Photos by Morten Aagaard Krogh (mortenkrogh.com)
It’s easy to become completely Copenhagen-centric when you live here. The rest of Denmark seems to be just where people’s parents live. It’s refreshing, therefore, to see an act like Yung, injecting some Aarhus-bred punk into the Copenhagen scene. Fresh from the release of their Alter EP and a gig supporting Metz in London, the band has drawn a significant crowd at Stengade.
The opening act, Total Heels, are a band I make it my business to see live whenever possible. Their manic brand of organ-lead garage rock, full of fat riffs and prehistoric drum beats, is pushed into overdrive by the energy and wit of their frontman, New-Yorker Jason Orlovich. Their self-titled album incorporates everything from the Stooges to the vocal weirdness of the B-52s, but at its heart Total Heels is a live band, all sweat and spit.
Yung are often, out of laziness, lumped in with the rest of the ‘Danish punk’ scene, whatever that might be. Yet both their sound and attitude is markedly different from their Copenhagen colleagues. Sure, there are post-punk references there in the guitar riffs and basslines, but the approach is less dark and diffident. What you get with songs like “Don’t Cry” are the emotional swings between melancholy and raucousness of American proto-emo bands, even the jagged pop-punk of the likes of Jawbreaker. Mikkel Silkjær’s vocals tend towards a high-pitched chanting and raspy shouting, a marked contrast with the disaffected drones of some of our local bands.
Both bands are models of onstage commitment, fortunate enough to have a small international audience without taking anything for granted. And in a climate where international interest in ‘Danish punk’ is bound to fade soon, that level of energy and humility will be key.