Thursday, June 22, 2006

Confituur All-Stars vs Rivierenhof (x2)

It all started in the spring of 2003. Open-air theater Rivierenhof (Antwerpen) booked the Confituur All-Stars for a gig alongside Adrian Sherwood ; the legendary On-U Sound producer even agreed to mix the All-Stars. Only a few days before the signed contract had to be sent back, the organisation cancelled the gig without giving any particular reason. The band accepted its dissapointment -and the breach of agreement- with good grace.

Before continuing with the story, there are a few things you should know about the Confituur All-Stars. First of all, they don't play songs. All they do is improvise, and they do so brilliantly. Second, it's not really a band at all - the line-up changes frequently, even though there is something resembling a hardcore. Additionally, a lot of guest musicians are invited to jam along with them. For the namedropping (which is quite a bit), go here.

Picture taken just seconds before the photographer plunged in the fountain (read on!)

Anyway, afterwards the band was again contacted by the same organisation. Did they feel like playing in Rivierenhof in the summer of 2004 ? Not with Adrian Sherwood, but still... The All-Stars accepted and the contract was signed. The organisation then asked if the band could possibly get someone famous to play as a guest musician. Axl Peleman (Camden) for instance? Well, they couldn't make any promises but they'd ask the man ; he did play with the band before so why not? Unfortunately, Axl had other obligations that day so alas, alas. Which the band communicated to the organisation at once. So they were pretty surprised to find that 'Axl Peleman' was figured prominently on the poster. Ah well, a case of slight misunderstanding probably, so what the hell?

And so the day of the concert came. Part of the crowd clearly came to see Axl, and soon left when it became obvious the Flemish superstar wouldn't be playing (although the All-Stars did bring cut-out Axl Peleman masks :)). But the overall majority -several hundred people- stayed and thoroughly enjoyed the gig. Of course, there were a few Spinal Tap moments, notably when the photographer -who was very, very drunk- plunged headfirst into the fountain in front of the stage. But all in all, it was a pretty good concert and everyone seemed happy enough.

Nope, there was hardly anyone there...

So imagine their bewilderment -soon to be replaced by hysterical bouts of laughter- when the All-Stars received a letter from some city council official. The (city-sponsored) organisation refused to pay the fee. Pardon? Well, it must have some pretty sound reasons, wouldn't you think? This is what the official said: "First of all, Axl Peleman was not present, in spite of earlier promises made by the band." The band didn't make any promises (quite the contrary in fact) and obviously the organisation wasn't charged for his performance either. OK, but "several musicians were clearly intoxicated". No, they were not (a photo camera is not an instrument). The All-Stars are pretty crazy individuals who sometimes do pretty strange things and they did have a few drinks, naturally. But they certainly weren't drunk, stoned or anything as they all happen to be professional artists. The letter also referenced vaguely to the band 'being late'. They did the soundcheck three solid hours before the start of the concert, hardly 'late' wouldn't you agree? Then the letter stated that the audience was "disgruntled because of the poor performance". Oh, were they? Amazing, that's exactly the opposite of what the band was being told (and never mind all the cheering and dancing). But the city council guy kept the best bit for the last: "I suggest that the band starts to work on its songs ; more rehearsals might do the trick". Say what now? Songs? Re-hear-sals? For an improvisation band? Which the organisation clearly mentioned on their flyers and in their press release? He had to be kidding? But he clearly wasn't. He was dead serious and ended the letter by saying that he was looking forward to the bands' "justification" and expected a new "invoice which takes into account all of the aforementioned arguments". How about that for Spinal Tap? Or Kafka?

...and the crowd obviously hated the band

Anyway, at the end of it -when the laughing cramps had finally subsided- the band sent a 'justification' to the organisation reducing all those 'sound reasons' to scrap (not the invoice though). So did they get paid? Sure they did. Will they ever play at Rivierenhof again? Very unlikely. Unless they bring Axl Peleman of course.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

A photocamera not an instrument ??
Remember the Siouxsie and the Banshees song "exposure" from the kaleidoscope album ? Where a motorised camera is used as a rhythm device....

12:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You should post a scan of that letter here! Should make for some good reading.

11:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rivierenhof? That's organised by Arenberg Schouwburg then. We did a concert there a while ago, then in the middle of the first 2-3 songs were asked to stop and go home (including the 2 'headliners'), because their sound engineer wanted to be with his wife.

...? And, dead serious, they locked the doors for the audience and ushered us out the backdoor.

12:22 PM  
Blogger Blunderpop said...

Well no, actually this particulary gig was organised by CC Deurne, not Arenberg (they wouldn't dream of screwing us - I have way too much blackmail stuff on them :)). But who are you Anonymous? Which concert was it? Send us the story mate/lass! The sound engineer guy wouldn't happen to be called Bart, would he?

1:05 PM  

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