mean a handful of people. This was not a large audience, not even by Antwerp Music City standards. But boy, did we have fun. To toot my own horn, I know when a gig is going to be good. In the past I predicted amazing gigs by Spoiwo, Cecilia::Eyes and Alice In The Cities and guess what happened? They all became highlights.
Around eight, Sitka took his place behind his pedal rack and started filling the room with drones and soundscapes. It had been quite some time since I saw him perform in Mol, so I was extremely curious about his progression. His performance started out in a similar way but gradually I began to notice Sitka opening up. He dared to experiment, searching for his own sound in the drone ambient scene. He is getting there too. What I heard last night was an excellent step in the evolution of a young, talented artist. His drones are still cold and dreamy, perfectly suited to enjoy while viewing over a wintery landscape and drinking a grand cru by the fireplace. Sitka gracefully built his set to the point where an almost overwhelming array of soundscapes rolled through the Music City, and then he abruptly stopped.
Sometimes you play in front of 800 people, sometimes in front of 8 but as an artist you always want to give it your very best. Stratosphere has been around for quite some time, mostly methodically completing his set. Recently though, he too gained more guts and the lust for experimentation. Last night, we heard a great deal of the evolution of Stratosphere. We could still recognize the two tracks he played but they were different, heavier perhaps, certainly more intense. He also added programmed drums, much to the delight of some of the audience members whose usual concert evenings come with a lot of headbanging. There was no headbanging this time but defintiely an artist who is never afraid to learn and to improve himself. This was an excellent set and can't wait to see Stratosphere again.
Lord Kesseli and the Drums opened their set with a mystifying, ritualistic intro. Candles and incense sticks were burning, filling the room with a church like scent. Then, the first song, perhaps a bit hesitant at first. After all, it can't be easy to convince a bunch of metalheads. But when 'Waiting For Arnold' pierced through the speakers, Lord Kesseli suddenly had all eyes on him. People were looking surprised, pleasantly surprised, even though they might rather have listened to Slayer.
Me? I was singing along, just like my wife. Both of us applauded loudly after, and we were not the only ones. Lord Kesseli and the Drums were on their way to becoming a trustworthy headliner for this already fine evening. Then, electronics, techno beats, more surprised faces. Suddenly, the punky 'MDMA' blasted through the speakers and the words "wow" and "yeah" were shouted. Manu, the driver gave me a big smile and a thumbs up. The energy was wild.
It was brilliant set and I almost felt like an ancient king who had gathered the finest bards in the land to play just for me and a few of my fellow men. Afterwards, someone said "this surely was not my thing but it was brilliantly executed". People started checking out the merchandise, which went surprisingly well. No doubt that Lord Kesseli and the Drums made a damned good first impression in Belgium.
I had a great time last night and I think I can safely say that I made some new friends. They will be back and I urge you to come and see it next time. Maybe Lord Kesseli and the Drums will never headline a big festival or sell out an arena, but they are a unique and convincing band that definitely deserves more attention. If you have the chance to see them, do so, you will not regret it.