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A Winged Victory For The Sullen, Koncertkirken, 21.02.2015

in Live Reviews by

A Winged Victory For The Sullen played their first-ever Copenhagen show at Koncertkirken as part of the Frost Festival. The Belgium-based duo of Adam Bryanbaum Wiltzie and Dustin O’Halloran stand at opposite ends of the altar, O’Halloran at a grand piano with synthesizers laid out on top of it, Wiltzie with his own synths and a guitar in hand. Their line-up is fleshed out with a violinist, violist, and cellist sitting between them, and the two full-time members occasionally nod to one another.

It’s a very understated performance. Despite synthesizers, despite an electric guitar, the most noise at any given time comes from the piano, and even then there’s something startling about its clarity. There is a huge disconnect between seeing Wiltzie play guitar and hearing what is expected of a guitar. His style is so muted, so delicate, that the tiny, sparkling little notes he plays seem more in keeping with some of the electronic arrangements. But in a room so quiet you can hear people opening their beer cans, it works.

And the room is beautiful. Koncertkirken is lit softly with strangely bright blue lights, and the stage area is dotted with Edison bulbs from behind a gauzy curtain. More of the soft blue and some green lighting do little to obscure Jesus on the cross looming over the musicians (hey, why not? It is Lent).

But these settings aren’t flawless. The first problem is that the altar is low, which means that unless you’re in the first row or two or up in the choir loft, your view is obscured. Not necessarily a problem in itself, but when everyone cranes their necks for a better view — and everyone is seated in pews that aren’t bolted down — something is taken away from the serenity of the experience.

That being said, the church has the perfect acoustics for AWVFTS. Their music, their style, is the same tone and timbre as a church organ. In fact, it seems like a wasted opportunity that they don’t incorporate the church organ. At the music’s loudest, there is never any echoing, just a pleasantly humming reverberation. And it is moments like that that separate bedroom music from a real live experience. Because ultimately, recommending AWVFTS live depends on where they’re playing. The performance of the band’s atmospheric music hinges on an equally atmospheric setting.

ARTICLE: FROST Festival 2014

in Blog by

After the doldrums of January, Copenhagen’s music scene comes back to life in February, and the FROST Festival is a notable contributor. Now in its fourth year, FROST brings Danish and international bands to conventional and unconventional venues around Copenhagen for concerts. Running from 1 February until 2 March, the festival aims to span genres and settings.

“FROST is all about putting the live music experience in context,” says festival director Mikael Pass. “We put a lot of effort into scouting for interesting, alternative venues across the city and match them with the artists we wish to present. This way the atmosphere of the room and the music blends, hopefully taking the concert experience to a different level. This year, a lot of the events take place in venues connected with water – an abandoned swimming pool, an old aquarium, ice rinks. Don’t ask me why.”

Though the water theme of many of the settings may be a coincidence, FROST’s organizers have a set of criteria they look for in their alternative venues.

“A perfect FROST-venue needs to hold a strong story telling atmosphere. It should work as the perfect backdrop for a concert,” says Pass. “At the same time it needs to fulfill the basic requirements – electricity, toilets and, of course, an acoustic that won’t destroy the concert experience. Then we look for a band that can fill the room and reflect its ambience. Sometimes we settle on the band first and then look for a perfect venue for them. The band becomes the soundtrack to the room and the room becomes the backdrop to the music.”

Though Pass is obviously excited to see all of the bands performing, he admits to being particularly excited about a few.

“Mostly I’m curious to see how the matches between the bands and venues pan out,” he says.  “When Saints Go Machine at the old aquarium, Erlend Øye at the bottom of an empty pool, The Mountains and Turboweekend in the beautiful and historic Brew House of King Christian IV.  And I can’t wait for Moonface to sing his insanely beautiful songs behind the piano in Koncertkirken.”

Beyond the offbeat venues, the city of Copenhagen itself — especially as it stands in February — is crucial to the concept of FROST. And don’t be surprised if future editions of the festival necessitate keeping your mittens on.

“We find it very interesting to explore the possibilities in creating music events in the winter city – not only indoors, but also to get people to use the outdoor spaces of Copenhagen during the winter,” says Pass. “This year, we produce shows at two public ice rinks and hopefully we can develop more outdoor activities in the future. Another goal is to do more light installations both at our venues and across the city to light up the dark Copenhagen winter,” says Pass.

One can see how Pass can be optimistic. Almost half of this year’s FROST events have sold out before the festival has even begun, and its reputation continues to grow.

“We get the feeling that we have become an established part of the Danish (and international) music scene. This makes it easier to discuss projects with both artists and the people running the alternative spaces,” he says. “However, we don’t make things easy on ourselves: Creating one-off events in alternative spaces takes a lot of time, money, networking and energy. And it’s a very open format; every edition of the festival has been a completely different story. FROST is like the bumble-bee that wasn’t designed to fly, but so far has managed to do so anyway.”

FROST 2014 begins this Saturday, 1 February. For the full line-up and ticket information, visit www.frostfestival.dk.

 

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