'Sex On Fire' went down a treat in the cheap seats, while the festival also boasted a DJ who managed to play two concurrent sets at opposite ends of the site.
Kings of Leon closed the second day at INmusic festival in Zagreb, Croatia, with a Main Stage set that leant on material from their last couple of albums, ‘Mechanical Bull’ and ‘WALLS’. That said, the festival takes place next to a lake and there was an entertaining moment when vintage hit ‘Sex On Fire’ was met with a massive roar of approval from fans who’d set up camp on the other side of the water to avoid the entry fee.
The band took a no-frills approach to audience interaction, instead opting to plough through their muscular brand of Southern rock, the tempo of which let up only on ‘Walls’, an acoustic ballad taken from the album of the same name. Following the free-wheeling stomp of ‘Fans’, frontman Caleb Followhill asked the audience, “Are you ready to have some fun?”, then segued into their massive 2008 sadbanger ‘Use Somebody’, the audience chanting the chorus back to them.
Earlier in the evening, over on the smaller OTP World Stage, Kel Assauf combined drone and desert rock in a performance that achieved extreme heaviosity. The band formed around Anan Harouna, who was born in Niger but now resides in Brussels, and their sound is part of the Tuareg tradition – heady electric guitar-based music that emerged from the Sahara in the 1960s. Harouna shredded a V-shaped guitar while a buzzing bassline thundered through the field. Meanwhile, second singer-songwriter Toulou Kiki let out a passionate, undiluted war cry.
Next up, on the same stage, was a bruising and notably well-attended show from Serbian alt-rockers Repetitor, who played a set that variously sounded a bit like Arcade Fire’s ‘Wake Up’, Kings of Leon’s ‘Charmer’ and first album Arctic Monkeys. Arcade Fire played on the Main Stage the previous night, so if Alex Turner and co. were on the bill this week, Repititor would have had a full house.
Tucked away at the rear of the site, the fittingly named Hidden Stage hosted an intense show from Slovenia’s persons from porlock. The psych-rock four-piece played in front of kaleidoscopic, psychedelic video screens, which at one point depicted cars speeding through multi-coloured, tie-dye landscapes. If your dad dropped a Gaviscon with a Boddingtons while watching an old episode of Top Gear, it might look something like this.
Back on the Main Stage, Leeds art-rockers Alt-J performed between sets of totemic poles that lit up in various colours, contributing to the shamanic quality of their folk-influenced math rock. Hushed 2012 track ‘Tessellate’ was at the quieter end of the set, while ‘in Cold Blood’, taken from recent album ‘RELAXER’, boasted a huge chant in the middle of its chorus, which the audience took over. Keyboard player and vocalist Gus Unger-Hamilton told the audience: “We’re finally here! I can’t believe it’s taken us seven fucking years to get to Croatia.” When the crowd clapped along to the massive finale, all crushing drone guitar while those totemic poles flashed with blood red light, it appeared the wait had been worthwhile.
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The shamanistic vibe continued over on Suma Stribovora, a tiny stage on which Croatian DJs Yem Kolektiv spun Balearic beats in the midst of dense woodland decorated with lanterns and fairy lights. Curiously, the line-up claimed they were also playing at inTeater, a circular stage made from wooden pallets, at exactly the same time. Could Yem Kolektiv be Mr Tickle’s DJ name, his enormous arms straddling two stages at opposite ends of the site? Sadly not: the inTeater show was a silent disco with the Suma Stribovora set pumped into punters’ headphones.
London band Public Service Broadcasting closed The Hidden Stage with an innovative show that consisted of video screens that beamed out technicolor Space Race-era stock footage while they blared out Krautrock rhythms and a pre-recorded posh male vocal uttered motivational slogans such as: “There are innumerably more failures / But they must not stop us / No, they must not stop us”. The performance, designed and delivered with acute attention to detail, deserved the massive audience that sprawled out to the edges of the tent.
Kings of Leon went the whole hog, too, when it came to set design. Their bizarre backdrop depicted a woman with painted nails holding a hand mirror, the glass of which contained footage of the band. ‘On Call’ – which was, unbelievably, released an entire decade ago – still sounded vital, as did the melancholic ‘Knocked Up’. Rounding off night two of INmusic festival, before exiting the stage, Caleb told the audience: “It really has been an honour to be here.”
Kings of Leon played:
Eyes On You
Slow Night, So Long
Sex on Fire
Waste A Moment