Top 10 bands from MENT festival
Of course we will have missed a few bands – MENT is a cornucopia of bands mainly playing in the semi-squat venues of Metelkova Mesto – one the largest, and arguably most successful, urban squats in Europe which sprawls across 12,500 sqm of an abandoned army base and has about six venues in its graffiti-strewn mad max old-school space.
Metelkova Mesto is a kinda Christiana Of Copenhagen paradise of multi venues and they are all packed. Even the biggest snowstorm for years didn’t prevent our addiction to the new as we ran from venue to venue attempting to see as many bands as we could. MENT festival itself is in its 4th year and already at the frontline of the showcase events like Tallinn Music Week and By:Larm that deal in culture and ideas and leave the boring ‘music industry’ stuff to other more parched gatherings. Based in Ljubljana it is a beacon of the fizzing, edgy, brilliant music of its nearby area and across Europe and is also underlining the rush of Russian bands in the wave of “The Russians Are Coming’ bands that are electrifying the scene and part of the patchwork of the new underground.
Stunning set from St Petersburg, Russia and the latest brilliant band to emerge from the East as yet another part of the all-consuming New Russian Wave who meld the stark industrial landscapes of Belgian New Beat, mid-period Einsturzende Neubauten with the stadium possibilities of Depeche Mode but with their own imaginative edge and a charismatic singer who delivers the vocals with a captivating chanson falsetto and Russian melodies (Read the full review here)
Very much one of the key bands in the New Russian Wave – Lucidvox deal out a stunning, psychedelic-tinged rush of garage rock and neo-grunge on their own terms. The music is an engrossing total trip with their singer, Alina’s, almost mystical Russian folk melodies adding a twist to the band’s full-on electric rush, her crystal clear vocals from behind the Christmas tree lights she has thoughtfully placed on her mic stand and her occasional flute playing adding a mystery to the trip entwined with the high voltage sisterhood behind her – wonderful band.
Sheep Got Waxed are a thrilling rush of ideas from Vilnius Lithuania with a love of tripped out, vocoder vocals added to free jazz skronk mashed in with an impatient electronica. The three-piece take post-rock to a zigzag extreme and there so many ideas in their music that it’s an engrossing sport just to keep up with them. Somehow they also manage to make sense of their wild possibilities. The three wired young men are on total creative fire and make a post-punk wonk skronk that you can dance to.
Deliciously lunatic, Ghent, Belgium’s Shht are deconstructing deconstruction. Most of the really interesting stuff these days gets made by the post-guilty pleasures, post-ironic picking at the bones of rock history and when a band dares to wrestle Queen’s classic Bohemian Rhapsody into the ground with an array of bizarre sounds and a verve and deft skill that actually makes one of the most complex songs ever recorded actually work then you know you are onto something.
Shht are space rock for the now generation. Five wired men from the sonic spaceship. This is the Syd trip serviced through Lemmy period Hawkwind with added punk rock urgency and a modern digital bricolage of ideas that veers from silver suited disco phat synth bass lines delivered by a noise band with chemical minds and a singer hanging from the roof mentally and physically.
Glintshake are an avalanche. The Russian band deliver a loud and enveloping wall of post-punk, post shoe-gaze, beautiful noise and somehow find cascading and captivating melodies in the distorted wall of noise. Front-woman Katya Shilonosova has a kooky presence that is hypnotic and pulls you into their post-punk, post shoe-gaze wall of engrossing sound. There is melodic magic in the maelstrom. A shoal of melodies in the tidal wave of life-affirming cranked pedal comfort noise.
Building up layers of colliding manic intensity, The Guru Guru, come from the school of Mertz, Jesus Lizard and the grand school of riff collision. The band criss cross this with the smarter end of rock like Faith No More and deliver a high octane, pulverising set of songs that builds and grows to a white heat incendiary climax that sees the frontman belt out his sweatshod, stubbled everyman vocals and stage persona that belies his wild and wired intensity and explode into an intense sweatshop creature. The whole band seethe and sway behind him like a gang of noise-droogs as the band deliver a knock out set of zigzag wandering riffs and heavy-duty power precision.
If Russia is capturing the headlines of the underground media then Serbia is also making its noise. Already with the wonderful Repetitor out and about in blogland with their thrilling stripped down guitar assault and several other twitching thrills we know ave Igralom who somehow take the power tool noise of the aforementioned band and blend it with a Tinarewen desert blues endless horizon blues trip couched in a Jimi Hendrix virtuoso flights of pure electricity.
Somewhere in the slightly shambolic set and rough sound, there is something lurking. Weed and Dolphins have a melange of sound that lies in the garage guitar jangle of early Creation bands and classic indie and jangled guitar rock with a punk rock urgency. It’s frustrating that the sonic gloom and fuzzy delivery are getting in the way because the songs are there and their basic sound is good but I just can’t quite hear it as much as a I want to.
Already beloved by LTW, Trad.Attack! are on fire with their combination of Estonian traditional folk instruments blended with modern 21st-century electricity. The ancient melodies coaxed from the antique mixture of lutes and weird looking bagpipe things allied with tape loops of folk singers from the 19th century and the band’s tight assault and Sandra Vabarna’s charismatic presence and delivery make this band a serious proposition. Recreating the past and creating a new future and keeping us in touch with the ghosts and ancestors of our deep and musical past – it’s a brilliant idea and brilliantly delivered. It’s now a matter of when and not if, if this band catch fire outside the East end of our continent.