“The best thing you’ve never heard” is a slogan which Metropolis Festival has proudly carried for quite some years, its annual one-day festival in Rotterdam’s Zuiderpark providing people with the musical stars of the future. Past editions have seen the likes of Coldplay, The Black Keys, The Prodigy and Twenty One Pilots all appear and put on memorable shows, which is already a big enough example of Metropolis’ ability to track down the ‘next big thing’ and put them in front of a crowd. This year, for the 27th edition of the free festival, the likes of All Tvvins, Vintage Trouble and special guest headliner Jungle (who were announced mere hours before the show) all took to the rainy Rotterdam for what came to be a memorable day. Read on for a full round-up of the day.
The day kicked off on the Workers Stage with a mediocre set from local musician Goodnight Moonlight, real name Jasper Boogard. The 17 year old self-proclaimed ‘hipster’, accompanied live by one guitarist and a drum machine, performed songs from his most recent EP Mountain Boy (which features the great title track). Its sickly sweet dream pop, which feels reminiscent of Mac DeMarco in places, sounds much better on record than it does live. Boogard’s only just starting out, meaning that he’s got a lot of work to do, particularly in the vocal department. Over on the Thinkers Stage, fellow Rotterdam locals Half Way Station pulled off a promising set in front of a sizable crowd. Their infectious indie rock, which bears hints of grunge and slacker rock, resonated well with the audience as frontwoman Elma Plasier cavorted around stage with utmost swagger and confidence. Upcoming debut album DODO, set for a September release, is one of the most hotly anticipated Dutch releases of the year, being preceded by fantastic single Sister Don’t You Cry. It received a great reception during their Metropolis set, proving that Half Way Station are well on the way to becoming the next big band Holland has to offer.
Following the opening salvo of Dutch artists, Irish duo All Tvvins took to the Workers Stage. Debut track Thank You’s infectious chorus and gritty riff (embellished in a perfect pop sheen) echoed throughout the tent as the crowd doubled in size. With only two tracks to their name, the other being new single Too Young To Live, All Tvvins still have a lot to prove as they slowly get through the process of recording their debut album. Live, the band perform as a three-piece with added drummer, putting in 110% for their Metropolis show. Whether or not All Tvvins become a massive sensation remains to be seen, but the signs are all pointing in the right direction following an extremely successful Metropolis set on Sunday. The crowd reacted well to their newer music, proving that they have plenty of potential to be the next rock sensation. Following them on the Workers stage was Colombian collective Meridian Brothers, who describe themselves as danceable salsa-meets-psychedelia. The quintet, all dressed in matching clothing (save for saxophonist Maria Valencia), did their absolute best to get the rain-soaked crowd dancing to their obscure tracks. It worked to an extent, yet it was very clear that a lot of the people in the tent were there so that they could shelter from the heavy rain. New album Salvador Robot featured predominantly, with the records more psychedelic moments really coming to life in a live setting. The Bogota-based quintet are a one-of-a-kind band; there is absolutely nobody out there right now who is doing what they’re doing.
Due to the heavy rain and stormy conditions, it meant that a slight delay in the schedule occurred. This delay meant that New Yorker Ezra Furman’s set was delayed by 15 minutes, his new studio album Perpetual Motion People having been released last week. The record showcases exactly why Furman is worth getting excited about, with the album full of classic 70s and 80s rock and synth pop which harks back to the golden days. The record oozes New York sassiness and class, something which translated very well onto the Rotterdam stage. Furman’s live band featured a saxophonist complete with pink Mohawk, his flowery shirt adding to human embodiment of New Yorker culture that he already is. Furman himself wore dark red lipstick, something which added to the obscure image of songs such as My Zero and Restless Year, both of which received strong outings in Rotterdam. Back on the Workers stage, Brighton grunge quartet Black Honey played their first ever European show as they absolutely tore apart the tent. Frontwoman Izzy Bee walked onstage armed with a plastic flamingo as standout track Madonna’s grungy riff and massive chorus sprawled in and out of consciousness. Although the band don’t actually have a debut album to their name, they did prove themselves to be one of the next big breakthrough acts to come from the UK. Think of Wolf Alice, but then with an extra raucous edge which sets them ever so slightly apart from their contemporaries.
Back on the Thinkers Stage, 45 minutes later than planned, blues rock quartet Vintage Trouble showed Rotterdam how it’s supposed to be done in one of the most energetic sets of the day. The band are currently touring Europe with AC/DC, and this influence has definitely rubbed off on their own live show. Frontman Ty Taylor bounded energetically around the stage as he commandeered the crowd with utmost showmanship. His bandmates (guitarist Nalle Colt, bassist Rick Barrio Dill and drummer Richard Danielson) were all equally energetic as selected songs from upcoming studio album 1 Hopeful Rd. all made appearances. The high point in the set came in the form of Strike Your Light (Right On Me), which saw a lot of call-and-response interaction between Taylor and the crowd. The set came to a ramshackle ending as the whole band jumped into the crowd and left the stage through the festival site itself. All of this proved the energetic nature of Vintage Trouble’s fantastic live show, a band who have the songs and energetic passion to one day be as big as their current touring partners. Whilst Vintage Trouble were getting everyone up on their feet on the Thinkers Stage, the Workers Stage was playing host to Stuttgart punks Die Nerven, whose well-received set saw plenty of pits emerge, all soundtracked by songs full of angst and vigour. Following Die Nerven on the Workers Stage and Vintage Trouble on the Thinkers Stage were New York trio Too Many Zooz, hailed by many as the next big thing. Consisting of a baritone sax player, a trumpeter and one extremely vibrant percussionist, Too Many Zooz made a name for themselves by busking on the New York subway. Their music, which is almost a crossover between EDM with layers of trumpets and sax, got the party started from the moment the band started playing. Nonchalant trumpeter Matt Doe stood in the same place for the whole show, holding a drink and cigarette in one hand as he played his trumpet with the other, his skills shining in particular on the upbeat To the Top. Saxophonist Leo P was the one who got the party started, encouraging the crowd to dance and jump at his command, whereas percussionist The King of Sludge spent the show banging his cacophony of percussive instruments. Too Many Zooz don’t do things by the book; rather, they do whatever the hell they think is right. And that’s exactly the kind of ass-kicking mood that music needs to pull it out of the rigid structure it resides in.
Due to the delays, it meant that everything later on in the day overlapped for the most part. This was also partly the case for Glass Animals, who were ultimately up against special guest headliners Jungle. The London live octet (helmed by mainstay frontmen Josh and Tom) have become quite the live sensation in the last year, hailed by many as being the best live band in the world at the moment. Their set at Metropolis laid claim to the hype which surrounded the band throughout all of last year, opening the set with an eerie jam version of Smoking Pixels, the whistled instrumental mid-point on their debut self-titled record. This jam led straight into RnB funk banger Platoon, its chorus of “I’ll knock you down” seeing Josh and Tom’s octave distanced vocal falsettos intertwine seamlessly. The track was extended to become a full-on funk behemoth, incorporating backing vocalists Rudi and Andro’s adlib sections and an included percussive solo from Dominic Whalley. Brass-led single Julia followed, incorporating a bombastic brass section which was beautifully underpinned by infectious bass and Fraser MacColl’s guitar. The ten-song set continued with the downbeat Crumbler, its guitar line perfectly suited for a sun-kissed poolside cocktail in St Tropez. Fellow downbeat track Son of a Gun followed a similar path to Crumbler, this time placing emphasis on a more demure sounding piano line. It eventually made way for early track The Heat, its funk-laden bassline intertwining with police sirens, falsetto vocals and punchy guitar licks. “Doing all that I can for you” sang Josh and Tom in sync with one another, dancing as backing vocalists Rudi and Andro clapped their hands to the beat. Accelerate’s guitar licks and relaxed piano chords were equally poolside-worthy, paving way for the dark and brooding Lucky I Got What I Want. On record, this song sounds more laid back and calmer, yet live the extra bassline and powerful outro make the song just as powerful as 2014 single Drops. Drops’ epic arpeggio outro was an unforgettable moment in the set, as it was one which saw the music come together with the lighting set-up and form one humongous outro. As the arpeggios died down, the occasional bleeping noise or police siren hinted as to what was coming next – mega hit Busy Earnin’. It’s by far one of the best songs Jungle have ever put out, encompassing everything they do well. An opening waspy synth line made way for MacColl’s 80s dancefloor bassline, both of which eventually combined with Whalley’s percussion and some brass-laden synths to
create an absolute anthem. Live, the song is extended to become a 7-minute long funk classic, complete with a downtown NYC-breakdown which places heavy emphasis on danceable bass. Once Busy Earnin’ eventually came to a euphoric close, though, it was all but over. Jungle still had one more trick up their sleeve, which they ended up dedicating to their Dutch sound and lighting men. Radio hit Time closed the show in a similar fashion to Busy Earnin’, encompassing another massive bass line which was drawn out to become an absolute epic. The ram-packed tent was dancing from the front all the way to back as it became very clear that Jungle are going to be the biggest band in the world one day.
Once Jungle’s set came to an end, another edition of Metropolis Festival proved itself to be the breeding ground for some more fantastic future talent. Although Jungle already have one step in the door, it was still quite a sight to see the headline the kind of festival which gives up and coming bands on their level the support they need on mainland European soil. Black Honey played their first ever show in Europe, with frontwoman Izzy Bee’s manic connection with the crowd proving the key in a successful set. Too Many Zooz lived up to all of the hype as they got everyone moving, whereas Vintage Trouble showed Rotterdam that rock and roll is still alive and kicking. New music couldn’t be any better.
Click here for more pictures from Metropolis Festival 2015.