Zagreb Music Scene Revolution? Fleet Foxes at Tvornica Kulture

Total Croatia News

The continuing expat adventures of Stuart as he gets to grips with a new life in Zagreb – this time exploring the city’s music scene.

I’ve always been slow on the uptake when it comes to music, and as I take increasingly faster steps towards old age I’m very much stuck in my ways. Although I like to think of myself as having an eclectic taste and wide musical knowledge, it’s actually all a façade. Actually, more of a blatant lie. I don’t believe I’ve ever listened to a Led Zeppelin track the whole way through, I claim I really like a band when I’ve actually only heard one song, and I’d have to google the drummer of The Who. That last bit isn’t actually true – I was just using it for comic effect. By and large, I believe 99.9% of today’s music to be utter garbage (except of course the privileged few I allow into my rigid, inner circle) if I hear that Despacito nonsense one more time I’m going to murder somebody, and unfortunately – with no disrespect intended – to my snobbishly discerning ear much Croatian music sounds like someone has thrown an orchestra into a washing machine. Regardless, I thought I’d stretch my musical journalism legs and attend the Fleet Foxes gig at Tvornici Culture last Thursday, very kindly arranged by Dancing Bear Records. With horror, I realised there might be a possibility I would meet the band and be required to give off some semblance of professionalism, in spite of my unfathomably large musical ineptitude. My imagined interaction went something like this:

Fleet Foxes dudes: You’re from TCN, yeah?

Me: Yeah.

Fleet Foxes dudes: Cool man, fire away!

Me: I liked that bit with the guitar.

Colder than arctic monkeys wearing woolly cardigans, we waited for the doors of Tvornici Culture to open, but it was a nice little rush to be included on the guest list. I expected to be led through some back entrance and thrust in front of the band, no doubt to be humiliated and exposed as the charlatan I was while someone telephoned the police. Instead, we found ourselves in the venue, roadies warming up the stage and a scattering of early bird fans hanging about. I felt like a prince, while Alex felt like a queen. 18 year-old-me fantasized about the backstage sex, drugs and rock n’ roll lifestyle, becoming best mates with the band who insist I go on tour with them, all the while groupies hang off my every word in a shameless act of fame by association as I throw multiple televisions out of hotel windows. In reality, I had a couple of pints and rode home on my bike.

All joking aside, Zagreb seems to be steadily attracting a more diverse range of performers, something I’m sure everyone will be happy about. It’s not going to change overnight – more of a slow burn revolution – but I’ve always felt that eastern and southern European countries are shortchanged when it comes to the best the music world has to offer, and have been done something of an injustice given the potential fan bases here. It appears that only 80’s bands and artists include the region on their tour schedule, cemented by the fact that Depeche Mode, the Pet Shop Boys and Bryan Adams recently visited these shores, and we’ve got the vocal delights of Rod Stewart and Sarah Brightman to look forward to. Incidentally, my partner didn’t know who Bryan Adams is – and I’m taking way too much pleasure from including that humiliating factoid in here.

However, she is a big fan of Fleet Foxes, hence all this who-ha in the first place. Much like the outfit from Seattle, other bands are following suit and playing in this cultural and musical city – and it’s about time. Experimental rock stalwarts and cool name-drop band Sigur Rós recently visited, and we’ve got the likes of Gogol Bordello, Grandmaster Flash and The Editors on the horizon. You only have to take a stroll downtown to see how many buskers and street performers are entertaining us with their talents/stabbing our ears with knitting needles, and I myself have taken the liberty of emailing my favourite band – Elbow – to invite them to a city that is obviously passionate about music. Me and Guy Garvey are on first name terms.

I digress. Where was I? What am I writing? Oh yes – Fleet Foxes. My wonderful partner might not know who Bryan Adams is, but she does know Fleet Foxes and she thoroughly enjoyed their set last Thursday night, while I thoroughly enjoyed the hospitality at Tvornici Culture. It’s a seriously good venue and it won’t be the last time I frequent. Alex got pissed at me for swigging a pint in the smoking area during her favourite song, but to be honest, Fleet Foxes are not my cup of tea and I preferred propping up the bar and chatting to a random guy about how underrated Genesis were. Still, lead vocalist Robin Pecknold and Co moved through the gears of their surprisingly small back catalogue, astonishing with their flawless trade-mark vocal harmonies and never putting a musical foot wrong. I certainly felt in the minority while the packed crowd belted out their tunes, clearly preferring this gig to watching Croatia hammer Greece 4-1 in the world cup qualifiers. Disappointingly, providing that score-line was the only real audience interaction the band attempted, and I for one was left wanting more from their on-stage persona. Fleet Foxes are a sensational album band, with an undeniable musical pedigree, but certainly, on this occasion, their live presence didn’t give me the feels. Then again, I know f*ck all about music.

But I will leave you with this – how many bands or artists names can you find written in this article? That should keep you from doing whatever it is you’re actually supposed to be doing. 


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