The Delines live at Crossing Border, 5 November 2022, Korzo theatre, The Hague.

The Delines live at Crossing Border, 5 November 2022, Korzo theatre, The Hague.

5 Artists I saw at Crossing Border

Crossing Border took place in the city of The Hague from 2-5 November 2022. PJ Harvey opened the festival with her book Orlam and the list of artists that followed suit is so long that no post would do it justice, so I’ll concentrate on what I saw with my very eyes and ears on Saturday night.


Jeshi is a young rapper from London.  The way he shoots out words on the music spinned by his DJ friend is very physical, like he is at some boxing training. He is also a performer who likes to connect with his audience. I wondered what he thought of the bookish audience of mainly white people wawing pleasurably contained at his energetic songs. I’m pretty sure his tunes would go down differently in a crowded and sweaty club and I would have loved such a setting, but that did not stop me from savouring the music and trying to follow the lyrics.


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Oriana Ikomo

It’s always nice to start lists with the emerging artists because they are the ones that need to be discovered so they get booked at more festivals. Oriana Ikomo addressed the audience in Dutch with her charming Belgian accent and gracefully thanked the audience for the attention given at The Hideout, an appropriately named room at the top of the Korzo venue, a building with a mix of warm oak and cold concrete. Her voice melted hearts listening to her stories of heartbreak and feelings. Backing vocals were provided by two other girls, one on keyboards and samples, the other one on bass guitar, the line up being complete with a guy on drums.

The Delines

This is the band that made me buy the ticket for the night, because I had seen them before at Crossing Border in 2014 and they just stayed with me with their mix of alcohol infused songs and stories of broken relationships and addiction. Guitars are protagonists here but the soothing voice of Amy Boone is what brought Willy Vlautin to form the band The Delines. Amy thanked him on stage for writing such beautiful songs and even though this isn’t a band for a cheerful mood they were so joyous to be in the Netherlands again and mentioned they would fly early to Ireland, so their wine consumption had to be conscientious. When they were giggling at the prospect of an almost sober night I felt like wanting to have a glass of red wine like Amy was having. The Delines played some songs from their 2014 Album Coalfax of which I remembered Charlie, but also dropped their new songs to a welcoming audience.

Jaws of Love

What struck me about this band was their savvy mix of samples and live instruments and the disengaging looking dyed blonde drummer was just a perfect drum machine. On top of his normal drumkit he also had a pad, something that looks like fun, but try hitting the same pattern for a whole song without a sweat and then you start realising what a skill that is.

What is nice about intimate festivals is how singers can take the time to share some personal stories. Jaws of Love told nonchalantly a story about how the lead singer was trying to get his wife pregnant. The first time didn’t work out and it was pretty tragic, but then they didn’t despair and he proudly and loudly announced: We are pregnant and this song is called Rainbow Baby!

Lonnie Holley and Mourning {A} BLKstar

This band. I mean, this collective of individuals. I couldn’t count them. They reminded me of when Fela Kuti was touring with as many people he could possible get out of Nigeria to give them a chance. It was crowded there on stage and what a nice cross-generational band that was! Starting from Lee Bains on guitar, who was a student of Lonnie Holley and had earlier recited a poem about the struggle of raising the minimum wage in America. There were super young people on horns and on drums. The backing vocals… oh my god, they were intense. Lonnie himself is a 70 year old who was bringing everything together, he looked spirited and his eyes must have seen a lot of stuff. The music felt almost like a ritual and it was just the perfect way to end the festival. I left with an uplifted spirit.

Big up for the Crossing Border programmers and I hope to see more talent coming to The Hague next year.

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