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LIVE REVIEW: Circuit des Yeux, Alice, 10.02.2018

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circuit des yeux live at alice copenhagen

Circuit des Yeux has made reliable, yearly appearances in Denmark for the past few years, so it was appropriate and welcomed that she was the first performer we went out to see at our inaugural visit to the newly-opened Alice. The evening was set from the beginning to be reminiscent of something and somewhere else, seeing an artist who had made multiple visits to Jazzhouse playing in the remodeled Global, and debating whether or not the curtains had been moved from one location to another.

The focus shifted quickly when opener TALsounds took the stage. Her rich and romantic electronic music is built primarily around her voice and some piano being manipulated a dozen times while she hunches over various buttons. It was lovely and relaxed set, and TALsounds’ airy soprano seemed like it would be a polar opposite and perfect counterpart to frontwoman Haley Fohr’s alto.

That might be true of previous versions of Circuit des Yeux that we’ve seen. We were first taken with Fohr’s dramatic vocals when we saw her play a solo set, but Fohr’s voice has continued to develop in bold ways. She has now taken on theatrical, operatic ranges, leaping octaves with staggering control.

This is balanced nicely with Circuit des Yeux now touring as a band. Fohr was accompanied by drums and double bass, and backing musicians in addition to her samples (and some dramatic light projections) has also changed her performance style. Far from being hunched over her guitar with her hair in her face (as we first saw her), there’s a theatrical, almost imposing quality to Fohr’s stances. It was a nice pairing to hear her sing, “the arms ready to catch the fall” with her own arms stretch out in classic Greek theatre-style.

Her development in her comportment also makes Forh’s staccato vocal tricks that much more affecting. The vocal manipulation on its own is impressive, but with Fohr taking full possession of the space around her, the performance takes on an eerie, mystical element. She’s exciting to watch, and it’s exciting to consider what she’ll do next.

Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh.

LIVE REVIEW: Protomartyr and Metz, Loppen, 07.11.2017

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metz live at loppen copenhagen

On paper, Protomartyr and Metz sharing a bill seemed absolutely brilliant. And before we get any further, we’ll confirm that their co-headlined show at Loppen — evenly split with an hour for each band — was, in fact, brilliant. What we didn’t quite anticipate was how strange those two bands are when placed side by side.

Part of the discrepancy is that Protomartyr is not a band you immediately associate with being laid back. The brashness of their albums translates as more of a nonchalance live, not least because vocalist Joe Casey’s performance style is more voice actor than singer. His dry delivery is the defining characteristic of the band, and even though his physical presence is often stock still and a bit hunched, he is devastatingly effective.

“Sorry for spitting on the people in the front row,” he says in a rare bit of between song chat. “It’s what I do.” Casey can toss out throwaway lines with deadpan humor, but when he chants, “everything’s fine,” it’s disconcerting.

Protomartyr live at loppen copenhagen

But what really makes Protomartyr seem relaxed is when Metz take the stage and the opposite approach to performing in every way: Everything is louder, the band’s movements are more violent, and the half-spoken vocals are replaced with screaming.

The shift in energy is somewhere between deranged and comical. The next hour is filled with loud guitars alternating between clanging and vibrato. Drummer Hayden Menzies plays in a fashion that suggests he would smash anything set in front of him to pieces (though the layered effect on one cymbal that makes it sound like he’s hitting the lid of a trashcan is a nice effect). Frontman Alex Edkins is a relentless screaming mess, likely restraining himself from leaping across the stage only because Loppen has a low ceiling.

It’s on that thrashing note that the evening comes to a close, but even if the line up is a little strange, on the whole it is adeptly paced. It leaves you drained with no eardrums left to speak of, but absolutely satisfied.

Photos by Morten Aargaard Krogh

Roskilde Festival 2017: Day 4, 01.07.2017

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Circuit des Yeux’s only Danish shows before today were in Copenhagen and have only been at Jazzhouse (she gives them a nod of gratitude toward the end of the set). So it’s pleasantly surprising to see how many people have turned up for her set at Gloria, given that the rain has stopped as well. We’ve been taken with her tenor-range alto since the first time we saw her, but it was exciting to see her performing with a band instead of solo. She is bolstered by a drummer and violist (and a bit of programming), turning her sinister folk somewhere between rocking and terrifyingly demonic. She closed the set with a new song, so we hope this means she’ll be back again soon.

It doesn’t matter how many times we see Jenny Hval, if she’s playing live we’ll be there. The main reason is that we know that no matter how recently we’ve seen her, the performance itself is going to be different from the last time. A festival stage is a very different setting from a small club, but she compensated with her own take on volume, namely billowing sheets of plastic.

In addition to her usual person behind the control panel, she had another synth player/vocalist and a tuba player, both whom were occasionally called upon to abandon their instruments and leap around the stage while Jenny sang as though none of it was happening around her. It takes tremendous commitment to an idea to jump to the rhythm of an odd ball song while swinging around a big fuck off sheet of plastic like it’s a normal activity.

Slowdive have played Roskilde fairly recently, but not surprisingly their 2014 set at 02:30 wasn’t very highly attended. Not the case at their set at Avalon at what they refer to as a more reasonable hour of 18:00. Then they were riding on reunion buzz, but now they’re supporting a new album. They’ve balanced their set well, weaving in new songs with their back catalogue and still seemingly genuinely excited that they’re performing. Whether it’s Avalon’s sound system or the band’s own mixing choice, there’s a lot of bass in this performance, and it’s melodic and driving enough that we don’t mind that it matches the guitars in volume at all. Interestingly, it’s the new singles “Star Roving” and “Sugar for the Pill” that elicit the biggest cheers. It seems Slowdive have succeeded in introducing themselves to a completely new audience.

Some bands appear to have been specially designed and cultivated in a B-movie laboratory in order to headline a festival, and Arcade Fire are without a doubt one of the prime examples of this. The massive hooks and singalongs that sound more than a little bombastic on record make perfect sense in this massive muddy field. Opening with “Wake Up”, the band do just that, warming up the audience in record time, to the degree that it’s only a few minutes into the set that Win Butler has managed to jump on top of our very own Morten Aagard Krogh in the photo pit. New material from their soon-to-be-released fifth album, Everything Now, is carefully sandwiched between some of their more dance and electronica-leaning work, with the transition between “The Sprawl II” and “Reflektor” being particularly pleasing in its smoothness. Having whipped themselves up with an obvious closer like “Rebellion (Lies)”, Win insists on returning to the stage for one last goodbye, with “Neon Bible”.

It feels like a natural quiet ending, but ance outfit Moderat  – a hybrid of Berlin electronica acts Apparat (Sasha Ring) and dance duo Modeselektor (Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary) – have other plans. The after-midnight gig lasted three hours (at the tail-end of a rainy festival, even our hardiest reviewer only lasted one) and cemented why the outfit has been much-hyped as the ultimate electronica live act. Pounding beats were accompanied by a visually-intricate light show, oscillating from pulsating singles with frenetic drums before moving into mid-tempo ambient tracks. The festival setting meant the volume was higher than any club, leaving a lasting impression of a powerful show for festival-goers to trudge home to.

Roskilde Festival 2017: Day 2, 29.06.2016

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Solange live Roskilde Festival 2017

It’s still early in the festival, but having a gentle way of easing into the day is still welcome. Julia Jacklin kicks things off at noon, and there’s a surprisingly large crowd assembled for her that early in the day. The Australian artist’s take on Americana is soothing and lilting, equal parts naive and clear. Her countrified warmth and twangy vocal would make her an ideal opener for Angel Olsen. And if nothing else, she made worked the weird strain out of the Strokes’ “Someday” and turned it into a sweet, wistful song.

Prompted by the large red circle backdrop, people are asking if Solange is from Japan, which means that they don’t know the one detail about Solange that I thought was a given (she’s Beyoncé’s sister, FYI). Solange’s set ranges from soulful R&B to Whitney Houston-style pop songs, and it’s choreographed from beginning to end in a subtle Hal Hartley kind of way. Even the backing band are in on it. The moment when she lets go of the choreography is during “F.U.B.U.,” when she walks into the pit and sings directly to an audience member. The woman hugs Solange and bursts into tears. It’s a really beautiful moment that melted at least one icy heart.

At the Orange stage, The XX inaugurate the first first salvo in the bout of downpours promised for the next two days. Despite the weather, and being mostly known for their rather mopey, minimal take on RnB, and the trio manage an upbeat set replete with earnest crowd-work and popstar shapes from bassist Oliver Sims. Jamie xx lurks in the background doing what a friend informs me is some top-notch mixing, although I can’t say I’m a fan of any of his drum samples. Any interest and warmth comes from the chumminess of Oliver and Romy, and from the familiarity of the tunes. They might all sound the same but a field during a downpour is not a place for subtlety. The trademark vulnerability embedded in XX lyrics – spinning collective tales of falling shyly in love and feeling cripplingly insecure about it – was enhanced by the onstage confession from Romy Madley that she was dumped at Roskilde Festival at age 16: “But everything happens for a reason, right? And now I’m here with you, and you are way more fun than she was.” Judging by the cheers and the veritable sea of dancing, it seems the feeling was mutual.

Julia Jacklin live Roskilde Festival 2017

It’s the focus on ambient sounds that threatens to derail Nicholas Jaar’s set at the Apollo stage. A beatless ten minutes of baritone saxophone and feedback is not most people’s idea of prime festival fodder. Scheduled for the late-night 12:30 slot on a rainy evening at the festival’s furthest (and uncovered) stage, the performance from Chilean-American producer was expected to be a “drop-in” affair. However the throngs who stayed were generously rewarded with a slow build that escalated into a dense, satisfying performance that lingered for hours afterward.

The rain has stopped, but it has also stopped people from queuing. It’s only as Nas takes the stage that people start to pack in. It’s 1:30am and chilly and Nas does not seem to give a shit about any of that; he’s here to do this thing. From the word go, he’s zipping around the stage, giving lessons on old school hip-hop, and declaring that Beethoven is hip-hop. I’m surrounded by white boys trying to mimic the way he waves his arm to the beat while I dance the way aging indie rock kids dance (i.e. bobbing my head as a full-body movement). Our photographer, Morten, commented that he worried watching Nas would make him want to do pushups, as Illmatic is one of his go-to workout albums. I get it. I wonder why I never thought of that before.

I walk away from his set around the time he started leading the crowd in a tribute chant to the recently departed Prodigy. Somewhere around the foodcourt the bass from Nas gives way to a fuzziness and dead thump of kick drum.

The last time the Jesus and Mary Chain took to the Roskilde stage was 19 years ago, and the Scottish shoegaze legends proved that they could deliver tracks from their genre-defining album Psychocandy with the same lush charm as when they were first recorded 30 years ago. Guitarist William Reid ensured the show – which traversed a fair stretch of JAMC’s decade-spanning repertoire rather than tossing in a few classics among their comeback content was, quite literally, painfully loud.  This reviewer had to retreat beyond Roskilde’s Arena tent for the sake of her eardrums – a roaring sound that felt somehow amplified by the fact that the band members themselves were obscured by heavy-duty smoke effects for the majority of the show. Perhaps, one cynically wonders, to obscure the passage of time.

But unlike many of the anniversary tours restoring the 80s and 90s britpop heyday to festival stages since the 2010s, Jesus and Mary Chain have nothing to hide –  the indie rockers owned their past glories and proved the old hits still endure.

Words by Charlie Cassarino, Lena Rutkowski, and Amanda Farah
Solange photo by  Betina Garcia
Julia Jacklin photo by Morten Aargaard Krogh

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: Teenage Fanclub, Lille Vega, 10.02.2017

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There’s a strange air at gigs of bands who hit their commercial peak in the ‘90s but never broke up. It’s the oddity that always being around never created more demand, that their availability didn’t spark the imaginations of a younger generation who could only hypothesize what it would be like to see them play live, that the devoted are the same devoted of 25 years ago.

And with that in mind, the vibe at Teenage Fanclub’s Vega show is curiously energized. These are the same devoted of 25 years ago, middle-aged or closing in on it fast, but they aren’t stuck in the early ‘90s. These are people who know the words to the songs from 2016’s Here, who call repeatedly for “Baby Lee”  (which doesn’t get played), who erupt when the band plays “It’s All in My Mind.” They’re the sort of crowd who have seen this band many times before and know the earliest work is saved for the very end of the set and wait patiently to hear it.

Teenage Fanclub themselves hit on a signature sound somewhere around the release of Grand Prix, and their new songs blend seamlessly with the old. It helps that over the years they’ve all become stronger singers, stronger players, and have found a place for their keyboardist/third guitarist to add an extra, shimmering layer to every song. It’s not a flashy or visually stimulating set, but it’s technically solid and full of positivity. 

Norman Blake in particular looks incredibly happy with his lot in life. He’s not bothered by the middle-aged couple down front talking selfies with the band behind them, nor is he fussed by the woman in a red dress who jumps up on stage towards the end of the set. All of the band look perplexed, but the woman, dancing around the stage, isn’t being obnoxious, isn’t getting in the way, isn’t trying to assault the band, so everyone lets it slide. She dances with their guitar tech and when the song ends gives a courtly hand to Blake, who looks amused and charmed. It’s about the least embarrassing way that scenario could have played out.

The lead up to the end of the evening rolls back the clock through “The Concept” and “Star Sign” before landing on their debut single, “Everything Flows.” If you’ve listened to the album version of “Everything Flows,” it’s easy to appreciate how much more tuneful the live performance is, how they’ve learned to build on the foundations of what their music was then but retain the raw, ramshackle energy that made it exciting in the first place. It’s a little emotional to watch because even if you as an individual do not have that attachment, everyone around you does. The band does. And it’s a good moment.

 

Here Today’s Albums of the Year of 2016

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We’re not going to spend time talking about what a brutal year 2016 was for music lovers. Regardless of what genre you favor, 2016 was a year that took someone away from you. And while that might be the most immediately enduring sentiment about the past year, it’s necessary to take strength in the incredible music that was released this year. In the past 12 months, we’ve been blown away by newcomers and watched artists we’ve been rooting for all along come into their own. We’ve welcomed back old friends and received beautiful goodbyes from heroes. It’s because it’s been such an extraordinarily, musically rich year that we’ve made it through at all. These are our favorites:

Angel Olsen Live in Copenhagen

Angel Olsen
MY WOMAN
[Jagjaguwar]

It’s two short years ago that Angel Olsen first captured our hears, but she’s come a long way from her minimalist, finger-picked solo guitar tracks. On MY WOMAN, Angel builds out her dreamiest moments into vast washes of rumbling guitar with vague memories of folk somewhere in the distance. This hasn’t stopped her from writing snappy pop songs or experimenting with synthesizers. Her vocals are just as moving as ever, but where quiet whispers were once her stock and trade, there is real evidence that Angel could be a leading rock vocalist of her generation.

And that’s what is so exciting about both Angel and this record: On MY WOMAN, she shows not only that an understanding of what she does so well, but that her own potential is limitless. More to the point, we can see now that she’s ambitious enough to follow that potential it wherever it takes her. — AF

Puce Mary (photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh)

Puce Mary
The Spiral
[Posh Isolation]

When Puce Mary released The Spiral, her third LP, she played a release concert at Mayhem, and the performance she gave is a serious contender to being the most intense of 2016. Stripped of the insane decibels, Puce Mary’s confrontational yet trance-like stage appearance, the lights and the smoke, The Spiral is still a captivating experience. The eight tracks on the album are very distinct, yet they blend together forming a whole that sucks you in as it progresses. Puce Mary is a master of contrasts, her music is brutal yet subtle, even fragile, and even though compositions are industrial, her music feels alive like an organism.

Last but not least:  It sounds amazing. The noise, the textures, the strange field recordings, the distorted vocals. The Spiral is an intense and demanding record, but also truly inspiring and in it’s own, complex way beautiful. — MAK

Mitski live Copenhagen Loppen

Mitski
Puberty 2
[Dead Oceans]

While it seemed as though she appeared from nowhere to make us get in touch with our feelings, Mitski has been toiling away for years now. Her fourth album, Puberty 2, perfectly combines her prolific efforts with a youthful perspective and energy and just enough life experience to make you believe her. The album is full of subtle bleeps and horn flourishes, but watching her play stripped back versions of the album was a highlight of the year.

It takes a good amount of self-awareness to call your album Puberty 2, and so much of its charm is her unabashed willingness to be awkward — which somehow also makes her the coolest girl in the room. You will feel like Mitski just gets you, and you’re probably giving yourself too much credit. We definitely understand the impulse, though. — AF

Kanye West
The Life of Pablo
[GOOD]

The Life of Pablo is a tricky, slippery thing of an album. Less of an album, really, than a saga, an half year long event tracking the evolution of an album. But really, it’s just a collection of some very good tracks by a producer who, whatever else he might be, is also touched by genius. From Nina Simone and Arthur Russel, via Chicago house, to Frank Ocean and Desiigner, Kanye’s sample palette is as diverse, crazy and unique as ever.

In 2013 Kanye West marked the death of physical media with the cover of Yeesus, an “open casket to CDs”. That was an album full of energy joyous destruction. It seems fitting that with The Life of Pablo, Ye confronts us with the direct evidence of the technical and emotional demands of the new dominant technology. Keep it loopy. — CC

Cate Le Bon live

Cate Le Bon
Crab Day
[Drag City]

There is a feeling of kinship that runs through Cate Le Bon’s music, that if you yourself have ever toed the line between interesting and just strange leads her to sound identifiable even in her most abstract images. Le Bon is a master of oddball pop songs, with her ramshackle style of guitar playing and many unique turns of phrase.

Crab Day demonstrates the same dry vocal delivery that has always set her apart and given her music so much personality, but this time she’s pushed herself and her sound to new depths. She’s stretch her vocal range and brought a new emotional connection to her songs, which is emphasized in her commitment to her visual lyrics. She’s also introduced some legitimate guitar solos to her work. Album closer “What’s Not Mine” stretches to seven minutes of everything we find charmingly off kilter about Cate Le Bon’s music, which is to say, it’s perfect. — AF

Fat White Family performing live at Loppen (photo: Morten Aagaard Krogh)

Fat White Family
Songs for Our Mothers
[Fat Possum]

Few bands are able to channel hatred with the pure intensity and conviction of the Fat White Family. If this is their “difficult second album”, the difficulty lies more in their own physiological limitations, rather than in a lack of ideas or direction. Songs for Our Mothers promised to “dance to the beat of human hatred”, but little did we know back in January the degree to which that emotion would imprint itself in 2016.

Harold Shipman, Ike Turner, Goebbels: the gleeful offensiveness of the cast goes hand in hand with a deeper moral outrage, as the Family wrap themselves further and further in darkness, with only their humour and some wicked riffs for support. There’s no knowing what the next year will bring, but we can only hope the Fat White Family will be around, in some form, to rage against it. — CC

Jenny Hval
Blood Bitch
[Sacred Bones]

On the face of it, this is a synthpop album about female vampires. But anyone approaching Jenny Hval’s latest album with the expectation of a thematically-coherent concept album clearly hasn’t been paying attention. Jenny’s dark and aloof sense of humour are present in all her work, and particularly on stage, and this year’s effort manages to be a lot stranger than it promised to be.

Though there are undeniably some very lush synth pieces on this record, particularly in its two singles, “Female Vampire” and “Conceptual Romance”, we don’t necessarily rush to Jenny for her tunes, but rather for the oddities that surround them. A moment of creepy melancholy in “Untamed Region” (I told you she was funny) is punctuated by a clip of documentarian Adam Curtis talking about the helpless confusion that seems to characterise our era. Jenny Hval isn’t pretending to guide us out of that confusion, but what she builds upon it well worth the listen.

— CC

PJ Harvey
The Hope Six Demolition Project
[Island Recordings]

The Hope Six Demolition Project is the follow up to the Mercury Prize winning album Let England Shake, and PJ Harvey continues along the same lines collaborating with Mick Harvey, John Parish, Flood and documentary photographer/filmaker Seamus Murphy. But this time she has taken a more conceptual approach and adopted a role as a sort of singer/songwriter journalist reporting from her travels to Kosovo, Afghanistan and Washington D.C. This also applies to the recording process, that was framed as a performance open to the public. While some critics have expressed skepticism about the mix of music and reporting, we applaud her exploration of music as vehicle for change, and together with the albums distinct sound, musical quality and her impressive live performance this earns her a place on our list.

Honorable Mentions

Marissa Nadler – Strangers

Nick Cave – Skeleton Tree

Iggy Pop – Post Pop Depression

Kevin Morby – Singing Saw

Tindersticks – The Waiting Room

Danny Brown – Antrocity Exhibition

Lambchop – Fotus

Frank Ocean – Blonde

Factory Floor – 2525

Holy Fuck – Congrats

Kate Tempest – Let Them Eat Chaos

A Tribe Called Quest – We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service

LIVE REVIEW: Roskilde Festival 2016, Day 2, 30.06.2016

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savages live roskilde festival

Reviews by Amanda Farah and Jesper Gaarskjær

Courtney Barnett — Avalon

If what you want is high energy rock music, it’s hard to do better than Courtney Barnett. Her blues-driven slacker rock with big choruses is perfect for jumping around and wailing along. You could take ready cue from her bassist, who spends much of the set flinging his body from side to side like Muppets are made to when they’re dancing. Add to the to that the background projects of weird but amusing cartoons and there’s the feeling of a subversive kids’ show for adults.

courtney barnett live roskilde festival

It’s also clear where Barnett’s comfort zone is. It’s well into her set before she says anything to the crowd, though this is a kind group who’ve heard “No One Really Cares If You Don’t Go to the Party” on the radio a hundred times and are singing along to “Depreston,” a song about gentrification and property values. But when she plays a solo her body turns into a rubber band and she loses herself in something ecstatic.

It’s easy to imagine a day when Courtney Barnett will be headlining festivals. She has the songs and she has the energy. The ability to command a stage is still forthcoming, but you can see that she knows it’s something she has to work on. It’s growth we can look forward to seeing. — AF

PJ Harvey — Arena

PJ Harvey knows how to make an entrance. She walks out onto the Arena stage with her band in single file, including a mini drum procession, with her saxophone in hand and wearing an amazing black feather vest.

The Arena stage is filled from end to end with her band, no mean feat, and the crowd is spilling out from the tent. If Polly Jean doesn’t say much between songs, it’s because she has the sort of presence that allows her to get away with saying so little. The profundity of hearing songs like “Let England Shake” and “The Words That Maketh Murder” a week after the UK’s referendum is not lost, even if she doesn’t call direct attention to it.

pj harvey live roskilde festival

It’s not as the PJ Harvey is someone you go to see for lightheartedness. The shift away from political drama to songs from To Bring You My Love, including the title track and “Down By the Water” fills the space with a dark energy.

She closes with “River Anacostia” from her latest album, The Hope Six Demolition Project. Slowly, her band join her in a perfect line, singing the final lines together in a communion that’s almost spiritual. Though the crowd lingers, cheering for more, it’s too perfect an ending to follow up. — AF

Tenacious D — Orange

We went out to see Tenacious D thinking it would be a laugh, and it absolutely was. Jack Black on stage is essentially the guy from School of Rock, and Kyle Gass is the guy who is not Jack Black, i.e. an excellent straight man who deals with Black’s over-the-top emoting. For goodness sake, there’s a guy in red body paint and pair of furry trousers playing the part of Satan.

It’s 10 years since the release of The Pick of Destiny, and the set features heavily from the record. A rare outing for “Master Exploder” turns into a somewhat elaborate Milli Vanilli joke, and the segment culminates in “Phoenix,” which acknowledges that sales for The Pick of Destiny were less than stellar. Even if it’s heavy handed in the way that only main stage acts can be, the display of performance is admirable (Black’s repeated mispronunciation of “mange tak” is less so, but points for trying).

Despite the duo’s best efforts not to be serious at all, the crowd is definitely taking them seriously. This is typified in the mass singalong of “Tribute,” which explicitly states that it’s not the greatest song in the world. But if you can’t get in on the joke, what’s the point? — AF

 

JÚNÍUS MEYVANT (IS), Pavilion

It starts with a resounding “HU!” from the crowd. These days there is something special about everything from Iceland thanks to their football teams’ success at the Euro 2016 and their now legendary HU!-cheer. This event is no exception. Júníus Meyvant, on stage preparing for the first song, seizes the opportunity and gets the whole tent to roar “HU!”, and so a pleasant afternoon begins in the best possible way.

Június Meyvant has brought quite an orchestra to the setup. Eight people in all, including three of them playing wind instruments, kicking off with a surprising instrumental take, indicating that Június Meyvant has much more to offer than the soft, folky tunes from his celebrated first EP. The likes of “Gold Laces” and “Color Decay”. We got those beauties, of course, but the red-bearded Icelander takes the audience new places from song to song. Hushed tunes, full-blown orchestral compositions and solo appearances with only Júníus Meyvant on stage with his guitar.

At the center of it all, his trademark voice, both smooth, raspy and raw, adding some edge to the folky softcore. In between the melodies — during the sometimes too long breaks — he entertains with a profound sarcasm that stands in contrast to the songs, many of them taken from his forthcoming debut album. After this afternoon, that also ended with a “HU!”, expectations are mile high. JG

 

BISSE (DK), Gloria

There really is no one like Bisse. He blew up Gloria with a high voltage performance, making a clear statement: he is one to watch in the next few years.

He enters the stage as colorful and powerful as his music would lead you to expect. Glitter on one cheek, painted oversized eyebrows on the other, red lipstick, red nails, circular sunglasses, and — when he took the glasses off — a determined, piercing stare under the blond hair. And backed by a tight, intense three-man-band he delivered his shouting, rattling songs; this blend of rage, light, darkness, tenderness, new-wave and punk, that is nowhere else to be heard.

Photo by Morten Aagard Krogh

 

Bisse shouts more than he sings, flitting around  the stage, changing dress three times and dancing with a naked torso, sexy and edgy at the same time. And he has a lot to say to the world. He has released four albums in a single year, and though their quality can fluctuate a little, and though it often was hard to distinguish the words from each other in Gloria, he gives everything he has, an artist at his most beautiful, leaving the room breathless. Even when he announces that he is about to do some ballads, it takes only a few seconds before the first ballad turns into a raging roar.

Bisse, this highly gifted chameleon of emotions, attitude, chaos, sex and poetry, really makes the blood rush. JG

 

SAVAGES (UK), Avalon

I adore Savages. I adore lead singer Jehnny Beth, the black intensity in her eyes, her explosive moves and unbreakable voice, and this Thursday night she and her three bandmates underlined what has been obvious to the world the last three years: Savages is a ripping, gripping and ruthlessly beautiful live act.

Savages_DSC1674

Jehnny Beth is above all the mesmerizing star. Pitch-black backslick, red lipstick, pale skin and dark suit. When she stares or points, she leaves a mark of latent danger. She is known for her interaction with the crowd, crowdsurfing and crawling over them — I last experienced it this April in Boston, USA — but that dimension was unfortunately missing at Avalon.
That said, Savages lit the tent up with their energetic darkness and songs about anger and love turned bad, both in their ballads and in their tight punk explosions. JG

LIVE REVIEW: Roskilde Festival Day 1, 29.06.2016

in Live Reviews by
at the drive-in live roskilde

Reviews by Amanda Farah and Jesper Gaarskjær

Africa Express presents the Orchestra of Syrian Musicians — Orange

If there was one flaw in the Africa Express set from last year, it was timing. The four-hour performance started at about 10pm on the last night of Roskilde, and as marvellous as it was, we simply didn’t have the energy left to stick it out.

So Africa Express presents the Orchestra of Syrian Musicians with Damon Albarn and Guests (not the snappiest title, to be honest) was a wonderful way to open the Orange Stage. And with this set running only two hours, there was no threat of Albarn being carried off the stage again, though of course it was mentioned.

This night was not about Albarn, though. Aside from an extended version of “Out of Time,” where Arabic string arrangements melted the song into something romantic and beautiful, and a cover of the Beatles’ “Blackbird,” sung with the Syrian choir and Julia Holter, he remained in the background. Even from the perspective of a longtime fan of his work, that’s fine, because the best moments of the set belonged to other performers.

Mounir Troudi not only floored us with his voice, but is so delightful to watch in his performance with his enormous smile and fanciful dancing that it’s almost unbearable. Someone please bring him to Koncerthuset so we can enjoy a full concert. Lebanese/Algerian artist Malikah, performing with both Noura Mint Seymali and with Bu Kolthoum, has us realizing that we need more Arabic hip-hop in our lives.

And lest anyone doubt the political nature of this performance, Albarn opened the set by declaring “keep borders open” and ended it with his fellow musicians leading the crowd in a chant of “Syria.” Well said. Welcome in. — AF

Aurora — Pavilion

Standing there in her thin black dress and golden jacket and shining with her pale, smiling face, obviously grateful for the people crowding this years’ first concert at Pavilion. And then she starts singing, Aurora Aksnes, 19 year old from Norway, and nothing is stronger than the voice from this young, tiny woman.

She really can make some unbelievable sounds with her voice, both on record and not least live at Roskilde, that just fits her gripping, explosive electro pop-songs somewhere between Björk and Sia. That was the formula from the minute she entered the stage until she left only 40 minutes later, leaving the crowd hungry for more of her pop songs that have this cold Nordic melancholy underneath it all.

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This really was a lively concert, but that was also the weakness of her performance. It was too much the same pop formula, and that was a shame. Aurora is so, so talented, and she makes adorable pop songs like the irresistible “Running With The Wolves” — which also lifted the concert to pure magic — but she is also very interesting, when she is vulnerable in a more acoustic setting, and that side of her could have varied the show.

Instead she chose the safe path. It also left her too bound to the microphone — and therefore dancing too little to her own beats, making her performance too static. Because she did dance, especially during her last few songs, and when she did it all went ecstatic and made the crowd wonder, why she was only on stage for 40 minutes. Way too short for such a gorgeous singer. — JG

At the Drive-In — Arena

The archival footage of At the Drive-In from their initial run (which ended in 2000) shows a band that could easily destroy a stage and possibly themselves. Sure enough, within three songs, an amp head has been lost, a speaker has been toppled, and frontman Cedric Bixler is scaling the rubble and making life difficult for whatever poor manager is responsible for repositioning their abused equipment.

It’s what was hoped for, but it’s not sustained at that level. Though watching Bixler swing his mic stand around during “Invalid Litter Dept.” makes me afraid for the safety of the band members around him and anyone within throwing distance of the stage, the mid-set song list slowly devolves from crunchy to spacier tracks that would likely appease any Mars Volta fans that had wandered in.

at the drive-in live roskilde

Bixler’s between song banter is as unpredictable as his physical performance, with comments ranging from the abstract to the inspirational anyone-can-do-this to the reflective. Whether or not it’s a standard line of his, it’s seems genuine when he thanks the crowd for caring about a band that broke up 16 years ago and never played venues of this size.

That’s the note on which they launch into “One Armed Scissor,” the only song they could end their set on. And it sounds way tighter than any of the old videos ever suggested. And all of the energy they started with is there in droves. If the new material that’s been rumored ever surfaces, you can’t blame us for holding it to this standard. — AF

Alex Vargas — Gloria

The ingredients are simple: You take a soulful voice. You take some intriguing beats and some guitar. And then you mix it with raw energy and a utterly talented performer. In the bowl you get Alex Vargas, who made a mind-blowing performance in a totally packed Gloria, leaving hundreds of people disappointed outside.

His voice goes from deep and rootsy to precise falsetto, without any sign of uncertainty whatsoever, and complemented by overwhelming visuals in the dark room of Gloria. These features transformed the room into a feeling of music, of rhythms, of pureness and art. And it lifted the concert to heights that are be revealed on much larger stages in the coming years for the 28-year-old, gifted Danish musician. For sure. — JG

Hinds — Pavilion

Hinds are fresh off their appearance at Glastonbury, and apparently they had a rough time of it. As such, they’re rather happy to be at Roskilde, and the packed Pavilion stage seems just as happy to have them.

The Spanish quartet combine a little surf with a little rockabilly, some very pretty vocal harmonies, and a whole lot of party. There are plenty of surf revival bands out there, but Hinds knows how to sell it, bouncing around with endless energy, posing like a hair metal band, and singing so sweetly it almost seems like a con.

hinds live roskilde

They ended their set by coyly relating how their final song usually prompts stage invasions, before a ready volunteer presented himself and one of the guitarists launched herself into the crowd. If we see any other band this festival with as much sheer joy as Hinds exudes, we’ll be very lucky indeed. — AF

Red Hot Chili Peppers — Orange

One question rose above all in front of the Orange stage this beautiful evening: Would Red Hot Chili Peppers make up for the disaster of their last visit?

It’s fair to say that the headlining concert had a pre-history after Anthony Kiedis & Co made their scandalous bad performance on the same stage nine years ago, leaving the crowd and critics stunned, some even asking the festival to get their money back. And the answer to the question is a clear and profound no.

The reason is a lazy and limp performance, especially from singer Anthony Kiedis. To be fair, it actually seemed that the rest of the band tried to put in an energetic performance. Flea was Flea, a purple-pink-haired dynamo circling around the stage in a suit that made him look like some gear from outer space. And both the permanent John Frusciante-replacement Josh Klinghoffer, guitar, and Chad Smith, drums, seemed to invest themselves in the songs, with  Klinghoffer notably putting some soul in the strings. But it all faded in the light of Kiedis and his Bermuda shorts. He went on and off the stage and looked like someone who did not know why he was on that stage this evening. And somewhere between the sing-alongs “Scar Tissue” and “Californication”, the dull jam-sessions and songs from their latest, quite excellent record The Getaway, the question appeared: Are they really happy being up there on stage?

In their 90 minutes set, the iconic band did not do much to convince that they have a future in such big venues. And when their past with so many strong and even immortal songs plays such a small and weak part in their setup, the answer to all this is even more doubtful — and the performances of “Under The Bridge” and “Give It Away” were oddly trivial.

It just seems that Roskilde Festival and Red Hot Chili Peppers are a bad match, and the festival should have no intentions of getting them back on that stage. Ever. — JG

Föllakzoid — Pavilion

The last show of the evening was a journey with three space cadets of trance rock. These guys do live what they do on record, delivering repetitive, looping ten minutes moods, slowly building towards the climax and echoing krautrock-explosions, when they stepped out of the dark shadows on stage. Föllakzoid suited the venue and the after-midnight-atmosphere perfectly, transforming the Pavilion to a late night dance party that could just go on and on and on and on and never stop, before entering space in the dead of night, tired and fortunate. — JG

VIDEO: First Hate – “Holiday”

in Blog/New Music by

First Hate will be embarking on Roskilde Festival exactly a week today when they headline the Countdown stage on Monday 27th June, as a summer treat they’ve released new single “Holiday”. The track plus the video for the track was composed and directed while on the road in China earlier this spring. Speaking about the single, frontman Anton Falck Gansted had this to say about the process of writing and directing.

“I wrote the song and started producing it while we were riding on trains & airplanes across China. Driving through smog polluted valleys and endless forests of skyscrapers, it gave this odd impression of being in a parallel dystopic dimension somewhere in the future. The music was supposed to be the soundtrack of looking back to before the end of the world to times where mankind hadn’t already destroyed the planet. When we came back to Copenhagen and finished the track it ended up being about looking back at life and remembering the good times, times when you’re in a new relationship or for me just thinking back to the times when myself and Joakim first met and spent our first summer together.”

“This new track is kind of the warm up before we start recording our debut album, we did a lot of things differently this time, working with some good friends and talented people (Patrick Kociszewski & Bastian Emil) who recorded bass and drums for us. In the end it’s a holiday track and we’ve had to have fun making it.“

“The video is a bunch of homemade videos we shot while on our tour in China last month. Fused with some photo booth shots of me singing in front of the computer. It’s a way for us to be able to look back at these times and remember them once we’ve grown up.”

Live dates:
27.06.2016 – Roskilde Festival, Roskilde, DK
08.07.2016 – Le Point Ephemere, Paris, FR (Tickets)
09.07.2016 – SCP Festival, London, UK (Tickets)
21.07.2016 – Boomtown, Gent, BEL (Tickets)
12.08.2016 – Sodabar, San Diego, USA
13.08.2016 – Berserktown, LA, USA
15.08.2016 – Empty Bottle, Chicago, USA
17.08.2016 – Nothing Changes, New York, USA
14.09.2016 – The Waiting Room, London, UK
15.09.2016 – Wharf Chambers, Leeds, UK
16.09.2016 – The Lughole, Sheffield, UK
17.09.2016 – Jumpin Jacks, Newcastle, UK
29.09.2016 – Atlas, Aarhus, DK (Tickets)
30.09.2016 – Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DK (Tickets)
05.11.2016 – Cønjuntø Vacíø Festival, Barcelona, ESP

Watch the video for “Holiday” below:

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