Concert Review: Underworld Live at STRP Biennal 2015, Eindhoven

The first time I went to STRP Festival was to see The Chemical Brothers on the opening night of the festival’s second edition in 2007. Little did I know then that my now-husband Scanner and friend TeZ would be performing at that very same festival!
What started as an exciting multidisciplinary 3-day festival in 2006 has now evolved into Europe’s most versatile indoor art & technology festival held every other year. This year’s edition took place over a period of 10 days from 20 till 29 March and offered an impressive programme of robotics, performances, electronic music, films, interactive art, light art, workshops and conference.

Philips legacy
STRP gets its name after its location in Eindhoven (NL), Strijp-S, a vast industrial park previously owned by technology company Philips. The festival is held in a former Philips factory ‘het Klokgebouw’ (The Clock Building) where they used to manufacture Philite (the Philips name for bakelite). After Philips sold off their Eindhoven premises, Strijp-S was thoroughly redeveloped and became the city’s new creative and cultural quarter. Recurring events that take place here are the Dutch Design Week, NOW art fair and of course STRP Biennale.

The Klokgebouw with its characteristic clocks and Philips sign.

From the start, STRP has put on an eclectic music programme of electronic acts. Some of the names that rocked the stage over the last years are Yuksek, Laurie Anderson, Aphex Twin, Die Antwoord, M.I.A., Soulwax, Amon Tobin, James Holden, Modeselektor and Apparat.
There were no less that 27 music performances at STRP Biennale 2015 including performances by Actress, Clark, Vessels, Factory Floor and this year’s headliner Underworld. And of course I had that typical bizarre festival moment of bumping into a really good friend of mine just by chance! What are the odds of that in a massive hall filled with 4,500 visitors?!?

dubnobasswithmyheadman – Underworld
This was Underworld’s second show at STRP Biennale. After electrifying the Klokgebouw in 2010, the band returned to the festival, this time with their dubnobasswithmyheadman 20th anniversary show for which they played their defining third album from start to finish. Their highly anticipated concert was sold out in no time and on the night itself the audience was clearly ecstatic. It was interesting and a pleasure to see that unlike other dance concerts I go to, the average age of the audience was well over 35 years (and the majority was male, and very tall!).

Photo by Nancy Strijbos

At the time of its release in 1994 dubnobasswithmyheadman was unlike any other dance album and it was hailed as one the most influential and groundbreaking electronic records. Judging by the audience at the Klokgebouw, who were applauding enthusiastically at the start and finish of each song, this record has indeed deservedly reached classic status.

Photo by Nancy Strijbos

Visually the show was minimalistic but striking. Apart from the immersive light show, the only visual elements were the backdrop projections that showed the song titles in a bold typeface. Whenever a new song was announced, the audience roared their delight.



After they finished playing the album in its entirety, the dance duo treated the audience on a superb live version of Rez, Bigmouth and Spikee. They ended the show with their epic pièce de résistance Born Slippy, warming up the audience for the long dance night ahead till 4am.


STRP Biennal is a successful marriage between music, arts and technology. This year’s theme was SCREEN ON | NO SCREEN that explored our contemporary screen culture. Festival director and artistic manager Angelique Spaninks said the following about this on the festival website: “We show how our relation with the images that are moving all around us is getting more and more complex. It’s getting very hard to separate ourselves from them, sometimes we immerse ourselves in them, but at the same time we are getting better at controlling the images.

Installations in the lounge area included the work by Dutch artist Moniker. This piece consisted of an online clock that tells time by showing tweets that start with ‘It’s xx am/pm’.

Visitors to the Underworld concert also got access to the impressive expo prior to the show. It’s hard to capture their impact in a photo, but I hope you get an idea from the images below.

Robert Henke – Destructive Observation Field
My favourite piece in the expo: Joanie Lemercier & James Ginzburg – BLPRNT. A triptych consisting of a central monolithic tower and two screens, merging architecture, light projections and sound.
Guillaume Marmin & Frédéric Marolleau – HARA. Photo by Nancy Strijbos.
Eerie installation by Kimchi & Chips. Their Light Barrier II evokes ghostly apparitions. Photo by Nancy Strijbos.
Fred Penelle & Yannick Jacquet – Mécaniques Discursives: a clever and curious play of projections, digital mechanics and 3D elements. Photo by Nancy Strijbos.

The next edition of STRP Biennal takes place in spring 2017.

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