We fluidly passed from an intimate set by Tirzah, that languidly warmed up the cold industrial OGR building on Thursday, to Obongjayar, who flamed the audience the day right after with a set of fine R&B, but with the physical approach of a punk show. He got in the middle of the pit he himself started and nervously walked the stage scanning the people below – a great live experience, I must say. On Saturday night, Yves Tumor did a performance out of this world, taming the enormous main stage all by himself. Engaging, smiling and lethal, his performance was just as his music: a mix of threatening and thrilling. Then, Blood Orange took over, giving a concert with capital C: surrounded by a band and choristers, Hynes reminded of the great R&B singers of the ‘90s, entertaining and spreading charm and power over the stage. The gig highlighted once more the artist’s ability as a songwriter and composer.
The mood switched drastically when that opulent sound was replaced by the dry and poetic approach of Serpentwithfeet, constantly moving his hands like he was preaching his songs, staring deep into the audience’s eyes. But he also shily and thankfully nodded while looking at the ground at the end of the song Soil, one of the best records of the year for me, which sounds even stronger live.
Iceage and Beach House were the only bands on the bill and did not disappoint: the first one proved to have become a worthy and strong rock and roll band, finally stripped off of the angsty kids image they had, but still giving a tense and powerful show. Beach House, the Baltimore duo, didn’t fail in bewitching the whole main room, packed of people swinging in synchro like in some sort of collective trance.
While big names like Jamie XX and Peggy Gou played safe, giving the crowd exactly what they came for in terms of club vibes and convincing beats, the Crack stage reserved the best surprises: starting with Skee Mask, who offered a powerful and destructive rave-like set, straight and sharp as a razorblade. Leon Vynehall was not a surprise but a confirmation: the stage was elegant and filled with smoke and the figures started to fade, a vision that suited perfectly the mood we all fell in. He’s a poet in his own way. Another two DJs worth mentioning are Silvia Kastel, who presented a set full of calculated and cold beats surrounded by some sort of ritual mist; and Courtesy, who totally killed it with a strong presence, convincing attitude, and a visceral set that mixed techno, dub and EBM.
Corridors were filled up like the ones in a high school after the ring of the bell, as the moment everybody was waiting for was about to start: Aphex Twin. The stage became some sort of gigantic wall of LED lights, with huge monitors screening the faces of Rita Levi Montalcini, Carla Bruni, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Cicciolina, and other personalities distorted and acidified – just like the faces of the people in the front row. Richard David James’ knows how to combine visuals and sound, each complementing the other, which offered a powerful, tense set that was pure noise extravaganza.
In fact, he sums up perfectly what the festival is about: moving between mainstream and underground, and proving the importance of being a multidisciplinary art in today’s creative scene. All in all, the line-up of a festival can be better or worse according to every person’s tastes, but what Club to Club is trying to be is something far beyond a ‘simple’ music festival. Instead, it wants to become a more multi-layered entity to represent not just what’s here and now, but also what’s going to be here tomorrow. And this means being one step closer to reaching that light after dark.