Monday, July 06, 2009

Postcards from Ejekt Festival '09 and Coca Cola Soundwave Vol. 3

Last week I was saying how great June had been for live music in Athens, but it seems that by giving praise too soon I may have inadvertently put a jinx on future events! A sudden hailstorm last Sunday (28/6) led to the cancellation of the second day of Rockwave Festival where The Killers, Tricky and Dinosaur Jr. (among others) were supposed to play. Unfortunately, the organizers were not prepared to deal with bad weather so, instead of attending what could have been the biggest concert of the summer, the Cool Music Central team went for a swim to a nearby beach instead! No, we don't have any photos from that occasion, but I have to tell you that it was a pretty nice swim as the bad weather only affected the area of the festival. What we do have for you, though, are some cool live shots and videos from Ejekt Festival '09 that took place between June 18 and 19, starring Pixies, Editors, Klaxons, Echo & The Bunnymen and Jarvis Cocker, and from Coca Cola Soundwave Vol.3 with Bloc Party and Primal Scream (July 1).

Ejekt Festival 2009 (June 18 - 19)

Pixies - Live@Ejekt 2009 (June 18, Athens)

The first day of the Ejekt festival, with Pixies as the headliners and with Editors, Starsailor and White Lies completing the line up, drew the biggest crowd. Editors presented us some of their new material, giving us a taste of their forthcoming third LP. The sound of the new songs relies on synthesizers and is heavily influenced by '80s electropop, a fact that some of their fans didn't seem to appreciate, responding much better to the guitar-based old material. Personally, I thought that after the very promising first album, the band seemed to repeat itself on its sophomore effort. So, this change in direction is more than welcome and tracks like the closing "Papillon" (a video of which you can see below) give the promise of a more exciting next step.

Editors - Live@Ejekt 2009 (June 18, Athens)

On the other hand, our beloved heroes, the Pixies, don't give any such promises. Although the band has reunited more than 5 years ago, they seem to be happy going around the world, playing more or less the same set and cashing in their cheques without showing any intention of taking the risk to write new material. It was really exciting seeing them again in the summer of 2004, but now the thrill is gone and no box-set, no matter how well packaged and presented, is going to change that.

Pixies - Live@Ejekt 2009 (June 18, Athens)

The second day of the festival had a smaller attendance and inexplicable delays in the scheduled stage times, but it turned out to be more enjoyable for me. Subways was the first band that we got to see (as I've written before, they may be dull in their recorded output but they're certainly good fun live, thanks to their amazing energy), followed by Klaxons who played the hits of their interesting but over-hyped nu rave debut "Myths Of The Near Future", as well as new tracks showing some unexpected hard-rocking tendencies. Is nu metal their next step? Only time will tell, as we've been reading in the news lately that their record label demanded the re-recording of some of their new material, deeming it "too experimental"!

Klaxons - Live@Ejekt 2009 (June 19, Athens)

Echo & The Bunnymen - Live@Ejekt 2009 (June 19, Athens)

The highlights of the second day came from our old pals Echo & The Bunnymen (who stepped in at the last moment to replace Lauryn Hill!) and Jarvis Cocker. Both acts played strong sets a week before headlining the John Peel stage at Glastonbury Festival. Echo & The Bunnymen played one or two new songs but their set was based on their '80s hits, with those from "Crocodiles" being the most enjoyable for me. Jarvis, on the other hand, overlooked completely his past and based his set on his two solo albums, offering the best performance of the festival. This has a lot to do with the strength of his rocking new material, taken from the Steve Albini recorded "Further Complications" LP, as well as his undeniably impressive showmanship. Tracks like "Angela" and "Homewrecker!" and his Monty Python-esque humor (he tried, among other things, to say in greek "My hovercraft is full of eels"!) won the day for him.

Jarvis Cocker - Live@Ejekt 2009 (June 19, Athens)

Ejekt 2009 Live: Editors - Papillon, Pixies - Gigantic, Echo & The Bunnymen - The Back Of Love, Jarvis Cocker
- Angela

Bloc Party & Primal Scream @ Coca Cola Soundwave Vol.3 (July 1)

Primal Scream - Live@Soundwave Vol.3 (July 1, Athens)

Although I'm not that comfortable in advertising, even indirectly, big corporations I have to admit that the sponsorship of this event had a positive effect for our pockets, since this was the only gig this summer with a really low ticket price.

This event was the culmination of the Soundwave competition, a type of battle-of-the-bands contest between new local acts. The two finalists, Le Page and Flakes, got to play here, along with a couple of the biggest names of the British rock scene and in front of the largest audience they've ever faced before. Among the two acts, the most impressive for me was Flakes, with a raw, aggressive punk sound and a fiery singer, Yodashe, with a style influenced by Yeah Yeah Yeahs' Karen O. The evening had started with an appearance by Let's Tea Party, a new pop band from Bristol.

Flakes - Live@Soundwave Vol.3 (July 1, Athens)

Primal Scream played a fired up 65-minute set, similar to the one we witnessed last year at Madrid's Summercase festival, with material from almost all their albums since "Screamadelica" ("Movin' On Up" was its representative). "Can't Go Back" and "Suicide Bomb", from their latest album "Beautiful Future", were among the highlights, as well as "Miss Lucifer", "Exterminator", "Shoot Speed Kill Light" and the closing, pedal-to-the-metal, "Accelerator". Primal Scream's career had many ups and downs in the last 25 years, but they have aged well and their ups remain so spectacular that their status as living legends is well deserved.

Primal Scream - Live@Soundwave Vol.3 (July 1, Athens)

Bloc Party is one of the bands that stand out among those responsible for the recent resurgence of British rock. They have given us one of the most impressive debut albums of this decade (2005's "Silent Alarm") and they have never stopped experimenting with their sound, taking in different influences and exploring new directions - from the angular punk of their first days, to the beat-heavy modern rock of "A Weekend In The City", to the dancefloor experiments of the more recent "Intimacy" LP. For their debut appearance in Greece they played a 65-minute set covering all three of their albums, with "Banquet", "Helicopter", "The Prayer" and "Mercury" being among the highlights. They even found the time to squeeze in a couple of non-album singles - "Flux" and the brand new, disco-influenced, "One More Chance".

It seems that after the anti-climactic ending of the otherwise action-packed June, the jinx has been lifted from the live scene and July has started with a really enjoyable gig, bringing together on the same stage two established, well-respected bands and a couple of very promising local acts.

Bloc Party - Live@Soundwave Vol.3 (July 1, Athens)

Coca Cola Soundwave Vol.3 Live: Primal Scream - Miss Lucifer, Bloc Party - Mercury

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