Online music magazine based in Copenhagen, Denmark

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Amanda Farah has 100 articles published.

LIVE REVIEW: Le Butcherettes, Loppen, 25.09.2016

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le butcherettes live loppen copenhagen

There are so many references at play in Le Butcherettes’ set at Loppen. There’s an immediate shock of glam with glittery red fabric draped over the synth stands and every guitar shining with silver foil. There’s a militant punk jolt when frontwoman Teri Gender Bender struts out in front of the stage, yelling and thumping before jumping behind a synth, dressed in a fatigue-style jumpsuit with a red band painted across her eyes. There are moments of disco and camp and heavy hits and rock rage.

Le Butcherette’s set is a pageant, pure performance from beginning to end. It’s theatrical and fun, mostly led by Teri’s dizzying energy. She’s undeterred by little things like not having a mic when it will do just as well to bellow into the crowd, or the face paint that runs with sweat and gets smeared along the sides of her hands. No, she’s too busy bouncing around the stage, belting her heart out, stripping off her jumpsuit to reveal a sparkly red dress during — what else? — “Take My Dress Off.”

Teri’s what make the show, for sure, but she’s backed by a smart and sturdy band who can match her vibe. And when there’s scarcely a pause between songs, one suspects that they must match her energy as well, even if in more understated ways.

The set ends with Teri climbing off the stage the same way she came on. The end of the performance is fuzzy as she begins hugging audience members, slowly making her way to the back of the crowd. The room is still dark, the house music comes up, but it’s not until she makes it to the merch table that it becomes clear that the show is over.

LIVE REVIEW: Mitski, Loppen, 24.09.2016

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Mitski live Copenhagen Loppen

Mitski packs a lot of emotion into two-and-a-half minutes. Her songs channel a familiar heartbreak and frustration. But if you call your latest album Puberty 2, then you’ve got a pretty clear understanding of what vibe you’re projecting.

Still, the most immediate impression Mitski gives during her set at Loppen is of being calm. Her body is relatively still as she sings and plays bass. Her face often has a neutral expression, no matter how long she holds a note. With her band stripped back to just guitar/bass/drums, the evening begins by feeling more intimate than her albums, with space given to her lyrics and her voice and the delicate almost-yodel that sneaks in.

She’s not cut off from the audience however. She’s clearly surprised by the turn out, the genuine familiarity with her songs, and conveys a warm, if nervous, humor. She introduces a dark cover of “How Deep is Your Love” by saying, “This next song was written by someone much richer than me.” The cover, however, not only highlights how strangely creepy the lyrics are to that song, but also serves as the first real display of how powerful her voice can be.

“Francis Forever” is the point in the set where her guitarist turns the volume up on his amp and introduces noise fills that compete with Mitski’s voice. But this is a turning point for her vocals in the set — as the guitars get louder, so does she, still hitting every note perfectly with a ferocity that could knock you back on your heels.

She ends on “last words of a shooting star” solo, delicately strumming a guitar. Though the house music comes up quickly, the crowd continues to cheer until Mitski reluctantly reappears, still alone, and picks up the guitar again. She bashes through a furious version of “My Body is Made of Crushed Little Stars” before once again giving a wave and a smile and walking off stage.

At 45 minutes, it’s a short set, especially considering that she has four albums of material to her name, but one that leaves your heart thumping out of your chest.

LIVE REVIEW: L7, Amager Bio, 31.08.2016

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L7 live at Amager Bio Copenhagen

We aren’t quite in the throes of a full-on 90s revival, but surely the return of fanny packs (as they are known in American parlance) means we’re too close for comfort. It’s been amping up for a while — it’s not like kids have stopped being influenced by grunge in the last 20 years — but now it’s also getting more and more toothless. The biggest problem with the nostalgia-inspired younger bands is that they not only lack the energy of bands they’re emulating, but many of those bands are still around and still doing that same schtick better.

L7 is now two years into a reunion that has, as yet, yielded no new songs. If their show at Amager Bio is anything to go on, they’re enjoying every minute of it, happy to bask in the enthusiasm of a crowd of diverse make-up, and happy to whip them into a frenzy before launching into “Fuel My Fire.”

Three decades on from when they formed, their energy is intense, with none of the women standing still for a minute. Once in a while there’s a cheeky comment leading up to a song, like describing “One More Thing” as, “the scrape heard ‘round the world,” but otherwise they barely pause between songs, preferring to jump and shimmy and stagger around. It’s not terribly surprising that the set clocks in just past the hour mark.

L7 live at Amager Bio Copenhagen
Photos by Morten Aagaard Krogh

But there is an effortlessness to it all: They sound loud, forceful, strong in how they sing and how they play. More than once bassist Jennifer Finch falls to the floor, her legs going up over her head before she swings herself back onto her feet, and it’s amusing instead of contrived. There are more fans on stage than one normally sees, blowing the women’s hair around and preventing them from breaking a sweat (which in the case of drummer Demetra Plakas, with her serene facial expressions, makes her look particularly like she’s in an old rock music video; in the case of Donita Sparks, it’s probably keeping the impressive metallic body art painted up and down her arms from smudging).

It’s tempting to frame this evening as a gathering of awesome women to see awesome women play, but raucousness prevails. There’s plenty of shoving and spilled beer and dodging of flailing arms to preserve the feelings of punk and grunge, for better or worse. But the irony of the bassist shouting, “this one’s for the ladies” being punctuated by dudes lobbing their empty plastic cups at the people behind them is a little too much. There are some behaviors that would be wonderful to see left in the past — sadly, they are still very present.

LIVE REVIEW: Julia Holter, DR Koncerthuset, 18.08.2016

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Julia Holter live at DR Koncerthuset

Photo by Morten Krogh

Julia Holter is trying hard not to lose her cool. She tries to sing her first song only to find that her mic isn’t plugged in. She keeps asking for more vocals and keys in her monitor, only to learn that none of her band have any monitors at all. It’s not the most auspicious start to an evening in a smaller room in Koncerthuset, but Julia Holter is a professional.

There are little hints at this professionalism, her classical training, such as when she provides the exact measure to pick up after the mic snafu or when she conducts — whether consciously or unconsciously — for herself, waiting for her backing band to rejoin her on a song.

Maybe it’s the initial tension of the evening that skews this perspective, but the energy of the band as a whole seems stronger than when we first saw this incarnation at Vega last year. Perhaps there is a battle-worn solidarity that helps them rally their energy, but everyone recovers from the early inconvenience and compensates for a lack of joviality with energy. It’s not surprising that Holter surrounds herself with people as seasoned as herself.

While waiting for the monitor situation to get sorted, Julia jokes that now would be the time to sing a cappella, except she never does that. But later, when she sings the hushed line, “all the people run from the horizon” from “How Long?” or when the opening vocals of “So Lilies” ricochet off of those of her backing vocalist, you wonder why she wouldn’t try it. Her voice always identified as a part of her lush arrangements, but would anyone even blink if she made them the defining characteristic of a song?

Her set hasn’t changed much in the last year, with Have You in My Wilderness still her most recent release, but her set did draw a new appreciation for “Vasquez.” Without the electronic elements of its recorded version, it takes on a decidedly more jazzy feel, the bass more dominant and Holter’s vocals more careless in their delivery. The breakdown in the middle, without the horns of the album, is a showcase of minimalist bass and viola work, and when the drums chime in, it is truly startling. And that’s why we’ll be out at every show she plays in Copenhagen — for all her polish, and even after seeing three shows in as many years, Julia Holter can still startle.

LIVE REVIEW: Patti Smith, DR Koncerthuset, 02.08.2016

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It’s not very far into Patti Smith’s show at Koncerthuset that a theme emerges for the night: Death. Death hangs over so many of her stories and songs. It’s implied when she opens the evening by reading from Just Kids about the optimism of ringing in the New Year, 1970, with Robert Mapplethorp, and confirmed shortly thereafter when she introduces “Paths That Cross” as a song written with her late husband for their friends suffering from AIDS (including Mapplethorp). It’s present in “This is the Girl,” Smith’s tribute to Amy Winehouse, now gone five years. It’s in the cover versions of “When Doves Cry,” “Perfect Day” and “People Get Ready,” the last of which got its worldwide debut from Patti and Co.

Or maybe this show is about life. As the years creep on and her written works begin to match those she’s recorded, Patti Smith is increasingly the one who has lived to tell the stories of those lost along the way. And Patti herself is so full of life. You feel it in the way her voice careers from folksy when she’s telling an unscripted story to frantic when she’s yowling the outro to “Land:” and flailing her arms to match. Or when she introduces “Beneath the Southern Cross” as “a song for life.” Or in the simple energy that radiates from her when she dances throughout the evening, every movement with a consistency that suggests that this is still what she loves and wants to be doing.

No, really, this evening is about survival. Because Patti Smith is not just a historian of her own stories or other people’s stories. She’s not on a legacy tour, but performing music she’s written in the last decade. She tells the audience that she’s performed the songs from Horses a million times, but it doesn’t feel like it. There’s still a force behind those songs that tells you they’re as important to her now as they were 40 years ago. Sometimes it manifests itself as fumbling intros, as with “Land:” and “Because the Night,” possibly because, after all these years, she still thinks about the songs as she sings them. She clearly isn’t on autopilot. She’s still experimenting, whether it’s new arrangements or new covers. It’s this enduring creativity that we will continue to celebrate.

Interview: Tacocat Talk Touring, Birth Control, and Powerpuff Girls

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tacocat band

Seattle quartet Tacocat have brought the raucousness of Riot Grrl back with a wickedly barbed sense of humor. The band, comprised of singer Emily Nokes, bassist Bree McKenna, drummer Lelah Maupin, and guitarist Eric Randall, rolls feel-good punk together with lyrics reflecting life for girls, whether that means periods, cat-calling, or childhood obsessions with horses.

The band records at a pretty steady rate. Their new album, Lost Time, was released on Subpop subsidiary Hardly Art in April, and it seems like the only interruption to recording is an extensive round of touring.

“We’re trying to figure out when we want to write some more songs before recording our next…anything,” says Lelah.

“You have to schedule the free time, too, so you’re not like, ‘Our next album is about what the back of the van looks like,’” says Emily.

Tacocat are as hilarious in conversation as they are on record. The three women have an energetic dynamic, often finishing thoughts and jokes for each other. Eric, meanwhile, chimes in occasionally, mostly quiet but clearly listening actively to fit in his own jibes. We sat down with them before their show at Huset back in May when, in addition to life on the road, they talked about ’90s TV reboots, emergency contraception, and why it can be okay to read YouTube comments.

You’ve been on tour for a month now?

Emily: This is actually our second. We had a US tour for a month, and then we were home for 24 hours just to take the flight to London. We’ve basically been on tour for two months.

Lelah: It’s becoming a little bit blurry. You guys were talking about Oslo this morning, and I was like, “Nope.” That was two days ago? I was like, I can’t remember two days ago. What was that?

But you give me the details and I’m like, “Oh yeah!” But you say “Oslo,” and I’m like, “No.”

What are some of the highlights?

Lelah: Every day there’s a highlight! Like Sweden was so incredible. We’ve been in Sweden twice on this tour. The people are wonderful to talk to and they treat you really well.

Emily: Shorndorf, Germany was really sweet as well, with food and nice people just being like, “what do you need! What do you need!”

Bree: It’s nice to be treated well when you’re traveling and so far from home.

Emily: The US is not like that.

Bree: The US doesn’t accommodate bands quite so well. It’s like, “here’s two drink tickets for bad beer.” Since we’re a little fragile from touring so much, it’s just nice to have. I think European culture is a little more respectful of art.

Lelah: We played in Geneva, Switzerland. We played this really big club that’s also a cultural center. Afterwards they were like, “Do you guys want to go upstairs? There’s a DJ.” There was a whole other club with a party happening. And I’m like, “Oh, a DJ. I know what to expect: Some dance music or electronic music.” Nope! We go to this club and the person DJing is 80 years old —

Bree: And he’s dancing like crazy to merengue.

Emily: They were merengue records from the 1920s.

Bree: It was exactly what you’d think of when you think of what an old man would want to party to. Everyone was dancing and having a great time.

Lelah: Yeah, it was amazing!

You write really hilarious, smart lyrics. For starters, “Dana Scully” —

All: Yay!

Emily: She’s my favorite.

Have you seen the reboot?

Emily: I have! Wasn’t that good. There were a few that were really good, I thought. Or just well-done campiness. They tried to cram too much weird stuff into the last episode, it’s like a movie.

Eric: That stupid Lumineer’s song.

Emily: Yeah, that was the most ham-fisted music I ever heard in my life.

Eric: Also, longer than the song actually is! They must have looped it.

Do you think it’s Scully or Gillian Anderson that’s the feminist icon?

Emily: I think it’s Gillian by way of Scully. Actually, I think that she made her like that, probably. Because I know that she was supposed to be a sex symbol, and even the very first episode of The X-Files there’s a scene [where] she’s running in the rain and you can see through her blouse. She’s an FBI agent and it’s like, “Hmmm white bra.”

Then both the writers for the show and I think Gillian Anderson were like, “Just make her smarter.” And she’s the smartest person on the whole show.

Bree: This is something really interesting that Emily told me about: The spike in young girls’ interest in science and law enforcement.

Emily: Yeah, it’s called the Scully Effect.

Bree: Because how many role models do we have that are like, “We’re quirky or sexy” — she’s just so straight.

Emily: They went into the hard sciences, and there’s a direct correlation to her character.

My sister wanted to go into the FBI because of Silence of the Lambs

Emily: That’s a similar kind of character, too. I feel like that sort of severe woman — or not even severe, she’s just not hysterical, which is usually how they put men and women together. Mulder is hysterical, she’s not.

Bree: I think that’s what made their dynamic so interesting: I know women with more Sully vibes, they’re always clinical about their thinking, rational, logical. That’s very much not represented like that.

A lot of your songs address serious subjects with a great sense of humor. How do you make a song about birth control like “Plan A Plan B,” for example, funny?

Emily: I think that’s just how we talk. All of our conversations about this kind of stuff are like — we’re not very serious about it together, or in real life, so it’s how we write songs together.

Bree: I remember, we were in class one day, and we were like, “Isn’t it funny that it’s called Plan B? What was your Plan A? Haha.”

Emily: It’s true! “Some guy who looked nice? I don’t know! Classmate?”

Bree: Plan A is, “He’s cute. Let me ask him out.” Then it’s like, “Plan B.”

Emily: You’re like, “There’s no way it’s going to be more than dinner — Plan B.”

That could be a really excellent advertising campaign. But then they tell you that you should just have it in your house, because shit happens.

Lelah: I feel like the only time it was ever in my house was one of my roommates somehow acquired —

Emily: Planned Parenthood would give you like 10 —

Lelah: I think she was going to make a mobile out of them. You know, one of those things you put above a crib.

Bree: There was a while I was going to Planned Parenthood and they were like, “Let me send you home with some Plan B pills.”

Emily: But they do it for every female, they give you two so if you live in a house with more than one woman you have like a gift basket of it.

Bree: But there was a while I was like, “My partner is a female,” and they were like, “Oh I’m just going to give you these just in case.” I’m like, “okay.” I’ve got so many Plan B boxes, I’m like, “Who needs ‘em? I got ‘em!” I’ve had people hit me up, though. I think they get burned out. They’re like, “You still got those Plan B boxes?” — “Yeah, don’t worry about it. You don’t have to go anywhere, just down the block.”

Emily: Dealer.

How did you end up recording the theme for the new Powerpuff Girls?

Bree: Some writers on staff at Cartoon Network were Tacocat fans, and then a lawyer called us and said, “Hey, the writers want you to do it.” He was really funny. They do mood boards, and they were like, “We want the theme song to be like Tacocat vibes.” He was like, “I didn’t know what that was. I looked it up and I found a meme of ‘Tacocat spelled backwards is tacocat,’ so I guess they want it to be like this vibe. I don’t really get what they’re going to do.” They’re like, “No, it’s a band.”

Emily: So we have a theme song now. It’s really funny.

Bree: It’s funny because their composer flew up and gave us sheet music, and we were like, “We can’t read that.” So we compromised. It’s a funny process.

Lelah: It was so weird. It’s the most professional thing we’ve ever done.

Bree: We’re a punk band. We’re not used to working with people who have composers giving us sheet music.

Emily: But he wasn’t used to us, either. He was used to studio musicians, so he thought we were going to be like — click track drums! It has to be exactly 30 seconds long!

Lelah: It’s the only time I’ve ever recorded to a click.

Were you fans of the show?

Lelah: Oh yeah. It’s a great show. It really is. We were in LA on tour, and they were like, “Oh you’re in LA? Wanna pop by?” So we met everybody and they showed us an episode before it ever aired. I cried.

Emily: Yeah, it was so good. It’s really well written.

Bree: I love the new show. The reboot is amazing, and it’s awesome to be a part of it.

Emily: We got to go around and meet every single person who worked on the show, which was nuts. There was one woman whose only job was to draw hands. All the different hands in different action poses of them holding things is all her. There was one person who does all the backgrounds, so she was just doodling, making a couch and a face. I can’t imagine how much work goes into that.

It’s all very high-tech, but they still had a ton of people on deck. I think that they didn’t want to disappoint the old-school fans either. There’s a couple changes to the way their hair ties are, the way their dresses are, and people were like, [gasp!]. It looks exactly the same to me, but as for those nerdy super fans —

Lelah: The day they released just the theme song, it was a YouTube video of just the intro, and we were like, “Oh my God, this is so exciting!” and we shared it, and we were looking at the comments, like you do — you’re not supposed to, but we did — and 99% of them were these really intense fans being like, “What’s up with that bow? It’s different. I hate the new bow!”

“Well, they don’t hate the song. This is cool.”

Bree: I was really surprised about the bow thing. People were losing their minds about these details.

Similarly, the outcry about the Ghostbuster’s reboot from people saying it’s ruining their childhoods.

Emily: You can have both. There can be an old one and a new one. You can choose and you can not even pay attention to it. You can not watch it.

Eric: But there’s women in it!

Emily: Women just aren’t funny.

Eric: Women ruin everything.

INTERVIEW: Greg Fox on Guardian Alien, Ex Eye, and Roskilde

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Fox Millions Duo live roskilde festival

Greg Fox (right) performing with Fox Millions Duo. Photo by Morten Krogh.

Drummer Greg Fox is the sort of performer whose name comes up in a variety of contexts. Though perhaps most often associated with Liturgy, the human drum machine is also currently playing with Guardian Alien — his one-time solo project, which is currently a duo including Alexandra Drewchin of Eartheater — and Ex Eye, a new band formed with Colin Stetson. He also has an ongoing pairing with fellow drummer Kid Millions of Oneida known as Fox Millions Duo.

It probably shouldn’t be surprising that Fox’s appearance at this year’s Roskilde Festival wasn’t limited to one set. But when you consider how exhausting a festival can be for a mere spectator, Fox’s three performances over as many days with as many bands is damn impressive. Unsurprisingly, Fox was difficult to track down between sets, but he answered a few questions for us via email after the festival.

How was your Roskilde experience?

I enjoyed Roskilde. It is a huge, overwhelming festival, so luckily the backstage area for artists was very hospitable. The food was great and it was easy to relax back there.

How do you prepare for three days of shows with three different projects?

Regarding preparation, there isn’t much to it, really. More than anything I try to prepare for presenting a full set for the audience. Seventy-five minutes is longer than most sets I tend to play, so there was some thought and planning given to what material to play and how to structure the sets. The nature of Fox / Millions duo and Guardian Alien involve more improvisation within a predesigned structure, so clearly outlining those structures was the main aspect of the preparation. For Ex Eye, it’s a matter of playing the material we have been writing, so not much to do before that set besides stretch!

How did you end up playing with Ex Eye?

Colin and I had been talking about doing a “heavy” project together for a while, both of us being fans of what you might consider various forms of extreme music. Shazhad [Ismaily] has been a longtime friend and collaborator, and one of my favorite people to play and travel with, so him being in the project was a no brainer, and Toby [Summerfield] is an old friend and collaborator many times over of Colin’s, so at his suggestion Toby came on board. That’s it really. We just wanted to start a new project, so we did!

Fox Millions Duo is a fairly unique set up. What inspired the project?

What inspired the duo is mainly just Kid and I really enjoying each others’ playing and company. We have a good time together. We were asked once to do a “drum off” as an opening act for a Lightning Bolt show, and instead we decided to come up with something collaborative. And it just went from there. I think we will definitely be making another record soon.

Guardian Alien has been through a few incarnations now. Is it going to continue to evolve?

I don’t know if i can speak to any kind of permanence regarding anything at all, so it’s hard to say – but I definitely enjoy the current duo lineup of Guardian Alien. Yes we have been working on new material, using new instruments and technologies, and we are very excited about what we have been creating together.

How is Guardian Alien different from your other work?

Guardian is different than other work that I do because Alex is my partner in the non-musical realm first and foremost, so the collaboration is obviously different than it is with other people. We know each other extremely well, for better and for worse, and we also love each other very much — and we share our lives with each other. So in many ways doing Guardian as a duo with her is really joyous and fun, and in other ways it can be very challenging. But I think that challenge makes for better creative outcomes.

PHOTOS: Roskilde Festival 2016, Day 1

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Bring Me The Horizon_Photo by Tom Spray_06

Bring Me The Horzion, Arena, by Tom Spray

 Vince Staples_Photo by Tom Spray_01

Vince Staples_Photo by Tom Spray_03

Vince Staples, Pavilion, by Tom Spray

Action Bronson_MG_5583

Action Bronson_Photo by Tom Spray_03

Acti0n Bronson, Avalon, by Morten Krogh & Tom Spray

at the drive-in live roskilde

at the drive-in live roskilde

At The Drive-In, Arena, by Morten Krogh

aurora live roskilde

Aurora, Pavilion, by Morten Krogh

hinds live roskilde

Hinds_Photo by Tom Spray_01

Hinds, Pavilion, by Morten Krogh & Tom Spray

Wiz Khalifa_Photo by Tom Spray_05

Wiz Khalifa_Photo by Tom Spray_01

Wiz Kalifa, Arena, by Tom Spray

LIVE REVIEW: Marissa Nadler, Lille Vega, 08.06.2016

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Marissa Nadler live at Vega

We’ve all been to the half-full show where the artist on stage begs everyone to come a little closer to the stage. If they’re very engaging, people come forward; if they’re not, the audience stays where they are and everyone feels awkward.

Marissa Nadler does not play these games. Instead she walks on stage at Lille Vega alone, picks up her guitar, and begins playing “Drive.” The audience immediately gravitates towards her.

There’s an uncommon amount of competition for musicians that night. Marissa’s audience have elected to see her instead of Muse or the Melvins who both have sold out shows nearby. This small crowd is dedicated; one person even corrects her about what album “Dying Breed” is on. It’s not surprising that they’re attention is rapt, nor to see them gently swaying as she sings. Even if you’re a newcomer to Marissa’s music, something about it makes you feel peaceful.

Her solo songs, all played on a semi-hollow electric — no acoustics, no 12 strings — highlight her voice more. To listen to her in this setting is to hear her voice as a separate entity from everything else happening. It floats not only over the music but over everyone else in the room. It’s the very evocation of “haunting.”

After a few songs she brings out her band, two of whom are openers Wrekmeister Harmonies (and highly recommended for lovers of vaguely droning rock songs and rich vocal harmonies). This portion of her set focuses on her new album, Strangers, released last month. Marisa’s voice melts into these arrangements, with guitar and viola or electric piano ready to swallow it up. It feels like a departure, and it’s only a small part of her set, but she proves that she can bring the same depth as when she’s on her own.

After this interlude she’s solo again, and focusing on older songs, because, as she said of Strangers, “a lot of you don’t know it yet, right?” She ends her main set with a cover of “Tecumseh Valley” by Townes van Zandt — which in her hands sounds as much a part of her catalogue as her own songs — and plays Leonard Cohen’s “Famous Blue Raincoat” for her final song of the night because she “came all the way to Denmark for one show [and had] to make it worth it.” It was worth it.

If you don’t really know Strangers yet or missed out on Marissa, never fear, she’s got plans to return to Copenhagen this year. No matter what else is happening, you’ve no excuse to make other plans.

LIVE REVIEW: Kevin Morby, Jazzhouse, 10.05.2016

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kevin morby live in copenhagen

It’s not surprising that a musician who has released nine albums in seven years is an energetic guy. Kevin Morby, once of Woods and the Babies, tells the sold out crowd at Jazzhouse that he had a long drive from Berlin and only slept half an hour the previous night, but that doesn’t stop him from spending most of his set bouncing on his toes and shaking his curly hair back and forth. The main room is very hot, but while his backing band condescend to roll up their sleeves, Morby is committed to his gray suit and seems unencumbered by his sartorial choices.

Morby primarily plays songs from his latest album, Singing Saw, familiar enough to the audience now for “Dorothy” to be greeted with cheers from the opening chords. He treats the audience to a track written since the album, which bears resemblance to the more energetic songs on Singing Saw, as well as older songs such as the title track from his solo debut, Harlem River.

Jazzhouse is the perfect setting in terms of acoustics for Morby and his band. And his band is truly special. The grouping of two guitars, bass, and drums mean that some of the trimmings from the albums are stripped back. Where there were string arrangements or keyboards, now it’s just guitars doing their best impersonations, which brings out the bluesy aspects of the songs. The bass is very present but never intrusive, clear without registering a thud in your intestines. Morby’s guitarist and backing vocalist is very understated in her performance, drawing little attention to her fancy fretwork. By contrast, his drummer looks like he’s going to burst apart every time the tempo picks up. And it’s more apparent live than in his recordings how much Morby’s songs rely on these shifts; the subtlety of the album is a jolt of energy live. And while his band emphasizes this, it’s clear when Morby plays “Black Flowers” solo that he is capable of relating the same effect on his own.

A lot of that ability to relate in his music come from the ease Morby projects on stage. He is comfortable with his audience and even a little goofy, at one point requesting the house lights be brought up so he can take photos. It’s easy to reconcile that man with the man who bounces around the stage. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the whole package.

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