Online music magazine based in Copenhagen, Denmark

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May 2017

LIVE REVIEW: Jesca Hoop, Vega, 17.05.17

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Jesca Hoop live at Ideal Bar Copenhagen

There is a sense of guilt in going to see an artist you’ve never heard before, a sense of not having done your homework. This is amplified all the more in Jesca Hoop’s case, partly because her latest record, Memories Are Now, is in fact her fifth in a decade. And also, of course, because she turns out to be a wonderful stage presence. The new album may be regarded as her most accomplished yet, but the true character of her skeletal folk songs only really comes through in a live setting.

Her music taps into the same playful, absurdist take on folk typified by artists like Joanna Newsom and Coco Rosie, including typewriter-based rhythms on “Animal Kingdom Chaotic”, as well as buzzing synths and field recordings of birdsong. As an American transplant in Manchester, Hoop is at her most interesting when the various filters of her experience and music are at their most obvious. More earnest and traditionalist folk performers are unlikely to want to mention computers or astronomy, and they are all the poorer for it.

I spend much of the set wondering at her guitar-playing style, which is as assured as it is idiosyncratic. Hoop uses a rather odd finger-picking technique that involves the fingers being almost completely extended at all times, pointing towards the headstock. The strings, which are plucked by thumb and ring finger almost exclusively, are permanently muted by the palm, completely transforming the sound of the instrument.

At the end of the set, Hoop returns to the stage alone for the encore. As if to prove that I have been focusing entirely on the wrong things, she sings her last song a cappella, giving her some real Anne Briggs-style cred.

LIVE REVIEW: SPOT Festival, Rock the Region, 05.05.2017

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This year’s SPOT Festival in Aarhus showcased an interesting variety of artists and speakers that brought together music lovers from all walks of life. Bands, artists, DJs from various parts of Scandinavia performed all around Aarhus’s downtown in an environment of willful friendships and music appreciation all around.

Godsbanen was where the underrated Rock the Region took place. This showcase of bands from around Denmark was the perfect experience for rock-lovers. Facaden from Silkeborg; Ryan from Holstebro; King Kross from Horsens; We Need Lilo from Herning; Rasmus Trinderup from Skive and You Work For Me Now from Aarhus; all gave a stellar performance and provided the audience with a great mix of indie pop and rock, Nordic folk and hip-hop with rock which was the best way to experience the variety that local music has to offer.

The show started with Facaden and their rock/hip-hop mash up seemed to get the crowd ruffled up as they raised their arms and sang along. It was electrifying to see the fans connect with the vocalist, almost as though they were all part of the band. Facaden’s energy was highly addictive and set the tone for the rest of the concert.

Up next was Ryan, a rather mellow, indie-rock, follow-up to Facaden but intriguing nonetheless. At one point, I felt still — almost in awe — as they played their song ‘I Am Done’. It was a very moving performance with impeccable harmonies that leave you feeling like the band’s music is perpetually tugging at your heart strings.

King Kross hit the stage after Ryan. Their sound can be vaguely described as droning electronic keys and prominent drum beats meshing into deep vocals and guitars, reminiscent of an 80s post-punk sound. It was almost entrancing, making you want to close your eyes and sway.

We Need Lilo’s performance was mind-blowing. The booming drums and catchy electric guitars complimented their frontwoman’s grungy vocals really well made me feel the music on a physical level. It was exciting to the see the band’s brilliant chemistry on stage. It was difficult not to genuinely feel happy about this band’s existence, and surprising almost, to see just a room full of people in the audience. I can understand why the band is called We Need Lilo, because it leaves you saying I need more.

Up next was Rasmus Trinderup, a saccharine break from the previous heavy rocking. Rasmus’ performance was adorable, to say the least. The musician was all smiles on stage and his fans were rooting for him throughout the performance. The catchy ‘ooh-oohs’ stay with you, but a little strange to have him in the middle of this Rock The Region line-up as his sound had a bit of a pop vibe going. That being said, Rasmus kept the crowd captivated and moving along to his tunes.

The last band for the night was You Work For Me Now. It’s interesting how musicians’ can impact concert-goers. It was in fact reading this band’s name on a poster that motivated me to attend this show. Their song, ‘The One That Got Away’ was like a healing force for the broken hearted. There was something very naturally emotive about the way the lead singer conveyed the songs. One would feel drawn towards him as he sang. It was as though they took you by the hand and pull you into their world. One would think this band deserves an outdoor stage with a larger audience rocking out to their sound. Maybe next time?

LIVE REVIEW: Wolves in the Throne Room, Loppen, 27.04.17

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Photos: Morten Aagaard Krogh (mortenkrogh.com)

Wolves in the Throne Room are known for their singularly long, meditative takes on the black metal genre, infused with concerns with mysticism and the moody landscapes of the Pacific Northwest. The kind of band who wouldn’t be out of place on a rainy Wednesday at Twin Peaks’ Roadhouse, or, in this case, a windy Wednesday at Loppen. Originally scheduled to play Christiania’s other larger venue, Den Grå Hal, their loss is our gain, as Loppen allows the audience to get within hair-whipping distance from the band.

We arrive just in time to catch the second opening act, Orm, whose double vocals–one a deep death metal growl, the other a higher-pitched black metal howl–would seem a little gimmicky were they not accompanied by some very tight playing. Their debut LP also has one of the gnarliest covers I’ve seen in a while, a tasteful landscape including a full moon, a stormy and kraken-infested sea, and a castle on fire. I really want that on a mug.

WITTR arrive on stage prepared to create their own atmosphere, complete with ambient soundscapes and burning incense (picture below, although that could also be the most badly-rolled blunt ever photographed). But these are just garnishes, quickly overshadowed by the intensity of the playing. As their recently re-released debut proves, what truly distinguishes the band is their ability to generate atmosphere out of distortion and obsessive double-kick drums.

Tonight, the band starts at the beginning, with “Queen of Borrowed Light”, the opening track of their debut. It’s a solid introduction to the band, and one which eschews most of the atmospherics in favour of doubled-up soaring guitar riffs. It’s odd, but the real meditative moments, that is those that focus attention, are created not by slower tempos or lower volumes, but by stretching out the most intense moments. At a certain stage the lightning-fast tremolo picking begins to sound more like a long continuous tone than many shorter ones.

As our very own Morten put it, behind all the theatrics there is an unmistakable post-rock side to WIITR, moments when they sound closer to Mogwai (but without the sarcastic song titles) than Mayhem. Which, rather than being a criticism, is actually the reason we like them in the first place.

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