Review: Trigger Effect and We Are Idols, Laki Zaki, Wrocław 10/5/12

Suddenly it becomes clear to me.  I should go to see concerts, small concerts, by hardcore bands, often, as much as I can and as much as finances allow.

The Trigger Effect at Laki Zaki, Wroclaw

Generally I only go to concerts attended by tens of thousands, and I enjoy them, but there is the negative side that one is far from the band, and there’s plenty posers in the crowd who are not there for the music but are there to stand around looking “cool”, or being there because their boyfriend or girlfriend is there and they stand there contributing nothing to the atmosphere, and where some people start a moshpit, which while moshpits are generally good things are done in a way that distracts from the music.  Concerts like last night’s in Laki Zaki are about the MUSIC, are intimate affairs where one can, indeed, mix your sweat with the sweat of the band on theirs on your bodies.

For that is was happened last night.  I decided to go spontaneously thanks to the shout-out on Falanster‘s Facebook page, and fucking glad I am that I went.  For only 15 złoty and armed with a few pints of Czech beer (5 złoty each) I experienced one of the most energising concerts I have attended.  Both We Are Idols and Trigger Effect totally ruled

We Are Idols

I had seen We Are Idols a few days earlier at the Asymmetry festival and they were actually the main reason why I went.  They describe themselves as being punk rock with influences from Black Sabbath and Black Flag, who are in fact two of my favourite bands.  Actually, in their occasional slow riff moments they remind me of Helmet.  They are from Wrocław.  They produced a solid set of hard music.  They’re a band to look out for.  For an example of a live performance by them check out this link, while more music of theirs can be accessed here.  Support quality music from Poland, not the shite one hears on the radio.

Then came the band from Montreal, Canada, Trigger Effect.  They’re a hardcore/punk kind of band.  They were very impressive.  The singer Nick Babeu is a charismatic singer who really got the crowd going through his forays into the crowd, helped by one of the guitarists who at one stage appeared right next to me while I was headbanging (sorry for hitting your guitar while I was giving it the :Ronniejamesdiosalute:).  As the concert went on BEDLAM began to reign, whereby, despite the small venue crowdsurfing actually happened a few times (at one stage one guy was holding on to the pipes on the ceiling).  Moshing (which Polish people call being in a “mill”) broke out at the front.  In a good energised by the music way.

The concert was such that it flew by very quickly, and what with that and the moshing and sweating and me being somewhat worse for wear for the cheap but good beer I don’t remember much about the concert.  I simply remember a LOT of energy coming from both Nick Babeu helped by a solid and hard rhythms coming from the band behind him, an energy synergised by a crowd that was up for it, and me hugging a complete stranger and later being in a group-jumping-up-and-down-hug with others and the singer, me shouting something incoherent towards the microphone held to us.  It takes a quality band to bring out such bedlam in a crowd and Trigger Effect are that band.

They’re playing Ruda Śląska this evening, and if you’re near to there I strongly recommend you checking them out.  You can hear some of their music here.

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Review: Asymmetry festival, 5th of May 2012

I attended the aforenamed festival last Saturday.  I went primarily to see the legends that are Killing Joke.

Photo: Piotr Bąkiewicz/WP

I had seen the last year at the Sonisphere festival, where they were very good but only had a 30 minute set, so when I found out that they were coming to the city I live in I had to attend.  I was not disappointed.  As befits a band where most of the members have been playing together for a long time, they were very tight and the produced a good, hard, professional sound.

Because of this, versions of songs sounded as good or even better as the originals.  “Sun goes down” had me rocking, and “European super state” a song which tends rather towards dance music in the studio version became a rock-out song.  Other favourites for me where “Rapture”, “The great cull”, “Change” and of course “The wait”, “Pssyche” and “Love like blood” were performed splendidly, and anyone with a soul could not keep still.

I say that, as I was disappointed with the crowd.  Killing Joke are a legendary band, but only a minority of people bothered to show their appreciation to the band, and only at the front was there any action.  Otherwise a wall of people with folded arms dominated the crowd.

If you’ve not heard anything by them, they’re worth checking out.  They’ve done all manner of music, post-punk, synthpop, industrial and rock, so there’s bound to be something for you.  I’d recommend the 1980 and 2003 albums “Killing Joke” (two different albums with the same name), “Night time”, “Pandemonium” and their most recent album “MMXII”.

Otherwise I saw two other bands.  One was Infekcja, a grindcore/death metal/folk rock band from Wrocław.

To tell the truth I didn’t think I’d like them, as I don’t really like growling-type singing, but I was very pleasantly surprised by them.  They play a music that is very energetic, with plenty melody and heavy enough crunching to get the head moving.  They were fairly well received; the room was full of men and women bopping their heads with a smile on their faces.  One can hear some of their music here.

I also briefly saw We Are Idols, a hardcore punk/rock band also from Wrocław.  I was quite impressed with them and recommend them.  Some of their music is here.

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Wrocław has many sides

If you’re on Twitter you may have found me there.  There I’m doing a photo series entitled “Wrocław has many sides”.  basically it’s about the diversity that I see in Wrocław.  You won’t get photos there of the town hall or cathedral, or other touristy places.  There’s enough pictures of them in other blogs.  No, I take the approach that Wrocław is much more interesting than the standard pictures we see.

Here’s a few photos:

Lighting of the Pascal candle

Coffee with carrot and maple syrop, Klub Museum

Fascist graffiti close to the rynek. With subversion.

Spring in the allotments

Tucking into Friday dinner

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Review: Judas Priest at Spodek, Katowice on 14/4/12

The Metal Gods returned to Poland last Saturday, and I was there.

I didn't take this photo. I don't take photos at gigs. I'm a metal fan too busy doing metal fan stuff.

For years I saw Judas Priest as a band who did a few good songs but generally too light.  Seeing them live last year (also at Spodek) showed me just how heavy they are, and how rich their back catalogue is.  The truth is, they are one of the best bands of all time.

Katowice, a rich treasure of good music

Years ago I read this article which mentions how heavy metal is big in Katowice and Upper Silesia in general, liking the popularity of metal to both being anti-MTV as well as being an industrial area.  While the bigger cities of Warsaw and Wrocław have produced a fair share of heavy metal bands, Katowice has produced bands like Kat and each year the Spodek arena plays host to various metal festivals.  Interestingly, Judas Priest and Birmingham compatriots Black Sabbath also come from an industrial area.  In this video Black Sabbath band members speak of how the heavy noises of factories influenced the heavy music they created.

In any case, this was my second concert in Spodek and again I was, by and largely very impressed with the fans.  Unlike concerts I’ve been to in Warsaw, here people were energetic and well up for it.

The connection between heavy metal fans and 19th century Russian philosophy

The setlist was classic Priest, with songs like “Rapid fire”, “Metal Gods”, “Painkiller”, “Victim of changes” and “Living after midnight” inspiring mayhem among the fans.  For me the highlights were “Star breaker” (despite being an old song plenty people were singing along to it with a reasonable rocking reaction from the fans), “Turbo lover” (not from my favourite album but much heavier live) and “Breaking the law” (sung wholly by the fans).

What struck me was how student-aged fans were also giving it loads, including to the older less well-known songs.  They were real fans.  Many people of their age group don’t listen to “old” music, which can even include Nirvana!  No, the fans in Spodek knew all of the songs (not like the many wools who attended the Metallica concert in Warsaw in 2011).  Some Russian philosopher (I cannot remember his name, something like Alexei Alexov, or Nikolai Nikolov), in the 19th century wrote that the new mass migration of people from villages to cities was very bad as it took people away from their parents and traditions.  While heavy metal is the music of rebellion, including against “authorities” a healthy respect for the elders of metal is needed.  Any metal fan of any age group should know all the words to “Breaking the law” or “War pigs” by Black Sabbath.  As did the fans in Katowice.


The heavy metal image(s) and the Polish language

The article I gave a link to earlier speaks of people not liking it when Polish bands sing in English.  On the one hand I’m all for the development of music in different languages, it is also the case that languages are not static; they are fluid and many words migrate into other languages (for example, the Polish language contains the words laptop, szlafrok, restauracja and pizza).  In fact the Polish language (like all other languages) is like Judas Priest.  Judas Priest pioneered what became to be known the heavy metal look of leather (taken from gay culture).  However, the singer Rob Halford was inspired by 90s industrial and even did a solo album with an industrial influence.  Judas Priest have been both standard heavy metal (hell, it was them who largely defined the fucking standard) as well as being adaptive to changes.  When a band from Poland asks “czy tu jest piękło?” (“is hell here?”) in Polish and people from Poland answer with “yeah” one sees how the Polish language is like Judas Priest in being adaptive.

On modern trends

Not all modern trends in heavy metal are good.  Some fans (of all ages) now see concerts as a chance to block the views of people behind them by taking shite videos and making shite videos.  Or they do the circle pit thing.  Now, I have nothing against circle pits per se.  I’ve been in a few myself and they can be fun.  I also understand the need to prove ones strength in a slightly dangerous way.  On the other hand, concerts are about music.  Circle pits detract from the music.  One cannot sing along or bang your head when you’re in one.

All in all though, I have very good memories of seeing Judas Priest.  Despite them saying that this tour is their final one, I hope they change their mind and come back to Katowice.

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Who is your favourite musician from Poland?

Aside from composers I know little music that has been made in Poland.

My favourite is Kult.  Their song “Polska” is a classic that all migrants to Poland should know.

Another favourite of mine is “Baranek“.

I also like the prog-metal band Animations.

Otherwise, I like Masturbathor.  I saw them live once in Sonisphere and were impressed by their performance.

Who do you like, then?  Who would you recommend?  Which singer do you believe to be the best singer in Polish history?

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Sinead O’Connor, Wrocław and democracy

On the 19th of June the singer Sinead O’Connor is to perform on Wyspa Słodowa in Wrocław.

Am I fan of Sinead O’Connor?  No.  Why, then, this article?  Because I am a fan of democracy and one feature of democracy is free speech.  Why am I saying that?  Because some Wrocław (“the most tolerant city in Poland”) city councillors are against her performing in Poland, the reason being for this:

What she actually did was a protest against child abuse within the Roman Catholic church, hence her symbolic attack on the then Pope, who just happened to be Polish.  This has been seen as an attack on Poland by city councillors Maria Zawartko and Wojciech Blonski.   “How could she receive an invitation to a (Roman) Catholic country”? said they.

I’ll tell you why.  Poland is a democracy.  Poland signed up to the UN articles of human rights, whereby freedom of expression is an enshrined right.  While anti-Christian art can sometimes be simply for the shock-value/marketing (say, by Marilyn Manson), Sinead O’Connor was doing a taboo-breaking thing: Protesting against child abuse within the RC church.  One doesn’t have to like that, or like her singing, but if one believes in democratic values one doesn’t try to ban them.

If one believes in democratic values, that is.  Anyway, as this is not my other, more political blog, I won’t say any more (apart from saying that Poland is not a “(Roman) Catholic country”, despite popular misconceptions).  I’ll just that that I respect her as a campaigner against child abuse and homophobia, and as a singer, and as this blog concentrates on singing, I’ll mention how she sings with passion, technique, clearly and with an individual style (something not often seen).

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Jazz in a church

The St. John Coltrane African Orthodox church in San Francisco is an interesting one.  In case you don’t know, John Coltrane was a jazz saxophonist and composer, and was declared a Saint by the African Orthodox church, a church in the US.

Coming from this white, High-Anglican self, it is quite different, to say the least.  Well I say that, but they have many familiar things like icons, candles, vestments and incense.  It’s not like my local Russian Orthodox church, though.  It seems closer in spirit to a pentecostal church.

In any case, regarding singing, I have to say that I like the way in which the Gospel is sung.  Very bluesy and moving.

What do you think of this performance?  Would you like to see this style being done in your church?

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