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Our Top 20 Albums of 2015

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Every December the staff of Here Today meet to decide our favourite albums of the year. It’s an ugly brawl, with scars lasting well into the next Spring. This year, to save ourselves a bit of dignity, we thought we’d ask our readers to pick the best of our 20 candidates for best album. The voting will end at midnight on the 20th of December, but we will be arguing the case for each album until the final day.

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Majical Cloudz – Are You Alone?

When relationships end, it can get ugly fast. Some people lash out, and some turn it inwards. The source of heartbreak on Majical Cloudz’s Are You Alone matter far less than the overarching contemplation of what it means to be in love or alone. The down tempo album of pianos, synths, and solo vocals on this particularly lovelorn album makes it your best friend and companion for rainy days or just days when you can’t bear to face the world. And it’s still got more dignity to it than a Netflix marathon.

Protomartyr – The Agent Intellect

Protomartyr had all the makings of the next garage rock band of the minute, but there are already enough swampy vocals out there. What there isn’t enough of is the deadpan delivery that makes this band instantly recognizable. It’s as if that voice has given them license to go ever so slightly off the rails; with atypical narratives and atypical song structures, The Agent Intellect wraps its frayed ends around you and grips tightly. All the proof you need is in the second movement of “Why Does It Shake?” If that doesn’t make it a contender for song of the year, there’s no hope for any of us.

Jamie xx – In Colour

It seems ridiculous that In Colour is actually Jamie xx’s debut album as a solo artist. After two LPs with the xx, producing Gil Scott Heron’s I’m New Here, and countless remixes, finally we have a full-length album with Jamie’s name on the cover. Not that he is alone: xx bandmates Romy Croft and Oliver Sim make an appearance, as well as Young Thug and Popcaan. The result is a bright collection of down-tempo dance tunes with a nostalgic bent.

Viet Cong – Viet Cong

The Canadian quartet’s self-titled album is a soundtrack through a dystopian fairyland (and with song titles like “Pointless Experience,” “Bunker Buster,” and “Death,” that’s not really projecting). Pulled between ambient synths and math rock guitars, pulsed by deceptively understated drums,Viet Cong falls into loops that you could easily roll through for hours at a time without wanting to break out of the cycle. You’ll snap out of it, though, when the faux nice-guy vocals kick in and remind you that these guys have a fatalist streak in them. It’s definitely one of the most exciting debut albums of the year.

Chelsea Wolfe – Abyss

It’s been exciting to watch Chelsea Wolfe develop as an artist, and even more still to see how she’s harnessed the competing elements of her music in new ways. Abyss is her most balanced record yet, allowing her voice to float through quieter arrangements instead of always serving as a contrast to the intensity and harshness of the noise she works with. Songs liked “Grey Matter” hit that sweet spot of letting her voice shine over the aggression instead of in spite of it, but never let us worry for a second. Wolfe can make even the ugliest noises sound beautiful.

Sufjan Stevens  – Carrie & Lowell

Where other albums this year have distinguished themselves in their inventive production, Sufjan Steven’s seventh studio album takes the opposite approach: the instrumentation is limited, often nothing more than a finger-picked guitar, and effects are kept to a minimum. What we are left with is the deep melancholy of Stevens’ soft vocals, and his lyrics of loss. As a counterpoint to this close focus on the singer-songwriter’s emotional state, there is a limpid precision to his playing that cuts through the whole record, elevating it from naked confession to finely-wrought statement.

Panda Bear – Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper

Noah Lennox, co-founder of Animal Collective, returned with an album that showcases his signature blend of electronic pop and off-kilter psychedelia. It’s all there: the weird tropicana, angelic Brian Wilson voice, the bouncy synths. Noise and melody intertwine until they are indistinguishable from each other, lyrics melt into chorus-laden chants. Some critics have complained that none of this is particularly new with Panda Bear, but when the results are this good, it seems like a rather minor complaint.

Mbongwana Star – From Kinshasa

From Kinshasa to the Moon: this is the trajectory declared by the Congolese 7-piece at the beginning of their debut album. The record label may have neglected to append the destination to the album title, but the rest of the world hasn’t. It’s an often-bewildering journey, full of unfamiliar pulsating rhythms and dark bass lines, that don’t conform to what we would comfortably like to call ‘afro-beat’. Acoustic elements clash with lo-fi synths, the synchopated drums countered by the regularity of the electronic beats. It’s the sound of a big, busy, alien city moving into the future: crowded, idiosyncratic, chaotic and heady.

Father John Misty – I Love You, Honeybear

Some of us refused to believe that a member of Fleet Floxes could have a sense of humour. But say what you like about I Love You, Honeybear, it is not an album that takes itself very seriously. Josh Tillman has produced an album of nostalgic bar-ballads and folk love-hate songs suffused with bright colour and a sly wit. Perhaps what has captured the imagination of so many listeners is this odd juxtaposition between, on the one hand, Tillman’s emotional delivery and sentimental arrangements, and on the other, his withering treatment of millennial culture. It might be ridiculously mean-spirited, but if Bob Dylan’s “Idiot Wind” is anything to go by, most people are down with you insulting your former girlfriends as long as you do so in such an obvious way that it ends up biting your own ass.

Tobias Jesso Jr – Goon

Father John Misty was not the only one this year to make waves with some retro singer-songwriter nostalgia. But Tobias Jess Jr is less barroom depressive, more of a grand piano melancholic. Double-tracked vocals, minimal instrumentation, and heartfelt lyrics: it’s probably not a stretch to guess that plenty of weddings in 2016 are going to feature “Without You” on their playlist.

Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly

West-coast rap’s rising star exploded this year with To Pimp A Butterfly. Grandiose yet subtle, rooted yet avant-garde, the album is the perfect distillation of the best of both the old guard (Dre, Snoop, George Clinton, Ronald Isley) and the new (Thundercat, Flying Lotus, Rapsody). Full of the smoothest grooves and catchiest beats, the real strength of the album is how even the smallest details contribute to creating a vibrant, exciting whole. There is a moment at the end of “Wesley’s Theory”—when what sounds like a phone vibrating turns out to be the saxophone intro to the wild jazz of “For Free”— that perfectly sums up the level of creativity, humour and dedication that has had critics call this the definitive rap album of the decade.

Joanna Newsom – Divers

A new record from Joanna Newsom should always be considered a notable event. But if Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly can be considered a defining part of 2015, to say the same of Divers would feel faintly ridiculous. Divers is as much part of 1715 and 2215 as it is of this year. And that is what makes Newsom such a unique, fearless voice, one that can dedicate itself to the research of how humans work through and against time without even a hint of pretension. And an album whose first single opens with these lines is worthy of every accolade: “The cause is Ozymandian / the map of Sapokanikan / is sanded and bevelled / the land lone and levelled / by some unrecorded and powerful hand.”

Dick Diver – Melbourne, Florida

Sometimes what makes an album stand out is the reception it gets when you play it to other people. This year Dick Diver’s Melbourne, Florida stood out for this very reason. The sound is instantly familiar, songs distantly remembered from a past life, worming themselves back into your working memory. Those more familiar with the Aussie quartet will point out that the band have already made a name for themselves with their first three albums, but I can personally testify that everyone I’ve introduced to “Waste the Alphabet” and “Tearing the Posters Down” already has these engraved in their minds alongside the best that 80s and 90s indie pop ever produced. And don’t be fooled into taking this as twee: with song titles like “Beat Me Up (Talk To a Counsellor)”, there is a dark, caustic wit to Dick Diver that makes them worth anyone’s time.

Julia Holter – Have You In My Wilderness

After dazzling us with the dark, swirling chaos of Loud City Song in 2013, Julia Holter’s follow up, Have You In My Wilderness, presents itself as something of a return to the light. Gone are the dark horns and paranoid bass, replaced by harpsichord and dreamy strings. But don’t be fooled, there is still plenty of dark weirdness in Holter’s lyrics and vocal delivery. It’s just that they have been transferred into the bright, white room shown in the cover art. Opening with “Feel You” the closest thing to a pop-song Holter has ever produced, Have You In My Wilderness demonstrates a new, luxuriant side to an artist that will always be a part of Here Today’s personal pantheon.

Holly Herndon – Platform

If there’s an album that would be ridiculous to listen to in any analogue format, it’s Holly Herndon’s Platform. This collection of glitchy digital compositions captures the often-overlooked joys and perils of living through computers. Herndon has taken the Knife’s school of heavily-effected vocals to new extremes, sounding more like a computer that is trying to reconstruct music from a broken hard-drive. If that sounds a little off-putting, one can only respond that this is the whole point, but that is not to say that songs like “Chorus” and “Morning Sun” aren’t almost danceable. It’s just that they re-create what it’s like to listen to dance music on headphones, whilst browsing the internet: fractured, distracted, introverted. And it’s about time that we focused on the way that most of us listen to music day to day.

Blur – The Magic Whip

Since their reunion in 2009, Blur have peeked their heads around the corner every so often with a tour and a new single to make their existence more than a nostalgia trip. The Magic Whip, however, is the first real evidence that there is intention left in them. They’re a band whose members have gone in different directions in the last 10 years and brought those experiences back with them, but remember what it is everyone loves about them. Crunchy, abstract guitar solos? Check. Moody broody ballads? Check. Big, joyful singalong choruses? Check. Any memory of Britpop? Successfully traded for the here and now. Rather than argue that this is the best album of their career, it’s more apt to appreciate that this is exactly the record you would hope they would make now.

Jenny Hval – Apocalypse, Girl

It’s taken five albums, but with Apocalypse, Girl Jenny Hval has finally found a way to skip down the weird/accessible line with just the right balance. The Norwegian singer (who is one fourth Danish) got us all grooving to references to breast cancer and soft dicks, sneaking in feminist and anti-capitalist declarations with admirable wit. Her avant garde pop is a patchwork of electronic music, chilled beats, spoken word and gentle vocals. And yeah, you do feel a little dirty singing along to some of it (most of it?), but a huge part of Hval’s appeal is that she never forgets that the most effectively subversive music is, at its heart, fun.

Various Artists – Remembering Mountains: Unheard Songs by Karen Dalton

Karen Dalton was a literally unsung hero of the New York folk scene in the 60s. She released a couple of albums of covers, but was too affected by anxiety to keep recording, and never shared any of the songs she wrote herself. Fast forward to 20 years after her death and her songs are seeing the light of day, albeit through the interpretations of other artists. While Sharon Van Etten had chords for the title track, other artists had only lyrics to work with, making this album a collection of songs by artists like Julia Holter, Marissa Nadler, Isobel Campbell, and Josphine Foster, with lyrics by Dalton. The lineup alone should make Remembering Mountains an overlooked gem, but the thread of Dalton’s work tying the songs together makes it truly special.

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New Order – Music Complete

New Order have existed under that name in various incarnations for 35 years, but they still hold a place as the quintessential party band for the types of kids who don’t get invited to a lot of parties. Music Complete will definitely get you dancing, and the loss of Peter Hook means that there’s something really genuine in the laments of broken relationships (and with such a distinctive style, Hook is actually pretty easy to copy). Plus the guest appearances from Iggy Pop, La Roux, and Brandon Flowers also bring in unique sinister vocals, over the top pop shine, and a kind of meta-New Order interpretation respectively.

Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit

Courtney Barnett is one of those artists that you really feel you could be friends with. She has no trouble relating the mundane in life with a dry delivery and a sense of humor that holds your interest. On Sometimes, she’s learned to use that voice to convey a deeper sense of ennui, as on “Depreston” and even hint at unexpected emotions other than boredom in “Dead Fox” before amping things back up with “No One Really Cares If  You Don’t Go to the Party.” And that’s really why Courtney Barnett could be our pal; she’ll tell crazy stories and entertain a full room, but probably spend the next two weeks hiding at home. We can get behind that.

LIVE REVIEW: Chelsea Wolfe, Loppen, 06.11.2015

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Friday’s show at Loppen was the third time we’ve seen Chelsea Wolfe in the last 15 months. At this point, we know what to expect: We know Chelsea is a talented musician who surrounds herself with other talented musicians. We know there’s going to be a heavy gloom cut through with surprisingly delicate vocals — her latest album, Abyss, guarantees this. Any serious deviations from when we last saw her at Roskilde would come as bolts out of the blue. Since that didn’t happen, these are the details I’ve chosen to focus on instead:

  • When the band finally take the stage after an extended string introduction, there is a notable shift in the air. The chatty audience finally shushes and the growing noise develops a sinister quality.
  • Despite having a capable backing vocalist, looped vocal tracks play a big role in Chelsea’s performance. There is something disorienting and mildly fascinating in watching her stomp her loop pedals. Loppen is a physical good space for vocal harmonies.
  • No matter how many times I see her, I will never not be impressed by Chelsea’s backing band. I maintain that her drummer is half man, half machine.
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  • It is so much hotter in Loppen than it seems like it should be in November. I’m grateful to be leaning against a cool wall even if it obstructs my view of the stage. Chelsea, of course, is wearing something flowy and in this case one-sleeved. But the sleeve she has is long, and you have to admire that kind of commitment to a look.
  • “We Hit a Wall” elicits not only cheers from the audience, but huge smiles from those behind the soundboard.
  • “That was the song I came to hear, so now we can go,” says an American bro immediately after “We Hit a Wall.” Dude is standing at least 10 feet away from me and does not understand that his voice carries.
  • That said, watching rows of other audience members throw their heads forward at the same time is quite visually pleasing.
  • Chelsea has always been something of a shy performer. Maybe it’s the intimacy of the space, but this is the most engaged I’ve seen her. She plays guitar for nearly the entire set, and for the one song she doesn’t, she uses the stage more than I’ve seen her. It’s a nice development to see in an artist in a relatively short period of time.
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  • About an hour and a half, this is also far and away the longest set I’ve seen her play.
  • When the set ends in a squall of noise and feedback, she falls over her guitar repeatedly looking rather like she’s trying and failing to do push ups. Again: signs of shedding her more reserved stage persona.
  • To the parents who brought their slightly bored looking 9-year-old daughter with the giant, noise-canceling, pink headphones: Thank you, that was inspiring.

Our gig picks this week

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“Hey guys, any good concerts this week?” You bet. As the days get darker and colder the gigs keep piling up. To help you sort out your musical priorities, we’ve come up with our recommendations for the next five days.

Wednesday, November 4

Julia Holter, Vega

Always a favourite at Here Today, Julia Holter’s latest release, Have You In My Wilderness has received universal acclaim. If your dream hangout spot is the Road House from Twin Peaks, welcome to your new musical obsession.

Thursday, November 5

The Prodigy, Tap1

Do we really need to tell you why the Prodigy are worth seeing? Weren’t you around when the video for “Firestarter” was playing everywhere? Jeez, live a little.

Shilpa Ray, Loppen

If you haven’t already shaved the top of your head and colored the remaining hair green in tribute to the Prodigy, you can opt for a more quiet evening with Shilpa Ray, who did this wonderful duet with Nick Cave and Warren Ellis.

Friday, November 6

Chelsea Wolfe, Loppen

The dark queen of doom folk is back again with Abyss. Halloween really isn’t over till Chelsea’s passed through town.

Mercury Rev, Koncerthuset

These indie heroes of the 80s and 90s are still going strong with their newly release The Light in You.

James Chance and the Contortions, Jazzhouse

NY NO WAVE! KILL YR IDOLS! God knows how or why they are still playing, but how can you not be into a little contortion?

Saturday, November 7

Put on your best canadian tuxedo and point your Mustang south towards Amager Bio for longhaired-wonder Kurt Vile.

(If you are in Århus you will have the chance to experience Kurt Vile at Voxhall on the 4. of November.)

Kuku and Blixa Bargeld, Jazzhouse

Honestly I can’t think of many reasons why you wouldn’t want to see Blixa Bargeld doing anything, anywhere. Just the other day I watched a video of him making risotto on German tv. Worth it.

Sunday, November 8

Son Lux, Lille Vega

No one goes wild on a Sunday, so why not chill with Son Lux instead? Also, is this what people mean by chamber pop?

Thurston Moore, Store Vega

Or else head round the corner to Vega’s larger venue and check out Sonic Youth-founder Thurston Moore. Then again I haven’t read Kim Gordon’s autobiography yet so I dunno whether I’m supposed to be ok with him or not.

Patty Waters, Jazzhouse

Believe it or not, Jazzhouse does actually host jazz gigs every now and then. “Priestess of the avant-garde” should be all the endorsement this jazz innovator needs. Jazz (and did I mention jazz?)

 

Listen to the new album by Chelsea Wolfe – ‘Abyss’

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First time we heard Chelsea Wolfe was at Smash! Bang! Pow!’s minifestival Wasn’t Born To Follow at Pumpehuset. We where captivated. Seeing her at Roskilde Festival earlier this year left us with no doubt: Chelsea Wolfe is a must-see performer.

Her fourth album,’Pain Is Beauty’, paved the way to a wider audience. It’s an atmospheric masterpiece that manages to appeal to both listeners of indie music as well as fans of more extreme genres. On August 7. 2015 she will be releasing her new album “Abyss”, but if you can’t wait (we certainly can’t) you can stream it below via NPR.

Chelsea Wolfe is currently touring the United States, but she will be returning to Europe this Fall. We will be first in queue when she plays Loppen in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Roskilde Festival: Day 4

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Girl Band (Pavilion)

There are some bands that are compelling for the racket they make rather than the performance they give, and Girl Band are one such band. The four boys from Dublin play loud, blistery post-punk of questionable aptitude — not a lot of proper chords, and lots of beer bottle slides — with curiously serene expressions on their faces. Their singer has perfected both a throaty yowl and a pose where he grabs hold of the mic stand and pops his hip at a sharp upright angle. Aside from his constant, aggressive tugging at his shirt, it’s all very casual. Even the between-song chatter betrays a friendliness or at least an as-yet undeveloped ability to talk to the audience without breaking character. But it doesn’t matter how chilled out they look when they play or harmless they seem when they talk when there’s a constant thud-thud-thud making people give themselves whiplash while standing in place. — AF

Photo by Tom Spray
Photo by Tom Spray

Joanna Gruesome (Pavilion)

To the casual observer Joanna Gruesome’s lightning-fast set at Pavilion is simply a welcome moment of fun, noisy jangle-pop from an impressively down-to-earth band. But simply counting the people on stage is indication enough that something up: billed as a five piece, today Joanna Gruesome consists of six people. Behind the feedback and sweet melodies there is the story of frontwoman Alanna McArdle’s departure of the ban–citing mental health issues–and the subsequent inclusion of Kate Stonestreet and Roxy Brennan. But other than being a little cramped on the small stage, everyone is working well together. The three vocals work well, melding sweetness with harshness in tandem with the guitars. Later on in the day we learn that this is their second-ever gig as a six-piece, which explains some of the initial awkwardness, but mainly proves the dedication every band member, new and old, to succeeding in spite of adversity. — CC

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Chelsea Wolfe (Gloria)

The slightly oppressive darkness of Gloria seems to suit Chelsea Wolfe, adding another surreal texture to her brooding, quasi-doom compositions. Drawing from material from her 2013 album, Pain is Beauty, Wolfe and her band do a good job of making you forget the sun outside. Guitars drone and snarl under her delicate vocals, while the drumming is absolutely impeccable. On songs like “House of Metal” they appear to contract and expand the time of the song, resulting in a hypnotising series of rhythmic waves.

Wolfe herself is on the quiet and reserved side, thanking the audience a couple of times, but otherwise remaining within her aloof persona. Then again, hers is an act that draws precisely on that theatricality. A real standout moment is the song “Iron Moon”, which manages to sound more like PJ Harvey than most recent PJ Harvey records do. It sounds like a lazy analogy, but those vocals are pure Polly Jean, and at any rate, the guitar tone alone is enough to earn Chelsea Wolfe a reputation as a must-see performer. — CC

Photo by Tom Spray
Photo by Tom Spray

Deafheaven (Pavilion)

As the bassline of “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da”—the runt of the White Album, and possibly the worst thing McCartney has ever done—wafts over from Orange stage, Deafheaven have come to provide some welcome relief. The San Franciscan five-piece has been a mainstay of hip European festivals for the last two years, bridging the gap between black metal and shoegaze revival, and gathering considerable critical praise. Their set at Beta last year confirmed their reputation as an intense and skilled live act.

As they tear through material from Sunbather and Roads to Judah, the band demonstrate themselves to be the perfect act to help push us into the small hours: intensely energetic, uplifting in a gently melancholic sort of way. Slow instrumental tracks like “Irresistible” allow a little Red House Painters-esque reprieve from an otherwise blistering set. Frontman George Clark is in fine form, throwing himself into the crowd, beating his chest and contorting his face into grimaces that fail to disguise his boy-band looks.

But as usual it is the compositions of Kerry McCoy and the effortlessly precise drumming of Daniel Tracy that really stand out. And sure, sometimes the songs do sound quite a lot like Slowdive, but is that really such an awful criticism? — CC

Myrkur (Pavilion)

It’s a tall order for a band to make their live debut at a festival the size of Roskilde, but that is what Amalie Bruun, the woman behind Myrkur, has done. The project is described as black metal, but Bruun has done a good job prettying things up; she has a strong, beautiful soprano and is backed by a chorus of women. It’s in sharp contrast to the machine-like drums and fractal short circuiting of the guitars. Bruun holds her own as a screamer as well, and her dual-microphone stand encased in a tree branch is delightful in its own right.

There are the usual first show glitches, and it’s understandably not the tightest set. Though Paul McCartney is still playing through her set, Pavilion is full. Perhaps the only way to compete with a living legend is to put up a hometown girl backed by a choir of hometown girls. — AF

Photo by Tom Spray
Photo by Tom Spray

Africa Express (Arena)

Africa Express–less a band than a mini-festival in itself–is a chance to catch a lot of bands such as Songhoy Blues and Jupiter and Okwess International who performed earlier in the festival, as well as trying to spot celebrity guests amongst the line-up. Spotting Graham Coxton in the wings messing around with a Telecaster instantly upped the excitement of these two Blur fans.

There are times when the camera pans to Albarn when it really could have stayed focused on other performers or DJs. It’s a subtle reminder of who is considered the priority instead of who is ostensibly the star of the show.

Ultimately, we couldn’t make it through the set, checking out sometime in its fifth hour. It was disappointing, because it was exactly the kind of late night party you want to end a festival with, and as we hear more and more about the artists and songs we missed out on. But if this train rolls through again as an evening with Africa Express, we’ll be at the front of the queue. — AF

Wasn’t Born to Follow | Pumpehuset, 09.08.2014

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Photos by Morten Aagaard Krogh (mortenkrogh.com)

The Garden

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Chelsea Wolfe

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Ought

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Lust For Youth

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Perfect Pussy

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Read Amanda Farahs report from Wasn’t Born to Follow here

LIVE REVIEW: Wasn’t Born to Follow, Pumpehuset, 09.08.2014

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Perfect Pussy (photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh / mortenkrogh.com)

Wasn’t Born to Follow, a celebration of all things progressively out-of-step in music, took over a day at Pumpehuset with a strangely diverse but suitable line-up. An earlier, free portion of the day included a set from the Garden, a duo consisting of drummer an bassist, invoking a goth image, playing stuttering punk, with the exception of a hip-hop interlude. The pair tumbled around the stage pulling ridiculous faces, often shouting absurd lyrics about rainbows. It’s intentionally ridiculous, but undeniably entertaining, if for the wrong reasons.

After a break for some rock ‘n’ roll bingo, the main portion of the event begins with Chelsea Wolfe. She walks on stage to a drone of bowed bass and viola, which immediately silences for her to perform a wordless vocal loop. She’s an enigmatic performer, a single muttering of “thanks” is her only audience interaction, but she’s still mesmerizing. There are minimalist moments when the noise breaks, when her guitar is prevalent, when keyboards provide atmosphere, but it slides back into droning for her departure from the stage. It’s also necessary to mention that her drummer is incredible. There are times when you’d swear it was a preprogrammed track if you weren’t watching him play. Even then, there’s a cognitive dissonance.

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Chelsea Wolfe (Photo: Morten Aagaard Krogh)

There’s a huge shift in pace to Big Ups, a New York hardcore punk band bringing a completely different kind of noise. In between songs their singer talks about how excited they are to be playing the show and makes self deprecating comments about the band’s technical skills. While they do embody certain DIY ethos, they are also more tuneful than an amateur hardcore band, and at least embrace dynamics between the singer’s quiet, half-talk singing style and his full on screaming. It’s youthful and angsty and satisfying in the way that sets that expend their performer’s energy are.

Compare that with the youthful energy of Canadian indie rockers Ought, who end up being the most pleasant surprise of the evening. They play bouncy, jangling pop music, delivered by a singer affecting Gordon Gano of the Violent Femmes while he moon walks in his socked feet. While his bandmates serenely bob up and down, he’s flailing his arms around and breaking the strings on his guitar, and then on the guitar he kept in reserve in case he breaks any strings.

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Ought (photo: Morten Aagaard Krogh)

Alternating between the two stages at Pumpehuset, there are times when the main room feels too big, and other, such as when Lust For Youth play, that the smaller stage feels way too small. The space is packed for the Danish representatives of the evening, and there are a lot of familiar faces dancing along to their dreamy, New Wave-inspired set. Everyone is swaying into one another, and in the moment it feels like they should be in the other room. But everything runs to schedule with enough time in between to get a drink, so there isn’t much to complain about.

Back upstairs for Perfect Pussy, the room is mostly empty for the DC-inspired punk group. Singer Meredith Graves channels no one as much as Henry Rollins, straining her voice and her muscles, and posing a very real threat of a boot to the face to those down in front. Any of ideas of having seen energy or flailing limbs in the course of the evening are completely mistaken when compared to Grave’s wild kicks and lunges across the stage. The problem, however, is that for all of her straining, her voice cannot be heard over the crunch and drone of her bandmates. Even when she asks the sound man for more vocals, there’s no improvement. It’s a shame, but a technical problems aside, there is the feeling that those who skipped this set really missed out.

View the gallery here

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