CULTURE

Adrenalive festival offers three days of electronica and pop-rock

With the unparalleled prospect of next year’s Olympic Games in Athens no doubt in mind, major local concert promoters who have staged some of the capital’s bigger, if not biggest, musical events in recent years, seem to be saving their signature productions for 2004. After being introduced here two summers ago and repeated last summer, WOMAD, the world music circuit’s premier festival, will not be staged this summer but is likely to return next year. An Afro-pop double-header with Malian Salif Keita and Senegal’s Orchestra Baobab at the open-air Lycabettus Theater late last week offered some consolation. Beginning tonight, at the same venue, the organizer of the capital’s main summer rock staple, the Rockwave Festival – which will be skipped this season but has already been slated as a three-day event a week before the 2004 Athens Olympics – has compiled a scaled-down, surrogate event over as many days, dubbed the Adrenalive Festival. Moby, a frequent visitor since the mid-1990s, will open tonight with one of the local scene’s leading electronica acts, with Constantinos Beta as the support act. Tomorrow, the infectious pop-rock act, The Dandy Warhols, another regular visitor, returns for a third consecutive year. Local pop-rock favorites Raining Pleasure will open. Thursday, the final night, will feature an all-Greek cast with top-sellers Pyx Lax to be supported by Theodosia Tsatsou, formerly of Ble. Moby, who helped popularize the dance circuit of the early 1990s, has kept attracting a widening following since his emergence. His «Play» album in 1999, a splendid blues-meets-electronica effort, sold massively to establish Moby as one of electronica’s few superstars. The album’s overwhelming success gave him the freedom to make a more meditative and assured album as a follow-up, last year’s «18,» also a commercial hit. Moby, who spent some time playing with a hardcore punk band in his teenage years, has also blasted out some frenzied work as the flip-side to his electronica status since emerging in the early 1990s. Early on in his career, Moby’s rise proved controversial. He was alternately praised for bringing a face to the notoriously anonymous electronic genre, as well as scorned by techno artists and fans for trivializing the form. The Adrenalive Festival’s main act tomorrow, The Dandy Warhols, have just released a new album, «Welcome to the Monkeyhouse,» the popular band’s fourth. A retro-glam era outing, the album features two seasoned individuals as guest producers, Duran Duran’s Nick Rhodes and Tony Visconti, who has worked with T-Rex and David Bowie. On previous albums, The Dandy Warhols clearly displayed their penchant for slick, compact and infectious pop-rock numbers as well as more sprawling psychedelic-inflected material. The band’s obvious pop side was picked up by a British telephone giant for a heavily aired television advertising campaign. The firm chose «Bohemian Like You,» a single from 2000’s «Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia» album, as the soundtrack to its ad series, which has generated immense exposure for the band – and truckloads of licensing revenues. Their support act for the evening, local boys Raining Pleasure from Patras, have also benefited immensely from a similar advertising campaign by a Greek firm that has featured one of the group’s tracks for a heavily played TV commercial over the past year. Raining Pleasure had to persevere through years of obscurity – as well as forced extended breaks as a result of band-member military obligations at various times – before a major-label release for its third album, «Flood,» two years ago, suddenly swung the publicity pendulum the other way. Earlier work, released on a small, local independent label, had provided clear proof of the English-language Greek group’s uncanny ways with English-sounding pop-rock and an ability to extract interesting original material from it. Local electronica artist Constantinos Beta, who will perform as a well-matched opening act for Moby tonight, fronted the influential trio Stereo Nova for the previous decade’s greater part before going solo. With Stereo Nova, Beta introduced electronica to locals. The quality of the band’s music, combined with Beta’s eloquent and potent lyrics, drew a considerable local following and, ultimately, helped familiarize and popularize electronica in Greece. As a solo act, Beta has proven a diverse songwriter who has produced both appealing and less accessible, experimental work. Beta has also written prolifically for theater. Thursday’s third and final night will feature local rock group Pyx Lax, one of the biggest sellers in Greece over the past decade, as well as the gritty vocalist Theodosia Tsatou, formerly of Thessaloniki pop-rock group Ble, as the support act. Since abandoning her former band, Tsatsou has released two solo albums with a growing tendency towards electronica. Tickets are on sale at Tickethouse in Athens (42 Panepistimiou Street, tel 210.360.8366) and Thessaloniki (20 Ethnikis Amynis & Tsimiski, tel 2310.253.630).