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Posts Tagged ‘Indie rock’

We’re sitting on the terrace of the Hotel Madrid in Gran Canaria’s amazing old quarter of Vegueta waiting to interview the founder member and lead guitarist of rising stars of the Spanish Indie rock scene, The Good Company; Víctor Ordóñez.
“Do you think this could be him?” asks Jack.
I turn around and see a slim thirty-something guy with a close cropped beard and designer shades strolling across the plaza, hands plunged deep into pockets. He’s practically got ‘Rock Star’ tattooed on his forehead.
“Hi! Great to meet you!” says Víctor in a near perfect English accent, raising his shades and embracing me warmly.

Enjoying a beer outside The Hotel Madrid

We’ve come to Gran Canaria for the day to interview Víctor and to explore the pulsating rhythm of Las Palmas, the city he was born and grew up in. Pounding the pavements of this bustling, lively capital, we discover a unique amalgamation of the old, the urban, the cool and the chic; it’s a city that blends tradition with innovation and fittingly, that’s exactly what The Good Company do with their music.
“The Good Company are half UK and half US influenced,” says Víctor. “The Beatles and those classic sixties sounds and conceptually Pink Floyd. But also Hip Hop and particularly a Canadian Indie rock band called Arcade Fire, one of David Bowie’s favourite bands.”

I can see what he means. Listening to The Good Company’s first album ’28’, I’ve been playing ‘spot the influences’; overtones of U2 on A City Shines; echoes of Kaiser Chiefs in Busy Town; the Pink Floyd strains of Víctor’s guitar and Radiohead vocals of Sergio Pueyo in the haunting Endless, which ironically, I’ve found myself playing endlessly. But no individual sound emerges as the blueprint; all those flavours have been absorbed and fused into something fresh and original.

In the heat of the late afternoon we move from the Hotel Madrid to the charismatic bar El Cuasquías where it feels like I should be carrying a guitar, or at very least someone’s amp before I can get in. Perched at the bar we order cold Tropical beers and Víctor tells us about the bands that play here and hints at some of the stories the walls could tell, no doubt set to their own Grammy Award winning soundtrack.

Victor looking cool in Vegueta

We’re listening to the coolest sounds I’ve heard outside of my own living room since we moved to Tenerife 6 years ago; Indie rock, Jazz, R&B, Soul and Blues weave their rhythms around us making it increasingly difficult to consider the possibility of missing the last flight back to Tenerife as anything other than a minor inconvenience.

Along with Víctor, fellow Gran Canarians Sergio Miró (drums) and Marco Valero (bass); and Barcelona born Sergio Pueyo (vocals) make up The Good Company.  With reviews in the music press and on La Sexta TV consistently hailing them as a band to watch, these guys are rapidly making a name for themselves on the Spanish Indie Rock scene.
They’re playing Dublin and Bristol right about now and they’ll be at The Forum in Barcelona on the 28th May 2010.
Check them out on MySpace and Facebook.

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It never ceases to amaze me how effectively the Tinerfeños manage to safeguard their culture and identity.
Despite 500 years of being at the crossroads between Europe and the Americas and 50 years at the heart of mass tourism, very little of northern European or North American culture has left its mark on this society.
But what’s most surprising to me is the way in which so much mainstream music has entirely by-passed these islands. It’s not just a marked preference for Latino and traditional Canarian with the only new kids on the block being rap and hip hop, it’s the virtual absence of any reference to UK and US charts sounds everywhere outside of the bars, clubs and discos of the purpose built tourist resorts.

So when Jack suggested we should go along to the Festival de Músicas Alternativas en Canarias (‘alternative’ music festival) in Puerto on Saturday night, I joked that we might even get to hear some Indie rock.

Mento - a polished performance

Mento - a polished performance

Arriving at the harbour at 9.30pm for a scheduled 9pm start, the stage was still being set up and a handful of people were milling around the mixing desk so we decided to go for a stroll around town to give them Canarian time to get under way.
When we arrived back in Plaza Charco we could hear that the first of the bands had started their set and we laughed as the sounds of garage music came drifting across the fishing boats. I was close.

On stage, Mento were in full flow rocking out the volume with some throaty Jim Morrison style vocals from the lead and augmented by dry ice, lasers and a cine reel. Around us, a hundred or so twenty-somethings were foot tapping and head shaking and below the stage a tie-dyed hippie was reeling and wheeling across the space.
When Mento finished their set, DJ Carlos Robles took to the stage.

This Drama - high on energy, low on melody

Flying in the face of the traditional DJ role of setting the audience alight with heart stopping volume and epilepsy-inducing lights, Carlos slipped quietly into the shadows behind one of the stack systems and slid ‘The Killers’ onto the turntable at the sort of volume Aunty Barbara would approve of.
A quick burst of some White Stripes and an improvisation of something that sounded suspiciously close to folk and the young DJ exited as discreetly as a roadie.

Unsurprisingly, most of the audience hadn’t even spotted DJ Robles’ appearance and carried on chatting until their attention was garrotted by the livewire appearance of ‘This Drama’. To an ear shattering explosion of chords above an aggressive drum beat, these punk rockers catapulted themselves onto the stage causing a tidal wave of excitement that sucked the audience to their feet in its undercurrent.

To a backdrop of a scene from ‘Quadrophenia’ the lead vocalist pogo’d across the stage, his skin tight jeans belted below his buttocks and his sleek, black Mod hair covering one eye.
Below stage a group of lads got caught up in the euphoria and began pogo-ing and hurtling into each other like guided missiles on mescaline, desperate to disguise their dancing as anarchy (boys…).

Impressively tight timing and high energy output culminated after just one minute as the first number came to an abrupt end.
Over the next twenty minutes, This Drama belted out a dozen songs, all remarkably similar, lacking any discernible tune and each lasting no more than a minute and a half. Then they were gone.

We headed back to the car park where the usual Saturday night crowd of Puerto’s teenagers was just getting its partying off the ground and every neon-lit, alcohol filled car we passed was belting out Latino and rap.
It might be a while yet before so much of what is considered here to be ‘alternative’ makes it to mainstream gatherings like this one but it’s good to know that when it does, there’s some raw local talent waiting in the wings to be heard.

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“Let’s go and see the giant paella on Sunday.”

Horror movies are really not my thing so I wasn’t all that enthusiastic until Jack explained that the Lions Club were making an actual giant paella as part of the Puerto July Fiestas and that perhaps we should pop along and witness the creation.

We left at midday in the firm expectation that we’d be parked and down at the harbour by 12.15 (ish). But having queued for 20 minutes to find that the town’s main car park was closed (of course no signs until you actually get there when 4 Policia Local are manning a 2 foot wide barrier), queuing to get back out again, kerb crawling our way through town and finally driving all the way back up to La Paz district before we could find a parking space, it was after 1pm before we got into town.

It was a glorious day and the small beach at San Telmo was packed beyond capacity for swimming and kayaking competitions (not simultaneous you understand). Although this is low season for Brits and Germans in Tenerife, in the north, it’s high season for Spanish mainlanders and the town was teeming with visitors. Puerto is in the midst of its July Fiestas and there’s a festival atmosphere throughout the month, particularly on Sundays.

I was keeping myself amused by  admiring the hordes of young, muscle bound, suntanned men (I think there were women there too) who were milling around the temporary bar, presumably having finished their competition swim and now chilling to the Indie rock sounds that were blasting forth, when my attention was caught by a silver flash in the sky.

I can only speculate on the size of the adrenalin rush experienced by the pilots of these things

I can only speculate on the size of the adrenalin rush experienced by the pilots of these things

I looked up to see a fighter jet at what seemed merely feet above the San Temo rock pools, heading towards me at supersonic speed. It was eerily silent, any engine noise drowned out by the music. Just as it came parallel with the shoreline, it‘s nose went up, it began to climb, the condensation clouds spilling across its wings and the air shattered into an ear splitting roar that silenced Coldplay.

I watched it bank and come back across the horizon, spinning twice and flying upside down before righting itself and once again screaming into the heavens. It was so low I could almost see the pilot.
I felt a surge of adrenalin that sent my heart beat into overdrive. I have never been in such close proximity to such power and danger and I cannot imagine what sort of person would fly a fighter jet, they must be in the top one percentile of the population.
“Tom Cruise” said Jack, bringing me back down to earth.

There was no shortage of volunteers to see off the giant paella

There was no shortage of volunteers to see off the 'giant paella'

By the time we reached the harbour, the prospect of a giant paella had paled into insignificance in the excitement of the air show and having long since missed its creation it was now half way to being completely consumed and not all that giant anymore. Still, it rallied a few points with its delicious aroma and bargain basement price; a plate of paella, a banana, a bread roll and a small beaker of wine for €5. Understandably, there wasn’t a spare seat to be had at the makeshift restaurant beside the fishwife.

In the Parque Marítimo car park we discovered why it was closed; four helicopters and several divisions of armed forces were displaying their equipment (sooo tempted to say something very Julian Clary there). Amongst the helicopters was one belonging to M.A.R., the type used in fire fighting. I was surprised at how small the bucket that holds the water was, especially given the double blades power of the helicopter. It brought back the horror of last year’s forest fires and the difficulty of getting adequate water to the island’s interior to deal with such an ecological disaster.

Small children were being placed inside the cockpit of the helicopters while their parents photographed them. I could see the machine guns mounted in the nose, rows of bullets ready to thread their way to destruction should the need arise. Given that the soldiers were Canarios and not in fact Tom Cruise, I gave the nose a very wide berth lest someone had forgotten to engage the safety lock.

Boys and their toys

Boys and their toys

I’d gotten just about as close up and personal with military hardware as my nerves could stand for one day.

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