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Folkherbst Eröffnungsabend: Arstidir / La Chiva Gantiva

Stadt / City Plauen 
Land / Country GER 
Web www.malzhaus.de/folkherbst/folk.html
Datum / Date29.09.2012 
Bildergalerie / Picture gallery 21.Folkherbst 
Photos: Stefanie Oepen 

The Autumn of Folk (Folkherbst) at the Malzhaus in Plauen has been existing since 1992. The special thing about it its the „Eiserner Eversteiner“, a music prize that is awarded by the audience and a jury together. It’s the only European Folk music award offered in Germany. Folk bands/artists from all over Europe can apply; if selected for the festival, they perform one concert each. This year, 10 bands/artists are taking part in the contest and there are other concerts as well. This 21st Folkherbst evening featured two: Arstidir from Iceland (as part of the contest) and La Chiva Gantiva from Belgium (not in the contest).

My second evening with the Icelandic guys and for sure not my last. The location, the gallery of the Malzhaus was made for a concert like this. The audience was seated on two levels and got ready to listen to music that was different and new for many of them. Everyone I talked to before the concert was curious about it, but none of them knew Arstidir. Those who had come to the concert this evening were either generally interested in Folk or specifically interested in Iceland.

More photos in the gallery, link in top section
A little late, at 8:15 Arstidir walked on stage and immediately put the audience under their spell. During the songs everyone was listening in silence, clapping and cheering excitedly in-between. They started with alternating English and Icelandic songs, but played a lot more Icelandic tunes later. There were seven guys on stage this time around – they had a second violin player guesting with them.

Once again I was way too busy watching everything on stage to see much of how the audience reacted, but the few times I did I saw only happy faces. Everyone seemed glued to their seats and lost in the music.

More photos in the gallery, link in top section
Knowing the songs already made this concert different from the first one, but no less compelling. I was just happy to be there, listening to music that resonated within. I believe that everyone who allowed themselves to be drawn into the music must have felt similarly. Before the concert I had told the guy next to me about traveling from Dortmund. During the concert he leaned over and said: “Now I understand why you’ve come all this way.” Someone else I’d spoken to before the concert told me later that this had not been just a concert but a symphony. Long story short, the audience was thrilled and celebrated Arstidir with standing ovations.

When the evening was over and almost everyone had left already, a couple arrived who had been driving a long way to see Arstidir, but got stuck in a traffic jam and missed the concert. It didn’t take much begging that the guys sang a spontaneous encore, one a cappella song just for those two people. A really nice ending of a perfect evening.

I do admit it wasn’t easy for me to walk downstairs to the Malzhaus’ basement to go and see La Chiva Gantiva. When I arrived, the show had already started and quite a few people populated the room. First impression? Loud! I took a good look at the band and counted 7 people on stage. Apart from a singer, guitar, bass and drums there was percussion, saxophone and a clarinet – an interesting combination.

More photos in the gallery, link in top section
Until then I had believed that Folk was generally a more quiet type of music, but La Chiva Gantiva rocked and encouraged the audience to clap and dance. It worked well, the applause showed that they were well liked. It surprised me to hear them sing in Spanish, I had expected French or Dutch. Either way, their show was good; they enjoyed playing and satisfied the audience. It was fun watching the band. They were always on the move and each one of them got their chance to be in the spotlight a time or two. Rhythm and melodies of the songs were electrifying; it was surely impossible to sit still, just listening. By the end of the show their singer even managed to direct the entire audience in moving from left to right and back again in front of the stage.

More photos in the gallery, link in top section
I certainly found La Chiva Gantiva entertaining, despite the huge contrast to the previous concert. They won’t become a band I’ll have to see more often, but anyone who wants to see a band that is just fun to watch, will make you dance and won’t get boring, will surely like them.

On the whole the evening was well worth going. My highlight was of course Arstidir and I’d give them 9 points for their concert. I found La Chiva Gantiva very listenable and the fun factor was high, but in comparison they only get 6 points. Thus, an average of 7.5 for the evening. The fact that two bands as different as these can play at the same festival shows how much alive Folk is. Kudos to the organizers for their choice of performers.

Stefanie Oepen

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