Online music magazine based in Copenhagen, Denmark

Tag archive

ideal bar

LIVE REVIEW: EMA, Ideal Bar, 17.09.2017

in Live Reviews by
EMA live at Ideal Bar Copenhagen

If American music is meant to reflect American life, and there is something inherently fatalist about the latter, then EMA is an exemplary specimen of the former. The eponymous Erika M. Anderson opened her latest tour to a small but clearly dedicated crowd at Ideal Bar, working overtime to contextualize her music for an audience that may not understand the American condition in 2017 beyond the eye roll-inducing headlines about the President.

Anderson is accompanied by a drummer and a multi-instrumentalist who plays bass, synths, and violin, as well as having built his rig which includes a touchscreen that he’s using to live-manipulate her voice. It’s a set heavy on her new album, Exile in the Outer Ring, as well as 2011’s Past Life Martyred Saints, two albums wrapped up in political and feminine angst. Anderson’s frayed post-punk is delivered with a force that suggests she could destroy worlds, even as she makes flippant quips between songs. “Do you guys have big malls?” she asks when introducing “Breathylizer.” “No? You have Ikea and shit, right?”

She’s all over the map performance-wise: “Blood and Chalk” proves that she could sing ballads if she wanted to, while the acid-fried “Fire Water Air LSD” and “33 Nihilistic and Female” prove that she really doesn’t want to. Her presence is strong but not threatening, even if she sometimes swings her ponytail like a weapon.

The house music has come up but people are still applauding and the band returns. There is some debate about what to perform, before “7 Years” is begun with the caveat that they might fuck it up (they don’t). Anderson then launches into “Butterfly Knife,” stopping two lines in to turn up her guitar. She apologizes to her soundwoman over cheers from the crowd. In truth, without some massive wash of noise or feedback to soundtrack Anderson’s exit, the end of the set does feel a little abrupt. It’s about the only criticism you can come up with, though, for the artist who’s providing the realist soundtrack to whatever dystopia we’re currently living in.

LIVE REVIEW: Dylan LeBlanc, Ideal Bar, 31.08.2017

in Live Reviews by
Dylan LeBlanc live in Copenhagen

Everything about Dylan LeBlanc’s show at Ideal Bar feels crowded. The small room is sold out. His backing band — a second guitarist, bassist, drummer, plus keyboardist and cellist — barely fit on the stage. The endless push to the bar suggests a queue that never ends.

But the mood is light. It’s the first night of the tour and LeBlanc’s first time in Europe in five years. His repeated expressions of gratitude to the audience are so earnest they almost sound insincere (but the room is full of Americans, so they know he’s sincere). It’s an air that likely grew out of his early work, based mostly on acoustic guitars and a singer-songwriter aesthetic. While there is an interlude of LeBland alone on stage with just a guitar, the heart of the set is a bluesy Americana.

The songs often begin composed and measured, revealing complex and layered arrangements. At these points, it’s LeBlanc’s cellist who really stands out as the fact that alters the songs beyond a specific genre. Often the songs devolve into squalls of thrilling but increasingly predictable guitar feedback. At these points, you can feel how tight the space is; their movements are restricted beyond a point of natural inclination and on more than one occasion I fear Leblanc will get a guitar neck to the face. Songs’ endings stretch out beyond a sense of efficiency. It does reveal how tightly rehearsed the band is, but it also seems strange after a while that any one of those songs is not the end of the set.

At some point towards the end of the set, LeBlanc spills off of the low stage and plays in the protective ring the audience has formed around the stage for their bags. Leblanc is still clearly aware of the potential of hitting other people while he plays, though given a little more freedom. In a clearly well-rehearsed set, this still feels like a genuine expression of his energy, the way his constant thanks seem like a genuine expression of gratitude. And given the audience’s response,

it seems likely that when LeBlanc and his band eventually return to Copenhagen, it will be to a bigger stage.

Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh

LIVE REVIEW: Emmy the Great, Ideal Bar, 27.03.2017

in Live Reviews by
Emmy the Great by Alex Lake

It’s an interesting choice for an artist, especially an established artist, to start a show with a cover of someone else’s song. That Emmy the Great chose to start her gig at Ideal Bar with the Cranberries’ “Dreams” in Cantonese was an interesting artistic move, a moment for everyone who recognized the tune to feel clever, and a talking point about how the hallmark of a song’s popularity in Hong Kong is the number of Chinese cover versions of it (apparently there’s a techno one of “My Heart Will Go On” that we should all either seek out or avoid like the plague).

It’s a quirky but competent beginning, one that sets the tone for Emmy (née Emma-Lee Moss) to tell stories about songs and a childhood in Hong Kong. She’s alone on stage with her guitar and a pocket-sized synth set-up, but clearly comfortable with chatting about herself in a way that’s self-deprecatingly charming, at telling you little facts about songs that meander just the right amount.

In this solo set up, it’s interesting to see how much her style has changed from her debut album, First Love — written primarily for solo acoustic guitars at a time when everyone was drooling over Bon Iver and plotting to move to a cabin in the woods. Her work since then has come with more complete band arrangements, relying less on finger-picking, and when it’s played by her solo, it’s in a stripped back form. It’s clear that she has given thought to how she would perform them — even the requests she takes from the audience (she can only play half of them — one fellow is particularly bad about choosing songs she can remember).

The evening is best represented by Moss’s latest single, “Mahal Kita,” an upbeat pop song about foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong. It’s a final look at the personal history she’s shared all evening and how it radiates beyond her. It looks beyond the exploitation of workers and focuses on what they do to reclaim their senses of self. Moss is marking out a next phase, beyond the super-personal songs, beyond just guitars, toward something ever more ambitious.

Photo by Alex Lake.

LIVE REVIEW: Samaris, Ideal Bar, 02.12.2014

in Live Reviews by

Winter has fallen suddenly on Copenhagen. It’s only in the last week that the temperature dropped those crucial few degrees to make it feel properly cold, that the wind picked up enough to make the cold really bite, that everyone has been chased indoors.

So people clustering themselves in Ideal Bar to see Icelandic trio Samaris seems wholly appropriate on different levels. People are sitting on the floor in a ring, leaving walking space between themselves and the stage. The band, with their downtempo music and gentle movements, inspire similarly subdued reactions from those who are standing. There is no threat of anyone getting stepped on — so much the better for those who have taken off their shoes.

Even though Samaris build their songs around loops and echos like an aural reflecting pool, there is a decided ambient quality to their music. The sounds produced from the table of gadgets manipulated by a floppy-haired boy are mostly subdued, lulling, and even when the beats kick in it’s all very relaxing. The conflicting pattern in “Lifsins Ólgusjór” unfortunately demonstrates how delicate the balance is, how easy it is to throw off the groove, but things fall back into step.

The one other instrument, a clarinet — also looped and delayed — provides an organic counterpoint to the electronics, and to synthesizers in general. It’s really an under-utilized instrument in alternative music. When the electronics angle towards noise, the clarinet is lost, and that applies to the vocals as well. But these are clearly strategic decisions, and singer Jófrídur’s voice is mostly up to the challenge.

What is it about Iceland that produces singers with voices that are atmospheric in their own right? Jófrídur could be the linch pin that pulls the electronics and the clarinet together, but then it all feels like it’s been perfectly slotted together. The sense of what’s been scaled down from what could be — kimonos instead of costumes, fake yoga poses instead of choreography, a cosy bar instead of a theatre — is still tailored specifically to this experience. That if we’re going to sequester ourselves from dark and cold, minimal, chilled out electronica is exactly what should soundtrack the escape. It’s going to be a long winter, and this is a good way to ease into it.

LIVE REVIEW: Honeyblood, Ideal Bar, 03.10.2014

in Live Reviews by

Photos by Morten Aagaard Krogh (mortenkrogh.com)

From the first notes of opener “Fall Forever,” it is clear that Honeyblood are a live band. They write off kilter indie pop songs around guitar and drum parts that translates smoothly to live performances. with the only noticeable differences between from the recordings coming in minor tweaks in delivery by singer Stina Tweeddale.

One of the first great impressions the band make is with Tweeddale’s voice. Neither she nor drummer Shona McVicar play timidly, so it does take significant vocal muscle to be heard so clearly over the music.  And the clarity of her voice holds whether she hits the prettier melodies that carry most of the tunes or those with a rawer edge.

 

honeyblood (3 of 4)

The other immediate impression Honeyblood make is their energy. With only a debut album under their belts and a few other songs that didn’t make the cut, it was always going to be a relatively short set, but they bounce through it with a consistent delight. Drummer McVicar has a smile on her face that sometimes is contorted by the furious effort of her playing; one particular turn in the middle of “Super Rat” earns her enthusiastic cheers mid-song. When she’s not playing, she can be seen dancing slightly from the seat behind her kit.

They are also very charming, if very negative about their native Glasgow, as initially evidenced when they introduced the track, “(I’d Rather Be) Anywhere But Here,” as being about their hometown. But this self deprecation comes without any real negativity. They probably represent themselves better through the banter that revolves around drinking beer. For a band with a punky edge, the room has a very friendly vibe.

The audience is also curiously obliging. When the band ask them to step forward, they do. When they ask them to do dance during a song, they do. When Tweeddale asks them to sing a bit of encore “Kissing on You,” which she plays solo, they do. And when the evening ends on the early side, Honeyblood’s request that people come talk to them after the show is also readily met.

honeyblood (2 of 4)

LIVE REVIEW: Angel Olsen, Ideal Bar, 30.03.2014

in Live Reviews by

There’s something almost intimidating about Angel Olsen’s stage presence. Her expression doesn’t change throughout her set. No matter how heart-rending a lyric or how much she strains her voice, she is unflinching, barely shifting her weight from one foot to another. The only change in her steely gaze is an odd glazing over of her eyes that suggests tiredness, before coming back into focus. The only time she looks down is on the songs where she picks her guitar instead of strumming. It’s a testament to how confident she is, and how naturally her abilities must come to her.

angel-olsen-9493

And for how stoic her expression is, the performance is quite moving, as though all the potential dynamics from her body have been channeled into her vocals. Without being fried by the reverb of her albums, her voice is incredibly powerful, vacillating from rock belters over frizzy guitars to a countrified warbling within a matter of notes.

She has the sold-out room captivated, a hot silence hanging in the air. “It’s so quiet in here. I know some of you are farting in here right now,” Olsen says in what is really her only attempt at stage banter. But oh thank goodness it is so quiet, especially when Olsen’s band leaves her alone with her guitar for the final quarter of the set. There her voice carries over gaps in the guitar, with no other sound to compete with it. During “Iota” that her voice quakes as though she could burst into tears at any second, only to be instantly pulled back under control. It’s almost shocking that it’s the same performer who had shouted the outro of “Forgiven/Forgotten” only half an hour earlier. Olsen is the kind of performer who can skip the chit chat because she can knock you sideways with her voice. If others figure this out, she won’t be playing tiny spaces like Ideal Bar again.

VIEW THE FULL PHOTO GALLERY HERE 

angel-olsen-2655

 

Go to Top