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LIVE REVIEW: Daniel O’Sullivan, Alice, 19.09.2019

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Daniel O'Suillivan live at Alice Copenhagen

Few performers are quite as prolific as Daniel O’Sullivan. A cursory look at his career shows, quite apart from his own three solo albums, a breadth of work that spans from the left-field prog of Guapo and the psychedelia of Grumbling Fur to collaborations with avant-metal acts like Sunn O))) and Ulver. The last time we saw him on this stage he was sandwiched between the fiery personalities of This Is Not This Heat.

Tonight he is accompanied by no less than six musicians, including a bassoon and autoharp, as well as sometime Spiritualized and Coil member Thighpaulsandra on synths. Although his collaborative work is incredibly diverse, as a solo artist Daniel O’Sullivan focuses on a pastoral, quasi-psycho-geographic psychedelia. His latest album, Folly, might be his most lush to date.

I arrive just as Peter Broderick, who will rejoin the stage to play fiddle with O’Sullivan, is ending his opening set. The soft, hypnotic folk is in stark relief with Thighpaulsandra, who starts by announcing that his will be “something different.” His outfit alone, something straight out of Flash Gordon, is enoguh to signal that. Noise from a messy patchwork of modular synths saws through the air, followed by some Doctor Who inspired sound effects. The backdrop for most of the set is a video of two naked men painted in gold circling each other with wooden rakes, underscoring the ritualistic element to Thighpaulsandra that is a clear chime with O’Sullivans interests.

After a quick costume change into some cultish white garments, the band huddle themselves to the right of the upright piano. With so many people on stage, it takes a couple of minutes for the sound mix to broaden out, but when it does there is an almost baroque quality to it. As obviously energetic and prolific as O’Sullivan is, he is also soft-spoken, announcing songs with enigmatic one-liners. “Rattleman” and “Under the Knife” set the pace for the first part of the set, with frequent instrument changes. O’Sullivan’s “song about dragons,” “HC SVNT DRACONES” is a fast-paced piano-led romp that marks the band at their most energetic.

The lushness of his latest material starts to give way to introspection, particularly in a sparse track composed only a couple of days before in his aunt and uncle’s apartment here in Copenhagen. And in “Apocryphonium” we hear O’Sullivan at his most mystical, as a huge, otherworldly voice recites the gnostic “Thunder Perfect Mind” prayer above the band.

The set ends with a long suite that will be coming out as an EP, dedicated, in O’Sullivan’s words, “to Amazonia.” The pastoral gives way to the apocalyptic in the image of burning trees. And so Daniel O’Sullivan is already moving forwards, and we’re more than ready to see him again at the next stage.

LIVE REVIEW: The Wedding Present, Lille Vega, 11.09.2019

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the wedding present live at lille vega copenhagen

It’s 30 years since the Wedding Present released Bizarro, and this low-key anniversary is what brings the indie rock quartet to Lille Vega. It’s not an especially reverential anniversary show. The set opens with “Rotterdam,” from the album Seamonsters, and frontman David Gedge eventually mentions in passing that the Bizarro songs are going to be scattered throughout. “See if you can spot them,” he suggests.

But there’s something energizing about arranging the set this way. It’s not only that the Bizarro songs are scattered through the set, but that new songs crop up with the same verve as the songs that are ostensibly being celebrated. It inspires cheers when a new song is announced and prompts Gedge to admit, “[that’s] not the reaction I was expecting.” The mid-set raucousness of “Kennedy” spills over when immediately followed by the incessantly catchy new tune, “Panama,” the audience readily clapping along via the band’s instructions as if this was an old tradition.

Much of the energy of the show can be attributed to how this current incarnation of the ever-changing line-up of the Wedding Present has also gelled. That the band introduce the song “Telemark,” completed only days earlier, is a testament to their own excitement. This isn’t just meant to be a nostalgia trip, but still a living, breathing project. When Gedge announces that the band don’t do encores, almost everyone in the crowd already know this because they’ve already seen them play. But the crowd don’t want the band to exist in the past and you can see in their performance that having their newer work celebrated breathes life into the songs from 30 years ago. In this respect, this is exactly what anniversary tours should be: It should be a band, and a crowd, in love with what they’ve done in the past, and still in love with what they’re doing now.

LIVE REVIEW: She Wants Revenge, Loppen, 22.08.2019

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She Wants Revenge live at Loppen, Copenhagen

She Wants Revenge have never played in Copenhagen before. The newly-ish reformed duo have managed to pull a small but dedicated crowd to Loppen, despite having only released two singles in the last seven years. But everyone dances like they’ve been dancing to these songs with abandon for the last decade plus, waiting for the moment when it was the band themselves playing the songs instead of a DJ.

For a band that established themselves as a duo with a drum machine, She Wants Revenge works very well as a fully-fleshed out rock band. Justin Warfield is a compelling frontman: He has a flare for the dramatic, a voice whose character makes up for a lack of range, and the commitment of a performer who is used to adapting to any room. 

They are also a band that, like so many other Joy Division copycats of the early ‘00s, got better as they moved away from the pastiche. Their live drummer, Jason Payne, is one of those machine-like drummers that, when given the opportunity to cut loose, is really extraordinary to watch. And after so many years of people going crazy for bassists who can play like Peter Hook, more due should be given to drummers who can play like Stephen Morris.

It’s a delight to add any band to the growing masses resisting phoney encores. Warfield makes it clear that when they walk off the stage, they’re done. Their final song, “Tear You Apart,” is another song that benefits from their live arrangement, the added textures of a second guitar and the furious live drumming make the song so much less sterile than the album version. And it’s their their biggest hit; what could they follow it with? But there was an appeal to bring them back, and that the audience bring a friend, so there may be more than those two singles somewhere on the horizon.

LIVE REVIEW: Stereolab, Vega, 07.08.2019

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Stereolab live at Store Vega, Copenhagen, Denmark

Photos by Amanda Farah

Stereolab are a band that really shouldn’t need any introduction. Their two-decade long career produced ten records that brought together an encyclopaedic knowledge of both avant-garde and pop music to create something new, mesmeric and alien. Exactly 10 years since the haitus brought on by the death of singer Mary Hansen and the breakup of the main driving force of the band, Tim Gane and Laetitia Sadier, Stereolab are back.

The evening opens with a set by local noise act Speaker Bite Me, who have recently had their own reunion after a ten year break. The howling guitar work and heavy drums and bass are elevated from their influences by the vocals of Signe Høirup Wille-Jørgenson, whose impassioned singing style is in marked contrast to the headliners.

Stereolab have a reputation for being more of an intellectual than an emotive band, whose lyrics are more likely to be about boom-and-bust economic cycles rather than love and breakups. But this side of them is balanced by their honed ears for 60s lounge-style melodies and driving motorik rhythms. By the end of the night my jaw is hurting by grinning all the way through the set as the band tear through crowd-pleaser after crowd-pleaser.

Between Sadier on vocals and Gane on guitar, at the centre of the stage keyboardist Joe Watson brings to life the heart of the Stereolab sound, a mix of dreamy Moog synths, 60s organ and semi-modular bleeps on top of which everything else is built. In a live setting the intricate looping bass lines of Xavier Muñoz Guimera are more pronounced, building the momentum alongside Andy Ramsay’s drums.

Stereolab live at Store Vega, Copenhagen, Denmark

Since the death of singer Hansen in 2002 the classic Stereolab overlapping vocals are supplied by Watson and Guimera, who do an admirable job in providing the babbling falsetto underlining Sadier’s cool delivery.

The set is carefully balanced to cover almost all of their records, with slightly more emphasis on their later , more laid-back work, although there are plenty of opportunities for some very vigorous nodding along to “French Disko” and “Ping Pong”. Tonight “Baby Lulu”, from the personally-overlooked Sound-Dust, stands out in its baroqueness, sounding like the next-door neighbour to fellow hauntologists Broadcast, and an incitement to delve ever deeper into the wonders of their catalogue.

LIVE REVIEW: Sudan Archives, Loppen, 10.07.2019

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Sudan Archives live at Loppen for Copenhagen Jazz Festival

Sudan Archives has sold out Loppen. This is impressive on its own terms, and even more so for an artist from outside of Denmark with only two EPs to her name. But there isn’t a second of her set that makes you doubt how she got to this point. Brittney Denise Parks is a performer

The set is, rather confusingly, part of Copenhagen Jazz Festival. Though Parks has cited a range of influences for Sudan Archives — hip-hop, West African rhythms, R&B — jazz isn’t an immediately obvious one. The violin isn’t generally associated with jazz, but it is central to Sudan Archives. And what she does with the instrument challenges the ideas of what it is meant to do. Aided by pre-programmed beats, Parks loops her instrument in an endless fashion, sometimes bowing it, sometime giving a solid thump, and sometimes strumming it in a way more akin to finger-picking a guitar than the traditional pizzicato. 

Parks works every angle of the stage, whether singing or playing violin, strutting in dangerously high flatform boots and getting the crowd moving in a hot, sweaty mass. Her vocals blur in such a way that it’s hard to tell what’s a backing track (like the beats) and what’s been looped, but her delivery is dynamic. She can be half-spoken and direct as on “Nont for Sale,” but she can also flatten everyone in her path by belting out a note. 

As we’ve all seen many phoney encores, a genuine one can take everyone by surprise, including the artist. Parks has left the stage following her planned (and, admittedly, appropriate) encore, but the audience is still cheering, then stomping, then chanting for her. It takes her a moment to return; again, she only has two EPs, what is there left to play? But she does treat us to a new, beat-driven song. While it doesn’t have the impact of her planned final song, “Come Meh Way,” the thrill of the collective excitement is enough to carry us all home.

LIVE REVIEW: Roskilde Festival 2019 Day 4, 06.07.2019

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Lizzo live at Roskilde Festival 2019

The fourth and final day of Roskilde 2019 greeted us with a one-two punch of positivity and acceptance. There’s a lot to unpack from Janelle Monáe’s set on the Orange Stage. Do you start with the visuals? The radical politics? The messages of love?

Janelle’s visual references, like her musical references, are broad. There are nods to Rhythm Nation in both costume and dance, Wakanda, plus the vagina pants from the “Pynk” video. Her walk on music is the theme from Space Odyssey and her guitarist shreds a Prince riff. She delivers heartfelt messages about want to make memories and the need to protect one another (but we have to take her claim that it’s her favorite festival with a grain of salt when she shouts “Copenhagen!” at the crowd more than once). And while so much of her message is rooted in being American — whether or not she’s calling for the impeachment of her president — the sexual and geo politics of songs like “Screwed” extend beyond any one country.

Late in the set, Janelle pulls three audience members up on stage to dance during “I Got the Juice.” One girl is so overwhelmed that she just throws her arms around the singer and cries. Janelle hugs her and gets her to dance (and the girl does dance). All three dancers from the audience are warmly cheered by the rest of the crowd and that, more than singling people out, is what makes this segment endearing. That maybe you really can encourage people to love each other, that you can make a memory, that you can fight the power while making the people dance. 

Before Janelle can finish her set, Lizzo is on stage at Apollo echoing many of the same sentiments. The hip-hop-pop artist has built an identity around body positivity and loving yourself. She’s having an easy time of things; the masses assembled for her have already been converted to the church she wants to take them to. Chants of “Lizzo!” interrupt her between songs and lead to an impromptu singalong of Destiny’s Child’s “Say My Name.” 

Though the enthusiasm of the crowd probably helps, Lizzo herself seems like she has energy to spare. She comes out ready to toss her hair and check her nails, shimmying with her back-up dancers, getting the crowd to sing lines back to her. She knows which songs the audience has seen on YouTube, she knows what catch phrases they’re expecting of her, and just how much she can tease while espousing her mantra.

In some ways, it’s easy to see Lizzo as a next generation Janelle, that in a few years the production budgets will catch up and she’ll be on a bigger stage with more dancers and more costume changes, still owning her own juice, still telling audiences that she loves them and they should love themselves.

Converge live at Roskilde Festival 2019

A run across the main festival area gets us to an altogether different atmosphere with Massachusetts hardcore royalty Converge. It’s getting close to twenty years since their breakthrough album, Jane Doe, but if the band is looking a little long in the tooth they are showing no signs of tiring during this set. Frontman Jacob Bannon channels that manic straight-edge energy by practically flying around the stage, occasionally tripping himself with his own mic cable only to continue hollering from the floor. Bassist Nate Newton contributes his fair share to the chaos, at one point improvising an emergency backwards roll that sees him punch the air in mock celebration before getting stuck in again. Clearly drummer Ben Koller and guitarist Kurt Ballou are playing the sensible half of the outfit, balancing the anarchic energy of their bandmates with their signature math-rock and metal inflected virtuosity.

The Comet is Coming live at Roskilde Festival 2019

Contrarians that we are, we studiously avoid the Cure at Orange Stage, preferring to conclude our Roskilde experience with a set of psychedelic acts on the literal fringes of the festival. Some might be surprised to see London-based trio The Comet is Coming playing at Apollo, a stage normally devoted to dance music. After all, isn’t saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings being called “the reigning king of British jazz”? But just as the Pharoah Sanders-esque cosmic introduction to the set concludes, the stage feels more than appropriate. Drummer Betamax moves effortlessly from wild jazz intricacy to floor-stompers, aided by the synth wizardry of Danalogue, who veers between Tangerine Dream, er, dreamscapes, and absolutely filthy basslines.

There is always abandoned vibe to the last day of Roskilde, and the Comet is Coming have perfectly tapped into it, drawing a crowd to themselves, stealing ears from the Cure with this high-energy distillation of cosmic jazz and club music.

Kikagaku Moyo continue the late night spaced out theme. The Japanese band’s 60s psychedelia is cut through with some serious noise and the occasional noise-maker to add to the percussion. Ryu Kurosawa’s sitar is interesting on a conceptual level as a nod to the band’s 60s influences, but also because it is used in such a way as to not resemble a sitar at all. In Kurosawa’s hands it more closely resembles a third electric guitar in the line-up, one that allows its player to go off on different warbling tangents.

The five members of Kikagaku Moyo have clustered together in a tight circle make the stage seem big, but it adds to a sense of unity and spontaneity, as if this all just came together rather than being carefully orchestrated. The bass sits very heavily in the mix — making the drums seem light by comparison — providing a very clear anchor for each song. The shifts from chilled out jam to hard rock feel organic and keep the mood around the band relaxed, even as the energy in the crowd picks up. The band end on a high note, walking away from a cheering audience that has been vibrating along to one of their sharper songs. They then come back on a few minutes later, sheepishly announcing that they thought their set was only 45 minutes. They are orchestrated enough to pick up immediately and play for another 20. We can forgive an accidental encore.

And so, for us at least, Roskilde ends at Avalon tent again with Gaye Su Akyol and her “peace, love and rock and roll from Istanbul”. The Turkish singer is no stranger to Denmark or Roskilde, having played at the festival for the first time in 2016, and then again at Alice last November. Each time her performance becomes a little more colourful, this time with the addition of a golden cape with which to lead her band of masked players. The rest is a blur of surf-rock, 70s Anatolian psych and garage, the backing band packing serious punch when it comes to the funked up rhythm section and squealing synths. Which is far from a bad way to end a festival.

LIVE REVIEW: Roskilde Festival 2019 Day 3, 05.07.2019

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wu-tang clan live at roskilde festival

As the sun shines and gives us respite from a day of chill and damp, Aldous Harding has set out to unnerve us. She plays beautiful folk music with a throwback 60s vibe, accompanied by a band of mellow players. She mostly sings in an unearthly soprano but has the vocal dexterity to sell the flat alto beloved of Nico fans. She also spends the majority of the set pulling faces and menacing her audience. From her seat with her acoustic guitar, she sneers and leers, glowering from behind her microphone with a hard, accusing look.

Aldous Harding live at Roskilde Festival 2019

Her band are all in on the joke, staring down or blankly ahead when not playing. They’re waiting for the audience to catch up with the joke, which some do with immediate laughter. It is the most engaging set by a person sitting down playing an acoustic guitar that we’ve seen in a long time. You could argue that Aldous’s performance methods detract from the beauty of her music, but quite plainly there are enough earnest singer-songwriters out there. There will never be enough weird.

Since our encounter with Sonic Boom at Alice a month or so ago we have been eagerly awaiting seeing his former Spacemen 3 bandmate Jason Pierce with his second legendary band (seems almost unfair to be allowed more than one), Spiritualized. Where Boom was minimalist Pierce is much more a maximalist, arriving on stage with a fivepiece backing band and a gospel trio on backup vocals. What emerges from this is a cathartic wall of space rock incorporating everything from Stooges-era garage to gospel and psychedelia. The noise is undercut by the fragile figure of Pierce himself, sat down hunched over his guitar, his foot nervously trembling over a wah wah pedal. It’s a captivating combination that distills 50 years of rock history into a plaintive cry that makes grown men openly sniffle as they headbang.

Spiritualized live at Roskilde Festival

We’ve had mixed success getting into Gloria this year, so we queue up early for Yves Tumor. It proves to be a good strategy; the room is packed for the artist and his band. The set is more straightforward rock than expected, with shades of glam rock (or properly eccentric hair metal) squelching out a lot of the electronics he is more commonly associated with. There’s something very Velvet Goldmine about the performance, and through the dark lighting on the stage we can see singer Sean Bowie hopping and thrashing about, his garment flowing around him. Better lighting might give us more of the effect compared to the silhouettes, but from our perch on the bleachers we can see bodies bobbing in time, sucking energy from this short set. As a festival set, it’s good, but it makes us want to see a performance that represents the full range of Yves Tumor’s catalogue.

yves tumor live at Roskilde Festival 2019

After the warmth and darkness of Gloria, the chill in the air and the brightness of the sky on the walk to Pavilion for black midi are little disorienting. black midi are a slightly mysterious, incredibly young four-piece from the UK. Until very recently they were just a name you’d hear about from the odd music journo at the Quietus, with absolutely no music online. Today at the Pavilion stage the reason for the hype becomes immediately obvious, with a blistering set of dexterity and musical exuberance. The band themselves, young as they are, are looking considerably more serious, possibly annoyed at the mixing of the vocals, but by the end, thanks to an impromptu call-and-response with the audience, they are grinning away and feel more at one with the calculated silliness that accompanies their technical proficiency. Think Don Caballero mixed with a touch of Les Claypool and you begin to get the idea. And with their debut album so recently released, it seems inevitable that black midi are going to go far indeed.

black midi live at Roskilde festival 2019

A quick run back to Orange Stage gets us to the Wu Tang Clan, a name that promises so much, possibly too much. After the puzzling introduction of the trailer for the RZA’s new movie, it’s immediately apparent that the sound is going to be absolutely dogshit for the rest of this set. The vocals are often inaudible, the samples mixed so oddly that half the time all you can hear is kick and snare. But the songs themselves are undeniable, anything from 36 Chambers is going to sweep the floor even if the sound quality is worse than an iPhone stuck down a toilet. But not wanting to have our musical memories tainted too much, we move on.

Underworld live at Roskilde Festival 2019

We move from one set of gristled veterans to another sort. Underworld are blessed with a markedly better sound at the Arena stage, which they use to its fullest to deliver their euphoric, rather campy style of house music. The tent is jam packed, lasers are flying all over the place, and the kick is powerful enough let you forget that the two people producing all this look like retired accountants. You can’t help but feel the pressure for them to end with their monument of a song, “Born Slippy”, which they milk for all its worth and deliver the almost definitional festival experience.

The energy of one dance band into another dance pop act will keep you riding high. It’s on this wave that we float over to Robyn’s headline slot on the Orange Stage. The Swedish pop queen is an old hand at festival performances, and she knows she could come out at full force with hits. She doesn’t do this. Robyn knows how to pace a show. It’s a slow build that includes a dancer and a costume change before she blasts into full Euro pop mode. She hits her stride on “Between the Lines,” shimmying and strutting and playing off of her backing dancer. The sound isn’t quite right and her vocals are too quiet, but the audience is into it, they’re warmed up, they’re in a peak festival state of mind.

We’ve been hearing “Dancing On My Own” all day. It’s come from various sound systems, out of phones, from passing groups just singing it. In many ways, this feels like the moment the entire festival is building up to. So when the opening chords of the song stream out, the crowd predictably goes nuts. Robyn silences her band and has the audience sing back the first chorus; she looks overwhelmed by the results. 

It’s kind of Robyn to bring this song out before the 2am mark, but a sign of her artistry that she doesn’t save her biggest hit for last, but rather where it fits best. Because even though the crowd thins at a faster rate when it’s done, the emotion is heightened for those who remain. Two girls shriek with joy for “Call Your Girlfriend,” and amorous couples willfully misunderstand the lyrics. But she brings us down slowly, so that when the last band member has left the stage it feels like a natural conclusion; of course we must now all drift on our own ways.

LIVE REVIEW: Ava Luna, Pumpehuset Byhaven, 28.06.2019

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Ava Luna live

In terms of ideal concerts venues, it’s hard to beat Pumpehuset’s Byhaven on a warm summer evening. A break from the more extreme heat makes sitting outside very enticing, and New York synth-pop group Ava Luna are the perfect band for the setting. They essentially play block part music: It’s mostly dance-y, has a decent beat, but isn’t so deafeningly loud that you can’t decipher the three-part harmonies.

But maybe the setting isn’t perfect for the music. Not if you’re a performer, anyway. The perfect summer setting of Byhaven means that loads of people who aren’t especially fussed about the music are having drinks and chatting with their friends in the shade of Pumpehuset’s main building. Ava Luna start their set off unannounced, with a song so mellow it’s hard to tell initially if they’ve started to play or are still tuning up. Few people move towards the stage, even is as it becomes clear that the show is getting going.

If the band are discouraged by the inattention, they don’t let it show. Ava Luna know how to sell a song. Singers Felicia Douglass and Rebecca Kauffman have different, energetic performing styles — Douglass bops around with a fluid energy while Kauffman has more of a rigid theatricality — but the deliver every tune like the whole garden is rapt in their attention. The performance is balanced well, switching between singers and choosing key moments to play up the harmonies; leaning more into bright, vibrant synth lines; and deliberately slowing things down. It feels like the setlist has been chosen deliberately for the audience, for people who might want to get up and dance and acquiescing to those who want pleasant background music. It’s just curious that there is courtyard full of people who don’t realize what they’re missing out on.

LIVE REVIEW: Caterina Barbieri, Alice, 06.06.2019

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Caterina Barbieri live at Alice in Copenhagen

Photo by Amanda Farah

It shouldn’t be news to anyone anymore that modular synthesizers are experiencing a huge renaissance in recent years. The instrument has evolved from the exclusive preserve of a privileged caste of electronic wizards to a viable tool for composition. We’ve seen expressed most often in Terry Riley-esque psychedelic dreamscapes (notably with Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith). With her latest release, Ecstatic Computation, Caterina Barbieri’s approach to the modular synth appears to take as its reference point those 90s rave sounds so beloved of her compatriot Lorenzo Senni.

Stripped of any obvious beats, Barbieri’s music relies heavily on arpeggiation to achieve percussive effects, using generative processes to create these blissed-out emotional landscapes. As if keen to underline the literalness of this phrase, the backdrop to her set is a series of slightly warped nature scenes, at times oversaturated and at others bleakly monochrome.

On arguably her breakthrough record (at any rate the record that I happened to discover first), 2017’s Patterns of Consciousness, we hear a very cerebral, rigorous side to Barbieri. Close to minimalism, but far from its more hippieish vibes, its second side appeared to be pointing into the transposed club music we hear tonight.

The thing that really has to be stressed about the tracks on Ecstatic Computation is that they are all, without a doubt, absolutely ridiculous bangers. The fact that they have no drums is almost an afterthought, but is also key to their emotional pull: there is a yearning, borne out of the functional necessity of the styles Barbieri borrows from to reach a climax. Here the buildup is its own reward.

The five-note riff of “Bow of Perfection” blazes neon across the room and disappears, before bursting out again, and again, speeding up, the richness of its single sawtooth wave justifying the bravado of its title. Its a breathless set that speeds through work, occasionally breaking into thunderous noise and at others, for example the choral vocals on “Arrows of Time”, allowing an almost pastoral sweetness.

LIVE REVIEW: Priests, Loppen, 28.05.2019

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The band Priests live at Loppen, Copenhagen

Priests have always been an excellent specimen of where they come from: A D.C. punk band with a strong DIY ethos, political bent, and high energy live set. Their latest album, The Seduction of Kansas, shows more focused lyric writing and smoother production than their previous efforts, but thank goodness they’re still embracing the unpredictability of the unpolished live show.

While the set leans very heavily towards songs from their recently-released new album, they choose an early point in the set to introduce a cover of “Mother” by Danzig (forthcoming as a single). This is really the first moment when Katie Alice Greer’s vocal ability comes through. She really is a powerhouse, a fact that is easily downplayed on the recordings or when the reverb makes everything a little softer. 

Priests’ ability to roll with the punches also underscores their hard-won punk-professionalism. “I’m Clean” gets a stripped back performance after their drum machine breaks. It leaves drummer Daniele Daniele singing while Greer plays the drums with maracas, looking uncertain for the first and only time of the set. But there is something very authentic about saying, “our equipment is broken, but fuck it, we’re going to try anyway, but heads up it might not work” (paraphrasing, but that was the gist). And when you have a band that delivers an otherwise fully committed set, there is a strong appeal in seeing a little bit of vulnerability.

The stage lights are only working intermittently by the time they close out the set. So before the final tune, “Jesus’ Son,” Greer asks everyone to take out their phones and shine the lights at the stage. Red stage lights flash in an out, alternating between Loppen’s familiarity and a basement show feeling. Seeing the band embrace this quality, and seeing the community of the audience joining in, is just about the most punk experience there is.

Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh.

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