Once a year, a massive group of like-minded culture and music enthusiasts all flock to the Dutch city of Rotterdam for an annual festival like no other – Motel Mozaique. The festival bills itself as one whose main focus is on Music, Art and Dance, all taking place in different venues in and around the centre of Rotterdam. 2014’s edition took place on the 4th and 5th of April, featuring performances from the likes of Temples, Kurt Vile, Howler, Jungle, Wild Beasts and tons more. All Things Loud was present on the first day of the festival, taking in energetic live sessions and bringing you backstage exclusives!
As with every year, Motel Mozaique kicks off with a selection of live sessions (filmed for 3voor12) which tend to take place in an unusual location. Today, these sessions took place on the 7th floor of the nHow Hotel in Rotterdam, which overlooks the Erasmus Bridge and is also where festivalgoers can spend the night with a weekend ticket. Originally there were meant to be five live sessions, later whittled down to four following cancellations from Wild Beasts and Asgeir (the latter of which was replaced by Gentlemen). Wild Beasts cited technical issues as the reason for their cancellation, with vocalist Hayden Thorpe later telling All Things Loud that the organizers had misled them on the equipment front. Icelandic sensation Asgeir, on the other hand, cited exhaustion as reason for his cancellation. Although the consecutive sessions from Eagulls, Quilt and Temples did take place, it seemed that all was not well following the first session of the day. Eagulls performed three songs for a 300-strong crowd, yet following the set bassist Tom Kelly expressed his dissatisfaction towards live sessions to All Things Loud, calling them “bullshit”. “Look at where we are, look at this. We don’t do sessions” he later claimed. Following this was Wild Beasts’ set up and imminent cancellation, lengthening the wait for US quartet Quilt (pictured below). The Anna Fox Rochinski group also performed three songs, all quite dreamy and hypnotic. Quilt are very tight live, and definitely one to watch in the future. The fourth session came from one of the most sought after bands of present day, psychedelic rockers Temples. Their 4-song set was in front of at least 500 people, all collectively swaying along to the likes of debut single Shelter Song and old B-Side Ankh, before leaving to get ready for their own show later that night. Gentlemen followed Temples, with All Things Loud not being present for their live session.
One thing which makes Motel Mozaique so amazing is the extreme diversity of performances and activities going on. The main hub of the festival is located on the Schouwburgplein, which was totally transformed to a hipster paradise home to tents, stages and various interesting activities. Performing at the time on the Plaza Mozaique stage was the Dutch band Herrek, who were reminiscent of fellow Dutch act Blaudzun. They were one of many Dutch acts taking to the stage throughout the day, alongside Victim Victim, The Sweet Release of Death and WLDRF. However, despite all the wonderful occurrences on the main Plaza, there was far more to check out in the surrounding venues. The first band we had the pleasure of experiencing was California quintet Gardens & Villa, whose eclectic mix of 80s power pop and interesting instrumentation kept the 250-strong crowd in full awe for the duration of their 60 minute set. Opening with Domino (in which singer Christopher Lynch demonstrated his amazing flute skills), the band further went on to perform set highlight Bullet Train as well as the powerful Star Fire Power and closing track Echosassy. This band certainly possess the talent and skill to be as big as contemporaries such as The Shins and Fanfarlo, yet it’s now just a matter of when this major breakthrough is going to happen. Let’s hope soon, as tonight’s set really proved how great the Santa Barbara group really are!
By this point in the evening, we were nearing the end of our ‘to see’ list, as we arrived at the Gouvernestraat for our two final acts of the evening, disco collective Jungle and a second set from Temples. Jungle took to the stage just after 10:30pm to a crowd of approximately 1,000 people, kicking off their set with an untitled intro track laden with rainforest sounds and disco grooves. Following track The Heat received the first large reception of the night, with both the ‘J’ and ‘T’ fronted 7-piece and the whole audience dancing as if it were a 70s disco. Jungle is the kind of band who’s far better live than on record, when the songs truly come to life. This was particularly evident during the as-yet-unreleased Crying, as well as singles Busy Earnin’ and an extended version of Platoon. Once the group left the stage, the whole room was in awe of what they’d just experienced. This led into an hour long switchover as the stage was prepared for Temples.
Temples kicked off their 60-minute set with early single Colours to Life, as the full-capacity room stood in total awe of James Bagshaw’s vocals. The band, completed by Adam Smith, Thomas Warmsley and Samuel Toms, are one of the success stories of the last year. Having formed just over a year ago, debut album Sun Structures reached #7 in the album charts upon its release in January. Their set went on to feature fan favourite’s The Golden Throne and A Question Isn’t Answered, whilst throwing the B-Sides Ankh and Prisms in and amongst a set comprising mainly of material from their debut album. Of all the sets we saw today, this was by far the one with best crowd reception as the crowd went wild during the set. Closing track Shelter Song got everyone wild as the band left the stage to masses and masses of cheers.
Motel Mozaique Festival is a one of a kind festival. Yes, there are comparisons with Brighton’s The Great Escape Festival in its multi-venue set-up, but Motel Mozaique goes that one step further in bringing the best music, art and dance of today to the stages of Rotterdam, a city where bands seldom play. A lot of bands that are big now started off by appearing on the stages of Motel Mozaique, and today’s line-up alone featured tons of acts who could be as big as (for example) Mumford & Sons. Overall, Motel Mozaique is a festival which you ought to check out if you’re into discovering the best of the best, and if you’re up for an all-round great festival experience!