Shabazz Palaces.

Some misguided fool said just the other day that I know a lot about music. To prove how immensely mistaken she was, I went to the “Le Guess Who?” festival. More than a hundred bands playing, and I didn’t know a single one. Not one band. Zero. I kind of should’ve known. Recently, a friend tipped me to Loon, a short album from Olafur Arnalds and Nils Frahm. If you are like me, you would go “WTF, and I thought ‘Garmt’ was a weird name, who are these guys?!”, so I was super excited about what I thought was a hidden gem. Chalk it up to coincidence that one of my visitors had seen good old Olafur in concert, twice. When another friend said, “Of course you know Nils. Who doesn’t?” I started to wonder, and looked up Nils and Olafur on Spotify. Turns out both guys each have more listeners than Jamiroquai. I am officially out of touch. Especially so because my younger readers will now wonder who this Jamiroquaiguy is. Well, it is a band, whose lead singer crashes expensive cars, sometimes in his own moat.

So, Le Guess Who?. We strolled around the only wheelchairfriendly concert venue in Utrecht, a massive place with at least seven simultaneous stages. Amongst our group of six we only knew which particular band to avoid; Sunn O))). We wandered, from Destroyer to Magma, past Red Light Radio into Cloud Nine. Ha, gotcha, that wasn’t a band name but the name of the room/hall. Crushing careless feet and breaking teenagers shins we rolled me straight to the stage. The rest was history. A performance more significant than this hasn’t been given since Bob went electric. Well, ok, hyperbole etc, but this was the most original thing I had heard since, say, Mars Volta. Avant garde hip hop. Beats so glitchy, vocals so diverse, it was completely unpredictable and… yes, it was delightful. I grooved, I was befuddled and baffled, I couldn’t make out any of the lyrics and it didn’t matter. Even their outfits were baffling. I absolutely loved every second those two guys on stage were at it. I would later read that some newspaper called their album the hip hop equivalent to Trout Replica, and as we all know, Captain Beefheart was Tom Waits’ biggest influence when he redefined his career with that album, was it Heartattack and Vine (“Don’t you know there is no devil, only God when he’s drunk!”) or Swordfishtrombones? No, I still do not know a lot about music, I just know where Google is.
Anyway. Show over, we made our way to the elevator, and ran into none other than the artists themselves. Now, most people would get a little uncomfortable when they offer a handshake and get only a drooling grin in response. Shabazz Palaces, though, was not most people. MC Ishmael Butler asked if I can hear, said “It’s cool”, positioned himself in front of me, and looked straight into me. For a few immeasurably long seconds, we were in contact. We were two human beings. For a nanosecond, I thought about laughing, but that would have broken the contact. Then the moment was over. He walked on, touched my arm, let go. Holy crap. You see, 99.5% of all my eye contact is utilitarian. It is “I want” or “I need”. And sometimes, on nights like this, when my friends take me out, I can’t escape the image that they are lugging my memory along instead of me. Like bringing the urn of your deceased mom on holiday with you. So thank you, Shabazz Palaces, for rocking insanely hard, and for remembering me that I am a human being. I still feel that look.
PS. Yesterday I nearly died (again!), because of some phlegm. Yes, Dutch readers, you learned two exotic words today: slotgracht and slijm (English has more words for spit than we do). Luckily, Samira saved me. It is certainly my intention to say a proper goodbye, and not be hasty about it, but, you know, accidents and incidents happen, and if they do… don’t be mad. Also, do not be disappointed if I live ten more years and win the Nobel prize for Peace, Literature and Science, ok?


7 replies
  1. Walevska
    Walevska says:

    What a beautiful legacy you are leaving for your daughter with your writing, your honesty and your zeal.

    As for me, thanks, again.

  2. Chiara
    Chiara says:

    Hoi t lijkt me vreselijk om iedere keer bijna dood te gaan.ik probeer me jouw ziekte voor te stellen maar t lukt me niet.andere mensen ik ook zijn bezig met onbenulligheden. Als ik je vertel dat de vader van mijn kind dood is en dat hij geen begrafenis onderneming heeft benaderd.bij. Ik las dat jij voor je kind en vrouw iets goeds had geregeld. Mijn ex last zijn dochter met schulden achter

  3. Edde Voorheijen
    Edde Voorheijen says:

    Hoi Garmt,

    vanwege de jou ook bekende verslaving aan Accenture drukte ben ik gisteren last-minute een paar Sinterklaas cadeautjes gaan scoren. Bij de Bruna lag jouw boek prominent tussen, ik noem maar iets, Claudia de Breij’s ‘Neem een geit’ en andere boekwerken. Heb je mooi voor elkaar 🙂 Het boek valt op, je wordt gelezen en je verhaal verdient het!

    Het voelt nog maar kort geleden dat we zijn gaan lunchen en ik je vertelde dat mijn moeder al 10 jaar terug overleden was aan ALS. Ik had graag gewild dat zij jouw verhalen mee kon lezen. Een ware bron van inspiratie en showcase van levenskracht!

    Rgds, Edde

  4. Efje
    Efje says:

    Je schrijven blijft me verbazen: raak, spitsvondig (ihkv zeldzame woorden) & intelligent. Jaloersmakend goed. Dank dat je dit met iedereen wil delen.

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