I may be one of the few people who thinks it’s really stupid that the Fête de la Musique is always on 21st June, no matter what day it is. Fortunately Dudelange has the habit of cheating and puts its festivities always on the Saturday preceding or following the actual date.
It’s been one of my long time habits to pay a visit to this mega event in Dudelange, although I rarely stay for long. The program was not that interesting today anyway, with two of the bands I would have liked to see (Toxkäpp, Inborn) playing much too early in the afternoon. I also don’t know what it is with the weather: I can’t remember any Fête de la Musique in Dudelange that was warm and sunny, but at least this time it didn’t rain, and the sun even showed up from time to time, with temperatures starting at 15°C that later dropped slightly. It’s funny when you consider how the even bigger Food For Your Senses festival in Tuntange which always happens about a month earlier generally takes advantage of prematurely warm spring weather.
Not wanting to miss Absynthe Minded who were scheduled to play at 7pm, I left already shortly after 6pm and was surprised that there was still a lot of parking space around. Leaving my car at the nearby train station, I walked past the Why Not Stage where Backyard were in the midst of torturing their audience with the kind of music we had to listen in the Eighties. Backyard have been around since the mid-Nineties, but their blandly conservative pop rock could as well have been from the Eighties. So I moved along to the Planet Luxembourg stage, right next to the main stage, where Daniel Balthasar must just have started his set. In the past I never really liked his often too polished take at American styles indie rock, but tonight he proved me wrong with an unexpectedly rocking performance, full of loud, screeching guitar moments and a cellist that was not only good looking but also added that certain touch to the music. Maybe it’s because lately indie rock has mellowed down, considering the bands playing at the d:qliq and Exit07 these last few months. Daniel Balthasar is one of the few local artists that have a professional take on music. If only his backing band would have shown more stage presence.
At 7pm, it was finally time for Absynthe Minded from Ghent. But first we had to watch the band do their soundcheck, which wasn’t so cool, but then it’s probably not easy getting everything just right on such a big festival. I saw the Belgians four years ago playing at the Rockhal, back when that venue was still pristinely new, in front of about a hundred people. Back then I was amazed by their strangely angular take on Belgian flavoured indie rock, but times have changed, Absynthe Minded have become bigger, and unfortunately straighter, lacking the edgy charm of their early days. Today the also had a rather mediocre sound, with all of the instruments flowing into a mushy whole. Even the few classics they played didn’t sound as good as in the past.
So I risked another shot at the Why Not Stage where Blue Soxxxs were in the midst of their set. Well, it’s rock music, but the singer did a really good job and was fully into what he was doing. The same can’t be said about the other members who lacked presence. That’s probably a major problem with many new bands.
The Planet Luxembourg Stage was meanwhile offering Natas Loves You, a young band that has lately created quite a stir. While I was disappointed with their early concerts, I am really glad, for them but also for my ears, that the quintet is constantly improving their music. Deeply inspired by a music from an age that was probably twenty years over before they were even born, the guys play a quirky kind of Sixties acid pop with a lot of Beatlesque vocal lines and plenty of vintage synth sounds. Even the vocalist has learned to integrate better into the band concept. Apparently Natas Loves You were even better the day before where they opened for German indie band Abby at the d:qliq, and it was true that they looked somewhat worn. They were still far more entertaining than the preceding Belgians.
Not even 9pm, and I headed home already to watch some football, and while I walked past the Why Not Stage, I watched a couple of minutes Real Time Spinner. Now these guys are really old, with gray hair, looking like some ancient hippies that have dug out their instruments. Their music was not really inspiring, just a couple of old lads having some fun playing blues rock. Reason enough to really make it back home.
With headliners like Luxuslärm and Paul Carrack of Mike & The Mechanics fame, I was really not motivated to stay. My first hour in Dudelange was also marred by bratty children that seemed to be wherever I decided to stand, always hardly avoiding colliding with their scooters with me. The beverage prices were very social though, making this a true party and not a pseudo free event where the organisers get back at the audience with exaggerated beer fees. There were not many people there so early in the evening. Most of the audience were locals, and just like Eschers, people from Dudelange have also a genetic quirk that makes them instantly recognisable. At least it didn’t rain, but I mentioned that already. See you back in 2011, Dudetown!