The Verse’s Lorenzo Ottone went to Italy to review the fourth edition of TOdays Festival featuring PJ Harvey, MacDemarco, Richard Ashcroft and many Others.
Turin, once the epicentre of subcultures and independent music – when the underground still was a propulsive thing in Italy – goes back under the spotlight for a weekend.
TOdays Festival once again mixes known and less known, Italian and foreign acts, indie-rock and electronic music. This calibrated balance is the key of success of TOdays, a festival which brings intellectual stimulation and discovery, rather than certainty. And that’s not bad at all.
You go there mainly for Britpop legend Richard Ashcroft but it’s Canadian dream pop band Timber Timbre to fill your heart with deep, warm shoegaze guitars.
Ashcroft, though, is still a veteran and has more than expected in common with Bobby Gillespie in the way he takes the stage. Richard gives everything he can. Every song is turned into a long neverending jam – sometimes slightly repetitive though. Wrapped in an orange jacket, he waves his fists in the air like a celebrating casual and when it’s time for Bittersweet Symphony a tear rolls down the cheeks of those who, like me, grew up with Urban Hymns.
On Friday, PJ Harvey’s only Italian date contributes to a sold out night with one of the most affirmed and critically-accalimed women in the music business.
Mac Demarco satisfies the expectations closing Friday night with a laid-back show sounding halfway between American 90s nostalgia – Simpsons, oversized tees and all that – and 60s West Coast jangling guitars. The night reaches its climax when Big Mac gives his cigarette packet to a girl in the crowd.
Giorgio Poi turns the spotlight on Italian indie – possibly the most relevant musical phenomenon in the peninsula right now – with a gentle guitar pop sligthly reminescent of Italo troubadour Calcutta.
Following Poi it’s Perfume Genius with a powerful theatrical performance delivered by frontman Mike Hadreas who, yet, fails to impress musically with his rather repetitive indie-pop sound.
When the sun goes down on open-air venue Spazio 211, the party moves to former INCET factory for two nights electronica and house DJs. It couldn’t get better than synthetic sounds and sampled beats in a disimissed post-industrial scenario.
On Sunday menu there’s an afternoon pool party with italian deranged electro-indie outfit Pop_X. The gig intended as a hangover cure, though, turns into a massive party. Pool water gets coloured, inflatable toys and plastic vegs are thrown all over the place and Pop_X set up the punkest performance witnessed in recent years.
Pop_X performance embodies a purely nihilist punk attitude – although their genre has nothing to see with 1977 London. Dressed-up band members diving from the stage into the pool and heavily drinking while singing nonsense lyrics over electro-synth sounds.
Aside gigs and DJsets, Gagliardi & Domke art gallery hosts a series of workshops and exhibitions. A photograpy exhibition on Italo Disco, a live action collage-art and drawing performance and the showcase of a machine creating sounds through magnetic field changes are just some of the proposal of this year’s afternoon events.
Once again TOdays confirms itself as an interesting and growing event contributing with its thirty-thousand attendees to bring back Turin on the Italian music map.