Thursday, February 4, 2010

A Bittersweet Night. Lou Barlow in Bitterzoet

Bitterzoet is a new venue near Amsterdam’s central station. It is small but has the advantage of stairs and a balcony. The first thing I noticed in Bitterzoet are the glasses, made from actual glass. Must mean that they don’t expect too many rowdy visitors. But when Lou Barlow starts playing his first songs and the entire crowd gets quiet the biggest flaw of the venue becomes painfully clear. The bar is located a few meters from the stage and the bartenders make almost more noise with the glasses than Barlow does with his guitar.
If Lou Barlow plays alone prepare for a very intimate set. Almost all the people in the crowd are fortunately familiar with this so there aren’t too many a-holes who find it necessary to talk through the show. The bartenders are clueless however and when Lou plays ‘Rebound’ in my right ear I am annoyed by the sounds of stacked glasses in my left ear, with some euro coins providing the percussion. De Melkweg has the bar(s) in the corner in the back and the same is true for the Paradiso main room. The Paradiso upstairs has even moved the bar behind a door. They also use plastic, a much better option. It seems like Bitterzoet wasn’t planned to be a music venue, otherwise the planners should be compared to those guys who made that wobbly bridge in the Northwest US or that art museum in Denver that leaks…

But this luckily isn’t a solo set. Two bandmembers join him for a loud set and the glasses are forgotten. Playing mostly new songs they seem to be enjoying themselves but only rarely do we get a glimpse of the legend of indierock that he is. The songs are good, in fact the quality is as always high. What else can you expect from a man who was responsible for the great songs on Sebadoh, Sentridoh, Folk Implosion and now under his own name. It’s always different: swinging the bass with Dinosaur JR, playing rock shows with Sebadoh or the most intimate concerts you can think of when he is alone with his guitar. There are only a few people who can get an entire room quiet and when he played his classic ‘Think (Let Tomorrow Bee)’ he did just that. And without too much glasswork.

No comments:

Post a Comment