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ZXZW 2008 - Facing the strange
The ZXZW festival (Zuid bij Zuidwest, derived from the US concept South by Southwest) has become an annual happening for a couple of Metalragers. Three days of wandering through Tilburg while witnessing weird acts in every genre possible is a delight to us. The last two years have received nothing but positive reactions from us, and we didn’t expect this year to be any different. Here goes three days of drinking, drugging and rocking!
 
FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 19

Arabot (013 Batcave)
The first band that I saw this weekend was a band called Arabot. We were actually waiting for the next band to begin at de Kleine Zaal of 013, so we decided to walk in on this show. Arabot is a loud noise-rock trio which wasn’t too bad to watch. The main problem was the nasty over the top voice of the singer that really got on my nerves quickly. So we left for what we came to see; Guapo. (DemonDust)
 
Guapo (013 Kleine Zaal)
The English foursome Guapo came to bring us some experimental jazz-rock, with a huge drumkit that features a huge gong and some smaller ones. Groovy, melodic jazz-rock was what they offered, yet the music lacked the power to really impress me. Nonetheless a very nice band to watch. (DemonDust)
 
The Shape Of Breakcore 2 Cum (Hall Of Fame / V39 / 013)
Breakcore is already one of the most innovative (electronic) musical ‘genres’ existing, and during ZXZW’s special breakcore night entitled ‘The Shape Of Breakcore 2 Cum’ the boundaries of the genre were even pushed further. A collaboration between ZXZW and Muzieklab gave Rioteer, Doormouse and Otto von Schirach the opportunity to create the first-ever surround sound breakcore set. All three artists had one week to get to know the M.A.S.E. system, a surround sound system that is controllable through an interface of hardware and software, so the artist can link samples and other composed music to the different outputs - always being able to switch from channel and thus speaker. A freaking cool initiative if you ask me.

Rioteer was the first guy to let us experience the surround sound madness. Playing in his hometown, Rioteer already let us know in advance that his set wouldn’t only be an instruction to dance, but that he wanted to experiment with ambient and noise as well, rather than working with beats alone. His mission was to create a storyline, but I’ve to confess that I didn’t notice that really. He succeeded in creating some cool atmospheres, but for me the harsh beats really made it great. At the end of his half an hour set I think that he didn’t use the system enough. A lot of samples seemed to come from the same speakers most of the time, while he was only moving the sound from one certain channel at a time. Cool set, but I stick to my opinion that he could do a lot more with the M.A.S.E. system.
 
After a set change fellow Americans Doormouse and Otto von Schirach showed up together in weird outfits, ready to unleash some insane and pounding music. Both are not frightening the mic, and used it as an instrument quite often. They talked and yelled while abusing the M.A.S.E. system - all vocals were deformed and flying all around you. Also, they seemed to work with a lot of pre-sets since most of the channels were continuously moving through the hall. All the noises, vocals and other weird tunes surrounding you made it a trip in a washing machine. Very intense and becoming better by the minute, since their set was very up tempo. During the last 20/30 minutes all hell broke loose when heavy beats were added and the crowd even started some moshpits as well as a circlepit around the dj-desk. The climax of the evening was definitely Otto’s hit single “Tea Bagging The Dead”. Surround sound breakcore to the max!

But the night didn’t end here. It was 12 o’clock and we still had 4 hours left. We continued the party at the v39 venue, where we saw a short performance of Pisstank, who made a quality mix of drum&bass, breakcore and 4/4 digital hardcore beats. After that, we took a short break before realising that Ladyscraper was playing at the 013, and so Sledgehammer and I quickly ran into the venue where we immediately joined the mosh that was going on. Unfortunately we were too late and we could only enjoy 2 minutes of his extreme breakcore/gabber with grindcore elements.

Following to Ladyscraper came a lot of producers with live sets varying from extreme to even more extreme electronic music... In my opinion it soon didn’t had much to do with breakcore anymore - it became a terror/noise party! Because we’re a metal webzine I of course have to mention Judith Priest (what’s in a name??), but French guy The Deathmaker delivered the best set of the night: extremely distorted beats layered on fantastic dark and slow tunes. Darkcore on its best!

Also Dutch sound designer Tapage attracted my attention, ‘cause when we fell in his set we were blasted away with crushing beats. Not something you expect from someone who just released his ambient/soundscape-like debut record. Freeka Peeka, also from France, was up next and created a lot of chaos with their gameboy sounds, noise attack and pitch shifted vocals. But the real noisemaker was the final act in the small hall: Speedranch. His speedcore/noise with breaks was just too much for almost everyone; I caught only one person attempting doing something like a dance. Speedranch’ music was just nuts but he had to do it in order to rule over all the other noisemakers that went before him, and he succeeded. (Mindsaver)
 
SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 20

Svart Kunstykke 
 
As we tried to get amongst the living again we thought it would be a good idea to check out some black metal art, since the musical program was starting relatively late on the day. Through the entire city there were multiple expositions of this fine art, gathered under the name Svart Kunstykke, but in our first attempt we accidentally arrived at the exposition of some Sun Ra covers. Damn those little letters in the program booklet! Our second attempt failed too, since the venue was closed all of a sudden. We had more success in our third attempt at a deserted museum and were pretty amazed by our find: just four pieces of art by Erik Smith which were black charcoal writings on a black background. Amazing. The sweet old lady told us that there had been eight visitors that day, which makes me think that they better could have gathered all the six black metal expositions into a big one. (Sledgehammer Messiah)
 
Raxinasky (Cul De Sac)
The first band we saw this day was the free jazz for metalheads by Raxinasky from Belgium. Performing as a trio consisting of a drummer, guitar player and an electronic/noise guy with occasionally some screams they really made a big impression. Think of Meshuggah, but with a bigger role for freejazz elements and with a more grindcore touch. So no song structures to be reckoned here, but just plain mindblowing stuff. (Sledgehammer Messiah)
 
Nackt Insecten (V39)
This one-man project from the UK consisted of droney soundscapes with layers of weird noises. He worked with the feedback coming from his amplifier using bells and other attributes. Low frequencies buzzed through the venue while the higher sounds created a spaced atmosphere. Good for about ten minutes, then we had enough. (DemonDust)
 
Bul Bul (Extase)
After constantly hearing extreme, weird and experimental music it was a sweet relief to run in to the Austrian band Bul Bul when we grabbed a beer at a random bar. Well their funky rock pop still had a twist of course cause else they wouldn’t have played on ZXZW. Accompanied by a very good sound this twist was an interesting and pleasant one. Bul Bul sounded very accessible while not falling into dull popsongs. Bravo. (Sledgehammer Messiah)

Eurovision Noise Festival (NS16)
After our black metal adventure which, including all the walking, getting lost and beers underway, had cost us several hours, we got to the Eurovision Noise Festival. Unfortunately it was just a big letdown as was the black metal art. In a very bright white hall some people witnessed how a lame jury gave points to noise acts which had approximately 15 minutes to impress us. In the time that we were there we didn’t really see something special, some guitar getting smashed up at best. Too bad, cause I read and heard about a choir of 20 people making noise and a guy who used an iron PAAL of the venue as an electric instrument. Problem was that you couldn’t know when what was playing so we moved to a venue where we knew we would get some quality. (Sledgehammer Messiah)
 
Gewapend Beton (Little Devil)
This punk band from Amsterdam has one of the greatest Dutch band names ever. I've heard much good about these guys so we wandered across town to see this. Explosive and catchy punk-hardcore is what these guys were all about. Combined with a great live show and a good sound they had little problems convincing the audience of their abilities. Nothing really negative to say here, just that there might be too much guitar-soloing going on occasionally. Check them out if you dig punkrock! (DemonDust)
 
Bunkur (013 Kleine Zaal)
This dark noise-drone doom band consisted of drums and two bass guitars. With this limited line-up some dark black doom riffs were played, as well as drone soundscapes. The entire venue trembled like hell, which I liked very much. Dirty old-school death metal vocals and nasty high-pitched screams accompanied these low frequencies, while the drummer either played along with a riff or just occasionally bashed away in the soundscapes. Too bad that during the last fifteen minutes one of the bassists blew up a speaker which added a very present and disturbing sound to the mix, which yet somehow added to the nasty black metal feel this band breathes. Will definitely check them out again in the future. (DemonDust)
 
Maho*Thaidisco (V39)
As the evening turned into the night the party mood arose again. It was the adorable female DJ Maho*Thaidisco who helped us shift to the dance mode. Well, that was actually because this was once again an act on ZXZW which causes a tummy ache by all the laughing. This little Thai girl spinned ‘90s songs with a beat while she regularly turned the volume up and down, really astonishing! It’s so typical for ZXZW: any ridiculous act can play there, so there’s a lot of crap, but also a lot of funny crap. (Sledgehammer Messiah)

Maho*Thaidisco threw some demo recordings of her work into the audience, click here to download this awesome piece of music!
 
USA Kings (V39)
Just as we got fed up with laughing and longed for the previous night full with awesome breakcore, USA Kings showed up. Dressed in balaclavasmade out of the American flag they gave us just the thing we longed for. So for one more time on ZXZW we danced and moshed ridiculously to breakcore and closed the night in the V39 venue while people were on the backs of the DJs who weren’t too shy to fancy a dance either. Now that’s what I call fun. (Sledgehammer Messiah)

SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 21
 
Goldielocks (Muzetuin)
On Sunday we woke up too late to go to the church, but we did make it on time to check out female producer and rapper Goldielocks. She said the following thing in the program book: "I more look up to guys than girls, I've never been a girly girl and most females in the music industry are used, abused, and rubbish (or groupies)." Remarkable was that this blonde woman looked pretty hot in her dress-like garment, and that quite a lot of her lyrics seemed to be censored. That wasn't really surprising since she played in the noon on a big stage outside, while most of the audience were families with young kids who were chalking on the ground. It therefore became kind of a strange gig. Her music and vocal lines sounded good and very pro, and the DJ that she brought along had skills as well, but this shit simply should be performed at an evening or at night at a steaming club, not under conditions like this. Consequently it wasn't a surprise that her set seemed to be a bit shorter then initially planned, and we had peace with that. (Mindsaver)
 
Pelican (NWE Vorst)
The instrumental postrock/stoner band Pelican played at a strange yet suitable venue. We only saw like one and a half track, but the sound was good and the band played very well. Too bad the stage was like ten centimetres high so it was extremely hard to see anything on stage at all. They’ll be heading to Rotterdam soon with their touring buddies of Torche, so I’m going to check them out there again, a bit more decently. (DemonDust)
 
Pessariüm (V39)
Probably the weirdest act we've seen on ZXZW was Pessariüm. It all ended with a not-so satisfied stage manager, but why that? Pessariüm's "music", or should I say "noise" existed of random distortion, some hardcore/terror beats, drumming on diverse attributes and yelling by all of their five members. Their lyrics were about sexually transmitted diseases, blood from your penis, farts and menstruation. They were dressed like whores, Little Red Riding Hood or whatever their costumes were portraying (one was even wearing a baby doll between his legs, carried with a string) and they all were moving through the hall, throwing with boxes, running after each other and doing other crazy things. Indeed, absolute ridiculous but still quite entertaining. But why wasn't the stage manager happy after their performance? Because their most ridiculous act was saved for last: they took a dive in a bath full of chocolate-coated marshmallow treats, throwing them to each other and making the whole hall one big mess. With that, the show was over while the smell came up right away. And guess what, there were two more bands coming up. Quite a pity for them! (Mindsaver)

The Devil's Blood (013 Kleine Zaal)
The psychedelic doom rock band The Devil’s Blood already played at this year’s Roadburn festival, but I didn’t like it one bit back then. I heard this indeed was a bad show but the band is supposed to be amazing, so we checked them out for a couple of songs. It indeed proved to be much better, it’s sort of like a more restricted and basic Chrome Hoof or something. More in the direction of heavy metal, especially due to the female vocalist’s high vocals. The band played nice and tight, rocking out on a very professional level. In the end it isn’t entirely my cup of tea, though it is a nice band to watch. (DemonDust)
 
Skinless (Extase)
Death metal giants were among the main reasons I came to this festival (although I would probably still go if I didn’t know any of the acts there). Their uber-brutal death metal smacked in the faces of the innocent bystanders with no remorse, damn this band rocks live. I couldn’t retain myself during this performance so I got lost in the moshpit, which makes my memory about this show a little blurry. I do remember that they weren’t playing over their own backline, yet the sound wasn’t that bad at all. They played four songs of their debut album Progression Towards Evil, a couple of their latest effort and of course the final track had to be ‘The Optimist’. Life sucks, and then you die!! Great performance by one of the best death metal bands out there (I think). And by the way, these guys know how to party. I’ve seen ‘em afterwards and it looked like four madmen on a rampage. Fun! (DemonDust)
 
Watain (013 Kleine Zaal)
Even though black metal was emphasized at this edition of ZXZW, I still hadn’t seen one of them play yet (except for Bunkur, but that’s not the traditional kind of black metal). So we decided to go see one of the last bands; Watain. I’ve heard much good about them and they have already done some good tours, so I was very curious. The ambiance this band creates is very sinister, they play slow, mid-tempo and fast black metal with harsh evil vocals and they dress up the stage with all sorts of attributes like candles and such. It was quite nice to watch for a while, but after six songs or so it all started to sound the same. So we left. (DemonDust)
 
Pulling Teeth (Little Devil)
One of the biggest surprises of this ZXZW was yet to come. The last band to play at this year’s edition was Pulling Teeth, a band I heard much about and was curious about seeing. After the first song I already was an instant fan of these guys. They play a sort of Converge style of experimental hardcore, only with emphasized grindcore and doom metal passages in it. Sort of like Converge indeed, yet very different. Especially the rock sound of this band got me really enthusiastic, although the guitar solos weren’t that necessary to be honest. For the rest these guys possessed an awesome sound and refreshing songwriting skills, enough to convince me to buy a shirt. I couldn’t have asked for a better “headliner” for this year’s ZXZW. Awesome stuff! (DemonDust)
 
Clearly we can conclude that this edition was a success, just like we expected. We had a great time and saw some amazing (and disturbing) acts that will remain in our memory for longer than we might wish for. Amazingly we managed to miss all the Sun Ra Arkestra performances even though there were plenty, just like we missed legends like Wire and the most appealing sounding act of this feast: Pu;ppkakkbaggrlull. There’s just too much to see at this festival!!! No matter, we had a great time and we’ll be there again next year. Our thanks and gratitude goes out to the amazing people that organize this cultural event. Keep it up and we’ll see you next year!!!
Details Written on Monday Oct 6th, 2008
Writer @DemonDust

Tags: #ZXZW 2008