The Hague, Neverlands

They couldn’t set the piano on fire. That was the only bad news.

Annea Lockwood, the New Zealand born composer and academic whose work provided a curatorial north star for the 13th edition of Rewire Festival, was supposed to stage her 1968 piece Piano Burning as an opening concert. The piece, as the title suggests, consists of an upright piano (not grand) set ablaze with the musician playing whatever they like for as long as they physically and mentally can. You can read the score here, “PLEASE NOTE: All pianos used should already be beyond repair.”

Piano Burning was cancelled due to circumstances beyond Rewire’s control but the force of mischief, avant-garde adventure and careful dismantlement passed through the entirety of their mind-expanding programme. Here are six performances we haven’t stopped thinking about.

Maze Ensemble and Annea Lockwood

Rewire’s celebration of Annea Lockwood’s work included a rare live performance of her compositions by electroacoustic Amsterdam ensemble MAZE. They performed Jitterbug – a spare, enchanting piece built around found recordings of aquatic insects in Glacier Park, Montana. This was followed by Bayou​-​Borne, for Pauline, a touching tribute to composer Pauline Oliveros. The “graphic score” is based on the six bayous which flow through Texas, where Oliveros was born. Six improvising musicians follow one river each as a guide, first playing independently before converging. 

Staged at a baroque Evangelical Lutheran Church tucked away on a busy street, this captured the spirit of Lockwood’s work perfectly – highly experimental with firm roots to people and place.


The weekend’s busiest dancefloor came courtesy of HiTech (closely rivalled by Deli Girls). Their actually-funny punchlines and cartoony delivery packs double the punch live where twitchy, bouncy beats are punctuated by athletic dancing. While there is a lot to be understood about the ways in which they’ve recoded Detroit’s musical DNA, this kind of exegesis feels gloriously unimportant when Hennesy has been given to those on the barrier and you’re screaming along to your ninth consecutive call-and-response about spanking. Consider this a formal endorsement.

Niecy Blues

1am in a church pew feels like the right environment to experience South Carolina singer Niecy Blues for the first time. Last year’s Exit Simulation is a knotty meditation on loneliness and devotion which takes as much from folk and gospel as it does from space-age R&B. She took to the stage in a dress constructed from upcycled plastics by designer Lavanda Contrabanda. The elaborate costume felt at one with Blues’ theatrical performance style and delicate compositions with reverb and delays that linger. A revelation.  

Maya Al Khaldi & Sarouna

At historic cultural venue Het Koorenhuis, Palestinian singer-producer duo Maya Al Khaldi and Sarouna played to a packed room. Their collaborative album, تاني عالم – Other World lifts lyrics, samples and melodies from the Popular Art Center archive in Ramallah and weaves them softly into production and mesmerising qanun loops. Finding new musical forms and stories from archived Palestinian records carries meaning in and of itself. But when performed live, the songs feel less like constructed works to be exhibited and more like lived-in songs which Al Khaldi is now sharing with care. Chants of “Free, free!” begin almost intuitively at the end of the performance making for one of the weekend’s most charged and memorable moments.

One Leg One Eye

Ian Lynch of Lankum, who made one of our favourite albums of last year, brought his solo project One Leg One Eye to The Hague and contributed to Rewire’s strand of extreme metal which was completed by a characteristically face-melting set from Sunn O))). Warping Irish uileann pipes into a transfixing, tar-black drone pierced only by raw vocals and simple folk lyrics, this is an intense and cinematic sound which Lynch recreates with immersive effect on stage.

Oneohtrix Point Never 

Rewire’s de facto headliner was Oneohtrix Point Never who brought his new Again live show to Amare’s stunning concert hall. Maybe it’s just the final episode of The Curse playing on my mind still but Lopatin’s adjacency to the Safdie-Fielder dystopia machine felt present throughout this set. A marionette OPN performed alongside the real thing and was projected on the screen between visuals of fuzzy 90s television and other regurgitated nostalgia. Despite a sound cut, the show was transportative and managed to avoid completely eating itself by delivering moments of ravey maximalism. Lopatin appeared touched by the response he got from the crowd at the end of his encore. A proven believer in the power of distortion and abstraction as a means to unearth unexpected beauty, it’s no surprise he felt so at home.