Online music magazine based in Copenhagen, Denmark

LIVE REVIEW: The Twilight Sad, Lille Vega, 13.11.2019

in Live Reviews by
The Twilight Sad live at Lille Vega Copenhagen

We should probably know when we look over five songs into the Twilight Sad’s set at Lille Vega and see a middle-aged man with tears streaming from his eyes that the evening will not leave us unaffected. It’s easy to be distracted; the set of songs — primarily pulled from their latest album, the creatively punctuated IT WON/T BE LIKE THIS ALL THE TIME — are at at times a blindingly loud crush of tremolo-laden guitar.The sound is remarkably balanced considering this almighty noise; that the bass and keys can exist harmoniously in the mix and not as an ill tempered screech and thud feels miraculous. This is to say nothing of singer James Graham’s voice — his full-throttle bellow never waivers. It’s a wonder that his vocal cords aren’t in shreds. 

But watching him is what makes the set take on a heavy energy. He’s pulling faces, twisting his body, spinning with abandon. It feels like watching someone work through something quite serious in real time. The rest of the band are stoic behind him, perhaps with the exception of drummer Sebastien Schultz, who looks like he might levitate straight upwards from behind his kit.

The Twilight Sad live at Lille Vega Copenhagen

It’s hard to imagine how Graham has the physical energy to move like this, to contort his face and body with that strange, protracted violence. But then he’ll say a few words to the audience and it’s as if he’s broken character, suddenly polite and soft spoken.

The tenor of the set changes with their penultimate song, a cover of Frightened Rabbit’s “Keep Yourself Warm.” Suddenly, it’s clear what is and isn’t a performance coming from Graham: His voice is stretched thin as he reaches for notes, and body is totally still, and maybe it’s projection, but it looks like he swallows hard as he stands with his eyes closed on the outro of the song. All the while a man down at the front of the stage has been waving his phone, clearly trying to get Graham to read something on it. When Graham opens his eyes notices it, he looks briefly very annoyed as he takes the device and reads whatever is written out on it. We’ll never know, but Graham immediately drops down and embraces the man, who starts sobbing on his shoulder. A long moment passes like this, a barely audible “It’s going to be okay,” can be heard, and Graham gets up to explain the importance of remembering the band’s friend Scott Hutchison, of keeping his memory and music alive. You would have to have a heart of stone not to be moved by it.

The Twilight Sad live at Lille Vega Copenhagen

It takes Graham a minute to move into set closer “And She Would Darken the Memory,” but now his performance seems like a defense mechanism, as though he can twitch himself back into the right frame of mind. He shouts off mic a couple of times like he’s trying to pull himself together. Does it work for him? Does it work for any of us? It’s an emotionally draining performance just to watch. But it’s unforgettable.

LIVE REVIEW: Metronomy, Store Vega, 29.10.2019

in Live Reviews by
metronomy live copenhagen

Metronomy’s concert at Store Vega is their first headline set in Copenhagen in five years. It seems that the city has missed them. The venue is not sold out, but it’s reasonably full for a Tuesday night and for a space far larger than they’ve played here before. The band have the following day off and have declared it a Friday night. 

The audience are willing to comply. Encouraged by the dancing on stage — best directed by bassist Olugbenga Adelekan — the crowd are moving. Half the songs for the evening come from their new album, Metronomy Forever. The band are practiced enough to pace the set, all but alternating song for song between new and old. The effect is perfect: The band are energized by the new songs and the crowd is stoked on the familiar.

While Metronomy aren’t big on pageantry, there are oddities that make there show a unique experience. The keyboardists have their rigs on wheels, and, when left alone on stage for “Boy Racers,” slowly creep them from opposite ends of the stage to meet in the middle. There’s a surreal bit where, to match atmospheric music, frontman Joseph Mount suggests that there could be animal calls to match the mood. “We’re near the sea. You might hear a whale. Or a seal,” he suggests with a keyboardist supplying the appropriate sound effects. What the audience call back is an odd cacophony of what may or may not be animal sounds. But everyone seems pleased with their contribution.

It’s interesting that Metronomy, now 20 years on from Mount’s initial concept of the band, still feel like they’re playing with new ideas as performers. Band members switch up instruments and drift on and off stage as they’re needed. Half the band are wearing white, Neu! inspired jumpsuits and the rhythm section have coordinating chambray shirts. And there’s enough dancing on stage of various levels of slickness to prevent the energy in the room from even dipping. The band have remained reliable in terms of their output, but as they’re playing bigger stages it feels like they’re still looking for ways to push themselves.

On a final note, when Adelekan was introduced by Mount, a woman in the front row ran her hands down his leg. Adelekan took it in his stride and the woman appeared to be quite inebriated. Nevertheless, and just in case it needs saying: Don’t grope performers on stage. It’s never okay.

Photo by Mai Vanilli.

LIVE REVIEW: Church of Misery, Loppen, 22.10.2019

in Blog/Live Reviews by
church of misery live at loppen christiania, copenhagen

Photos by Amanda Farah

Japan’s seminal doom band, Church of Misery, have survived a quarter of a century and countless lineup changes (their bassist Tatsu Mikami being the only stable member) with a very simple formula: denim flares, Sabbath-worshipping stoner riffs, and songs about serial killers.

The four-piece take to the stage with little fanfare other than the standard bearing their name and logo, and from the way vocalist Hiroyuki Takano languidly introduces the band, you can tell that Church of Misery’s dedicate is exclusively to the re-creation of their most beloved music.

Take “Make Them Die Slowly” from their 2016 album And Then There Were None: that slow 4/4 kick drum, couple with the detuning at the end of the guitar riff are pure “Iron Man”, although not even Sabbath could come up with lyrics quite as gleefully tasteless as this.

church of misery live at loppen christiania, copenhagen

Church of Misery seem to aim to take things to their extremity: the most rigorously orthodox sound, the most brutal subjects possible, the most 70s flares you could imagine. Mikami’s bass is slung so low that half the time it is resting on the floor. And the end result is undeniably fun.

LIVE REVIEW: Goat, Alice, 09.10.2019

in Live Reviews by
Goat live at Alice Copenhagen

Mention of the band Goat brings to mind a certain group of Swedes in elaborate costumes. The Japanese band Goat, however, are far more minimalistic. Their stuttering, rhythm-driven music is often austere, their style of playing is extremely efficient.

It’s a busy night for guitarist/drummer Koshiro Hino, who opens the evening with a set of his YPY project. Compared with the austerity of Goat, YPY is positively lush. The percussion is softer and there is a high frequency whine similar to the sounds emitted by electronic gadgets — the first sounds to go when you lose your hearing. The tables around Koshiro are scattered with dozens of cassette tapes.

Goat opens with dueling hi-hats. The gentle, synchronized clacking is shattered when the first kick drum hits like a sledgehammer, disabusing the audience of the notion that, for as repetitive and steady as the beats are, they could possibly be meditative. The bass has almost zero reverb, creating an anxious timbre that Devo could only dream of.

Goat live at Alice Copenhagen

This lack of transcendence is practically a theme for the set; the focus of the entire band is intense, their playing is highly coordinated. There are two drummers or a drummer and percussionist at a minimum, and the glances the band members communicate through have the hard focus of an angry glare. But for their minimal movements, they are fascinating to watch. These glances back and forth trigger astounding changes, such as when Koshiro suddenly plays harmonics on his guitar timed perfectly to rapid first hits on a hi-hat, shifting to an instantly percussive sound.

The majority of the set follows this halting pattern, which makes the final 15 minutes of noise washes hit the audience hard. After all of the energy of their playing has built up, it spills out in a final, furious cacophony. The audience are physically moved; Half are swaying, half are holding their ears because of the shock. It’s not surprising that they end with the same perfectly-time abruptness that has factored throughout their set. 

In response to the rapturous applause, Koshiro comes back to the stage alone. “Thank you,” he says, leaning into the drum mic. “No more songs.”

LIVE REVIEW: Marissa Nadler, Ideal Bar, 30.09.2019

in Live Reviews by
Marissa Nadler live at Ideal Bar in Copenhagen

Marissa Nadler is an artist whose work contains multitudes in its subtleties. Her soft, ghostly voice and finger-picked guitars transcend folk music into something more spirited, more haunting, and clearly calling from another plane.

Her performance at Ideal Bar is a solo set with a six string guitar, a 12 string guitar, and infinite multi-tracking options. Nadler drives herself to distraction in her concern about the sound, repeatedly motioning to her sound guy and halting a song literally a note in over the tuning. “You can put this in your review,” she says by way of apology. “I just want to get this right so I can feel it for you guys.”

She’s too hard on herself, but it’s easy to empathize with her fixation. A musician can’t write songs with her nuances without some degree of fanaticism. And it plays out in interesting ways for audience members willing to home in on the details.

“All Out of Catastrophes” is the first song to illustrate the complexities of her songs. Nadler builds layer upon layer of looped guitars before turning her attention to her vocals. Far from simply echoing her own voice, she harmonizes and emphasizes different aspects of the verse with each round. It’s a direct insight to how she must record her vocals in the studio, a treat for nerds and a wonder for normal people. 

Adding to the ghostly quality of her voice is its unwavering softness, no matter how high a note she hits. There are a few moments when she lilts towards a country voice — a completely convincing parallel track her to have taken in her music and her lyrics — and you wonder if she’s repressing an urge or revealing another dimension. Knowing Nadler’s work, she could hint at this new element in future albums and performances, or quietly obliterate it; whatever best suits the songs.

LIVE REVIEW: Daniel O’Sullivan, Alice, 19.09.2019

in Live Reviews by
Daniel O'Suillivan live at Alice Copenhagen

Few performers are quite as prolific as Daniel O’Sullivan. A cursory look at his career shows, quite apart from his own three solo albums, a breadth of work that spans from the left-field prog of Guapo and the psychedelia of Grumbling Fur to collaborations with avant-metal acts like Sunn O))) and Ulver. The last time we saw him on this stage he was sandwiched between the fiery personalities of This Is Not This Heat.

Tonight he is accompanied by no less than six musicians, including a bassoon and autoharp, as well as sometime Spiritualized and Coil member Thighpaulsandra on synths. Although his collaborative work is incredibly diverse, as a solo artist Daniel O’Sullivan focuses on a pastoral, quasi-psycho-geographic psychedelia. His latest album, Folly, might be his most lush to date.

I arrive just as Peter Broderick, who will rejoin the stage to play fiddle with O’Sullivan, is ending his opening set. The soft, hypnotic folk is in stark relief with Thighpaulsandra, who starts by announcing that his will be “something different.” His outfit alone, something straight out of Flash Gordon, is enoguh to signal that. Noise from a messy patchwork of modular synths saws through the air, followed by some Doctor Who inspired sound effects. The backdrop for most of the set is a video of two naked men painted in gold circling each other with wooden rakes, underscoring the ritualistic element to Thighpaulsandra that is a clear chime with O’Sullivans interests.

After a quick costume change into some cultish white garments, the band huddle themselves to the right of the upright piano. With so many people on stage, it takes a couple of minutes for the sound mix to broaden out, but when it does there is an almost baroque quality to it. As obviously energetic and prolific as O’Sullivan is, he is also soft-spoken, announcing songs with enigmatic one-liners. “Rattleman” and “Under the Knife” set the pace for the first part of the set, with frequent instrument changes. O’Sullivan’s “song about dragons,” “HC SVNT DRACONES” is a fast-paced piano-led romp that marks the band at their most energetic.

The lushness of his latest material starts to give way to introspection, particularly in a sparse track composed only a couple of days before in his aunt and uncle’s apartment here in Copenhagen. And in “Apocryphonium” we hear O’Sullivan at his most mystical, as a huge, otherworldly voice recites the gnostic “Thunder Perfect Mind” prayer above the band.

The set ends with a long suite that will be coming out as an EP, dedicated, in O’Sullivan’s words, “to Amazonia.” The pastoral gives way to the apocalyptic in the image of burning trees. And so Daniel O’Sullivan is already moving forwards, and we’re more than ready to see him again at the next stage.

LIVE REVIEW: Tacocat, Loppen, 13.09.2019

in Live Reviews by
Tacocat live at Loppen Copenhagen

Photo by Amanda Farah

Tacocat are a brightly-coloured pop-punk outfit set against the grey rainy backdrop of Seattle – a juxtaposition emphasised in the first single, “Bridge to Hawaii” (2013). Combining catchy choruses, workhorse riffs and internet humour, they gained notoriety with “Crimson Wave”, an ode to menstruation whose video was famously ripped off by Katy Perry in 2015 during her Super Bowl performance.

With their wonky technicolour wigs and weed references, Tacocat seem perfectly at home in Loppen. It’s a long way from home, but even here they have enough of a following that there is a solid first row chanting the words back to them. Four albums into their career, the band still has the feel of a local underground favourite.

Knowing a thing or two about living in rainy, dark places, the band have arrived in Denmark at the perfect time to counteract the effects of early-onset seasonal affective disorder. Between vocalist Emily Nokes’s energetic dancing and the fans (the machines rather than the humans) blowing everyone’s hair into glam-rock crowns, the band feel like a self-contained tropical micro-climate as they launch into songs about science fiction and Scully off of X-Files.

The set is a brisk one, with the exception of some technical difficulties with the aforementioned fans, a rush to the closing of Friday night for a band who end their set singing about how much they hate weekends.

LIVE REVIEW: The Wedding Present, Lille Vega, 11.09.2019

in Live Reviews by
the wedding present live at lille vega copenhagen

It’s 30 years since the Wedding Present released Bizarro, and this low-key anniversary is what brings the indie rock quartet to Lille Vega. It’s not an especially reverential anniversary show. The set opens with “Rotterdam,” from the album Seamonsters, and frontman David Gedge eventually mentions in passing that the Bizarro songs are going to be scattered throughout. “See if you can spot them,” he suggests.

But there’s something energizing about arranging the set this way. It’s not only that the Bizarro songs are scattered through the set, but that new songs crop up with the same verve as the songs that are ostensibly being celebrated. It inspires cheers when a new song is announced and prompts Gedge to admit, “[that’s] not the reaction I was expecting.” The mid-set raucousness of “Kennedy” spills over when immediately followed by the incessantly catchy new tune, “Panama,” the audience readily clapping along via the band’s instructions as if this was an old tradition.

Much of the energy of the show can be attributed to how this current incarnation of the ever-changing line-up of the Wedding Present has also gelled. That the band introduce the song “Telemark,” completed only days earlier, is a testament to their own excitement. This isn’t just meant to be a nostalgia trip, but still a living, breathing project. When Gedge announces that the band don’t do encores, almost everyone in the crowd already know this because they’ve already seen them play. But the crowd don’t want the band to exist in the past and you can see in their performance that having their newer work celebrated breathes life into the songs from 30 years ago. In this respect, this is exactly what anniversary tours should be: It should be a band, and a crowd, in love with what they’ve done in the past, and still in love with what they’re doing now.

LIVE REVIEW: She Wants Revenge, Loppen, 22.08.2019

in Live Reviews by
She Wants Revenge live at Loppen, Copenhagen

She Wants Revenge have never played in Copenhagen before. The newly-ish reformed duo have managed to pull a small but dedicated crowd to Loppen, despite having only released two singles in the last seven years. But everyone dances like they’ve been dancing to these songs with abandon for the last decade plus, waiting for the moment when it was the band themselves playing the songs instead of a DJ.

For a band that established themselves as a duo with a drum machine, She Wants Revenge works very well as a fully-fleshed out rock band. Justin Warfield is a compelling frontman: He has a flare for the dramatic, a voice whose character makes up for a lack of range, and the commitment of a performer who is used to adapting to any room. 

They are also a band that, like so many other Joy Division copycats of the early ‘00s, got better as they moved away from the pastiche. Their live drummer, Jason Payne, is one of those machine-like drummers that, when given the opportunity to cut loose, is really extraordinary to watch. And after so many years of people going crazy for bassists who can play like Peter Hook, more due should be given to drummers who can play like Stephen Morris.

It’s a delight to add any band to the growing masses resisting phoney encores. Warfield makes it clear that when they walk off the stage, they’re done. Their final song, “Tear You Apart,” is another song that benefits from their live arrangement, the added textures of a second guitar and the furious live drumming make the song so much less sterile than the album version. And it’s their their biggest hit; what could they follow it with? But there was an appeal to bring them back, and that the audience bring a friend, so there may be more than those two singles somewhere on the horizon.

LIVE REVIEW: Stereolab, Vega, 07.08.2019

in Live Reviews by
Stereolab live at Store Vega, Copenhagen, Denmark

Photos by Amanda Farah

Stereolab are a band that really shouldn’t need any introduction. Their two-decade long career produced ten records that brought together an encyclopaedic knowledge of both avant-garde and pop music to create something new, mesmeric and alien. Exactly 10 years since the haitus brought on by the death of singer Mary Hansen and the breakup of the main driving force of the band, Tim Gane and Laetitia Sadier, Stereolab are back.

The evening opens with a set by local noise act Speaker Bite Me, who have recently had their own reunion after a ten year break. The howling guitar work and heavy drums and bass are elevated from their influences by the vocals of Signe Høirup Wille-Jørgenson, whose impassioned singing style is in marked contrast to the headliners.

Stereolab have a reputation for being more of an intellectual than an emotive band, whose lyrics are more likely to be about boom-and-bust economic cycles rather than love and breakups. But this side of them is balanced by their honed ears for 60s lounge-style melodies and driving motorik rhythms. By the end of the night my jaw is hurting by grinning all the way through the set as the band tear through crowd-pleaser after crowd-pleaser.

Between Sadier on vocals and Gane on guitar, at the centre of the stage keyboardist Joe Watson brings to life the heart of the Stereolab sound, a mix of dreamy Moog synths, 60s organ and semi-modular bleeps on top of which everything else is built. In a live setting the intricate looping bass lines of Xavier Muñoz Guimera are more pronounced, building the momentum alongside Andy Ramsay’s drums.

Stereolab live at Store Vega, Copenhagen, Denmark

Since the death of singer Hansen in 2002 the classic Stereolab overlapping vocals are supplied by Watson and Guimera, who do an admirable job in providing the babbling falsetto underlining Sadier’s cool delivery.

The set is carefully balanced to cover almost all of their records, with slightly more emphasis on their later , more laid-back work, although there are plenty of opportunities for some very vigorous nodding along to “French Disko” and “Ping Pong”. Tonight “Baby Lulu”, from the personally-overlooked Sound-Dust, stands out in its baroqueness, sounding like the next-door neighbour to fellow hauntologists Broadcast, and an incitement to delve ever deeper into the wonders of their catalogue.

1 2 3 84
Go to Top