After celebrating 15 years together, it seems clear that the Dutch band Bettie Serveert has quite a bit of staying power. Of course, that much was apparent ten years ago when the band played to a crowd of about 2,000 in Central Park.
“It was pouring down rain and [the concert managers] wouldn’t let us take the stage because they thought we’d get electrocuted,” says Serveert singer Carol van Dyk. “We had to wait for an hour or so before we could start playing, but the people were still there.”
To this day, the songstress says the band runs into members of that audience during other U.S. shows.
Over the past decade and a half, their fans have stuck beside them, even when things haven’t always gone smoothly for the group. In 1997, they parted ways with their label, Matador, and until recently, the group has stayed outside of the mainstream.
Named after Dutch tennis player Bettie Stoeve, literally the name means “Bettie Serves,” the group broke onto the college radio scene with an acclaimed debut album, Palomine, in 1992. The album garnered a good deal of critical acclaim with their unique sound, but after extensive touring and several follow-up albums, never caught on with the U.S. mainstream markets.
Nowadays that sound wouldn’t seem at all out of place on collections like the Garden State Soundtrack, where songs of indefinable genres seem utterly at home.
Just because they were forerunners in the realm alternative sound, didn’t mean they were masterful musicians however.
“We didn’t know how to really play our instruments, but in a sort of charming way,” van Dyk says. “One review said that when it came time to end a song we sounded like four people falling down the stairs and landing at different times.”
These days their sound is a bit more refined, as evidenced by their latest release Bare Stripped Naked, and the critics have been a tad more helpful.
When Mischa Barton, formerly of Fox’s hit show, “The OC,” said she was a fan of the group, the band found its cover of Bright Eyes’ “Lover I Don’t Hate to Love” on the show.
“Yeah, we never saw that one coming,” van Dyk says. “We don’t think about if people are going to like it when we write. We write for ourselves and it’s an honor if anyone else listens to it.”
Even more so if they’ll wait for an hour in the rain beforehand.
Bettie Seervert kicks off their U.S. tour with a stop at IOTA Club and Café this Friday night. Tickets are $12 and show time is 9:30 p.m.