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Live Reviews - page 31

LIVE REVIEW: Wasn’t Born To Follow, Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, 11.08.13

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Wasn’t Born to Follow saw Pumpehuset open it’s doors to independent and underground artists from Denmark and North America. Music fans enjoyed outdoor concerts all afternoon in the venue’s ‘byhave’, before moving indoors for a post-punk tinted evening of more traditional shows.

NOBODY (DK)

Danish band Nobody started the festivities, with a snazzy synth fest in the garden. Built around three keyboards and a soundboard, Nobody proceeded to experiment with the electronic sounds, and showed flashes of brilliant mixing from behind the sound desks. However, the band, which consists of different musicians from various Danish indie projects, and is led by popular Danish DJ Kim Las, appeared unprepared and unrehearsed, and it quickly seemed as though the group were just having fun messing about on the keyboards. That’s not so fun for the audience. [1/5]

EMMA ACS (DK)

The day started to look up when Danish red head Emma Acs, and her band, The Inbred Family, played their set. This was Acs’ first full concert in a while, and the singer was at moments hesitant. Nevertheless, Acs’ delivered her signature twee vocals with style and competency, and lived up to her reputation as a big Danish talent. Helping the artist to achieve her rich signature pop sound was the sitar player Atusa Zamani, who played the jangly riffs of “Green Stars and an Orange Sun” and “Fever” from 2011’s Champagne with artistry and confidence. Acs also debuted some new material from her second record, which she’s currently working on. [3/5]

DUCKTAILS (US)

“Hello Copenhagen, it’s really nice to see you all. It’s a beautiful day,” chimes a smiley Matt Monandile from the log cabin stage. Ducktails, playing the final outdoor show, banished the cold wind of Copenhagen with a warm, sympathetic and summery show. Popular chilled out tracks like “Killin’ the Vibe” matched the laid back atmosphere of Pumpehuset’s byhave perfectly, and towards the end of the show, the band played all new tracks. Ducktails proved that whatever the weather, if you’ve got a good vibe, you can generate a cosy atmosphere. Mind you, despite frontman Matt Monandile’s obvious eagerness and focus, I couldn’t help feeling that guitarist Alex Craig’s enthusiasm was really lacking, which distracted from the music, and, in a small way, broke the hypnotic effect this lo-fi group have on record. [4/5]

MERCHANDISE (US)

Some people have a problem with Merchandise. An indie pop group posing as a post-punk band, some feel. Maybe this is because charismatic frontman Carson Cox writes interesting yet attainable melodies, accompanied by beautiful, tortured, killer vocals; to some, a punk faux pas. Personally, I think the genre ambiguity is a plus.

If, however, punk is about energy, sweat, jumping offstage to collide with audience members and collecting a group of dedicated pogoing Danes at the front of your audience, rather than just being different for the sake of it, then Merchandise may as well have mohawks. After a lively rendition of “Anxiety’s Door” from 2013′s five track release Totale Night, Cox addressed the token couple of freestyling fans at the front: “Oh! We’ve got a couple of dancers now. Before I was worried you weren’t gonna dance.” “Become What You Are” closed the show, guided through by distortion and “1,2”s hummed into the microphone. Both Cox and guitarist David Vassalotti dropped to the floor to shred, for exactly the right length of time before it would have become annoying. He wrapped things up with a few push and shoves into some audience members, delivered in a quasi-affectionate manner, of course. “And that’s it!” he said, before shuffling offstage.

With a capitalist name like Merchandise for a post-punk band, there’s got to be some irony at work. [4/5]

DIRTY BEACHES (CAN)

The Dirty Beaches live show is a physical as well as musical workout. Whilst some artists may dabble with dancing onstage, Alex Zhang Hungtai, the mastermind behind Dirty Beaches, performs a full physical workout during his set. The show started by watching the warm up; Hungtai punching the air to feel the beat of the hazy synth laden soundscape created by his bandmates, starting small, and then with increased power. And so, he gets in the zone. Then we come to training. We hear a mixture of crooning and shouting through the effected microphone, pulling fists in, as well as pushing them out. He’s building the energy. And then suddenly, we’re at a boxing match, as Alex pulls out a mass of passion, strength and spirit for “I Dream in Neon” and “Casino Lisboa”, accompanied by a pair of big, black, austere leather gloves, and blue and red boxing lights. Hungtai’s not distracted by audience interaction, or cables, or prettiness, when he’s feeling his music. All together, a pretty amazing spectacle.

But one small nag. “Why is no one dancing? This place should be like a rave! He looks like he’s having fun, why is no one moving?” was my internal reaction. It’s strange watching someone exert themselves and pour so much energy into a live show of what was in many ways, dance music, and not dance yourself. I feel like Hungtai might have been cheated out of audience participation because it was a Sunday night. Or maybe the spectacle was just too hypnotic? One thing is for certain. On stage, Hungtai is an intense guy. [4/5]

LOWER (DK)

It’s pretty clear from Lower’s gig, that the assumption that Copenhagen is the new home of punk music, is right. This proper, hardcore, rough and tough punk music is making the crowd proud to be Danish, and those who aren’t, like me, a bit jealous. The band are playing tracks from their Walk on Heads EP, full of crashing and painful sounds. On the back of Iceage’s success, Danish band Lower have made a name for themselves in Copenhagen’s community of post-punk fans. Surrounded by bowl haircuts, upturned drainpipe jeans, Joy Division t-shirts and Doc Martens in the crowd, I find the “just stepped out of the pub” look of Lower remarkably refreshing. They’re in running shoes, Jeremy Clarkson jeans and fleeces. The bassist even has a Newcastle scarf.

Pretty predictable, but seriously enjoyable gig; lively, lots of people throwing themselves about, purposefully rugged vocals, oh and a shout-out to Merchandise: “This next one’s for Merchandise.” Merchandise had declared “This next one’s for Lower”, during their set. Carson Cox was right at the front to join in the group of pogoers. [3/5]

MIKAL CRONIN (US)

Mikal Cronin ended the mini festival with his hard rock tinted pop music. It was a merry ending to the day, and the gig appeared especially popular with the younger audience members. From Cronin’s 2013 sophomore album MCII, he played the upbeat likes of “Shout it Out”, and “Situation” and “Apathy” from the self titled debut of 2011.

Wasn’t Born To Follow finally came to an end as Cronin delivered an encore performance of Wreckless Eric’s “Whole Wide World” to the Danish fans. With a good stage presence and audience rapport, the singer songwriter finished the day off with a head bang, and brought a positive vibe to the dark venue and end to a brilliant, diverse day of live music. [3/5]

VIEW THE LIVE PHOTOS HERE

LIVE REVIEW: Tame Impala | Store Vega, Copenhagen, 09.08.2013

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A sold out sign greets me at the door to Store Vega. The large hall is beautiful as always: a trip back in time to the fifties. Functionalism. Wooden panels. Concrete. I love it.

Time travel could be the theme of the night. Tame Impala spiraled out as a bedroom project of Perth, Australia back in the late 2000s with a psychedelic sixties sound that somehow seems to remind me of all the great music of that time without ever sounding like any of it. Their first album Innerspeaker got really good reviews and when the second, Lonerism, came out publications like Pitchfork and NME laid down flat in admiration.

So the question then goes: How does Tame Impala channel out those trippy tunes live? The backdrop: an oscillating green line that, when the band starts playing, evolves into a variation of colors and shapes that most likely would have caused great joy among the hippies back then and if not, then it at least makes me smile. The band goes through the first couple of songs without addressing the audience, and except for announcing the title of “Mind Mischief”, Tame Impala stays quiet between the songs until a good 20 minutes into the set when Kevin Parker suddenly exclaims “Hey, I am wearing new underpants today, everyone knows how good that feels!”. New as clean or new as just bought? An actual observation of the joys of personal hygiene or some meta-statement about the awkwardness of addressing a bunch a strangers from a stage?

Anyway, he seems playful and somewhere someone lit up a joint. Next to me a dude tries to crowd surf and fails. Something is happening. We are entering what to me is the peak of the concert. Songs like “Elephant” and “Half full” energetic early heavy feel leaves me bobbing my head and numbers on the liquid-crystal scale (the amount of smart-phones in the air) tells me that I am not the only one having a moment. Their sound is great. It is close to what you get on their albums, sometimes the vocals seem to float away in effects more than on the recordings, but apart from that they come through crisp.

The Lonerism opener “Be Above It” takes the set back to the more dreamy songs like “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” and “Apocalypse Dreams”. After a good long 2 minutes of cheering an the announcement of a 50 dollars pay rise to the light/visuals technician Tame Impala ends the concert with “Nothing that Has Happened So Far Has Been Anything We Could Control”.

VIEW LIVE PHOTOS HERE

LIVE REVIEW: Haim | Lille Vega, Copenhagen, 07.08.2013

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As an ignorant European, my frame of reference delimits my first associations of San Fernando Valley to be that of its reputation as a place of eternal sunshine as well as the epicentre of the adult industry. However, tonight’s concert at Lille Vega, band of sisters Haim proved that there’s (much) more to it than just my inferior connotations.

Yet before Haim took to the stage, support act, with the assonantal name Ice Cream Cathedral, took on the job of priming the already enthusiastic crowd, delivering the shoegazed space pop that has become their trademark and earned them recognition from an array of critics as well as regulars to the Danish indie scene. However thankful the task, the Copenhagen trio made a respectable effort and surely gained even more followers this night with their original fusion of the ethereal Neo Italo that has scored many an art-house feature in recent years and the heritage of legends such as My Bloody Valentine and Cocteau Twins.

VIEW LIVE PHOTOS: ICE CREAM CATHEDRAL

Thus elevated the audience were more than ready to take on Haim. Making their way to the stage to the chorus of Jay-Z’s modern classic ’99 Problems’ (“If you’re having girl problems, I feel bad for you son/I’ve got 99 problems but a b**** ain’t one”), the sisters unpompously suggested that they weren’t too blame for any unfulfilled intentions to have a good night. One could have feared that it would actually have been the case, as rumour had it that two of the three sisters suffered from a cold and were prescribed to penicillin, yet it wasn’t to be seen – nor heard.

On the contrary, the sisters stroke the first chord with genetic accuracy and from there lead the listeners on to a tour de force into their musical versatility and charming personalities. Especially big sister Este proved to be of a talkative nature and had more than a few bantering inquiries for the audience – “Would anyone like to take me swimming in the morning?”. While she chatted her way into the hearts of the crowd, front vocalist Danielle barely spoke a word but won their respect through her gifted guitar play (that has earned her touring gigs with the likes of Julian Casablancas and Cee-Lo), and vocals comparable to Tracey Thorn (Everything But the Girl) or Stevie Nicks (Fleetwood Mac), clearly shining through on tracks such as “Honey & I” and “Go Slow”.

Yet, their obvious links to those vocal bigwigs of yesteryear only accounts for a minor part of the girls’ portfolio. Throughout a relatively short but dense set of 40 minutes, courageously started off with Dirty Diana-esque track “Better Off”, they showcased their naturally moderate back catalogue with an unspoiled energy often unseen in more established acts, before intelligently closing down with their biggest hit to date, ‘Forever’, in a vigorous version representative of the sound of theirs and the night in general.

Witnessing such artistry easily leaves you out of breath, which however allowed me to bike home from the concert at a slower pace, consequently wondering whether the sound of fireworks was to be attributed to the nightly celebration of Eid ul-Fitr or the resonance of an indeed breath taking concert.

VIEW LIVE PHOTOS: HAIM

LIVE REVIEW: The Smashing Pumpkins, Falconer Salen, Copenhagen, 31.07.2013

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“This is going to be the best concert in Denmark this year!” The audience in Falconer Salen is waiting for the gig to begin, and I’ve been accosted by a super-fan. He’s been seeing them since the nineties. I’m a Pumpkins’ concert virgin. A year after the release of ‘Oceania’, the band’s eighth studio album, Billy Corgan is back in Denmark, and as this faithful disciple demonstrated, expectations are high.

As Corgan took to the mic to give a rendition of ‘Quasar’, the line “God, right on!” suddenly made a lot more sense. He thinks he can provide approval to God because he thinks he is God. Standing at the front of the stage, staring intensely into the audience, a straight faced Corgan is living up to his reputation, but I wasn’t expecting it to be quite so irritating. The band reached ‘Disarm’ after a no pause blend of opening songs, and I was hoping that the intensity that had accompanied the frontman’s stares would be channelled into this track. I was disappointed. It was a competent rendition, but by no means special. There was something lacking in his performance, and the same went for ‘Tonight, Tonight’ that followed.

Corgan didn’t speak in the first half, with the exception of telling his fans “you can cheer later.” Then, the silence was broken: “We were saying today that the American sense of humor is very ironic, but the Danes don’t get irony,” at which the frontman was booed. So began a long ramble by Corgan, who admitted “the reason I’m talking is because I’m sick and I’m trying to waste time.” That really made me feel special.

If one thing could be said for the rant, it’s that it got some more enthusiasm out of Corgan. However, as the highly self indulgent extended endings, and guitar solos set in (repeatedly), I sort of wished I could have Lacklustre Billy back. Some of us had Metro night buses to catch. In fact, I felt the highlight of the night came in the form of the first encore track, Billy and Nicole’s acoustic performance of ‘The Celestials’. Finally, I heard Corgan’s daemons.

VIEW THE PHOTOS HERE

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