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LIVE REVIEW: SOHN, Pumpehuset, 01.03.2014

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We need to talk about Sohn. No, let me rephrase that, why are we talking about Sohn?

With a discography that consists of a whopping two singles and one EP, this London-born, Vienna-based producer has managed to sell out Pumpehuset. Depending on your opinion of his music, this is either an impressive feat or another instance of the insane rush with which the press and the music industry try to keep ahead of the curve.

Local boys and girls Gabriel open the evening. By turns low-key or melodramatic, the five-piece, including piano and cello, are rather at odds with the buzz of the room. In another venue it might be possible to hear the subtleties of the different instruments and appreciate the vocal gymnastics, but here they are lost.

When Sohn finally arrives on stage, dressed in what appears to be a black monk’s cassock, the room explodes. Again, how excited can anyone possibly be, on the basis of five songs on Spotify? I let this doubt pass, and for the first three songs there are enough interesting beats and samples to keep us going. Behind me, someone who will later tell me they loved the show, jokes that in the first fifteen minutes Sohn has played all the songs he has released so far.

But there is a definite moment, just after this comment, when something changes. Stuck behind a group of annoyingly tall people, it takes me a few seconds to figure this out: is he now playing a fucking acoustic guitar? Yes, readers, he is. Now it all makes sense: signing to 4AD, the high-pitched vocals, the guy in the corner noodling around on a keyboard like he’s Rick Wakeman, the acoustic guitar. Sohn just wants to be the electronic Bon Iver, doesn’t he?

Thankfully, after one song, the guitar disappears. Rick Wakeman continues with the bloody arpeggios, and everyone is loving it. Almost everyone. Later on, in the middle of the song, Sohn reaches behind as a roadie hands him another acoustic. Lord, why?

I can’t focus; every bit of the music is distracting me away from the rest. Suddenly it stops. I can just make out some movement onstage over someone’s shoulder. Then this: “I need your energy for this last one.” This last one? It’s a quarter to eleven, you’ve played 45 minutes, this is the last one? Don’t tire yourself out, mate.

Ladies and Gentlemen, whether you happen to like Sohn or not, this is ridiculous. Copenhagen cannot collectively lose its shit over this man’s 50 minute set.  Sure, they are all ahead of the curve, and probably being part of Frost Festival will have helped with the ticket sales. No doubt this is the year Sohn makes it big. Whether he deserves to it altogether is another matter.

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