DAMAGE FESTIVAL 2014 – PARIS
Half of the audience is still queuing outside when Novelists started playing, but as locals, they were lucky enough to be known already by the crowd. We heard a lot from these newcomers over the past year and had a good connection with the fans. Despite playing a very short set, they took advantage of it to present a brand new track before leaving the stage, satisfied.
Tides From Nebula are an interesting instrumental band from Poland but playing at this right moment didn’t necessarily do them justice as the attention wasn’t 100% caught and the atmosphere still « dissipée », which is a shame because other than that, Tides From Nebula are pretty skilled and tried their best to interest people, even jumping in the crowd as a closing.
I remember discovering Circles, this Australian band I’d never heard of a year ago, while they were on tour with The Dillinger Escape Plan and I thought there was something strong going on with them. They later released their debut album, ‘Infinitas’, which had nothing of a debut. It honestly sounded like a release from band that was around for a long time. Circles have their own sound, fueled by Perry Kakridas’ powerful, yet very, very accurate voice that does things I didn’t think were possible live, in real life. I heard it takes a lot taking care of it, like not drinking beers, which is probably very challenging on a 6 week run across Europe, oh wait…Anyway, despite playing early (at this point, it’s around 4:30pm and it’s a Sunday evening), a lot of people showed up, warmly welcoming a very energetic band that is slowly, but surely taking over Europe, after only two tours here!
Devil Sold His Soul probably deserve the award of the most touching performance of the day for me, but this is also probably because their genre is the closest to what I usually listen to. They’re still young, but they’re another proof that british bands have something the others don’t. Despite struggling with some changes within the band recently, Devil Sold His Soul definitely proved during their performance that not only they have found their identity as a band, but they know their craft and they know where to find strength. With a charismatic lead singer and some rather involved and rather skilled musicians, Devil Sold His Soul delivered a touching performance, that gave me the chills, for real. The audience seemed won over and we couldn’t help but think about our Belgians in Now, Voyager during this performance as there was something in Devil Sod His Soul that strongly reminded us of them. Now please do yourself a favor and go pick up DSHS brand new album ‘Belong ╪ Betray’!
The Algorithm followed and that’s when the mood completely changes, let’s not forget that Damage festival is also huge party and we’re all here to have fun. While watching the stage performance isn’t necessarily the most exciting thing to do, you will have to admit that it is musically very interesting and well thought. There’s in there a skillful blend of electronics and a drumming/guitar performance reminiscent of the prog/metal we have here today. If the bandmembers appear at first DJing on a computer screen, there are still live instruments AND their sound isn’t completely off topic in today’s line up. Now it’s probably not a genre you can define, you can dance along to it, or just listen to it casually but at least it has set a killer atmosphere in the venue and many people seemed to enjoy it.
Mind blowing performances you say? Of course there were. Ever seen Monuments on stage? If so, you know what I’m talking about. If not, just you wait! This band is probably one of the greatest live band’s I’ve ever seen perform and the whole thing went completely off the charts. If their music sounds muscular already, the live performance is ten thousand times stronger. We could say that things got off for real at this right time. All of the band members have a crazy sick stage presence and frontman Chris Barretto is quite imposing (okay, he’s tall). Touring in support of their new release ‘The Amanuensis’, Monuments didn’t forget their classics such as Regenerate. In sum, they are probably the band that took things to the next level for the day and it left many, many of us speechless.
After The Burial maintained the energetic atmosphere their predecessors have set and it appeared quite natural to them as After The Burial are one of these vigorous performers that can only make the whole crowd go all nuts and sweat. At this point, circle pits and crowdsurfs are nothing but a formality and, oh, yes we couldn’t help but notice a pleasant lightshow at this very moment. After The Burial formed one last overly-energetic show, before the much awaited TesseracT took over the stage. What’s all the fuss about? Well, let’s say that first of all, TesseracT are appreciated a lot over here –and rightly so!- but there’s one thing that has probably got everyone even more excited and it’s probably the return of long term vocalist Daniel Tompkins after 5 years of absence. We could see him taking new starts with his other band Skyharbor (also, highly recommended), but TesseracT and Tompkins is a story that should never have stopped and it’s easy to understand why. Just watch a live performance. Beyond the incredibly technical skills these guys showcase, there’s something else, something above us all that isn’t easy to define while watching them perform. The atmosphere they set is powerful yet relaxing. The music is beautiful and almost magic and it’s quite incredible to realize how spiritually powerful some men with music instruments can be. There are moments in life that you wish could last forever and for me this is the case of a TesseracT performance. More precisely with a Daniel Tompkins and his impressive vocal range and his comforting presence. He didn’t forget to mention how grateful he was not only for the warm welcome back but also for being part of TesseracT again and judging by the obvious alchemy between him and his fellow band-members, there is no doubt that this Is exactly how TesseracT should be like for the rest of their career. With no false note, the band carefully put a final point to their performance with Concealing Fate, Pt. 1, and left the stage under a round of applause and captivated fans.
On a less positive note, Animals As Leaders, one of the greatest bands on the bill suffered from a bunch of technical issues, which altered a good third of their set and kind of killed the mood. We could feel the tension as things were visibly getting on the trio’s nerves, which is a major shame because aside from that, the Americans are brilliant performers and even masters in what they do. I particularly think about Tosin Abasi’s unreal musical ability, giving as a result an extremely complex but excellent instrumental performance that allows you to wander throughout several states of minds.
To close the weekend, the dutch in Textures jumped on stage in full force, determined to set the crowd on fire. Visibly stoked to be here, they had a good reason to be excited, in so far as they were celebrating the ten years of their album ‘Polars’. For this special occasion, Textures have decided to bring out its heavy artillery and played around 75% of this album, making a lot of fans happy. Now this isn’t a band we’re used to see touring in our shores and it was definitely refreshing to see a (mainland) European band headlining such an event and making a lot of faces quite enthusiastic about it and vice-versa! As much as the music performed is heavy, seeing those smiles on the faces of the artists was probably one of the most refreshing things about this show, because in the end that’s what music is all about, right? Being happy and making the others happy.
Europe is filled with many talents and alternative music is undeniably alive here. Textures are a living proof of it. Indeed, these guys from the Netherlands have been playing for long enough to prove that there is still something happening nowadays. The scene does exist and you don’t have to try too hard to find its little treasures. However the challenge is now to keep the flame burning and that is why, us fans, have to stand for it and support it.
Overall the Damage festival challenge has been successfully met and it was refreshing to witness a team of young volunteers giving all their best to make everything work, from the most technical aspects to the organization in general, always smiling. This gives a lot of hope as for the french alternative scene that sometime raises concern, but at least it shows that the french – and in this case, Paris people- can make things happen and that there will always be people supporting!
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