It was a cold day, probably one of the coldest this year, if not the coldest one of this winter. We started our journey towards Novi Sad, and we froze several times while waiting for transport, then in the car, then in Novi Sad, in one cafe then another, until we found one cafe that actually had heating. After an entire day spent with numerous people at numerous places, the evening arrives and I finally make my way to my new favourite place in the center of Novi Sad. Škripa Pub, which you can find in the passage of Jevrejska street 1, is “a place where you can have craft beers, naturally made juices, domestic wines and rakia (or rakija, which is special type of spirit), bring your pets and enjoy great musical happenings”. Even though all of this is true, this place is much more than that, but we won’t praise it too much, I’d rather let you go and experience it yourself.

Škripa Pub: FB

I arrived with a friend and her dog, we ordered some craft beer (unfortunately, I don’t remember which one, but they’re all great), and we enjoyed our conversation and great music. Time for tonight’s musical happening was quickly approaching. I climbed up the stairs, where there is a space for concerts, and waited for Alen Čelić’s i The Marshmallow Notebooks’ performances.

img_3434

Alen Čelić comes from Osijek, Croatia and brings a whole arsenal of singer/songwriter sensibility that is rarely found and heavily attainable on these teritories, and even further. Acoustic guitar, pleasant voice, storytelling type of singing – I remember that during the performance I’ve thought, several times, how cool it would have been if we had a guy like this on excursions, field trips, road trips, to make them even more beautiful with his music and how we would remember “the good, old days”. Alen showed and proved, with his performance, that you do not need a huge stage and big reflectors to communicate the emotion that he has grown in his compositions. The audience that was present was a bit older than the average audience that usually attends these events, which I think is great, that the older people love and appreciate quality music and that they will gladly attend their live performance. What attracted me most to Alen’s music was that is was so easy to get into the whole concept of his performance, to enjoy the lyrics and empathize with certain lines. I also found very dear his conversations between the songs, through which you could experience Alen’s personality, on a whole different level. Alen was discovering “Gentleman pop” with the band Ghostlovers, and in the band Slaven Bilic & The Red Cards played “Offside pop”. Last couple of years he has spent in Split working as a professor of stage movement, and is also a part of the band New Gondoliers.

New Gondoliers: SOUNDCLOUD

img_3485The Marshmallow Notebooks, also known as Matija Habijanec, presented songs from his upcoming album “Destruction” (in lack of a metal font to fully describe how you are supposed to pronounce the name of this album, imagine someone growling the word DESTRUCTION!!!), as well as his earlier hits from previous albums. He started the concert with the emotive “Well” and melted our hearts with the touching, beautiful lyrics. With a bit livelier “Summer” he made us forget about the cold outside that this winter prepared for us and he made us look forward to higher temperatures. Next two songs were “Oh Sweetness” and “Trust Me I Don’t Know What I’m Doing”, first one being *sweet* i wonderful, and the second one more serious, gentle and a bit heavier. “I’ll OK It”, in some parts sad, and in others full of hope, which you could hear in a lyric “It’s not a writer’s block, it’s ignoring every plot that could lead to love or to a pretty song, but I’m stronger than that”. Wow! While performing “As If”, Matija shows how a song’s simple melody can convey such a lovely emotion. Similar temperament runs through “Crawl Into The Warmth”, song about a specific morning, which probably happened to most of us during our lives. Next one, “Same Old Melody”, melancholic and slower, with sensitive lyrics, I found to be standing out as a personal favourite. A bit more energetic “What If” asks important questions – “What if I need more to get me through it all?” and similar. We might not get an answer, but we certainly enjoyed him performing the song. With a somewhat similar intensity starts “You Can Tell Me Lies”, another beautiful (they are all beautiful!), semi-slower song, where the melody ‘drives’ you through all kinds od emotions. Song that brought my special attention to it, was a cover of “Little Person” (Kaufman/Brion cover). A big thank you to Matija for this revelation and a great cover of it. “The Last Tourist In Town”, a nice song that some tourist might identify with. My favourite lyric certainly is “We’re probably junkies, all junkies and queers”, but you should hear the rest of the song as well, for a wider context. With the name of the next song I am extremely biased, as it is the name of my favourite band – “Brand New”, but also on an unrelated note, the song is by itself a lyrical mini masterpiece. “Tomorrow we’ll all be brand new.” Last song, on a general discontent from the audience because of the ending of the performance, was a song called “Vineyard By The Sea”, with a happier note, slowly culminated into a cheery rocking out over a guitar and, sadly, with Matija’s “Thank you!” and his departure from the stage. The audience reacted positively with whistling and clapping and you could feel a little bit of sadness because of the concert’s end. Matija is an extraordinary performer that’s hard to find, and I really thought that this musicians comes from a far away land with english as a mother language. Even so, the music is there, for him to play it, and for us to enjoy it. After the gig, there was some merchandise for sale – t-shirts and LP “The Marshmallow Notebooks”, canadian vynil re-issue.

The Marshmallow Notebooks:  WWW / BANDCAMP / SOUNDCLOUD / FB