Following performances from over 50 artists, musicians and dancers, as well as a multitude of colourful art installations, the 2015 edition of Motel Mozaique came to end by means of a stellar headline performance courtesy of Canadian electro pop duo Purity Ring. Alongside their lightshow heavy set, though, were plenty of other performances which blew audiences away across various venues throughout the centre of Rotterdam. All Things Loud covered the whole festival, and we’ve also compiled a list of our Top 10 performances throughout the weekend.
10. THE DISTRICTS (Friday, Rotown)
Pennsylvanian folk rock quartet The Districts performed a set to one of the weekends busiest crowds as they stormed through an hour-long set in the sweaty Rotown. Performing songs from their debut album A Flourish and a Spoil, as well as their self-titled 2014 EP, the Rob Grote-fronted quartet tore at the heartstrings of audience members as the likes of set highlight Funeral Beds and emotional Chlorine stormed through the PA. Some songs may drag on for a verse or chorus too long, but it doesn’t take away from the sheer emotion which is present in Grote’s voice as he bounds around the stage. It’s not without reason that The Districts are tipped to become one of the biggest bands of the year, something which their well-received Friday night set definitely demonstrated.
9. PURITY RING (Saturday, Schouwburg Grote Zaal)
Being billed as headliners, Purity Ring had a lot of expectations to live up to as they took to the stage in front of a packed Schouwburg Grote Zaal, the biggest venue of the festival. With a massive production comprising of two huge lighting rigs which emit different colours through dangling, LED strings, instrumentalist Corrin Roddick and vocalist Megan James opened their set with the ethereal Push Pull, lifted from new album Another Eternity. Lights flickered as Roddick used lampshades as percussive instruments which lit up when touched, seguing neatly into vocal effects-laden, percussion heavy Repetition. “Make your way up through my tears and I’ll relax”, sang James as she walked in and amongst the dangling lights, before earlier track Obedear showcased Purity Ring’s darker, more synth-heavy side. Although the differences between debut album Shrines and its follow up Another Eternity aren’t stark, there are still various elements which set them apart from one another. Set highlight Fineshrine received the biggest reception of the evening as James’ sweet vocals were accompanied by sharp percussion and an almost anthemic synth line. Purity Ring are well on the way to being massive, that much is certain.
8. BC CAMPLIGHT (Saturday, Rotown)
“Non-conformist” singer-songwriter Brian Christinzio, who goes under the alias BC Camplight, drew a half-full crowd to the Rotown as he and his Manchester-based band (featuring a bassist who joined two days prior) performed songs from recent album How to Die in the North. After opening the set with You Should’ve Gone to School, it was evident that Christinzio was very comfortable with the crowd and his songs, performing them with effortless ease as he addressed the crowd between each song. Set highpoint Grim Cinema flittered between George Michael-esque vocal tones and powerful indie rock as Christinzio wailed his way almost note-perfect throughout the whole set. “You threw it away”, he sang during Grim Cinema, whereas Just Because I Love You switched between balladry and funky basslines. Christinzio and his band didn’t have an extremely well-attended set, but that didn’t deter them from pulling off a successful show.
7. MENACE BEACH, 3voor12 Session (Saturday, Kornuit)
Throughout both festival days, Motel Mozaique’s media platform 3voor12 hosted a handful of live sessions in the Kornuit tent. The sessions took place in the corner of the stage, with a handful of chairs and tables placed in front of it to add intimacy. On the Saturday, Leeds-quintet Menace Beach performed five songs during one such session, drawing a bigger crowd by each song. Having recently released their debut album Ratworld, core members and vocalists Ryan Needham and Liza Violet tore through the likes of the catchy Elastic, rocky Tastes Like Medicine and downbeat Tennis Court. By the end of their set, the amount of people present on the floor of the Kornuit had doubled somewhat fast, with their show at the Rotown later that day proving equally raucous.
6. THE NOTWIST (Saturday, Schouwburg Grote Zaal)
German electro/indie rock pioneers The Notwist may have been going for roughly three decades now, yet the Bayern-sextet are showing no signs of slowing down. With a lighting set-up which rivalled headliners Purity Ring as much as behemoths Radiohead, the Markus Acher-fronted group performed a selection of the more accessible tracks from their back catalogue. Set highlight Consequence, a slow burning masterpiece, combined perfectly with the lighting set up to create a spectacular experience which remained present for the most of the set. As lasers rocketed through the room in sync with various synth meltdowns, krautrock-esque basslines held the whole thing together. Frontman Acher made use of two microphones, each one connected to speakers on a different side of the room, to add an extra dimension to the music. The Notwist aren’t in need of an introduction, having become cult legends in their own right thanks to their drastically evolving sound.
5. BRNS (Friday, Gouvernestraat 1)
Belgian quartet BRNS (pronounced Brains) played two sets on the Friday, one of which was a powerful live session in the Kornuit. Their evening show in the Gouvernestraat was where the real magic happened, though. As strobes flickered throughout the contemporary theatre space, frontman/drummer Tim Philippe’s voice similarly tore through the room as a packed crowd danced along to their catchy, experimental indie rock. The ultimate highpoint in the set came during the exuberant Mexico, cowbells and xylophone’s combining with the repeated chant of, “I’ve never been to Mexico”. A wide selection of instruments featured during the set, including keyboard-style Kazoo’s, a children’s play set and screwdrivers. As the light show became more intense, the crowd watched in awe as BRNS slowly but surely started to solidify their status as credible live band in a heavily saturated indie rock scene.
4. WILL BUTLER (Saturday, Kornuit)
Although though known predominantly for his (extremely energetic) part in Canadian rock behemoths Arcade Fire, Will Butler is slowly starting to come out of his shell through solo album Policy. Comprising eight songs, Policy showcases Butler’s ability to step out of the shadow of brother Win by means of upbeat punk, demure balladry and 80s electro funk. During his set in the Kornuit on Saturday night, Butler (accompanied by two live members, each on synths and vocals) rocketed through tracks from Policy alongside songs which were recorded in conjunction with his “a song a day” project for The Guardian. New single Something’s Coming was bereft with funk elements, before electro pop anthem Anna led to plenty of dancing from the crowd. With no drummer or bassist present onstage, most of the instrumental work was done by Butler’s live members and a drum sequencer, named Miles, which he used for each song. The floppy haired American flittered between Miles, his keyboard and his guitar as set closer Take My Side received the best reaction from the crowd. There were some vocal problems earlier on in the set, yet these were nowhere near present during the final handful of songs which saw the connection between Butler and the audience finally solidify. Whether or not Butler will stick to his solo work once Arcade Fire resume for a new record remains to be seen, yet if he does the result could be fantastic.
3. THE STAVES (Saturday, Schouwburg Grote Zaal)
Coming in at number three are the Watford sisters in The Staves, whose subtle indie folk rocked the Grote Zaal of the Schouwburg on Saturday. Comprising of sisters Jessica, Camilla and Emily, the trio (accompanied by a drummer, keyboardist and bassist) tore through a set which drew from their two studio album Dead & Born & Grown and If I Was. Sweet harmonies intertwined with pounding percussion on Blood I Bled, before Mexico and Gone Tomorrow’s subtle acoustics left the crowd rather speechless. With new album If I Was fresh out of the oven, the set focussed heavily on its darker moments, coming mainly in the form of pounding percussion, deeper vocal tones and an extra, “rockier” edge to their soothing folk. Comparisons could be drawn with the likes of First Aid Kit and Haim, yet if their show on Saturday was anything to go by, then The Staves are unique.
2. THE MYSTERONS (Saturday, Schouwburg Hal)
The Mysterons are a band who many people probably didn’t plan on seeing, yet those people who did stick around late on Saturday night went home with no regrets. Fronted by Josephine van Schaik and completed by members of Pauw and Jungle by Night, The Mysterons are very much a new discovery for most people. Their debut EP, The Mysterons, was released not even two weeks ago but has also received plenty of praise from Dutch music outlets. With guitarist Brian Pots missing due to commitments with his other band Pauw, it was up to the quintet (with Pots’ replacement in tow) to play two sets on Saturday. Their first, a live session for 3voor12, saw the group play four songs to a busy Kornuit, before their second set saw them play for a near-full Schouwburg Hal (which is essentially just the foyer). The standout track from their self-titled EP, Thunderbird 1, intertwined elements of afro funk, jazz and a garage groove as an oriental melody held it all together, before Echoes started slow and built up ever so slowly to create an attractive end product which grooved and rocked the Schouwburg. The Mysterons are only in the ‘baby steps’ phase of their career, but it hasn’t stopped them from creating an instant buzz which seems nothing short of fully deserved.
1. HYPNOTIC BRASS ENSEMBLE (Friday, Schouwburg Grote Zaal)
Our number one set from the weekend came in one of the unlikelier places, and part of it was down to the unfortunate cancellation of sibling duo Ibeyi. With the hotly tipped sisters too ill to perform, organizers moved the Detroit nine-piece Hypnotic Brass Ensemble (all brothers) from the Kornuit to the main hall of the Schouwburg (with Dutch rockers DeWolff filling the gap in the tent). The decision to move the nine-piece was ultimately a great one, with the group sparking the biggest party of the whole weekend. Their hour-long set, instrumental for the most part, didn’t hold back from being energetic for even a second, as the brothers encouraged the crowd to dance, jump and “get down” on multiple occasions. Each member of the ensemble had their own stab at being the MC, each one asking different things of the packed crowd, which surprisingly didn’t empty as the news of Ibeyi’s cancellation broke. Set highlight Party Started saw the call-and-response demand of “we get the party started, you get the party jumping”, the audience obeying as they sang back when necessary and jumped around regardless of what happened onstage. The set only lasted an hour, yet it felt as if it could’ve gone on for much longer. Hypnotic Brass Ensemble do exactly what their name suggests – they hypnotize the listener by means of catchy brass-infused tracks which don’t hold back for even a moment.
And with that, another successful edition of Motel Mozaique has come to an end. With a whole year until the next edition, the clock has now started ticking as we wait in anticipation to see which 2015 acts will make it big in similair fashion to how George Ezra, Jungle and Temples emerged in 2014. One thing we’re already sure of, though, is that Motel Mozaique is one of the finest festivals Holland has to offer. It’s a festival full of surprises, one where you don’t know quite what to expect. Whether it be a ‘boedelbaksessie’ or impromptu beatbox session in the foyer of the Schouwburg, or whether it’s the up-and-close artistic endeavours displayed, Motel Mozaique will always be the festival that keeps you guessing.
For more pictures from Motel Mozaique 2015, click here.