Sunday, 21 May 2017

A Review of ARGONAUTA FEST 3 by Bruno Bellisario

When, a few days ago, I proposed to Steve this article/report, I regretted it immediately, thinking that maybe it was not the case and could be too self-referential. Then, I thought about it better, cold in mind, and I was told, probably, it is only the point of view of one who, at 40, is taking some small satisfactions away, such as playing in a band, making records, going around concerts, touring.

From my point of view, I can only appreciate the effort that hundreds, if not thousands, of people in the world make every day to allow as many as a hundred bands (including Dustrider, of course) to emerge from the limbo where they are confined. Of course, I am aware of the dynamics that often hide behind this, but this is not the place to talk about.

Big or small they are, festivals are, without doubt, one of the most important moments of aggregation, where people are assembled by a single major common denominator, music. Desertfest, Hellfest, Roadburn, Wacken are just some of the biggest European festivals where any band in the world would like to participate and where, most likely, they will never take part. But it does not matter. Each country has an innumerable number of small realities where one can express its creativity.

Names such as Argonauta Fest, Heavy Psych Sounds Fest, Pietrasonica, Sweet Leaf Festival, SoloMacello Fest, Burning Ruins, are just some of the most important festivals in Italy that can move the underground world we all need. On Saturday, May 12th I was, in the double role of spectator and musician, at the Argonautafest. What to say. There was an experience I would call it necessary.

Necessary because it allowed us to play with so many great bands with which we might never have played. Necessary because it allowed us to give a face and a voice to all those people who, until then, were just pixels on the screen. Necessary because allowed to touch with a hand a reality made of hopes, passion, blows, professionalism and friendship.

Foto di Giovanni Salinardi

The management of the event, from the audience point of view, was simply perfect. The comfortable venue (Officine Sonore, Vercelli) have been the perfect location to hold the event, with a perfect acoustics, being a non-dispersive place that can accommodate the right number of people. On this occasion, Argonauta has given way to some of its roster bands to present themselves in the best way, thanks to 40 minutes of live set that brought on 8 bands featuring completely different sounds, from stoner to heavy psych, through sludge and post metal.

Having to play around midnight, I've had the opportunity to enjoy the first bands that, despite the ‘tea time’, have been spent as if they were playing as head-liners at the main stage of the HELLFEST.

NO GOOD ADVICE was called to a hard test, having to open in the afternoon with a still small audience who, in any case, participated with transport to their show. Heroic. The NAAT, coming upstage later on, literally bent the air with a fresh and original sludge/psych as it had just felt. THE BUCKLE were, for me, a real surprise. A duo (guitar and drum) with its roots in a sound that closely remind QOTSA and EODM. The sound went slowly to darker and heavier territories, passing through the post-metal of OTUS and the percussive and violent sludge of NUDIST, until the post elaborations of VAREGO.

One of the most beautiful aspects (at least for me) of these festivals is the opportunity to listen to groups that I might have had difficulty listening, simply because I did not know them. It was the case of the head-liners EYES FRONT NORTH, a Parisian sludge metal/post-hardcore quartet that literally amazed me for their music made of so much psychedelia. We played in the middle and from the point of view of the band, the organization was perfect. No difficulties, quality back-lines, line-check that sounded more like a sound check for how beautiful the sound came out, thanks also to the great sound engineer. 

About our performance I do not pronounce, of course. We had a lot of fun and I saw the audience as well. Audiences and bands have shared hours of pure fun, thanks to the high quality of musicians that hit the stage. The overall feeling of the whole day was more than pleasant, in an atmosphere that, for both the audience and the bands, went beyond the mere participation. It was a true family celebration.

Let me make a special applause to the Argonauta Records. It is not for flattery. It's not because our label. It's not because Gero is a friend. It is not for any of these reasons. It is for the people, whoever they are, Argonauta or not, that blow continuously, day after day, to pull out something good from that rot that has become the Italian music scene. Making music becomes more and more difficult, day after day, due to an unwelcome general disinterest combined with a lack of space that inevitably leads to a general sense of overcrowding.

Of course, nothing is perfect, but there are people out there who invest their lives for something they really like to do, which fortunately allows them to live, but that keeps alive those creativity that we often need.

Fortunately, small realities save us. Long life the underground.

Words by Bruno Bellisario

Argonauta Records Links:

Dustrider Links: