Online music magazine based in Copenhagen, Denmark

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Amanda Farah - page 8

Amanda Farah has 102 articles published.

LIVE REVIEW: Television, Pumpehuset, 29.08.2014

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It’s understandable why bands have whole albums tours. Maybe it’s an anniversary, maybe those are the songs the crowds shout for at gigs anyway, or maybe, in the case of Television and Marquee Moon, it is a landmark work worth trotting across the globe decades later. Whatever the motivation, the formula makes sense.

But why do crowds go to whole album shows? Even if they saw the band when it originally toured around the release of that album, this is not the same effect. What in this nostalgic urge makes seeing the whole album performed live better than reminiscing at home with the record, knowing that other favorites only have the slightest chance of making it into the encore?

In the case of Television, it helps tremendously that they play Marquee Moon out of order, and thus makes the evening at least somewhat less predictable. They do begin with album opener “See No Evil,” and it’s not the strongest of starts. Tom Verlaine’s voice sounds shaky on the chorus, but as they recover from this, it becomes apparent that his voice is no longer able to hit the high notes.

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That’s hardly a death knell for the performance. Guitar solos are more integral to their sound, and it’s so easy to lose yourself in any of their ambling outros. There are a few surprises, such as the outro of “Torn Curtain” where Verlaine scratches his guitar strings and unexpectedly affects the sound of violins. It is no surprise, however, that “Marquee Moon” closes out the main set. It is the logical conclusion, and really, a ten-minute epic — stretched to 13 minutes on this occasion — would have been the logical conclusion to the recorded album.

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There is one thing making it difficult to enjoy the show, and that is the overwhelming heat. Though it’s breezy and cooler in Copenhagen than it’s been in a week, it is Seventh Circle of Hell hot in Pumpehuset. It’s sweat dripping down every inch of you even though you’re not moving hot. People are standing as far away from each other as possible, and the air is so thick and so still that there’s a breeze when a person walks past you. How much this contributes to the general low energy in the room is hard to say, because it’s kind of hard to breathe. But that’s hardly the fault of Television.

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Photos by Ronald Laurits Jensen

NEW ALBUM: The Raveonettes – Pe’ahi

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The Raveonettes released their latest album, Pe’ahi, this week. It’s a nice surprise for fans, who weren’t informed that the album was coming out until its street date.

Aside from the lack of advanced promotion, the Danish duo of Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo have taken a relatively standard approach with Pe’ahi. It’s available for download through the usual channels, and there’s a limited edition (1000 copies) vinyl that comes in a liquid-filled sleeve. They’re currently offering a free download of the track “Sisters” through their website.

If you stream the album on Spotify, there’s also the option to hear 30-60 seconds of commentary prior to each track. Listen to album opener, “Endless Sleeper,” below:

LIVE REVIEW: NorthSide Festival Day 3, 15.06.2014

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After the crush of the last two days, the first few hours of day 3 of Northside feel empty. There are plenty of people, but it’s easy to walk around. There are no queues anywhere for anything. It’s possible to walk down to the barricades at any of the stages, which makes it a tough gig, as usual, for the artists with early slots.

Such is the case for Royal Blood, a duo from Brighton, UK, whose sudden rise comes on the back only three singles and an Arctic Monkey wearing their t-shirt. They’re on the Blue Stage with a small audience assembled before them, the detritus of yesterday’s confetti cannon is still under foot. Frontman Matt Kerr plays bass like it’s lead guitar, tuned and distorted to sound like it’s lead guitar. The crowd is impressed with his tapping solos as well — not something you typically on a bass. Not bad for a band that’s only released an EP.

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Royal Blood (Photo: Morten Aagaard Krogh)

Much has been made of the gradual decline of the Pixies, and how ten years into their reunion, they have mentally checked out (or in Kim Deal’s case, physically checked out). It’s true that there are moments when Black Francis/Frank Black seems to be trying to get through songs as quickly as possible. Then there are times like when he’s playing the intro to “Ed is Dead” or performing the more recent “Bagboy” when he almost looks like he’s enjoying himself, and maybe more new material in the set is what’s needed to keep the band engaged. The most enthusiastic of the bunch is bassist of the moment Paz Lenchatin, who perhaps has the most at stake. She also does a pretty good approximation of Deal, and rather adorably has a ribbon tied around one of her tuning pegs. It would be great if more musicians could do that, please. Joey Santiago spends the last minutes of the bands set getting his guitar to feedback, either by holding another guitar to the fretboard or smacking it against his body. The audience is into it initially, but you can tell that people have gotten their 15 minute warning for Arcade Fire as they begin drifting away towards the other stage.

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Pixies (Photo: Morten Aagaard Krogh)

It’s really for the best that they do, because Arcade Fire’s set is possibly the most widely attended of the weekend. The cynical belief is because there’s no other set conflicting, but it doesn’t take long to see that this was always going to be a festival highlight for many. They open with “Here Comes the Nighttime” and confetti cannons, with Win Butler saying with delight, “We played it first because we know the nighttime is never coming.” There is a platform built out into the crowd that allows band members to come out a little further into the crowd, and is actually a point of performance for songs rather than just a one-off tease otherwise blocking people from the rail.

In terms of visuals, the spectacle is unparalleled. Whether it’s the colorful fringe on Régine Chassagne’s costume or the mirror-suited person who comes out to pivot on the platform during “Afterlife” or the conga line of people in paper mâché heads dancing to “Normal Person,” it’s a level of pageantry sometimes bordering on the surreal that not even Röyksopp’s glittery masks or Robyn’s wild outfits can beat.

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Arcade Fire (Photo: Morten Aagaard Krogh)

After the spectacle and frenzy of Arcade Fire, the set from Wild Beasts is positively intimate, and has the vibe of an after party. They ease into their set with swooning, down-tempo synth-pop, initially going for the light touch instead of impact. Frontman Hayden Thorpe raises a glass of wine to the audience, saying “It helps us dance better, it helps us look better, it helps us sing better.” And there is plenty of room for people to dance. The tempo picks up, the bass picks up (and occasionally is bolstered by thunderously loud programmed bass), and slowly but surely people’s feet pick up. It is an excellent comedown after a long weekend.

Wild Beasts
Wild Beasts (Photo: Morten Aagaard Krogh)

View the gallery from Northside Festival 2014 

LIVE REVIEW: NorthSide Festival Day 2, 14.06.2014

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Day two of NorthSide began for us with the Brian Jonestown Massacre, and specifically with frontman Anton Newcombe remarking to the still-assembling audience, “Party over here, fuck you over there.” Watching them play their thick, jangly guitar pop under the intense sun might be the best way to begin day, unless you have a hangover, in which case it probably just hurts and dehydrates you further. But without such impediments, there is a  certain joy and fascination in deciphering any one of the four guitar parts, and watching their delightfully smug tambourine player who is clearly having a better time than anyone at the festival. Newcombe is a bit combatively, stopping in the middle of a song to berate his bandmates about tunings and passive aggressively moving his mic stand to the back of the stage saying, “I’ll just sing from back here if you can’t get that feedback under control.” It’s either hilarious or obnoxious depending on your mood.

Brian Jones Town Massacre (Photo: Morten Aagaard Krogh)
Brian Jonestown Massacre (Photo: Morten Aagaard Krogh)

After the curmudgeonly  the youth exuberance of Baby in Vain is refreshing. Guitarists Lola Hammerich and Andrea Thusen Johansen are lunging around the stage producing sounds that are a pleasing amalgam of sludge and crunch. Their fried vocals come together in twisted, cheeky harmonies. Baby in Vain would be at home on Sub Pop’s late ‘80s/early ‘90s roster. Since we can’t have that, can someone get them on a tour with Mudhoney quick?

Baby In Vain (Photo: Morten Aagaard Krogh)
Baby In Vain (Photo: Morten Aagaard Krogh)

On a predominantly rock line-up, there’s always some question of how a crowd will react to a different genre. In the case of A$AP Rocky, the audience collectively lose their shit. Some of that may have to do with the fact that nearly as much time is spent hyping the crowd as rapping, including repeated directives for them to shout “A-SAP!” It wears thin, which is a shame, because as a performer Rocky is anything but boring. He jogs across the stage as he sings “Fuckin’ Problems” and “Purple Kisses,” pays homage to A$AP Ferg and recreates the mix tape feeling by playing samples of “Jump Around” and “C.R.E.A.M.” He repeatedly emphasizes that it’s not a concert, it’s a party, encouraging mosh pits, crowd surfing, and women to “show your titties if you’re over age.” The crowd only complies on the first two points, making securities job a little harder with the no crowd-surfing rule. At the beginning of the set, however, Rocky did emerge from the barricade before the crowd swinging a bra over his head, so he’s knows what he’s going for.

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A$AP Rocky (Photo: Morten Aagaard Krogh)

From the outset it’s clear that Mew’s set is going to be an emotional highlight of the weekend. They begin by bringing bassist Johan Wohlert to the front of the stage to announce that he has rejoined the band after leaving 2006. And while the announcement makes jaws drop, it’s a best-of setlist including and “Am I Wry? No” that has people falling on each other in big, swaying hugs. They play a new song as well, though they don’t name it, and remind the crowd that a new record is coming. By the time their final song, “Comforting Sounds” builds to a dramatic close, men and women alike are seen wiping tears from their eyes.

Mew (Photo: Morten Aagaard Krogh)
Mew (Photo: Morten Aagaard Krogh)
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Mew (Photo: Morten Aagaard Krogh)

If Mew was the emotional outpouring, then Röyksopp and Robyn is a blissed out catharsis. It’s immediately apparent that this is the wrong place to be if you’re protective of your personal space or object to having beer spilled on you. But if you can stay on your feet and avoid getting elbowed in the face by the people who only know how to dance by pumping their fists in the air, Röyksopp’s beats and airy, surreal synths help you transcend the mental fogginess settling in, while the crowd physically carries you somewhere else.

Röyksopp & Robyn (Photo: Morten Aagaard Krogh)
Röyksopp & Robyn (Photo: Morten Aagaard Krogh)

It’s 40 minutes into the set when Robyn takes her turn, bouncing across the stage in a pair of platform sneakers. She twists around in yogic poses, and turns her back to imitate a make-out session during “Dance on My Own” while the crowd sings the chorus on her behalf. The trio mark a change into a joint set with Röyksopp donning glittery balaclavas and Robyn a puffy jacket that looks like armor. The crowd is thinning, but those that remain are as frenzied as ever. So is Robyn, who continues to contort herself in an array of dance moves that defy description. The set ends just past the two hour mark with “Do It Again” and confetti cannons. An elated, exhausted crowd makes its way out of the festival grounds, trailing confetti behind them.

View the gallery from Northside Festival 2014 

LIVE REVIEW: NorthSide Festival Day 1, 13.06.2014

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It should’t be surprising that a sold out festival is difficult to get into. The queue to enter NorthSide stretches well past the main entrance and down around the road, the wait half an hour or more even hours after the gates open. People are in good humor despite the crush, drinking cans of beer they brought along for this inevitability.

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Reptile Youth (photo: Morten Aagaard Krogh)

When finally inside the festival grounds in the early evening, it’s Reptile Youth who are on stage. And though it’s not the start of the festival day, it’s the perfect start to our day. Their percussive, high energy music is precisely what’s needed to get you into the spirit of the weekend. Mads Damsgaard Kristiansen is flailing across the stage, and the audience is mimicking his energy in waves of pogoing heads. He crowd surfs during “We Are the Children” before the strict “no crowd surfing” rule is enforced later in the day, and the band ends the set in an ecstatically received rendition of “Speeddance.”

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Mount Kimbie (photo: Morten Aagaard Krogh)

Mount Kimbie, in comparison, are completely chilled out. Their dark, somewhat gothic electro, suitably played as clouds offer some respite from the intense sun, is pleasantly lulling. Bolstered by a live drummer, they are a band of more equipment than people, and spend most of the set hunched over tables of electronics, even when playing guitar or bass. It’s groovy in a slightly sinister way, but it’s the kind of thing that doesn’t really translate well to a festival, at least not a large outdoor festival. Really, how much good does a smoke machine outdoors in broad daylight really do?

Franz Ferdinand (photo: Morten Aagaard Krogh)
Franz Ferdinand (photo: Morten Aagaard Krogh)

It is obvious, however, that Franz Ferdinand have studied whatever textbook material there is on how to perform a festival set. Alex Kapranos packed the hour with scissor kicks and gratuitous dropping of “NorthSide” into songs. They move so seamlessly between songs that sometimes it borders on a medley. At a club or theatre show it might be disappointing to have so little interaction, but in this setting, it’s best to (as James Murphy would say) shut up and play the hits. And it’s hard to deny the appeal of the mass of dancing people or the echoing sing along of “Take Me Out.”

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Lana Del Rey (photo: Morten Aagaard Krogh)

Which is why the set from Lana Del Rey that immediately follows is a tremendous buzz kill. There is initial exuberance from the crowd — teenage boys down front forming hearts with their hands like One Direction fans, Lana descending a ladder to meet the crowd, kissing girls, signing autographs like it’s a red carpet film premiere and not a gig — but it dies down quickly. There is a lot of silence from the crowd, and total silence from Lana between most songs. It’s telling that most of the shots for the screens are extreme closeups of her face: There she looks perfect, grinning coquettishly as she sings, but the wide shots show her band exuding more energy than she does. She moves in long, graceful steps across the stage as she sings, but she doesn’t really engage. She doesn’t even tap a foot. It’s like taking a Valium; you don’t just feel sedate, you feel nothing. Lana looks like she feels nothing, too.

 

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The National (photo: Morten Aagaard Krogh)

And it’s not a question of genre. Goodness knows that headliners the National have their fair share of moody broody indie pop, yet they are totally compelling, even at one in the morning. It helps that singer Matt Berninger , slamming his mic stand into the stage like he’s trying to do damage. Aaron and Bryce Dessner keep pace, but don’t try to compete with Berninger crawling around to corners of the stage while singing “Abel” or nearly being sucked into the crowd when he stands up on the barricade.

Such intensity is necessary to compensate for the fair amount of nuance is lost (that is, most of the horns), but on the whole the sound at NorthSide is better than can even be optimistically hoped for at most festivals. So it’s appreciated that the National get the crowd clapping along, which is vital not only to the rest of the set but also for keeping awake and keeping warm. Those who stuck it out past two in the morning were treated to Berninger leaving the stage and security behind and wandering the crowd, nearly strangling your correspondent with a mic cable that, to the best of the tech’s efforts, couldn’t be kept over everyone’s heads. Which is certainly another way to keep people awake.

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View the gallery from Northside Festival 2014 

LIVE REVIEW: Cloud Nothings, Loppen, 15.05.2014

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Photo by Tom Spray

There is something almost business-like to Cloud Nothings’ live performance. Both frontman Dylan Baldi and bassist TJ Duke are very contained in their movements, whether they are required to be at their mics or just driving out sheets of noise. It is extraordinary to see this limited movement when you consider just how loud they are. But drummer Jayson Gerycz isn’t complicit in this act. He’s a flailing, sweaty mess behind his kit, exuding almost enough personality for the three of them.

It’s not as though Cloud Nothings don’t make an impression live. There is a raw quality to their performance that doesn’t come through even on their already raw albums. Baldi’s voice is curiously dynamic, and has moments of clear, almost pop-like presence such as on “I’m Not Part of Me.” It’s generally restrained by the relatively coarse timbre, and he sometimes abandons all tunefulness in ragged screams such as with “Pattern Walks”.

In that fried vocal there is plenty of energy for the crowd to feed off of, from people who might like to see the band lose it on stage. Or at least there’s one guy trying to start a mosh pit, but he’s actually just shoving people with both hands. But after being at so many gigs where people talk through the set, it’s nice to be at a show where it’s not possible to talk over the music (or, at any rate, to hear other people’s conversations). You’re not going to be able to play the record that loud at home without the neighbors complaining.

LIVE REVIEW: Hospitality, Stengade, 12.05.2014

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Early in their set, Hospitality ask the crowd in the semi-full room at Stengade — where everyone is standing a comfortable two to three meters away from the stage — who saw them at Roskilde last year. And it’s from this point forward that we know much of the crowd are repeat visitors, expecting a passably energetic show and a more involved set-up from a band that is formally a trio.

Much of Hospitality’s latest album, Trouble, is stripped back to a fairly limited composition. So that the band are bolstered by a fourth member and that additional instruments are featured on every song is a bit unexpected, but it does make the performance warmer and fuller where it could so easily have felt thin.

Their drummer and keyboardist switch places a few songs in, and Nathan Michel, previously playing drums, takes up guitar as well as keyboards. This is the way the B-side “Monkey” is played, which sounds positively dreamy. They aren’t exactly consistent stylistically, their songs vacillating between dream pop and grungier edges, and even at times tapping into big, 70s rock sounds. At one point their bassist taps out his beats on his own dedicated synth set up, though the vision may have not transferred clearly through Stengade’s PA.

Frontwoman Amber Papini comes back alone for the first song of the encore, “Call Me After,” from their new album, which sounds quite sweet and certainly less melancholy on an electric guitar compared to the sparse acoustic album version. The night ends on an upbeat note with with “Betty Wang.” As a quirky indie pop band, they may still be finding the right sound to fit them. As a live band, however, they definitely know what they’re about.

LIVE REVIEW: Eagulls, Stengade, 23.04.2014

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There aren’t any surprises with Eagulls. If what you are looking for in their live set is the blistered amalgam of shoegaze and post-punk guitars with wailed Robert Smith-esque vocals, well, that’s exactly what you get. There is a curious energy about them, with singer George Mitchell bobbing and weaving in a self-contained way, his lanky build twisting and contorting to emphasize just how lanky he is. You get the impression that if he were to start jumping or thrashing around on stage the audience would follow suit, and there are moments, particularly during opener “Nerve Endings” where that feels appropriate. But it doesn’t happen, and so the crowd’s movement is limited to a few spirited individuals who look like they want to slam dance but instead just bang their heads a bit.

On a stage that’s tiny for five people, there’s a grungy effect in having one guitarist bent over for most of the set with his hair completely obscuring his face, while the oft serious-faced bassist shifts around as much as the limited space allows. It’s worth mentioning the talents of their drummer, who manages to maintain some level of nuance while still being heard over that fuzzy wash of noise.

But the set is short by headlining standards, even for a band with only one full length album out. They don’t actually play through the whole album. They end with “Possessed,” at which point Mitchell steps off the stage and walks through the crowd towards the door. It should signify a definitive end to the evening, but the crowd isn’t convinced. It isn’t until the guitarist begins packing up his pedals and shakes his head to an insistent audience that they finally take a hint.

LIVE REVIEW: Angel Olsen, Ideal Bar, 30.03.2014

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There’s something almost intimidating about Angel Olsen’s stage presence. Her expression doesn’t change throughout her set. No matter how heart-rending a lyric or how much she strains her voice, she is unflinching, barely shifting her weight from one foot to another. The only change in her steely gaze is an odd glazing over of her eyes that suggests tiredness, before coming back into focus. The only time she looks down is on the songs where she picks her guitar instead of strumming. It’s a testament to how confident she is, and how naturally her abilities must come to her.

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And for how stoic her expression is, the performance is quite moving, as though all the potential dynamics from her body have been channeled into her vocals. Without being fried by the reverb of her albums, her voice is incredibly powerful, vacillating from rock belters over frizzy guitars to a countrified warbling within a matter of notes.

She has the sold-out room captivated, a hot silence hanging in the air. “It’s so quiet in here. I know some of you are farting in here right now,” Olsen says in what is really her only attempt at stage banter. But oh thank goodness it is so quiet, especially when Olsen’s band leaves her alone with her guitar for the final quarter of the set. There her voice carries over gaps in the guitar, with no other sound to compete with it. During “Iota” that her voice quakes as though she could burst into tears at any second, only to be instantly pulled back under control. It’s almost shocking that it’s the same performer who had shouted the outro of “Forgiven/Forgotten” only half an hour earlier. Olsen is the kind of performer who can skip the chit chat because she can knock you sideways with her voice. If others figure this out, she won’t be playing tiny spaces like Ideal Bar again.

VIEW THE FULL PHOTO GALLERY HERE 

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LIVE REVIEW: Ólöf Arnalds, Ideal Bar, 25.03.2014

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On a horrible, windy, rainy night following so closely on the heels of lovely, warm weather, Ideal Bar feels especially welcoming, and Ólöf Arnalds feels like the perfect performer to distract from the nastiness outside. The múm member’s elfin soprano and finger-picked guitar are, even at their most melancholic, infused with the brightness of spring. She is cheerful and playful from the outset, cracking jokes that she “tunes because she cares” when her between song prep takes longer than she would like.

Though most of her set is in English, Arnald still manages to work in a few Icelandic songs, as well as caving to what she refers to as the temptation to sing a song taught to her during Danish classes in elementary school. There are also covers from Arthur Russell and Caetano Veloso which emphasize how unique her style of songwriting is — the way her fingers scuttle up and down the fretboard, how her vocals are drawn out in such a way that minimizes her accent and allows her to warble on wordless notes. But there is something charming in hearing her lilt clobber the “better, better, better” outro of “Maria Bethânia.”

Then again, charm seems to be why people are here, sitting so quietly that Arnalds finds it worthy of a comment. That’s part of the reason why things feel so comfortable, even when she stumbles halfway into a song and needs to start again, even when she’s laughing at her inability to wrap up her final song, “German Fields.” She isn’t flustered, so we aren’t flustered. We’re all friends here.

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