As we look back fondly on SSFB 2017, some of our contributors share their stories of the day.
For me, the most magical moment of this edition coincided with the late-hour rain that seemed to work as a stimulant rather than a depressant. Around 10 pm I got myself one of the ponchos that were being handed out and decided to maneuver myself towards the mid-center of the The Rest is Noise stage. After a one or two-song introduction by the band, the Turkish protest singer Selda Bağcan came on stage. That first note she sang, from the song “Yaz Gazeteci Yaz”, will forever stay with me. The crowd went completely nuts and me and my friends were dancing in the rain like crazy. Her music is on repeat ever since.
When I look back at last Sunday’s edition, I do recall a lot of pretty dark-sounding sets, which nonetheless often would reach out to me and touch me in a good way. From the occasional head bopping to moving my dancing legs. Vladimir Ivkovic, whom I up until now had only read about in cheering articles, closed off the Red Light Radio stage and surprised me with a gritty toned yet uplifting selection reaching from Leftfield techno to gloomy Balearic percussion, as the gods kept pouring down even thicker drops of rain upon us.
My moment of sunshine though I’d enjoyed earlier during the Sun Ra Arkestra performance. At first I could not get into the sometimes difficult compositions, which was also affected by the fact that I was surrounded by mainly electronic music with a party-minded crowd around me, when suddenly jazz was being played in a traditional fashion. Nor could I buy into the cheap looking party store fedora hats that I spotted on a couple of the band members. I guess I’d forgotten my sense of humor in my pocket at that moment.
So I kept listening, and before long, the sincerely positive energy these smiling cosmic people gave me began to help me understand and feel this thing called jazz. When the ensemble got into the beautiful classic “Love In Outer Space”, a big grin formed on my dancing face. This moment reminded me of how the art form jazz is for me one of the most astonishing methods of expressing deep and complex emotions.
I liked the balance between the DJs and live acts; even though I wasn’t sure what to expect from an act like Insanlar, I just stood there as if I was hypnotized for half an hour, which was a nice break from all the dancing. After seeing them in De School last month, I was looking forward to see both Lena Willikens and Vladimir Ivkovic play again, but Black Merlin, who I never saw before, was also a very nice high-energy surprise. I also really loved Daphni; impressive how he can take you from one tune to a completely different genre so smoothly.
As I had seen Jan Schulte perform his live percussion at WORM last year, I was very curious to see what he would play as his Bufiman moniker. Expecting a less “organic” more clubby sound I was especially thrilled to hear the wide range of vibes in his DJ set. From straight up electro-funk to Amen Breaks and pulsing house, every transition sounded like a natural layer building towards a new rhythmic experience. Schulte, being the curator of the Tropical Drums Of Deutschland compilation on Music For Dreams as well as collaborator on the DJ Normal 4 and Bufiman – The 5 Elements EP Pt. 1, delivered enough drum workouts for me to be satisfied listening to ambient for the next months. Wicked!
Strange Sounds From Beyond.. Guess I’ve been looking forward to the festival all year – and how amazing it was once again! Entered the terrain right from the start like last year together with my mate Tijmen, sitting in the rain in comparison to last year’s sun at Luca & Mata Hari. That didn’t bother us. Hearing gems like a Mata (and personal) favorite Aymeric de Tapol’s “J’Ai Dansé Avec Elle” was a great start of a great day! Nosedrip was the winner of the day for me, blowing my mind with tracks which I’ll be ID-ing for the coming months – with as a personal highlight Fröhliche Eiszeit – Don’t Change The Position (cheers Ziggy!).
I could go on and on about individual shows – but the festival is really about surprises. Sets I’d wished to experience in full didn’t happen as planned, but this creates so many unplanned great moments. That’s what makes it special too. For example, High Wolf totally zoned me in when I took a stroll around the stages yet again. Strange Sounds has the programming that makes me so curious to the point I really felt no regret wandering off from my friends all the time. Basically everybody knows this and expects this from each other, and that vibe is just great.
The live acts were something else again too, just like last year. I recall my girlfriend telling me during Sun Ra Arkestra’s performance how grateful she was for all the wonderful artists we’re able to see in the Dutch festival scene. I agreed in awe. Mad props for the 93-year-old channeling the psychedelic jazz vibes with the energy of a youngster. Same goes for the legendary Selda stirring things up – what a proper party that was.
Being a not-so-prepared soaking wet-blouse guy at the main stage I went to dance the last bit off at Antal – again unplanned – and again put in perspective how great of a deejay he is. Working the levels of volume throughout the mixes creating an energy flow like a true veteran; that was one joyful cherry on top of the day. Thanks and till next year!
I remember the moment when the huge fan in the back of the Rush Hour stage broke down, making atrocious sounds with every rotation. The crowd seemed to notice this instantly and the energy was flowing away to something so redundant as an air cooler. But, as we all know, Antal regained attention in a second, and while technicians were desperately trying to shut the damn thing out, “Acenda O Farol” spread over the crowd like a tidal wave. Even though I’ve heard the song a thousand times, it still enthralls me, and not just me, ow no!
About a year ago when my daughter had just witnessed her 4th spring, we were at home having lunch. In the background my speakers were pulsing to the Anadolu Mixtape n.2; I had randomly found the Soundcloud link on the internet and was intrigued as it had a rad selection of Ottomanian records.
At some point my offspring came up to me and claimed that the song we were listening to at that moment was her favorite. Now little children might sometimes say irrational things, especially as I had not played any Turkish music in her environment nor did she hear them at her mom’s, so I did not pay much attention to what she had told me.
After we returned from the playground I put the same mix on once again, and sure enough at the same exact song, my little soul recognized it and assured me once again it was her favorite song. I was baffled. How could a young girl who could barely speak her own mother tongue (Dutch) recognize a foreign song she had never heard before and distinguish the songs one from another after only hearing them once?
I had to know who the singer was and the song title so I wrote a message to the Soundcloud account of Anadolu Ekspres explaining my tale and demanding to know what my daughter appreciated so much. Cengiz of Anadolu Ekspres replied kindly: Selda – “Dane Dane Benleri”. Cengiz and I stayed in contact digitally after that and he invited me to come and spin some Persian records at his first-ever organized Anadolu Ekspres in Rotterdam. Rapidly we became very close friends.
Coincidences occur happily for us; that same summer he found the single in a small thrift shop during his holidays in Turkey and brought it back as a present for Digna and me.
Obviously when we heard that Selda Bağcan was coming to the SSFB festival this year there was no question but to attend the event. At the end of her blissful concert, we felt earthy, soaked, but our bones were still vibrating overwhelmingly. No matter what it took, Cengiz and I had to take a picture of the three of us. But my pal’s phone was out of battery and my phone missed a large chunk of its touchscreen and was as slippery as the mud bath the crowd had granted the terrain.
Nevertheless I tried calling a few folks of the SSFB staff but obviously no one picked up. Still in the rain we tried looking for passages that would lead us to the back of the podium where Selda had performed. Security did its work well and prevented us from achieving our main goal that day.
Cengiz proposed to jump the fence on the side of the stage but I could not follow as I had a shredded meniscus and thought that would be just fine for the moment. Luckily I had a good excuse so he could take the risk for both of us. He jumped the fence but immediately the security guy’s inner-radar spotted my partner-in-crime’s movements and brought him back to the front of the stage.
We then decided to just walk on stage as if we were one of the crew, thinking the sound guys working and cleaning up on the podium would not be able to tell the difference, but a crew member saw us coming and held us back from passing through. We begged to see Selda and explained to him why. Luckily Selda was still where we hoped she would be and the staff were kind enough to allow us a quick pic with our living legend for the sake of our brotherhood. Çok teşekkür ederiz (thank you very much) Selda for narrowing the convergence of this prophetic moment.