Online music magazine based in Copenhagen, Denmark

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August 2015

LIVE REVIEW: Future Islands, Store Vega, 16.08.2015

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Photos by Morten Aagaard Krogh (mortenkrogh.com)

There is a triumphant quality to Future Islands’ entrance on stage of tonight. Selling out two back-to-back shows at Store Vega might not be the ultimate indicator of a band’s success, but when they have previously been relegated to the venue’s smaller cousin for most of their career, it stands as a reminder of how much the band has achieved in the last two years.

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Having recently celebrated their 1000th concert–and toured their last album, Singles, for more than a year–, the band are in a slightly nostalgic mood. Interspersed with the big crowd pleasers like “Seasons (Waiting on You)” and “A Dream of You and Me” are a wealth of songs from their back-catalogue, including some that haven’t been played for several years. “An Apology”, with its delicate synth riff and trademark impassioned vocals, stands out as a reminder that, though most of us hadn’t heard of Future Islands before the success of Singles, the band has been releasing consistently brilliant pieces of left-field synth-pop since 2008.

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Frontman Sam Herring’s vocal and physical performances have been the main talking point around Future Islands since that Letterman performance in early 2014, but when viewed in the flesh his idiosyncrasies become even more apparent. Breaking into a torrent of sweat by the first chorus of opener “Give Us the Wind”, Herring flails his arms, beats his chest, makes impassioned but gnomic gestures. Caught in the enthusiasm of performance, his soul-infused crooning switches more and more into guttural Death Metal howls.
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It is a rare thing to see a crowd this impassioned, so genuinely excited that they whoop and cheer whenever Herring waves an arm or reverts to his notorious dad-dance. During “Spirit” the floor is vibrating at a frequency that threatens to plunge us all into the venue’s foyer. That’s why Future Islands can sell out on Saturday and Sunday, and probably the rest of the week for that matter.

View the photos from the concert with Future Islands here

PHOTOS: Future Islands, Store Vega, 16.08.2015

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Photos by Morten Aagaard Krogh (mortenkrogh.com | @Bokehmia)

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LIVE REVIEW: Sunn O))), Koncerthuset, 15.04.2015

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In lieu of a supporting band for their show at Koncerthuset, Sunn O))) had a fog machine for an opening act. At precisely 21:00, the fog machines switched on and gassed the first few rows of people with curiously warm smoke that smelled of cedar.

Twenty minutes later, so much smoke had filled Studie 2 that no one seemed to notice that the overhead lights had switched off. Indeed, the slow rumble of applause through the crowd as the band took the stage suggests that only context clues alerted those at the back of the room that Sunn O))) had appeared in their monastically-robed glory.

The impact of the first notes is a shock. First it’s the noise, then the sudden thud that rolls through your body and compresses your breathing. With smoke still pouring from the fog machines, I’m grateful that the emergency exits are clearly visible even through the haze.

But once the initial shock wears off, the noise is lulling in the way a thunderstorm is lulling. There is the occasional, startling crash of noise, but everything is so slow and deliberate — from the guitars to the way the band members pass around bottles of wine — as to become strangely comfortable. Even Attila Csihar’s voice, whether he is singing in a Gregorian chant style or growling, is soft, albeit sinister.

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Sunn O))) has a physical presence unchallenged by any piece of music I’ve ever experienced. The music is like a living creature breathing, shaking you clothes, making your insides vibrate and threatening to tear the room apart. Mostly it’s luring from beneath, like a volcano, but at times manic outbursts pierces through. The room becomes the instrument of Sunn O))) – the sound waves clashing and taking new shapes, the walls rattling. Imagine being a tiny insect lost on the engine of a giant truck and then suddenly the engine turns on, that is more or less how it feels to enter a Sunn O))) concert.

There is a shift just after 23:00 when Csihar, after an absence from the stage, returns not in his monastic robes but in a Hyperion-inspired, mirror-armor cloak with spike crown and purple LED lasers shooting from his hands. His movements and voice are unaltered, but now there are beams of purple light cutting through the smoke.

When the evening comes to a close, with Sunn O))) raising their hands aloft and the audience mimicking their movements, it suddenly becomes apparent how draining this show has been. At just shy of two hours, the unbroken noise is demanding for the band and demanding for the audience. It’s an unparalleled experience, but I’m reasonably certain permanent damage has been done to three of my five sense.

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Photos by Morten Aagaard Krogh (mortenkrogh.com)

PREVIEW: Sunn O))), Studio 2, DR Koncerthuset

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SUNN O))) photo by Gisele Vienne

On Saturday, August 15, Studio 2 in DR Koncerthuset will likely be the loudest place in Copenhagen. If you are open to musical experiences that are a tiny bit more demanding than [insert almost any band name here], it’s also likely to be the best place to be on Saturday. Why? At sometime around 21.00 Studio 2 will start filling up with dry-ice and when the fog thickens Sunn O))) will appear. Named after a guitar amplifier Sunn – which has the logo O))) – Sunn O))) has been rumbling the underground for 16 years with their own special breed of drone metal and released six studio albums. They are also a band of many collaborations.

Last year’s unlikely yet in some ways obvious collaboration with Scott Walker made many end of year lists (including ours). The album, Soused, was released to near universal acclaim, despite virtually non-existent promotional support on the part of the creators. Scott Walker famously hasn’t performed live since 1978 and his public appearances are close to none (in a rare interview with The Quietus, he opens up about the possibility of performing Soused live, so we’re holding our breaths, however ill-advised that might be).

There are still a few tickets left at 295kr (including fees). You can buy them here. If you’re willing to risk your eardrums (though of course we recommend earplugs), it promises to be an unforgettable evening.

LIVE REVIEW: Belle & Sebastian, Tivoli, 31.07.2015

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Photos by Amanda Farah

“This was a good idea, eh? Someone had a good idea.” Gazing out into the coloured lights of Tivoli, and beyond them, the blue moon rising into view, Belle & Sebastian frontman Stuart Murdoch is in a jolly mood. The Glasgow indie-pop legends appear to have adopted Copenhagen as their mid-tour break spot of choice, and as they tell it, the grassy spots of Assistens Cemetery are the spiritual homeland for all things whimsical and twee.

In spite of their reputation for low-key chamber pop, the band’s latest release Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance veers in the opposite direction, towards something more danceable and extroverted. Certainly they have pulled out all the stops for this tour, cramming thirteen people on stage and peppering their set with little video interludes and slickly-produced projections. At times this veers into almost ridiculous territory, especially during the day-glo disco excess of “The Party Line”, but this is tempered by vision of Stuart bouncing around the stage in high-waisted jeans and a turtleneck.

Photo by Amanda Farah
Photo by Amanda Farah

As with any band with almost two decades of work behind them, Belle & Sebastian have to balance their new material with an impressive backlog of indie hits. But surprisingly, some of the most memorable moments of the evening occur during songs from Girls in Peacetime. The Talking Heads-channeling “Perfect Couples” promises to be a live highlight for years go come, aided by Stevie Jackson’s ad-hoc monologue including gems such as (to be read in a Glaswegian accent):

“Girls on bikes, we see a lot of that round here, we dig it”;

[on the subject of the tv show Borgen] “Have you seen it? Lovely interiors, best lampshades I’ve ever seen… But what do you want from me, I’m middle-aged.”

Photo by Amanda Farah
Photo by Amanda Farah

Keen to include their audience in as many ways as possible, Stevie and Stuart serenade a young Swedish woman with “Jonathan David”, before inviting twenty fans to participate in the traditional stage invasion/dance-along to “The Boy with the Arab Strap”. Everyone is invited to join the band for meditation and a canal tour on the following day, no doubt causing packs of oddly-coiffed skinny boys to desperately roam the city all of Saturday. Because no matter how big the venue, no matter how elaborate the stage set-up, Belle & Sebastian will always be the band for lazy book-readers and tea-sippers, the last vanguard of the quietest revolution.

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