After many years of trying, I will finally be able to visit the Le Guess Who? festival, which will take place in Utrecht. Here are the 10 concerts I’m most looking forward to between 11 and 14 November. I also recall my interviews with the artists who will play this year.
An eclectic line-up, holistically thought-out locations, curators with a special programme, but above all a mix of artists from different worlds in a programme that restores faith in festivals constructed on the basis of the best selection. I look forward to visiting Utrecht, and above all the following 10 concerts.
The culture that surrounds you will always have an impact on one’s artistic endeavours since you embody all which you come into direct contact with culturally. Even if this embodiment is manifested in its opposing or mirror image, one’s attempt to negate a surrounding culture will still be formed by the culture itself.
Read more – Shabaka Hutchings: culture as mirror
If we don’t attach that gravity to it, it’s meaningless and we refuse to contribute to the morass of abstraction within music. We use our music and our platform that we have in order to generate progress and further our conditions and beliefs as people, politically and otherwise.
Read more – Sunwatchers: culture and art inseparable from political thought
Chúpame el Dedo:
The best way to communicate some kind of art in this world built on global invasion is to keep the local and make it global – instead of taking global things and making them local
Read more – Chúpame el Dedo: evil on the dancefloor
Each subsequent album of this quintet is amazing, but Open the Gates gives the impression of being monumental and comprehensively elaborated. What constitutes their strength, however, are the live concerts: ensemble playing, open to collective collaboration and improvisation, but also socially engaged lyrics. I’ve seen them once and I know it’s a unique experience, so I look forward to seeing them again in Utrecht.
Entanglement from 2018 is an incredibly immersive work. Every time I listen to it, I feel like time stops. Jessica Moss is able to harness the cello in a fractious way, spinning minimalist and one-note phrases of a very emotional nature on it. On the eve of the release of Phosphenes, I am very curious in what direction the artist has developed over these 3 years.
Chúpame El Dedo
The Colombian duo on stage is not a concert but a state of mind. Blood is pouring, metal growling can be heard, and everything is kept in the rhythm of cumbia, which Eblis Álvarez and Pedro Ojeda explore in many of their bands. Nothing is certain, at once rooted in tradition but also full of musical irony. One of a kind. In their own words: evil at the disco.
The Brazilian musician has released one of the best albums of the pandemic era, in which he confronts the guitar, samba, the tradition of his country’s music, but also anger at the way the world works. The guitarist shows that under the cover of seemingly warm music, you can hide a lot of emotions, and by presenting them sparingly, sound loud and poignant.
Old Time Relijun
I didn’t catch the concerts of the trio from Olympia in the first decade of the 21st century, but then I completely immersed in the music of Arrington de Dionyso, which has its original flair and character. This uncompromising musician does not take the easy way out, so I do not expect the resurrection of Old Time Relijun to be a reheating of chops and I am going to see what the band will play after such a long break appearing in Europe again.
The Hamburg-based musician combines time and space travel in his work. He mixes futurism with retro sounds, he juggles genres, he could reignite the Cold War, at the same time taking all the best from it and pouring it into music. A unique personality, an individual artist who is a reference point for contemporary electronic music in Europe.
Petter Eldh presents Koma Saxo
When two years ago I heard Petter Eldh’s new project, I thought: is this possible? Because he reminded me of the achievements of Jaga Jazzist in the way he combined jazz flair with instrumental acrobatics, but at the same time he did it in his own way. The result is lively, deep and pulsating music, in which outstanding instrumentalists take jazz to new directions.
Grandeza was a solace during the pandemic and Sessa’s music transported you to another reality. His lyrical inspirations from the tropicalia, but also his singer-songwriter aspirations manifested themselves in unpretentious, light-hearted music which draws you in completely. It will take quite a few circumstances to make it work live, but I believe that on Le Guess Who? it will be possible.
Phil Elverum/the Microphones
100 years ago Phil Elverum came to my hometown, we talked together in Oliva Park, and later I was delighted by his subsequent albums recorded as Mount Eerie. The return of The Microphones is a special event, and the album Microphones 2020 is a peculiar record of state and emotions, recorded in the form of a forty-minute song. The Utrecht festival will bring the answer to the question: how to play it live?
Brigid Dawson & Sunwatchers
Sunwatchers are a shining example of how to combine many aesthetics, often those that are a bit out of date, and show them in a new light. They reach out to the jazz tradition, minimalism, blues or the music of Thailand and Laos, creating something peculiar, sprinkled with a social message – even when they play only instrumentally, because, as they themselves admit, it is necessary. For Le Guess Who, Brigid Dawson of Thee Oh Sees will take to the stage with them. What more could you want?
Le Guess Who? will take place in Utrecht from 11 to 14 November. Read more: leguesswho.com