Today we were invited to participate in ‘de Utrecht Popprijs 2014’. It was time for the semi finals and a lot of really good bands were showing their wares. Now we all know I am a foreigner…. buitenlander if you will…. but I couldn’t help feeling it should have been called ‘De Popprijs van Utrecht’ or ‘De Utrechtse Popprijs’. Either way your language continues to confuse and stimulate me in equal quantities. Love it!!
With the aim of reaching the final each of the 12 bands alighted the competition treadmill in order to run like all hell for the allotted 20 minutes per act….rest, refocus and do it all again an hour or so later.
On this day ‘De Utrecht popprijs’ (2014) was held in three separate werf kelders (cellars at canal level unique to Utrecht by virtue of having a small walkway or warf between the canal and said cellar, for those of you unfamiliar with the Netherlands). Without exception all wonderful and intimate venues. Narrow spaces with low curved brick ceilings, extremely evocative, think the Beatles playing the Cavern Club and you have the idea. Romantic venues and simply by that definition it was the awakening cold sweaty nightmare of every soundman on the planet worth his salt.
Having said all that the technicians rose to the occasion and did a marvelous job and we (the Lazari) were more than supportive.
We arrived on time and in good spirit. We were missing Timo and Thomas but we were plus Koen! So all was good in the world. We thumped out our, 5 song 20 minute set, to an audience consisting of the soundman, door staff, members of the other bands and hopefully a member of the judging committee….. that’s a ‘jury’ right?
Members of the jury were working just as hard. Scrambling to and fro between the three seperate venues trying to catch a glimpse of each group of hopefuls as they bled out their art shamelessly on a Saturday afternoon. A sunny Saturday afternoon I might mention. The kind of Saturday afternoon best spent with a good book, or playing catch with the dog, and given the competition’s location this concept was not missed by the musicians gathered outside.
Each time we escaped the confines of the cellar we broke out onto a sun bathed canal. Boats of all descriptions from clumsy pedalos, to one man stealth like electric craft adorned in disco lights, to large barge like objects filled to the gunnel with vibrant party goers or family units trying desperately to enjoy themselves despite the obvious division of wills.
In any case you get the idea. Sunny afternoon, sucky band competition, confined place to play, soundman’s nightmare, no audience, moving all that gear just to play 20 minutes, wish I was reading a book or playing catch with the dog etc etc…… however.
It was really really great fun. We had a laugh. The people working the door and the stage were really nice. The other bands were cool and we all got along as if it was a sunny Saturday afternoon down by the canal with some boats and of course a bit of live music thrown into the mix.
So apparantly there will be some deliberation and then a little judging and once the jury members have made up their mind and the “judging be done” we will hear which bands go through to the finals and which bands are simply left with their sunny Saturday afternoon audition.
This we will hear tomorrow I believe but in the meantime I will leave you with a haiku..
venue with shit sound
watery sun shines on boats
music played with hope
OK so I’m no good at writing haiku but whatever…… see if you can do better.
lots of love,