Sasquatch! Music Festival 2017, Day 2: Klangstof

Gabe Pollak
all photos by Brady Harvey

Give me water, yes, and maybe an overpriced Slurpee, but I'll still contend that there's little more refreshing than seeing a band truly enjoy themselves onstage. Norwegian rock group Klangstof did just that at the Yeti stage, delivering one of the most fun and adventurous sets of the weekend so far.

Their lively performance may be in part because they haven't had much time to get jaded. Though guitarist and singer Koen van de Wardt wrote the material for Close Eyes Exit over the course of several years, the band itself had only played together for about a year when they played Coachella -- becoming the first Dutch band to do so -- and, more recently opened for the Flaming Lips.

On the other hand, maybe it has something to do with the restless structure of their songs, which leave the band ample room to experiment. Their music alternates between skewered electro-pop in the style of alt-J or, at their slinkiest, Flume, and slow-building, melancholic rock, more like, as van de Wardt has said, "Radiohead for people who aren't depressed."

The band certainly seemed to be having a good time. van de Wardt, holding a heavily-collaged guitar with a sticker of a businessman with his head missing, wore a mischievous grin as he extended each riff beyond the audience's expectation, testing how far he could take it. Klangstof constantly extended, sped up, and warped their songs, riding out tense sections of their recorded material as long as they wanted to, as if testing to make sure the crowd was still paying attention. When the band finally drops into their catchy, more dance-oriented sections after these experimental moments, you'd find it hard not to lose it completely.

During their last song -- I think it was album closer, "Island," but it was honestly hard to tell -- drummer Jun Christian Villanueva, hunched over his set at the back of the stage, looked up from his cymbal-smashing workout to see if van de Wardt was planning on ending the song anytime soon. He wore a partially pained, but mostly joyed expression as the song sprawled out in front of him. It may be tiring to push a song to its breaking point, but the exploration at least makes it interesting to play each night.

Meanwhile, van de Wardt snaked around his synth and tip-toed across a mess of cables, edging into guitarist Jobo Engh's space at the corner of the stage. As Engh swung his guitar wildly close to the edge of the stage, hammering otherworldly noise out of his instrument, van de Wardt moved closer. The two pressed the faces of their guitars close together, grinning like two brothers causing a small-scale disturbance at a family gathering. The crowd, playing their part to contribute to the squall of sound, cheered and whistled loudly. Signaling the end of the song, van de Wardt opened his mouth wide and yelped loudly, audible even though he stood far in front of the mic. Two beats later, the song was over. van de Wardt walked a few paces before casually letting his guitar slip off his shoulder, leaving it ringing out on the ground to continue the experiment. The band grinned at each other and walked offstage, while a few members of the audience clamored for more. Turns out a band having fun onstage is just as refreshing for the musicians as it is for the fans.

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