If there’s one country on this planet that absolutely relishes every opportunity they have at celebrating, it’s The Netherlands. Celebrating carnival is a popular pastime within the borders of Holland, something particularly evident when people from all over the country take a whole week off work for partying. This carnival atmosphere isn’t just present for a few days per year, though. That’s because Catalan mestizo collective La Pegatina make their way onto Dutch shores every now and then, turning venues nationwide upside down with their eclectic range of styles. Last Thursday, the group took Utrecht by storm when they performed to a packed TivoliVredenburg.
With no support act billed, it meant that La Pegatina had as much freedom as they wanted in playing to their hearts content. And that’s exactly what they did, playing a 35-song set which spanned over two hours in length. That’s not to say it all ran smoothly, though. The show got off to a bad start when Muerdeme’s confetti cannons caused the sound to cut out completely, with accordionist Romain Renard later calling it the “worst start to a show ever”. That says a lot for a band whose live show is usually impeccable. Once the show restarted, it was all systems go for Adria Salas and his band, with the septet powering through party-ready tracks Lerei, Ni Chicha Ni Limona and La Voisine in quick succession. The thing with a La Pegatina show is that, even though many songs sound similar, you’re never short of enough fun. There’s confetti cannons coming at you from all directions, landing in a crowd that’s usually erupting in mosh pit after mosh pit for songs on end. The slightly slower paced Llename de Veneno placed emphasis on a catchy trumpet melody courtesy of Axel Magnani, before Sun Bay, Despierto and El Revulsiu saw the first crowdsurfers make themselves known. The latter track is the title track of La Pegatina’s fifth studio album, Revulsiu, which the band are currently promoting across Europe. Rayden collaboration Celestina is one such song, preceding the slower La Ciudad de los Gatos Negros, taken from 2013’s Eureka.
Ten songs in and it was time for La Pegatina to pull some of their most energetic songs out of the bag, starting with Revulsiu’s lead single Heridas de Guerra. It’s one of the Catala septet’s first forays into the use of electric guitars, something which boded very well with the mosh-loving crowd. La Malifeta and Bananeres followed, making way for La Pegatina’s flagship classic, Gat Rumberu. If there’s ever a song which sums this band up perfectly, it’s Gat Rumberu. Whenever the band pull this one out of the bag in Holland it garners a massive reception, with the whole room singing along to its catchy melody line. It’s become so popular that Gat Rumberu’s chanted section has become synonymous with La Pegatina. This made way for a slower section which featured the baroque-esque Amantes de lo Ajeno and popular early track Alosque. Both songs received a strong reception from the 800-strong crowd, before Como Explicarte saw the first stagediver of the evening emerge. The corny trumpet melody of Lacon los Grelos incited plenty of pits, before 2013 single Olivia made for a loud singalong moment. It was at this point in the show that frontman Adria Salas took it upon himself to introduce his bandmates, with one roadie even breakdancing across stage to loud cheers from the (largely intoxicated) crowd. Suenos di Sirena and Non Som d’Aqui made for sweaty crowd moments, before Y Se Fue, Que Bonito and Nada Que Decir saw the band members fly across stage with more energy than ever before.
El Curandero’s infectiously catchy accordion melody, courtesy of the technically skilled Romain Renard, sparked plenty of crowd action as it preceded slower cut La Maree Monte. It was just one of two slower moments during the show, with the rest of the two-hour set consisting of high octane performances from all of La Pegatina’s seven members. The double-header of Non E Facile and Miranda yet again boded well with the crowd, before crazily energetic renditions of Tomasin and Una Mirada ended the main set in rousing fashion. The band re-emerged a few minutes later, kicking straight into what is unarguably their heaviest song – Llovera y yo Vere. Its pounding melody and forceful drumming made for the biggest moshpit of the night, before Mamma Mia went down the gypsy-path thanks to Renard’s upbeat accordion. The show came to a close on fan favourite Mari Carmen, a song which bears one of the catchiest melodies La Pegatina have put out to date. As the band left the stage, frontman Salas remained and asked for an open space to be made in the crowd. This space eventually played host to the whole band, closing the show in the crowd with an acoustic guitar, trumpet & drums-led mash-up of Gat Rumberu and other various carnival classics. That the band still had enough energy to make their way into the crowd after two hours of solid energy is something you definitely have to credit them for.
The songs may not be the most original or unique you’ve ever heard, but that’s not what La Pegatina are concerned with. The Catalan septet only aim to do one thing, and that’s to get the whole crowd dancing along to their music. Whenever they take to the stage in Holland it’s always a success, which makes it no surprise that the band love coming back every few months. By the time they come back again later this year, expect the show to be even more energetic than it was before, in front of an even bigger crowd than usual. It’s exactly what they deserve.
Revulsiu is out now via Warner Music Spain. Stream it here.