Le Guess Who? May Day 2013.

Le Guess Who? May Day 2013.

While planning my way around this year’s Le Guess Who? May Day, I never thoroughly considered the fact that I’d be walking around the city for circa 12 hours in total. We arrive at noon, and immediately head out about the city to take in the becomingly homely atmospheres of Utrecht thus by the time we eventually arrive at the Tivoli Oudegracht to pick up our wristbands and indulge in Merchandise, we’ve already walked a fair old way.

Unfortunately, Merchandise never quite make the walk worthwhile: the Floridians are proficient enough onstage, although they fail to ever really convince. From the prerequisite posturing to Carson Cox’ bumptious onstage attitude, it all appears so considered so as to disengage. There’s none of that same spontaneity to which their punky aesthetic has so often pertained previously, and frequently deemed a rock band though they may look and sound the part, that’s about it in truth.

Upon ambling over to the other Tivoli venue, De Helling, we’re gruellingly reminded of just how far the trudge really is and as such, by the time we arrive Bleached are already all set. Although sisters Jessica and Jennifer Clavin have maintained their savage punk style, they’ve taken a turn for a poppier accessibility in recent times and it’s thus that I’m intrigued to hear how they now translate live. Nonetheless even when situated front and centre, it instantly becomes apparent that Jennifer’s vocal is to remain inaudible throughout. As we later discover, it’s a little better perceptible from the back though no matter – the mix is bad, and it blights the gig. The sibs still sound tight enough, and Jennifer seems to have matured as a frontwoman in keeping with their more recent saccharine-flavoured endeavours, though it’s straightaway a case of too little too late.

Though I suppose it sets the tone for a full evening’s worth of garage-rock and up next on the agenda is Mikal Cronin. Having seen him rock the bloody rubbish out of Brussels earlier on in the week, I impatiently await another blast. As ever, the West Coast scruff delivers: although his second record, MCII, contained a couple more downbeat songs when set against his eponymous début, never does the show err on this more crestfallen feel as Cronin & co. instead exude ebullience. Anyways, it’s Mikal’s voice that so effortlessly shines right on through what proves an absolute blast start through finish.

We then set coordinates for Ekko at the other end of town, only to arrive totally exhausted some forty minutes later. Reckoning Daniel Martin-McCormick, aka Ital may yet reenergise us, we’re again proven wrong and left really disappointed. In front of a scant turnout, sometime collaborator Aurora Halal who was alleged to have been aiding Martin-McCormick in his sonic exploration only ends up on visual duties. They’re not exactly anywhere approaching mind-blowing, which renders them just about the right fit for the same can certainly be said of the show itself: all flat beats bereft of climaxes, if nothing else he looks to be enjoying himself…

Back over at De Helling (thus another forty later) we catch the denouement of Thee Oh Sees’ show and partake in the mayhem then unravelling. The psychedelically inclined garage rockers must be right up there among the most fun live bands currently plugged into the touring circuit, and the reaction they receive attests to this as people pogo recklessly throughout. We’d initially intended to stick around to catch King Tuff (who’s been boss whenever seen previously) although worn out by the irrepressible exuberance of John Dwyer et al., we head back to the couch we so mercifully surf in search of rest. We’ll doubtless make better scheduling elections next time around, by which time our limbs might well have more or less recovered. Though until then, Utrecht…

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