*** Seville showcase festival shines despite the bad weather***New Stars on a horizon***
To fully appreciate what a bonkers place is UK nowadays, one has to leave and visit new countries, or old ones but new cities, or even…well you get the message: just leave and immerse yourself into the culture and breathe in your lungs full of a different kind. Not that I have not indulge in a bit of breathing myself. as a matter of a fact I have, and quite a bit. But then you return, and all those miserable old silly discrepancies emerge all over again and you exhale, question marks starring out of your lost soul.
That’s why I eagerly accepted an invitation to this year’s Monkey Week without hesitation. Spanish showcase festival is a meeting point for artists and industry professionals, a platform for entire country gathering but not just Spain as bands and delegates from Argentina, Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Chile join their counterparts from UK, Germany, France, Italy, Portugal, Lithuania, Slovenia, Netherlands, Belgium and more in discovering tomorrow’s music today. Monkey Week is also a proud member of Innovation Network of European Showcases (INES) and that collaboration has been going strong bearing fruits of hard work.
Well I could not wait to dive into this pool of international music arena, so with expectation, minus my swimming shorts, I headed to Andalusian City. I remember particularly that Thursday morning being annoyed with myself as I forgot my sunglasses, an obvious faux pas for anyone visiting Seville. Well not quite.
Beautiful blue skies were replaced by low grey clouds, and as we touched down at the Seville airport by rain threatening to unleash hell on all of us. Which happened soon after while on a bus to the City Centre. At one point you could not see the road from oncoming water helplessly trying to find a way out and the whole scene reminded me of Noah’s Ark. And in that story you don’t need sunglasses. No pasaran.
Plan was to get to Espacio Santa Clara, a Monkey Week hub and centre of all activities tho long time ago I have learned a valuable lesson, and that is no man is an island. No hungry man is an island. And while I like the island bit empty stomach is not my idea of fun. Thankfully good people have pointed me out to El Rinconcillo, a 17th Century tapas restaurant serving Gods gifts to us poor lost mortals. My rather soaked soul quickly re-energized after several plates of food but special mention goes to divine almejas, clams in traditional sauce that were just out of this world. While my bill was quickly chalked up on the bar in front of me, happiness returned, and determination to immerse myself to this wonderful city.
Festival this year extended to 5 days, from 19 – 24th November and venues in and around the Alameda de Hercules, a historic square in the old town with Roman pillars, have been nervously expecting the latest weather prognosis. And the news was not good, more rain and even stronger gale wind forecast. I felt sorry for Cesar and the organisers, but what can you do.
I decided to check out some of the bands playing in Espacio Santa Clara. PALO ALTO was already playing. Locals from Seville, an alternative post rock band with burst of electronica kept the few brave fans warm, and haunted vocals felt even more powerful on this God forsaken night as if praying to Almighty to spare us from His anger.. Couple of EP’s on bandcamp. Good start..
On my way out as I have reached Alameda de Hercules, a loud and remorseless sound was splitting the skies above Seville. And I felt excitement as I headed towards the bright coloured Escenario Jegger Music or Jeggermaister stage to you and me. Right in the middle of the Alameda square, occupying the Fair Car Crash attraction, minus the cars obviously. Stage on one end, and on it spitting its demonic tribal sermons RAMOS DUAL. Man from Cordoba (as in the movie title) and his partner in crime Yul Navarro had the crowd going wild with their manic beat and energy as hypnotic as the tequila mescal you did not have. Slowly building up to an exciting finale, always in the control and production par excellence. I am not the one to rave about the rave, pun intended, but his was so much more: techno punk, no guts no glory statement, bold and beautiful on a grand scale. Mystery is only why more people do not know about them. Well you have heard it here first. Or something.
Beer o’clock. Sucking the life out of the glass, replaying the film, enjoying every moment of it. Before it ended. And prompted another trip to the bar. And another. And….employing every ounce of my super powers I moved back to Santa Clara, where others have been at it. Trap guru Kaixo and Playback Maracas were doing their best in their clash with the Big J up in the heavens, and winning at times. I was imagining pizza, hot shower and a warm bed, all in that order.
Friday was promising a busy day. Rain still hanging around like a death on holiday. Quick coffee and a tostada later I was on my way to Santa Clara.
Breakfast meeting with RYCERZYKI or Little Knights as I have been informed by Gosia who sings and write most of their tunes. Originally from Krakow in Poland, the band has couple of albums behind them. Their dream pop, and it is dreamy, is very much a chill out music you might expect to hear on a summer beach, one frequented by guests who still treat the beach for what it is: a holiday place for resting and recharging your battery. For the fans of Stereolab and Throwing Muses.
But no rest for the wicked as INES sponsored panel discussing impact of Brexit on international artist and music markets was about to start. Guest panellists Dave Rowntree, Blur drummer, Francois Audigier, Europavox booker and Robert Meijerink, Eurosonic head honcho. This particular topic usually causes movements in my abdomen so I’ll just say that nothing new was revealed, as nobody knows what gate of Hell awaits us for being lazy dumb so and so, and less we say the better. I will like to extend my warm invitation to Roger Daltrey to join us down there in gutter, although somehow I fear a little knight might be otherwise engaged.
Downstairs after some refreshments, and we needed some no doubt, a man was walking the corridors and blowing a trumpet, or a bugle and ringing the bell. The way they use to announce major news or events back in a day. Nice touch. And the one man band called AMORANTE was his name. Quite striking performance, imagine zillions of effect pedals in front of him, many instruments and sounds playing at the same time yet controlled by a single person. I have come across artists like him before and could never make up my mind if they were real geniuses or just outspoken and rejected stubborn nobodies. Only in this case music was in the background as a very emotional haunting vocals led the way into the kaleidoscope of stories being revealed in front of us. Left me speechless. Stunning.
My attempts to sit down and have a lunch were dwarfed several times as each time I have tried to leave I would be stopped by one or another and dragged back which I must admit was fun for a while. And beer was also food of some sort so sod it.
Later in the evening entertaining and well received was TITO RAMIREZ, Spanish answer to Blues Brothers and James Brown all in one. A special announcement and the man himself struts his stuff on stage wearing a cape, throwing it and grabbing the guitar. Let the show begin. Fun for older and younger generations as there was a lot of kids in the crowd, I mean small children and that was so cool, to see them dancing and enjoying themselves so much. There were some real future stars out there too. What a brilliant idea. What better advice but to engage your youngest generations to all that beautiful music out there. Little more close to a heart, little less PlayStation stuff.
And Tito and the band were real pro’s. No doubt a serious veterans they knew what, where, and how to run their show. No wonder the crowd was asking for more.
Things were nicely hotting up by now and next was SLUMBERLANDa band/project by Belgian artist , musician and film maker Jochem Baelus. Clever mixing and adding samples to existing guitar loops while not one but two drummers follow his lead. This music will not leave you easily or in a hurry. Fight it and you will fail. And a gathered crowd was thinking the same. slowly moving and dancing in-sync with the band. The music and the artist tho have to be seen to completely enjoy the experience. Whatever you do, find a time, check them out.
Swallowing a rather tasty pizza on my way to Itaka where some youngsters were about to kick some shit in the best possible way. Punk rock with plenty plenty plenty of life, angst, youth and melody. KINGS OF THE BEACH infectious, in your face lo-fi with a healthy portion of garage riffs, is something else. These boys play with incredible dose of self-confidence and professionalism. Something that is not new but it’s associated with artists going places in a hurry, speedy way. Simple yet brilliant and with a big broad smile. Awesome.
And that was it for me and this year Monkey Week. It was my first and I already know it won’t be the last. I just wish the weather next time is kinder to all of us. As for the organisers, hats off to Cesar and the team. They worked their socks off and deserve all the praise. My suggestion for next year would be a more varied content and more international artists. Mix it up and throw the party. Monkey Week style one. NO PASARAN.
B’zar Rocker. Over and out.