Report from the Nordland Art Festival delegation during the Glimps Festival, 16-17th December 2011

Glimps Festival has taken place at 16-17th December 2011 in Gent, Belgium. Nordland Art Festival was represented by Dominika Czapska and Bartłomiej Luzak, who have not only promoted the Polish festival but also the band they form – Kind Off. Glimps is the first edition of this event. During the weekend about 60 music bands gave their showcase concerts, and the festival was visited by almost 100 representatives of music business.This is our report from the event prepared by Bartek Luzak (photos by Dominika Czapska).

‘Glimpse’ means nothing more than short look, or glance. The name of the Belgian festival is indeed appropriate, since moving among the 9 localizations, where the concerts were performed, we had no time for easily listening to every single one, because we were forced to go forth to be on time at the next show… 16th December, 8:30 a.m., we got off a bus at the station in Gent, a beautiful city, which is actually the second biggest one in Belgium, following only Brussels. To be honest, it was hard to believe in, looking at narrow, winding streets and very small but still enchanting centre of the metropolis. After check-in in our hotel we moved to the city hall; the gothic-style, very imposing building. Some weddings have been coming to an end inside, and outside – the organizers have slowly begun to unload the whole festival’s equipment. But we, together with the group of delegates, have set out for sightseeing the city. Unfortunately, the weather was no good and our three-hour long touring was accompanied by the heavy rain. Despite this, it would have been such a pity to miss that tour, which has acquainted us with the history of the city, and also has given unforgettable sensations to our taste buds; there was a sampling/ tasting of the traditional cheese, meat, cookies and chocolates, which Gent is famous for. We have end up walking through the streets, castles and small grocers in the Vooruit Art Center, a beautiful, vintage complex of concert and theatrical halls which is the heart of Gent’s cultural life. Glimps’s organizers do not deny that next year this would be the place of the festival’s shows. I must admit, that place is made for it and this localization would make moving among the concerts much easier. At 6 p.m. we reached the city hall, where the festival had its official opening. We got our accreditations and a plenty of nice gadgets (a clever idea were ear plugs for the ones who were more decibel sensitive).

Since during the sightseeing we had already met some of the other delegates, together with them we have begun our music tour through city’s clubs. We have started with a surprising Polish accent; at our way to the Tref Punt club we have found out that one of the musicians from the FENSTER band is half Polish. Music they play is calm, quite severe, pop melodies arranged in a very acoustic way. Plenty of songs, beside characteristic drums and calm guitars, were enhanced with soft synthesizers. It was nice to meet trio from Berlin, exchange a few polish words with Jonathan, but time was running out and we had to run to the next club called Charlatan. Unfortunately we didn’t manage to be on time for The Experimental Tropic Blues Band concert but we had a chance to meet guys in front of the club. We got a CD and after listening to it, the band definitely became one of my favorites of the Glimps Festival’s first edition. Not a single foot stays indifferent towards their rock’n’roll craze and punk energy, starting to stamp feeling their rhythm. Once more I must apologize guys for being late, thank for the CD and absolutely promise to be present when they would come to Poland.

TETBB – NYC’s Diary from La Film Fabrique on Vimeo.

After a short conversation with the Charlatan’s first guests, we came into just to let us flow with energetic remixes of all known Christmas songs. The author of this electric atmosphere was our south- border neighbor, Slovak named Dynamo Team. Mike Lark perfectly fitted into before-Christmas preparations and successfully compensated lack of snow. He served a number of really fresh electronic hits with obligatory sound of bells. Carol singers, which we missed in front of small grocers mentioned earlier, were necessary no more.

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Fulfilled with a Christmas and electro spirit, we moved to the other room of the club, where the concert of the Moss was about to begin. The four from the Amsterdam collected quite a tidy crowd and the first sounds explained to us why. Really well-thought-out indie rock compositions, from the calm pop melodies to the typical guitar punch, easily let the crowd go wild. Non- believers should come to the next year’s Nordland Art Festival; there is a great possibility for the band to perform in Łódź.

Next performer’s show was recommended by one of the Scottish delegates who, sitting with me at the table, drinking Belgian beer, had become my ‘best friend’. I couldn’t have refused, so we went to De Centrale, the club situated in the longest distance from the centre, to watch the Withered Hand show. And this was the moment of my little disappointment. Scottish folk acoustic melodies with the sound of cello were not what I liked. The music was making me sleepy and, frankly speaking, they didn’t manage to get many people’s attention. In patience we stayed until they finished and got back to the centre to find ourselves in a place which resembled a community centre. The object’s name was Zaal Miry and after leaving our jackets in a cloak-room we sat in a room which looked like a big cinema auditorium. In a total darkness we could watch a concert of the French Cascadeur. The show was absolutely amazing. The music which sounded like Thom Yorke’s experiments complemented with visualizations and lights, has fascinated and entirely absorbed me. The concert induced various emotions. I was really amazed, how one man wearing an aerial helmet (then wrestling mask) can hypnotize full auditorium using his voice and keyboard. Absolute ‘must hear’.

Nostalgic ecstasy after Frenchman’s show accompanied us while going to the last concert of that evening. To be honest, during that way to the Video club I wasn’t expected anything that would be better than a man in a helmet. But my vigilance woke up just after entering the club; we found it hard to fit in a place, which was totally overcrowded. The show was stolen by the Concrete Knives, my absolute number one of the Glimps Festival. In addition, they came from France, as well. Indie rock quintet showed how this music genre should be played on the highest level. What they presented was set somewhere between YeahYeahYeahs and Dead Weather but they definitely had they own temper. Morgane, the singer, brought to my mind Karen O., not only by her appearance but also in a way she was moving and unleashing her energy. Rhythmic section was brilliant, as well. Coordination of the bass and drums in the Concrete Knives should be basic ‘knowhow’ instruction for the bands who want to go out from their garages.

And then afterparty came and later, sleeping off the journey, and such fascinating evening… Saturday began quite late for us, because we managed to come downstairs for breakfast not until 13 o’clock. The organizers have done great job and both me, definitely carnivorous, and vegetarian Dominika filled up our stomachs with a very delicious dishes. We had a pleasure to sit at the table with Mariposa musicians. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a chance to listen to their live performance but they were generous enough to give to us their CD. This is the next position which should get your attention; the music connects very broad inspirations of every one from seven band members. Jazz pop mixes up with a bit psychedelic melodies and hits taken directly from musicals. Personally, I do not like the fact they sing in Italian because then nothing more comes to my mind (completely unconsciously) than Italian vintage dinosaurs – Drupi or Al Bano & Romina Power. However, it is worth listening to. Well-rested and full we got down to the city hall for speedmeetings. This made me aware of how far are we behind the others European music industries. Despite just ten minutes’ conversations for each of the delegates, we tried to collect as much information about western music business, as possible. Concert agencies, lot of showcases, promo agencies… in Poland we can still just dream about having all these institutions, which are so willing to promote native artists abroad. No wonder, though. In spite of this distressing confrontation with a craft reality, I am very glad to have had an opportunity to meet so many great journalists, managers and music agencies representatives. I hope we would have a chance to meet, next time in Poland, at Nordland festival and talk about ways of helping Polish artists in their promotion abroad and, at the same time, to present export daisies, they take care of, to our audience. The second evening once more began in Polish. Thanks to cooperation between the Glimps and Nordland AF, and backup from the Adam Mickiewicz’s Institute, Blisko Pola, our native band could have given a performance at the Belgian festival. Bar Ville’s frequency could be better but Blisko Pola got good opinions and were commended by delegates who we had invited to let them see ‘something ours’. Straight from that place we took a taxi and rushed to De Centrale, together with Toni, a representative from Finland. It seemed that all Belgian audience had appeared for the performance of the band School Is Cool . No wonder, since it is, as I guess, the best export merchandise, as far as we talk about really positive pop music. Guys got an invitation for the next year Nordland AF, so it’s possible that they will come and show again how great can they play with their music and with audience.

After the show, we met again for a while with Blisko Pola, who have been giving an interview for the Belgian media at the moment and finally from the backstage we moved to our favourite Charlatan. Having had listened some of the bands before the festival, the one I remembered the best was Rape Blossoms and it was them who we saw at the stage when we got there. It was another excellent concert during the weekend. Postpunk dirty sounds which had something in common with La Dispute, enriched with some electronics was, in my opinion, the winner of the evening. Until today I shed crocodile tears for not having bought their vinyl. But who knows, maybe someday I will have a chance yet.

Another noticeable place for longer staying was club Trefpunt, where I Am Oak gave the performance. Although fashionable nerd style oversize jumpers and big black-spectacle frame glassed wasn’t the details to entice me at the first moment, you can’t tell the book by its cover and the band presented quite pleasurable, calm and acoustic pop. I was confused a bit about the manager’s protest against the audience, which sat down on the floor during the concert. This position was perfect for receiving this slightly sleepy, but still pleasant music and despite requests, the whole concert we spent on the floor. The second and the last day of the festival we ended in a Video club, still remembering the performance of the Concrete Knives. There appeared BRNS band, which, having had seen them earlier on the festival’s web site, brought to my mind brilliant Israeli Raw Men Empire – the guests of the Nordland Art Festival 2011. The pleasure that band takes from playing is something really awesome. Also, the music range they represent is highly interesting. Songs flow and run alternately, accompanying not only by electronic fun with a synthesizer but also by classic drums and various rattles.

BRNS – Mexico – Lofi session from B R N S on Vimeo.

After the last concert we couldn’t miss the next afterparty where we affixed seals to our new great Polish-European friendships with Belgs and all of the guests of the festival, too. At this place I would like to thank Michał, on behalf of me and Dominika, for having let us visit the festival, and thank all Glimps’s organizers.Guys, you have made an extremely good job and I hope we would have an opportunity to meet again and learn from each other, here in Poland as well as at the various european festivals. Text: Bartłomiej Luzak

“PS. As a chief editor of this article I would like to recommend two more bands that gave their performances during the Glimps. The first one, Ginga, pop band which consistently visits showcase festivals as Glimps and is broadly commented in the whole Europe; and very interesting, phenomenon from Island, Lazyblood, performing rather metal music.” – Michał Zając

Translation: MARIA SMEJDA

This post is also available in: Polish

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