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Review: One they bands in my neighborhood

That is a singular they, to be sure. But they run in plural as well and I try to write about it in a systematic and boring way

Hello again after a long break. If you remember the previous time, you get the idea of what I am trying to do here, even if I am maybe not fully aware myself yet and still solitary in this mission (but I am looking to change that). Still, I am not the only one solitary here if that’s any comfort, because so are many bands, namely, one man bands, people doing it on their own. OK, “doing it on their own” could be misleading. Nobody does all on their own because it is too much,  so either at least someone else has to produce music, and someone else can direct a video, so it’s not likely that a single person has so many talents. But on the stage they are alone, there is no rhythm section to fall back to, no keyboardist or guitarist to cover up when shit happens, just a mercialles automated sounds which are coming whether you like it or not. They certainly won’t be waiting for you if you miss your part or get lost in the song. 

I admit, I was one of them one man bands. You see, my name was Ex>Misha if you don’t know me by now. I went so far that I even organized a festival of ona man bands (though some notably had two members but were still considered as single person entity). Pardon me for this long introduction, or diversion you may call it, it so much easier to speak about yourself than about the others so I am just relieving some anxiety here. Of course, I am a mess, so I do tend to fool around.  

Back when I was way more active (read: till 2015) I used to do some shows with Ivica, that’s how I  got to know him. In the crazy old days Ivica went from acoustic to electric sound, and performed with or without additional synth or electric guitar. Development of Ivica was an interesting thing to follow as it was not linear, and this is nonlinear blog so I am obliged to write about it. Some people define their sound and stick to it, not Ivica. But it's wrong to say that he is without continuity, as throughout his carrer his songs usually were mellow and intimate, with short and simple, direct lyrics, frequently in the form of addressing somebody, and singing on the edge of whispering, to put it simply - intimate. But I am sure you cannot easily frame Ivica, as he is constantly evolving even if sensibility stays the same. The new album, 1235 sounds a bit more heavily produced and heading towards more electronic sound which is an interesting development. 

Let me take a break and say that both concerts I am going to write about took place in Knap club. Tidy and small place, but if I have to be ironic, it is a perfect fit for such a small and fragmented scene without center. I am not missing the center, but we are here and there on our own. 

Thus, the club was not that crowded, and seems like having a publisher, videos and media appearance do not guarantee that people would come. And this was Ivica’s first concert in Belgrade after the album was released as a headliner, actually one and only act for the night. 

When the concert started I wasn’t actually able to tell as long instrumental followed. I think I was a tiny bit late but Ivica certainly still wasn’t on the stage, but music went on. But what followed showed than Ivica that live sound can cope with newly found complexity as now his sound is more layered I would say. It has a bunch of sounds, and it’s all reverby, has delay effects too, and is all wrapped up like some dreamy soundscape, almost ambiental. However, lyrics are sometimes too quiet to be heard, but that’s not a big issue, you can feel the vibe before you understand it, but throughout the show there was no significant change in dynamics even when old songs were played. However, this newly built sound opens new perspectives, and you can see how mesmerized and taken by it is Ivica when he performs. 

As if he is a galley navigating the ocean, with guitar lika a ship bos managing the waves, going up and down, swinging. The ocean if I am not mistaken is frequent theme in Ivica's poetry, I am trying to make sense of it but I would have to sit down and be calm individual. Having a focus is not my thing, I just rush through everything. But I know it's persistent theme, and there is a longer story there my dear Watson. But i beleive we are not talking about shipwrecking ocean, but more like something as a state of being something, something relatively stable, immersing, that swallows, but may be both a sanctuary and a trap. I am not sure and I am drinking at that moment, a let my brain wonder for a change. A let my self wonder after it, on the street, and then at home, with some more Kozel. 

This weekend another concert took place at the Knap, two one man bands/one woman bands, or one man band and one woman band. Playing with words is not funny. I am not trying to be funny, I just want to be correct. Anyway, welcome from Croatia - ŠećeЯ and VOΛDO! 

It is a good opportunity to compare these acts together, as in how many possibilities one person band offers. ŠećeЯ is Tena Rak, former drummer of Vlast Popić, legendary three piece, playing energetic and raw music but not without a sense for good melody. Did I get it right? I am not sure, the definition is too generic. How many energetic and raw three member bands are there? Exactly. But ŠećeЯ is a departure from that sound going into more electronic pop territory. There are samples, guitar, loops, vocal harmonies. VOΛDO, on the other hand, is more “live”, in the sense that he creates his sounds using looper right there on the stage, making his beat and melody, gradually adding more details to the song, so we can witness it being compiled and put together. 

I was surprised to see how empty the club was even when the concert started. Of those who came, many of them were members of the scene, friends of the bends, likely from tours or whatever. So it’s even harder for Croatian bands to fill up the club then it is for homegrown ones. Maybe sudden weather changes made them feel tired so they stayed home. Who knows, not me, I never lost Saturday night!

Standing on the verges of a very wide half circle that audience formed around the stage, with r = 3m, I was too shy to go forward. Man, this intimacy is stinging me. But what I saw was similar to a street musician performance. VOΛDO seems to be skilled in what he does. We learned from him that he started playing solo one month ago. Member of From Another Mother, a frantic and energetic band, what he does solo is a way more tame. Indie folk or what you may call it, nonetheless, it sounds like something right from the USA, and it’s sung in English. Maybe too sweet for my taste, but commercial potential is there, you can sing along to choruses and stuff. What he plays stills sounds full and reach, he certainly won’t complain about the lack of people with him in the band! Like I said, he is skillful but in a way that street musicians are when they fascinate with some tricks, but unlike them this guy has his own songs. And he sounds organic as the all sounds he creates I think come just from his tiny little guitar and a pedal (which makes his appearance even more remarkable). 

Best movie role for VOΛDO? Street musician on the streets of Barcelone. It's always sunny, everybody loves him, then there's a twist, a break in harmony, but still happy end awaits, and love remains triumphant. The music ma be too american for that kind of movie, but we can imagine differently. 

Next we had a lengthy pause in order for some particular people to come to the concert. I know because we were told by ŠećeЯ. No, I don’t know which people. But we’ve been briefed in the meantime by some girl from a certain organisation about February 29th, that is, Rare Disease Day, because it’s every four years, you get that. 

Damn the day when I decided this is going to be a single review. I already wrote too much and still have to write. Do you know that it’s harder for me to shorten existing text than to write shorter text from the beginning? But time is critical and I have only one go at this.

To be honest I haven’t been following much of what is going on with ŠećeЯ. I would hear that there is a gig here and there in Belgrade but never went to any. Looking for things to see over the weekend I played a few tunes to convince me to go. 

Music is a bit minimal, and certainly is better suited for smaller crowds. I like the interplay of simple beats and keyboard melodies, sampled guitar cutouts, and echoed vocals. It’s all cleverly put together, gradually kicking in till it resolves in a spectacular way. Mood is something between mellow and melodic to the kind of darker and more psychedelic tunes (in a PJ Harvey way? No, that could be a misleading reference). Minimalist approach here is somehow inviting to the listener, it does not grab you immediately but instead it keeps distance and lets you gradually be absorbed by it. As a performer Tena is very relaxed, and frequently gets off the stage to join the audience. Much of the performance is hands free, so she can concentrate on singing which is another great quality. The set didn’t last long as she only has one full release and several singles, but the songs themselves are not long too. 

Full of impressions I hit the streets, buying 150g Smoki at the kiosk. It’s still a weekend. But before that I expected to see a vintage american car which was parked near the Knap the previous Saturday. I couldn’t find it this time. I wanted to take a proper photo of it this time. 



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