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Hand Of Dust

LIVE REVIEW: Iceage, Jazzhouse, 26.02.2015

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Iceage, Hand of Dust and Less Win should be no strangers to our readers or Danish music fans in general, yet it is still impressive that the former should be able to sell out a venue like Jazzhouse two nights in a row. Only 16 months ago, for my very first review at Here Today, I saw Iceage showcase their sophomore album, You´re Nothing, to a crowd half the size.

Iceage (Photo by Tom Spray)
Iceage (Photo by Tom Spray)

The intervening time saw the release of Plowing into the Field of Love, perhaps the bands most critically acclaimed album. However, the band that I hear on that record, and see tonight, is not the buzzing hive of originality their fans like to present. Though talented in their own ways, and certainly possessing remarkable and abstruse tastes, Iceage appear to suffer from a desire to live up to their own images. Tracks like “The Lord´s Favorite” are admirable imitations of the likes of Nick Cave and the Gun Club, but no amount of stumbling around on the stage is going to transform them into their idols.

While the rest of the Copenhagen punk scene is under the spell of gothy Americana, Less Win combine the best elements of British post-punk in the Bunnymen tradition, with fast and technical American post-hardcore. Their energy is way above most of their peers, steamrolling through their set.

Iceage (Photo by Tom Spray)
Iceage (Photo by Tom Spray)

Unfortunately Iceage spent a large part of the first half of their set trying to fix technical difficulties with the guitar. It´s a revealing moment, as the band hug each other, whisper, and generally do their best to ignore the audience. I can´t blame their diffidence towards an audience whose first rows are barely pre-pubescent. Despite being disappointed by the lack of commitment on the part of the band, I am convinced Iceage still have the potential to ignore the adulation and use their tastes and talents in a more creative way.

 

LIVE REVIEW: Amen Dunes, Huset, 14.09.2014

in Blog/Live Reviews by

A Sunday night in Huset, remarkably sold-out, is a slightly surreal affair. The weight of the upcoming week, added to severe lack of sleep and some very cheap ear plugs, give the effect of viewing a gig through a fishbowl. This might not be the best set of circumstances, but they find their match in the acoustic psychedelia of Amen Dunes. Damon McMahon’s “anti-love songs” work well as anti-lullabies from the Land of Reverb, aided by a drummer and ambient guitarist/keyboard player.

Love, Amen Dune’s latest release, is a little sweeter and more lush than the noisy negativity of Through Donkey Jaw, but Damon’s onstage presence shows that dark irony lingering just behind the surface of his otherwise laid-back attitude. He does the very singer-songwriter-y thing of introducing several songs, but these are welcome forays into his approach to his music, rather than indulgent ramblings. This evening he reveals the origin of “Ethio Song”, claiming it to be a cover of a piece of unknown Ethiopian music coming through the walls from his neighbour’s apartment. Tonight’s version of the song sounds very un-Ethiopian, with none of the trebly guitar lines from the record, but this is but one instance of a general impression: Love, more than previous efforts, is the closest thing to what Amen Dunes sound like in the flesh.

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Standing right in front of Damon allows the audience to the clean acoustic sound of the guitar behind all the effects, adding some meat to the live sound. The vocals are incredibly high in the mix, cutting through everything else with ease, as if to confirm that Damon’s freak-folk tinged vibrato is the sine qua non around which everything else revolves. There are, of course, exceptions: “Rocket Flair”‘s picking style and low-key, driving drums, is the closest Amen Dunes get to 60s psychedelia as most would recognize it.

Throughout the evening, it is revealing to observe Damon McMahon offstage. Is commitment to music, not just his own, is clear in the intent look on his face as he quibbles with the sound engineer during the opening act, Xander Duell (ah yes, nepotism’s black tentacles reach far into the music industry). He nods along to the second act, Hand of Dust, and leaps to the merch booth the second the Amen Dunes set ends. It’s been a long evening, but a musician’s job never stops. Fortunately, that is not the case for a music reviewer.

VIEW LIVE PHOTO GALLERY HERE

Trailerpark Festival report

in Live Reviews by

Arriving early at a concert in Copenhagen is tremendously unfashionable, and at a festival doubly so. The benefit of being at Trailerpark in the afternoon is being able to explore the various tents, trailers and assorted installations before they are covered under a mass of pretty people. The festival focuses as much on constructing creative and comfortable spaces as it does on the music, and this year is no exception. As well as the eponymous trailers—one made up to look like a Lynchian crime scene, complete with smoke machine and eerie music, another a Tinder-sponsored shag-shack—there are swings made of recycled pallets, surrealist plush sculptures, rum cabañas and a tent devoted to what can only be described as audio-visual terrorism.

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The Tinder-trailer during a quite moment.

Fans of poor decision-making are welcome to try a spot of tattoo roulette—quite literally spinning a wheel to decide what image will be indelibly etched onto your skin—and in the wilder hours of Friday even an over-cautious curmudgeon like yours truly has to exercise a significant amount of self-restraint to avoid it. Those in search of less permanent damage can get a lopsided haircut and a single leg shaved by a bunch of clowns in bondage gear. Pretty standard fare, really.

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There is perhaps no better place than here to take stock of the quality and diversity of the Danish scene, the line-up consisting almost entirely of homegrown talent. This, however, is the only constant. One can wander away from a hip hop act at Royal stage and suddenly come across an emissary of the Mayhem/Posh Isolation scene at Outdoor stage. Throughout, DJs and smaller electronic acts are blasting away in the intimate enclave of Rebel stage.

Thursday

The day starts relatively peacefully with Alice Boman’s wistful folk pop, which transitions neatly into the music of CODY, Copenhagen’s post-folk collective and arguably one of the most talented groups of musicians in the city. Drawing primarily on material from Windshield, their latest album, the six-piece (but depending on the day there could just as easily be eight people on stage, or even just the one) manage to work their wealth of instruments into a beautifully simple whole.

The rest of the day is devoted mainly to electronic acts. Among the most promising newer artists are Mont Oliver, who add a touch of Madchester swagger to their performance (seriously, the guy at the keyboards is even wearing one of those floppy 90s fishing hats). Later on, Ice Cream Cathedral filled Outdoor stage with their pop pyschedelia, followed by a mesmeric Sekuoia.

Ice Cream Cathedral
Ice Cream Cathedral
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Cody

Baby In Vain did their best to convert the crowd to Satan, before Julias Moon could do is darndest to become the Danish equivalent of Michael Jackson.

Friday

Though every day at Trailerpark has its moments, Friday is the one that does its best to physically and mentally destroy festival-goers. In the most positive sense of the phrase, naturally. Hand Of Dust and Get Your Gun bring a dark and twisted version of Americana to town, though their early slots mean that only a handful of the most dedicated are able to witness any of it.

The tone for the rest of the evening is set by New York rapper Le1f. Preceded by a brief display from an acrobat in bondage gear (a phrase I don’t get to use enough), Khalif Diouf exudes equal parts sexuality (consider that barely an hour later will see a DJ set from someone called DJ Cockwhore) and flighty exuberance.  Cutting songs short when he gets tired of them, Le1f makes it clear that he is here to have as much fun as the audience.

Le1f
Le1f

Though Sleep Party People’s mix of lullabies and post-rock is both a visually and aurally captivating experience, the true energy of the evening is found with two bands:  Reptile Youth and Broke. Though the former is considerably more famous, the two share similarities in sound and attitude, guitar-led dance music and physicality. I can personally attest to having had Reptile Youth’s frontman Mads Damsgaard Kristiansen land on my head twice during improperly announced stage dives, and Broke’s frontman developed a liking for humping one of the central tent poles of Outdoor stage.

Reptile Youth
Reptile Youth

All this can only be topped by the utter perfection (in the eyes and ears of this reviewer at least) of The Felines, who bring wide smiles and awkward attempts at the twist to the 4am crowd.

Saturday

Fans of Danish “pop sensations” and hip hop acts must forgive me, but the real stars of the final day of Trailerpark are all at Outdoor stage. First Hate are possibly the dorkiest duo I have ever seen, which automatically makes them cooler than anyone in this tremendously well-dressed audience. It helps that they almost flawlessly channel Speak and Spell-era Depeche Mode, down to the Dave Gahan-esque vocals and dance moves. It’s pure and unabashed synth-pop, and it instantly converts all those present.

If prizes were being awarded, one would have to go to Communions, who have transformed into a much more mature band in the intervening months since our last encounter with them. The punk attitude is still there, but it no longer has a stranglehold over their sound, and finally they devote themselves to the wiry jangle-pop that was always lurking underneath the discordant tone and shambolic compositions. Those of us who spent the bike-ride to Enghave listening exclusively to Felt (or is that just me?) are in for a very pleasant surprise.

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Communions

As people gather to watch Shiny Darkly, it is evident that they are precisely the same hand-picked audience that attended First Hate and Communions. Apparently I have become a stereotype, though what that might be is unclear. Though perhaps the most obviously post-punk oriented of all the acts at Trailerpark, Shiny Darkly do not simply emulate their elders and betters. The raw riffs and chanted vocals are driven by a spartan and effective rhythm section, and on occasion even joined by a violinist or a trumpet player. The extra instruments are used with an ear for noise and harmonics as much as they add an extra layer of melody to the songs. At any rate they bespeak a level of ambition that is the mark of a healthy music scene. The likes of S!vas and Christopher might bring in the punters, but visitors looking for the true energy of the city should follow the leather jackets.

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Shiny Darkly

 View  the galleries from Trailerpark Festival here:

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

All days

Thanks to Sony for letting us try the new Sony a7S camera.

All photos by Morten Aagaard Krogh (mortenkrogh.com)

PHOTOS: Trailerpark Festival, Day 2, 01.08.2014

in Photos by

Photos by Morten Aagaard Krogh

Get Your Gun

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Hand Of Dust

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Trailerpark Festival ambience

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Sea Change

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Le1f

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Trailerpark Festival ambience

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Reptile Youth

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Emil Germ

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Sleep Party People

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Trailerpark Festival ambience

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Broke

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Ghost Venue

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Thanks to Sony for giving us the opportunity to try their new Sony a7S camera

Bands to catch at SPOT Festival 2014

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Friday

Who: Broken Twin
Where: Musikhuset, Store Sal
When: 15:30 – 02.05.2014

 

Who: Disa
Where: Atlas
When: 16:30 – 02.05.2014

 

Who: Shiny Darkly
Where: SCC
When: 18:30 – 02.05.2014

 

Who: Julias Moon
Where: SCC
When: 19:30 – 02.05.2014

 

Who: Reptile Youth
Where: SCC
When: 20:45 – 02.05.2014

 

Who: Iceage/Lower/Communions/Hand Of Dust
Where: Atlas
When: 22:00 – 02.05.2014

 

Who: Sekuoia 
Where: Den Rå Hal
When: 22:00 – 02.05.2014

 

Who: Blaue Blume
Where: Musikhuset, Lille Sal
When: 22:15 – 02.05.2014

 

Who: The Woken Trees
Where: Musikhuset, Filuren
When: 00:00 – 02.05.2014

 

 

Saturday

Who: Get Your Gun
Where: Den Rå Hal
When: 15:30 – 03.05.2014

 

Who: My Heart The Brave
Where: SCC
When: 17:15 – 03.05.2014

 

Who: Mont Oliver
Where: SCC
When: 19:15 – 03.05.2014

 

Who: Heimatt
Where: Radar
When: 20:45 – 03.05.2014

 

Who: The New Spring
Where: Musikhuset, Filuren
When: 21:00 – 03.05.2014

 

Who: Jaakko Eino Kalvei
Where: Voxhall
When: 21:00 – 03.05.2014

 

Who: Sleep Party People
Where: Atlas
When: 21:15 – 03.05.2014

 

Who: Schultz and Forever
Where: Musikhuset, Cafescene
When: 21:45 – 03.05.2014

 

Who: Sea Change
Where: Den Rå Hal
When: 22:30 – 03.05.2014

 

Who: Naomi Pilgrim
Where: Musikhuset, Rytmisk Hal
When: 22:45 – 03.05.2014

 

Who: Ice Cream Cathedral 
Where: Atlas
When: 00:30 – 03.05.2014

 

Who: Ring Them Bells
Where: Den Rå Hal
When: 01:00 – 03.05.2014

 

Who: Broke
Where: Atlas
When: 02:00 – 03.05.2014

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