Online music magazine based in Copenhagen, Denmark

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November 2014

LIVE REVIEW: Swans, Store Vega, 23.11.2014

in Live Reviews by

Photos by Morten Aagaard Krogh (mortenkrogh.com)

As if to reiterate the fact that concert-goers can be a foolish lot, ear-plugs are being handed out on the stairs into Store Vega, perhaps to those whose only other encounter with Swans was their often-regretted cover “Love Will Tear Us Apart”. The ear-plugs are a small concession relative to the brutal onslaught which is to come: eight songs (give or take) spread over two and a half hours, beginning with a fifteen minute gong solo.

Said gong solo marks the opening of “Frankie M”, a staple of recent Swans shows, though as yet unreleased. Live shows are something of a breeding ground for Swans songs (lets get over that pun right now, before I am tempted to repeat it), with several of the tracks off To Be Kind constituting part of their live repertoire long before the album’s release. Gigs are, for frontman Michael Gira, a way to directly experience the odd mix of love and confrontation between band and fans.

Swans live at Vega

If Swans have become slightly less physically violent than they used to be, and Micheal Gira less prone to unleashing his genitals on stage, they have only turned more visually terrifying: a skeletal Norman Westberg hovers precariously to the right of the stage, while an ominous Christoph Hahn broods over his lapsteel on the left. Gira directs with wild hand gestures and looming over his band-mates, building up tension by ever more unbearable degrees. Though much of the set is based on drone noise-scapes, songs like “A Little God in My Hands” allow for a different, markedly more bizarre atmosphere. With its off-kilter bassline and rhythm, the song inhabits a Twin Peaks-inspired psychosphere, amplified by Gira’s tendency to garble the lyrics into a twisted baby-speak.

Swans

Though Swans are certainly uncompromising, they have a perversely playful side. Percussionist Thor Harris’s appearance is a Spinal-Tap-esque imitation of a caveman, bearded and bare-chested. The mercurial Michael Gira appears to be in a good mood, referring to the audience as “beautiful children” and making fun of the “language of dark sorrow” in a generic Scandinavian accent. One brief scuffle with someone in the front row amounts to nothing more than a stern reprimand, and our photographer remains unmolested.

There is no doubting that this is a test of endurance. The weaker elements of the audience (or those who have work in the morning) start leaving after an hour and a half, and so Gira’s request that the house lights be raised in order to see the audience has the appearance of an appraisal of our strength. The final bows and the promise of kisses at the merch booth are like being offered tea after being punched in the face, and masochists that we are, we lap it up.

Swans live at Vega
Swans live at Vega, Copenhagen 2014

VIEW THE LIVE PHOTO GALLERY HERE

 

 

PHOTOS: Swans, Store Vega, 23.11.2015

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Swans (Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh)

Photos by Morten Aagaard Krogh (mortenkrogh.com)

Swans live at Vega

Swans

Swans

Swans

Swans

Swans

Swans

LIVE REVIEW: Sharon Van Etten, Lille Vega, 18.11.2014

in Live Reviews by
Sharon Van Etten

However confessional her music is, Sharon Van Etten isn’t a minimalist singer-songwriter. Her live performance, though uncluttered, isn’t minimalist either. Switching between different guitars and omnichord on each song, she is rarely still for very long, always occupied with tuning or adjusting levels as much as she is with singing. Most of her set is taken from her latest album, this year’s Are We There, with non-album tracks “I Don’t Want to Let You Down” and “Tell Me,” plus an unrecorded Karen Dalton cover from a forth-coming compilation thrown in for good measure.

What is perhaps the best aspect of Van Etten’s live show is that she preserves the vocal harmonies that are so carefully crafted on her albums with the help of her bandmates’ backing vox. Songs like “Break Me,” with its interwoven lyrics, shine through because of it. But because Van Etten is so egalitarian about the harmonies, it isn’t until she is on her own with just her guitar that the true, overwhelming depth of her voice is apparent. On her own, it’s her voice that fills the room, that whispers and warbles and could knock anyone flat with its strength.

Sharon Van Etten

It’s not surprising that Van Etten is a formidable performer, but the way she talks to her audience is. There is a seriousness to her recordings that leads the listener to imagine the delivery with a straight face and maybe a raised eyebrow, whether she’s making reference to a relationship or defecation. But there is an affable goofiness that comes out between songs. The longer she’s on stage, the more rambling her chatter becomes. It’s the increasingly relaxed demeanor that has her talking about which songs her parents like best, giving reviews of local restaurants, and admitting that people call her “ADDSVE.” It’s a different kind of emotion from Van Etten, and it’s endearing. And really, who among us couldn’t use a recommendation for a good Italian restaurant?

Sharon Van Etten

 

PHOTOS: Lee Fields & The Expressions, Loppen, 14.11.2014

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Lee Fields & The Expressions live at Loppen, Copenhagen 2014

Photos by Morten Aagaard Krogh (mortenkrogh.com)

Lee Fields & The Expressions

Lee Fields & The Expressions live at Loppen, Copenhagen 2014

Lee Fields & The Expressions live at Loppen, Copenhagen 2014

Lee Fields & The Expressions live at Loppen, Copenhagen 2014

Lee Fields & The Expressions live at Loppen, Copenhagen 2014

Lee Fields & The Expressions live at Loppen, Copenhagen 2014

Lee Fields & The Expressions live at Loppen, Copenhagen 2014
Lee Fields & The Expressions live at Loppen, Copenhagen 2014

LIVE REVIEW: tUnE-yArDs, Vega, 13.11.2014

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tUnE-yArDs (Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh)

Photos by Morten Aagaard Krogh (mortenkrogh.com)

Tune-Yards, as those of us too lazy to keep pressing the shift key refer to them, have reached a level of critical acclaim that might be surprising for a band whose first album was created using a hand-held voice recorder. Frontwoman Merrill Garbus’s lo-fi origins are still evident in her skillful use of loop pedals to create beautifully intricate layers of drums and vocals, and the overwhelming passion that has brought her this far is on clear display tonight.

The enthusiasm with which Tune-Yards are greeted onto Lille Vega’s stage is evidence that this is an audience composed principally of dedicated fans, rather than casual listeners following hype. There are countless reasons for being attracted to this band’s work, from the infectious danceability of tracks like “Sink-O” to the R’n’B melancholy of “Wait for a Minute”, but the true reason to be here is that they are one of the very best live acts around.

tUnE-yArDs (Lille Vega, Copenhagen)
tUnE-yArDs (Lille Vega, Copenhagen)

The latest record, nikki nack, replaces the saxophones of Tune-Yards’ sophomore effort with backing vocals, and it is unsurprising that most of the set is comprised of material from the former. Exceptions are “Gangsta”, in which the vocals play a much bigger part than the original saxophones. For all the talent of her backing musicians (particularly evident on the delicately complexity of “Bizness”, in which the backing vocalists manage to recreate the synth line perfectly), it is Garbus’s talent and energy that are centre stage throughout. Her vocals can be soulfully raw or quirky, but they are always arresting.

There are several similarities between Garbus and St Vincent’s Annie Clark. Both are supremely talented women who have managed to recapture a musical energy which has largely been spent in the last 20 years, and twist that energy into something new and unique. But where Annie Clark’s sense of theatricality is predicated on a sense of cold alienation, Garbus is all warmth. Before launching into the encore, she invites questions from the audience, and in return offers the story of the Myspace origins of the strange capitalization of the band’s name.

There bands whose talent is almost off-putting, but in the case of Tune-Yards I would not be surprised if half the audience left wanting to get their hands on a loop pedal, a dictaphone and some drum sticks. I can assure you I did.

tUnE-yArDs (Lille Vega, Copenhagen)
tUnE-yArDs (Lille Vega, Copenhagen)

 SEE THE LIVE PHOTO GALLERY HERE

 

PHOTOS: tUnE-yArDs, Lille Vega, 13.11.2014

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tUnE-yArDs (Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh)

Photos by Morten Aagaard Krogh (mortenkrogh.com)

tUnE-yArDs (Lille Vega, Copenhagen)
tUnE-yArDs (Lille Vega, Copenhagen)
tUnE-yArDs (Lille Vega, Copenhagen)
tUnE-yArDs (Lille Vega, Copenhagen)
tUnE-yArDs (Lille Vega, Copenhagen)
tUnE-yArDs (Lille Vega, Copenhagen)
tUnE-yArDs (Lille Vega, Copenhagen)
tUnE-yArDs (Lille Vega, Copenhagen)
tUnE-yArDs (Lille Vega, Copenhagen)
tUnE-yArDs (Lille Vega, Copenhagen)

PHOTOS: How To Dress Well, Lille Vega, 12.11.2014

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How To Dress Well (Photo by Tom Spray)

Photos by Tom Spray (www.tom-spray.com)

How To Dress Well (Photo by Tom Spray)

How To Dress Well (Photo by Tom Spray)

How To Dress Well (Photo by Tom Spray)

How To Dress Well (Photo by Tom Spray)

VIDEO: The Wands – “War”

in Blog/New Music by
the wands

Today Copenhagen based The Wands came out with a new video “War”, which with its yellowish color scheme and trippy visuals pays psychedelic tribute to 60’s and 70’s aesthetics. It was directed and produced by Here Today´s Jonas Bang. The song war is taken from the bands debut album ‘The Dawn’.

The Wands is currently touring Europe. To get a taste you can take a look at Here Today’s session with The Wands below.

Watch the whole session with the Wands here.

 

LIVE REVIEW: St Vincent, Store Vega, 05.11.2014

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St. Vincent live at Vega, Copenhagen, 2014 (photo: Morten Aagaard Krogh)

 Photos by Morten Aagaard Krogh (mortenkrogh.com)

When you start to attend gigs with any kind of regularity, you start to encounter moments when, no matter how much you might like the band, you can’t help wishing you were listening to this on your headphones at home. I might not be completely allergic to sincerity, but there are only so many “soulful” and “stripped-back” sets I can deal with. Which is why I am delighted by St Vincent’s carefully choreographed appearance on stage. Scuttling across the stage like a short-circuited Stepford wife, front-woman Annie Clark embodies a sense of manic, joyful alienation.

Her latest and eponymous album deals with issues of identity in relation to technology, as evident in the lyrics to “Digital Witness” (“Digital witness/ what’s the point of even sleeping?/ If I can’t show it, if you can’t see me/ what’s the point of doing anything?”). Whereas in previous albums her angular guitar-playing worked as a brutal counterpoint to the prettiness of her voice and lush backing tracks (see “Cruel”), her newer material shifts the emphasis. Relying much more heavily on cold synth sounds, St Vincent sees the guitar transform into an expression of rebellion against the rigid structure imposed by digital music.

St. Vincent (2014)

 

It should be no surprise, given the effort Annie and her backing band have made in coming up with choreographed routines, that the performance is beautifully precise (minus a few front-of-house issues towards the end of the set). You begin to truly believe that Annie must have some cybernetic implants when you consider how she manages to sing, play intricate guitar lines and dance in high heels flawlessly and contemporaneously.

Though the set consists mainly of material from the latest album, there is enough diversity within those songs to maintain rapt attention. The manic angularity of “Born in Reverse” gives way to “Huey Newton”, which sounds almost like a Dr. Dre track. On a couple of occasions Annie pauses to recite little monologues which are witty enough not to sound too cutesy. These too are obviously rehearsed, but if one is searching for spontaneity and sincerity, it is enough to see her expression of delight at the close of the set. The effort and talent on display are a sure testament to the dedication St Vincent has for her audience.

St. Vincent (2014)

 VIEW THE LIVE PHOTO GALLERY HERE

PHOTOS: St. Vincent, Store Vega, Copenhagen, 06.11.2014

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St. Vincent (Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh)

Photos by Morten Aagaard Krogh (mortenkrogh.com)

St. Vincent (2014)

St vincent - vega-4364

St. Vincent (2014)

St vincent - vega-4494

St. Vincent (2014)

St. Vincent (2014)

St. Vincent (2014)

St. Vincent (2014)

St. Vincent (2014)

St. Vincent (2014)

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