Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

Italia Wave – Wednesday evening

Walking towards the festival, that Hold Steady line, “they came from miles around to get messed up on the music”, seems apt when you see the lines of scooters and cars. Then you realise that the Scissor Sisters are headlining …

Thu, Jul 19, 2007, 15:19

   

Walking towards the festival, that Hold Steady line, “they came from miles around to get messed up on the music”, seems apt when you see the lines of scooters and cars. Then you realise that the Scissor Sisters are headlining tonight. No-one ever got messed up on the Scissor Sisters, pal.

What’s quickly apparent strolling around the site is just how much Italia Wave has become a proper festival. By concentrating all the activities in one place, as opposed to having them spread around to different venues as was the case in Arezzo, Italia Wave looks and sounds and feels now like an Electric Picnic or Lattitude. That’s right down to the impassioned readings and discussion on the Word stage (at least I think it was impassioned) or the fantastic mime acts performing to the side of the Global stage (for which you thankfully don’t need Italian to get). There are, of course, some aspects here just waiting to be exported – the full-scale football tournament running during the fest, for instance.

Musically, there’s little tonight to stir the senses. After one song, people desert Clap Your Hands Say Yeah in droves. After two songs, even more people go in search of pasta and paninis. After three songs, I wonder what the hell anyone ever saw in them. They have turned, quite frankly, into The Thrills. Worse, the band seem downright bored and plainly uninterested in being here. So, reason the audience, why should we bother with them?

Two Italian bands naturally draw huge crowds. The Sud Sound System’s low-slung dub and reggae was made with big spaces like this in mind, booming bass and a chanting MC washing splendidly over the crowd.

Every Casino Royale tune seems to last an age such is the need for funky solos from every band member onstage. The Stereo MCs, it would appear, sold a lot of copies of “Connected” in Milan. It’s when the band swing into ska-pop territory that it does seem to work. Not surprisingly, the best material seems to be the newer stuff from the “Reale” album which Howie B produced in 2006.

I don’t hang around for the Scissor Sisters. Leaving, I see a couple of members of Chk Chk Chk sitting on the roof of their tour bus having a laugh before they leave for their next festival appearance. Only losers take the bus? Not a chance. It seems that the new version of running away to join a circus is spending the summer on the road touring from one European fest to the next.

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