November is here, for many people this means the first cold snap, leaves fading and Thanksgiving turkey. There is only one sigh in the heart of the AB-er though: “Le Guess Who? is almost here!”. This festival in Utrecht, already in its 12th edition, is an exuberant, eclectic musical happening that spreads its wings over the city every year for 4 days. We arrived in Utrecht armed with a wish-list, a sturdy pair of shoes and an unbelievable amount of enthusiasm. The result: A Top 8 of acts that were stunning, entertaining and gave us plenty to think about. Read along.
Anoushka Shankar & Manu Delago with MO Strings
In a gorgeous garment, the world’s best sitar player Anoushka Shankar joined the 27-member Metropole Orkest Strings. Austrian hang player Manu Delago sat opposite her and together they entered into duet on the waves of the strings. Classic Indian sound with contemporary influences. Wonderfully beautiful and magical. A fantastic example of how LGW? broadens your musical perspective yet again every year, allowing you to taste unknown ingredients. -LP
Sons Of Kemet
With Shabaka Hutchings on sax, Theon Cross on tuba and no less than four fiery drummers, the hall was ablaze. Standing still was not tolerated for a moment, no time to wipe away the sweat before the next onslaught. People danced, screamed, wailed and clapped during the ultimate performance that still has me flushed from the fun days later. -JDR
World Eater by Blanck Mass (½ of the duo Fuck Buttons) has been on repeat for a year now, ‘at maximum volume’ as is recommended on the back cover. What a cover it is too! This dog does bite, I reckon. Opener Rhesus Negative immediately set the tone for this danceable noise-hardcore set. No hands-in-the-air dance party, rather a dark industrial feast in a bunker under Terrorist Threat Level 4. Exquisite hell-raising racket! -KVH
He did it again, the ‘High Priest of L.A. freak-folk’: stealing our hearts with his heavenly Latin-American songs. Venezuela and L.A. through the mixer. Spiritual folk at its best – with the necessary absurdity. His visit to AB already dates from 2005, but Devendrito’s music makes you forget time. He was the one to curate LGW? this year and, to top it all off, he also performed on the wonderful Main Hall stage of TivoliVredenburg. -LP
There are few certainties at an eclectic festival like Le Guess Who? But that’s the festival’s greatest strength. Yet I’ve gone in search of my tried-and-true act amongst all those new and exciting ones. And again: STUFF. never ever disappoints. With a set suited to any ADHD-er, the avant-gardists drew us to the edge of the stage yet again. From jazz, to hip-hop, to noise and back again… to then end in a full-on house party. How on earth do they do it? -AG
A strange sincerity surrounded Neneh Cherry when she set foot on stage in the beautiful Main Hall of TivoliVredenburg. This star has long shaken off her hip-hop imago and that was to be seen in the enormously varied, sultry set. ‘Buffalo Stance’ was nowhere to be seen when the mysterious ‘Kong’ began. The beats of Four Tet producer Kieran Hebden accompanied Neneh’s vocals perfectly and left us wanting more. -IC
The Bug ft. Miss Red
A few words from the description by the LGW? programmers really stuck with us: “total destruction”, “post-apocalyptic”, “devouring dub-noise beats”. And it’s entirely true. MC/singer Miss Red, aka Sharon Stern, and producer The Bug, alias Kevin Martin, pump blood where it has never been before. Heavy beats had your entire body shaking – luckily there were some fences around the PA, to hold on to, so as to not quite be blown into the air. Or, how a concert can become a physical experience. More of that, please. -LP
From the very first moment, Ian Svenonius had the entire hall under his spell at LE:EN. He had the audience repeating sentences and scats, giving the show more the character of a performance. An extremely engaged, experimental soundscape created by 1 artist with only guitar, microphone, tape deck and drum. The reason to go to a festival like Le Guess Who?.
Now we can look forward to next year, for Le Guess Who? 2019. See you there!