“From music people accept pure emotion, but from art they demand explanation.” – Agnes Martin
Going to a festival straight from art classes felt like the most inspired decision. Not only did I have this very fitting quote in my head, but I also got to break down the meaning – and turn it on its head. The event I’m talking about is none other than Grauzone Festival, successfully fusing music, visual art and cinema in a skilfully balanced two-day spectacle. All emotion, all explanation, no compromises.
Part of the explaining process, I’ll delve into the details of this mysterious grey area. The Hague and its numerous cultural hotspots become, year after year, the hosts for both new music and industry giants, experimental art practices, film screenings, performances and symposiums. The small scale of it allows for intimacy and freedom of experimentation, constantly challenging the public.
Grauzone’s greatest achievement, however, is curating an eclectic line-up of music that defies any conventional definition of sound, genre or stage performance. Running around through Paard and trying to catch as many shows as I could shaped, surprisingly enough, every experience into a highlight. Shortparis kicked off the main stage programme with unsettling post-punk cries and impatient (and visually charged) drumming, only to prepare the crowd to be turned into a playground by The Murder Capital. Energy was bouncing through the walls, reaching the cafe underground where Los Bitchos started a tequila-infused dance party only to rally back to Thurston Moore’s atmospheric triumph.
Saturday welcomed another round of fresh artists, such as Black Marble’s delicate and soul-touching tunes, Automatic and their bass-driven apocalypse soundtrack, De Ambassade’s sound echoing as if having a consciousness of its own and Shame’s euphoric finale. It’s more than wholesome seeing new experimental musicians playing alongside Can’s mastermind Damo Suzuki, who once was in their place. This exchange of intergenerational sounds and experiences is what makes Grauzone such a thriving space for art and gives hope to future sonic explorations.
There’s only so much explaining you can do – the greatest moments are better left unspoken of, as they’re made out of pure emotion. And maybe they can only exist in that grey space which changes its hue every year, but never its vibrance. Ingrid Enache & Judith Zandwijk.