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SPOT Festival 2019 – The Debrief

Denmark’s city of Aarhus played host to SPOT Festival last weekend, May 2-4th, an event, like the birthday of Justin Bieber, being celebrated for the 25th time this year. What’s most beautiful about the former rather than the latter then, is the range and depth of musical styles on display. Because in times of abundant information and pretty much unlimited access to music, it is rather refreshing to hand your fate to the group of very talented people curating the various showcases over the course of the two festival days. The musical selection included local heroes Liss playing a packed concert hall, the uncompromising soul and funk vibes of D/Troit, as well as Danish grandmasters Efterklang and their newest writings, pasted below.

One of the talented curators is a Danish collective putting together a stage called Roots & Hybrid, celebrating international variations of jazz and funk, creating a truly global sound. They invited Belgian group Black Flower who played their beautiful melding of Ethiopian jazz and more traditional afro-beat, carried by an all-encompassing brass pairing. Their driving single Maqam Tizita Saba is attached right here.

Another fine moment in Roots & Hybrid booking came in the form of Danish / Ghanian collaboration of Total Hip Replacement and African Footprint International. The programmers had pitched it as a “get-together party, where the two orchestras will draw on anything from reggae and funk to Afrobeat, highlife, dub, and jazz.” – and really with about 20 people on stage, it couldn’t have been a more forward and enveloping moment in SPOT history, evidence of which, below.

Further greatness came in by Aarhus’ own Limbo Collective, who hosted their own showcase again this year, setting the stage for a fine and talented bunch of alternative Danish indie musicians. The one standing out was probably Ecstasy In Order who played a deep and dark set, mixing the beat of house music with the industrial rhythms of punk and new wave, making themselves blush even, see below.

The Limbo selection came to banging close with the set of Jongpadawan, drawing on influences from both late-90s hip hop and Hot Chip-type electronic productions, real smooth.

The globe-spanning Music Cities Network traditionally set up their own stage too, connecting people from Aarhus, Berlin and Hamburg and those as far as Groningen, Nantes and Sydney. The German gentlemen of Mayes played an exciting set, nestled in a packed afternoon basement. On-point riffs and a unique sense for song writing, melodies and when to put your foot down make them one of the most anticipated acts in this summer season.

With Justin Bieber turning 26 next year, and another decade having come to a close, it will be exciting to see just how roaring the 2020s will be. No matter what, the fine ears of SPOT Festival will be setting the tone early on. And if you will have us, we will be back next year.