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Incubate 2015 - Friday

As Incubate seems to be taking place during the Dutch monsoon this year today started off with a film. Do It Together, through interviews with & performances by a worldwide cast of acts and artists, ably investigates the benefits of collaboration within the DIY community and how working with others invariably gets more done & benefits everyone more than ploughing your own course against the vested interests of the music industry.

After the entertaining 75 minutes in front of the big screen it was off to a new venue, the studio at Tilburg's main theatre, to see some of the Errors set. Enjoying good clear sound and joined on additional vocals by their mate Cecilia the trio gave out an infectious late-night dance vibe which made exiting into daylight once again all the more incongruous. For the most part today was one of much lighter musical fare compared with the heavy content of the start of the week as following Errors it was time for more danceable output from East India Youth. Making full use of the acoustic capabilities of the Midi theatre songs such as 'Looking For Someone' came over very well but the crowd was curiously static. An engaging solo performance nevertheless.

Next door at Extase Tess Parks & Anton Newcombe played to a packed hall (one smaller than I'd have expected). Recent album I Declare Nothing came over very well in the intimate setting although Parks' vocals were pretty indistinct the whole way through. No complaints from the crowd though so job done in the entertainment department. Tonight's lone Belgian act were post-punk quartet Supergenius, playing in the basement at v39. A suitable setting for the powerful sound they push out, with 'Acrobatics' being a particular highlight of the set. Keep an eye out for their debut album which is dropping soon.

A real coup and major highlight of the festival next - Mercury Rev performing at the Theaters Tilburg Schouwburg hall along with the orchestra of the Tilburg Conservatorium. Opening in the very well appointed auditorium with a cover of Neil Young's 'A Man Needs A Maid' Jonathan Donahue & Grasshopper and the band laid out over two hours their trajectory to the spot we all found ourselves in at that moment. Channelling the Disney cartoons of their upbringings via Donahue's time with the Flaming Lips, the painful setback of album See You On The Other Side flopping, the redemptive period that produced the classic Deserter's Songs (from which 'Holes' and 'Opus. 4' have probably never sounded better than the orchestra-backed versions played here) and onwards to new material including 'Queen Of Swans' this was a show drenched (but not drowning) in emotion and one which garnered the band new fans and a throughly deserved standing ovation for them and the accomplished young players of the orchestra, many of whom (as mentioned by Donahue at the top of the show) are younger than the songs they were contributing to. Fan films of parts of the show are already on YouTube but with luck someone had the foresight to officially record the whole thing.

After the massive high of the theater experience anything we went on to see was going to be fighting a losing battle. Consequently the punk stylings of Amsterdam's Fuz were an energetic buzz in the background when we stopped into Extase again but the crowd seemed to be jumping around very appreciatively. Finishing off the night in Paradox, as has become the norm, we were shaken out of our bubble of enjoyment by the comedy duo that presented itself in the shape of Dirty Electronics and Nicholas Bullen. Like a tiny tennis match the two were back and forth across their table putting more effort into turning a dial or swiping a screen than pensioners need to open a jar of jam all to produce nothing representing a tune. Contemplation of the background noise of everyday life or that of industry is all well & good but when you're seeing an attempt to recreate that consisting of a chunky bloke almost gagging by aiming for a specific sound through poking a microphone and bubble plastic down his throat you have to ask if someone's medical supervision is falling down on the job.

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