Tuesday, February 21st, 2006
I Want To Hear What You Have Got To Say
Learned some interesting things about the Dutch last night – they do love a rock’n’roll cliche. They love to mosh, crowd surf, throw the three-finger devil salute and scream with approval whenever the artist shouts, “Hello Amsterdam!”. It’s really kind of charming, unless you happen to be in the middle of the aforementioned mosh pit… But I digress. They either have a hyper-developed sense of irony or none at all, but either way they’re willing to get smashed in the face or get kicked in the head, and for that I salute them. And get the hell out of the way.
Since Clap Your Hands Say Yeah didn’t happen for Coolfer and I the other night, we got tickets to last night’s show featuring The Subways and Jeff Caudill as a consolation prize – I didn’t know much about either act, but the rock action must be maximized. Some promo people have been agitating for me to listen to The Subways for a while, so naturally, I haven’t. Teenage OC-approved pop-punk Brits doesn’t really imply greatness to me, but there’s no reason they can’t put on a good show and still be fun, so that’s where I set the bar for last night’s show. Entertain me, and it’s all good. Impress me and it’s gravy.
Opener Jeff Caudill seemed a bit of an odd choice for the audience, with his plaid shirt, acoustic guitar and faux-twang tunes, but it may have had something to do with his history in SoCal pop-punk band Gameface. He may well have had some fans in the audience, but most seemed a bit impatient with his strummy tunes, even despite the mandolin accompaniment. When a mandolin can’t win over a crowd, you know it’s going to be a tough room. Caudill’s stuff didn’t do much for me at all – pretty standard coffee house material, though maybe that’s novel in a town where coffee houses aren’t so much about the live music.
I’m pleased to report that as a live act, The Subways totally brought the gravy. Boasting super high energy and crowd-pleasing stage moves (see above), they got everyone moving whether they wanted to or not (you were either moshing or being mashed). The bubblegrunge tunes were reasonably catchy though it helped if you didn’t listen to the lyrics – they totally reveal the band’s tender age – but got rather samey after a bit. The London band, comprising two brothers and one’s girlfriend, smartly kept the focus on the live performance, whipping the crowd into a fervor whilst running around onstage and just generally seeming to be having a blast. It was hard not to like these kids who’re up there onstage, rocking out and living the dream.
I discovered the burst mode on my camera last night, and it’s a glorious thing. All these shots were taken in the first third of the show or so, before the mosh pit just got too outta hand and I had to flee for safer ground. The Subways were easily the most energetic subjects I’ve had to shoot lately. And Melkweg is a pretty nice club – about the size of Lee’s or Mod, but rather a bit fancier. It’s one of only two decent venues in the city, so they get the bulk of the touring acts. One scam they have that I hope doesn’t catch on across the pond is charging a club membership to see shows – I had to pay 3 euros on top of the 10 euro ticket price (and 0.50 euro service charge) for a “membership” that apparently only lasts a month. Over the course of a year, that’s an extra 36 euro for the average punter. Gross.
Earlier, the last couple attractions I hit on my final full day in Amsterdam were the Stedelijk museum of modern art and the Oude Kerk “Old Church”. Stedelijk was a very different experience from the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum yesterday. It was housed in a very temporary home in an old postal building while the museum itself (located on Museumplein with the others) undergoes significant renovation until 2008. The temporary space was rather small, housing only a few exhibits but a couple of them were quite striking. One was a series of video installations from Iranian filmmaker Shirin Neshat contemplating the role of women in Islamic Iran, another a series of portrait by Dutch photographer Rineke Dijkstra.
The Oude Kerk was an old 13th century church in the heart of the Red Light District that’s notable for being the oldest monument in Amsterdam and really, there wasn’t much to see. It’s not a consecrated church anymore so it’s just kind of a big empty room with lots of dead folk buried under the floor slabs. Cheery. After popping in there for a bit, I went for a final wander around downtown Amsterdam and – true to form – got lost again. Perfect.
And now it’s bags packed and ready to head back to The New World. Closing thoughs on Amsterdam tomorrow and then back to regularly scheduled programming after that, but for now, check out the rest of my holiday snaps. See you in the EST!
np – Belle & Sebastian / The Life Pursuit