Online music magazine based in Copenhagen, Denmark

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Loppen

PHOTOS: Gnod, Loppen, 01.06.2017

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Gnod live at Loppen Copenhagen

Gnod live at Loppen Copenhagen

 Gnod live at Loppen Copenhagen

Gnod live at Loppen Copenhagen

Gnod live at Loppen Copenhagen

Gnod live at Loppen Copenhagen

LIVE REVIEW: Le Butcherettes, Loppen, 25.09.2016

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le butcherettes live loppen copenhagen

There are so many references at play in Le Butcherettes’ set at Loppen. There’s an immediate shock of glam with glittery red fabric draped over the synth stands and every guitar shining with silver foil. There’s a militant punk jolt when frontwoman Teri Gender Bender struts out in front of the stage, yelling and thumping before jumping behind a synth, dressed in a fatigue-style jumpsuit with a red band painted across her eyes. There are moments of disco and camp and heavy hits and rock rage.

Le Butcherette’s set is a pageant, pure performance from beginning to end. It’s theatrical and fun, mostly led by Teri’s dizzying energy. She’s undeterred by little things like not having a mic when it will do just as well to bellow into the crowd, or the face paint that runs with sweat and gets smeared along the sides of her hands. No, she’s too busy bouncing around the stage, belting her heart out, stripping off her jumpsuit to reveal a sparkly red dress during — what else? — “Take My Dress Off.”

Teri’s what make the show, for sure, but she’s backed by a smart and sturdy band who can match her vibe. And when there’s scarcely a pause between songs, one suspects that they must match her energy as well, even if in more understated ways.

The set ends with Teri climbing off the stage the same way she came on. The end of the performance is fuzzy as she begins hugging audience members, slowly making her way to the back of the crowd. The room is still dark, the house music comes up, but it’s not until she makes it to the merch table that it becomes clear that the show is over.

LIVE REVIEW: Sarah Neufeld, Loppen, 08.05.2016

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sarah neufeld live in copenhagen

Expectations are high for any solo violinist. When the stage she appears on is Loppen, there’s some dissonance between the instrument and the setting. Sarah Neufeld showed, however, that the musician herself was in exactly the right place.

The Arcade Fire violinist’s songs hint at a Celtic, traditional influence, but her arrangements are adventurous and abstract. This becomes clear when she’s joined by her drummer, whose nuanced and creative playing transports Neufeld’s songs beyond their atmospheric recordings to something unexpectedly energetic and intense. At times, he comes close to upstaging Neufeld and her circular song structures with samplers, shakers taped to drum sticks, and subtle electronic inflections.

The energy stands in complete contrast to the fact that a large chunk of the small audience remains seated for the whole of the performance. In absence of seats, many people directly on the floor in good view of the stage. But this audience, however small, knows Neufeld and her work and is held rapt by her performance. Noise travels very easily in Loppen, and the vibe would have been incredibly different if the audience hadn’t been completely silent, if the more muted notes were muffled by talking, if fingers tapping on a snare couldn’t be heard.

But the energy is in Neufeld’s style of performing itself, which is obviously influenced by years of being in a band versus an orchestra. She never stands still and often swings her legs around when she moves. There is strength and muscle to in her playing, regardless of how rapid and slight her movements.

The standout movement of the evening was an extended pizzicato solo that swept Neufeld away as much as any guitar solo could have. But again it was her accompanist that rooted the song in something too abstract to be rock’n’roll, and so much more divine because of it.

LIVE REVIEW: Elder, Loppen, 25.04.2016

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Elder

Photos by Morten Aagaard Krogh (mortenkrogh.com)

What could be better on a cold, wet Monday evening than a bit of stoner rock at Loppen? A great deal of Copenhageners would have understandably replied “staying warm and dry at home,” but Elder, the headlining act this evening, certainly have their fair share of hardcore fans.

“Stoner rock” tends to denote a particular mentality rather than a well-defined genre. Of the three bands playing tonight, what unites them is a love for Black Sabbath, vintage equipment, and the endorsement (implied or otherwise) of the ‘erb. Openers Carousel tend towards the more traditional hard-rock end of the spectrum, but this is perhaps not the right crowd for that.

Elder

The Oakland-based, follicularly-gifted quintet Mondo Drag are another case entirely. Drawing from esoteric 70s prog, in the vein of Goblin, King Crimson and Camel, the band’s extended jams resonate much more with the audience. The Ozzy-esque vocals are there, as with basically every other band in the stoner category, but the band is at its best when they focus on keyboard-led instrumentals.

Elder

But as soon as Elder begin tearing through “Compendium”, the opening track of their 2015 LP Lore, you get an idea of how the genre can become more than an enjoyable romp through Black Sabbath’s major works. The influences are still there in the chugging bass riffs, but frontman Nick DiSalvo’s guitar can suddenly become ornate and melodic, riding the drums and bass like the foam on a rough sea.

Describing this as their billionth appearance at Loppen, the band clearly feel at home. And after two hours of waiting, the audience is fervently on their side. Beer splashes everywhere, and bassist Jack Donovan nearly beheads a few people in the front in his frenzy. A few obligatory technical glitches do little to dent the enthusiasm of either band or audience, and as the evening draws to a close, Elder proved they were definitely worth enduring the awful weather.

LIVE REVIEW: A Place To Bury Strangers, Loppen, 10.04.2016

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Brooklyn’s A Place to Bury Strangers have built a reputation based on their intense live shows and blistering volume. I’ll vouch for that reputation; this is a band I’ve seen more times than I can count on one hand. I’ve seen them in different venues with differently proportioned stages and different qualities of sound systems. I’ve seen them enough that people ask why I would go see them yet again.

It’s a fair question. When you’ve seen a band play enough, there’s a certain amount of predictability, even if that amounts to expecting something wild to happen. In addition to noise, there’s a fair amount of flailing and some acts of violence against musical instruments to be expected from this band.

In the case of APTBS’s show at Loppen, the unpredictability began innocuously enough, with them opening with “I Lived My Life to Stand in the Shadow of Your Heart,” a song that in previous years would be used to blast the audience apart at the end of their set. If that’s how you’re starting things, how on earth do you follow from there, never mind end them?

A Place To Bury Strangers performing at Loppen in Copenhagen

What follows is some fog from the smoke machine, a budget light show stitched together with strobes and projectors by a roadie constantly having to switch and reposition them (it’s impressive for what it is), and yes, plenty of noise. There’s a little instrument swapping, but not so much that it slows the pace of a show representing a good span of the band’s catalogue.

Halfway through the set, the stage grows completely dark. Drummer Robi Gonzalez leaves the stage, then bassist Dion Lunadon, leaving frontman Oliver Ackermann alone, barely visible in the faint light and smoke, producing a sound from his guitar similar to a thunderstorm. It soon transpires that they’ve set up on the floor a few feet away from the stage, surrounding gear that can’t be distinguished in between flashes of a strobe light, which proves dangerous when the neck of Lunation’s bass nearly makes contact with my face. It’s an unexpected diversion from the glimpses of thrashing bodies through strobe lights.

In answer to an earlier question, they end things with as much feedback as possible — Ackermann first setting his mic against an amp and when that doesn’t work throwing his guitar on the stage and flipping the amp over on top of it. Antics were anticipated, and delivered on, but not exactly as expected. And for that reason, I’ll be there the next time they’re in town.

LIVE REVIEW: K-X-P, Loppen, 05.03.2016

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k-x-p

Finnish trio K-X-P aren’t the best at self promotion. Their band bio lists four people and mentions a rotating drummer (they currently have two drummers playing live). Their photos usually feature obscured faces. At their show at Loppen, they perform on a darkened stage while wearing black hoods, which suggests that one cannot live so far north without bringing some kind of black metal influence into his work. None of it really suggests upbeat, danceable electronica.

But despite their best efforts, K-X-P are curiously accessible. There is no harshness coming from the sawn-off guitar or the table full of knobs that singer Timo Kaukolampi twists, nor his reverb-laden, swampy vocals.

It’s not a big crowd, but everyone is dancing. All the little tables have been abandoned, left piled with coats dangerously close to the candles. Watching hands flail in the air and people jump around during “Space Precious Time,” the mood comes close to touching on rave culture, even as Kaukolampi attempts his best growl.

While having two drummers can seem like a gimmick, in the case of K-X-P it adds further dimension to the otherwise programmed music. It’s a little difficult to distinguish what’s coming from a person directly and what’s coming from a table of wires, but the literal feeling of being propelled forward by their movements compensates for this cerebral uncertainty.

And the confusion about preprogrammed sounds versus physically present instruments is perfectly in keeping with the tone of the evening. It’s hard to reconcile the notes that stretch out into acid-inspired whirs with the group on stage. It’s hard to reconcile that the bodies are dancing around in the low-ceiling Loppen and not in a festival tent in a field. But it’s only these superficial things that feel mismatched. Shut your eyes and enjoy the spaciness, and everything feels right.

LIVE REVIEW: Protomartyr, Loppen, 12.11.2015

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Protomartyr / Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh (mortenkrogh.com)

Photos: Morten Aagaard Krogh

Listening to any of Protomartyr’s albums, and in particular focusing on the deadpan delivery of singer Joe Casey, it’s that their show at Loppen will go one of two ways: Either Casey will be a complete maniac on stage, or he’ll match his dry delivery with every other aspect of his being.

As it turns out, it’s the latter of the two options. Casey is as nonchalant in his body language and facial expressions as his voice suggests he would be. When he does growl, he’ll immediately avert his gaze as though he surprised himself. It’s hard not to look at him, not just because he’s center stage, but because he’s in the middle of so much more overt activity. It’s especially clear at the halfway point in their set when they play “The Devil in His Youth” and the band band have loosened up and a few hoots are called from the crowd, but Casey is singing with one hand in his pocket.
Protomartyr / Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh (mortenkrogh.com)
This does serve to highlight the charm of their bassist rocking back and forth on his toes with surprising lightness. Protomartyr are not a bass-heavy band, and it would be easy to overlook his contributions, however when you can see him literally in time with their drummer, it is immediately clear just how strong their rhythm section is.

Their natural energy is a good counterpoint to a singer who, meanwhile, is placing a failed balloon animal that has made its way on stage next to his beers as though this were perfectly normal (in the encore, he’ll conjure that it’s a “sword – I hope”).

What makes such a reserved performance so watchable is undefinable, but by the time “Why Does It Shake?” rolls to a close we’ve all been sucked into the peculiarity. You definitely won’t get the same thrill just by turning up the volume on the album.

LIVE REVIEW: Chelsea Wolfe, Loppen, 06.11.2015

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Friday’s show at Loppen was the third time we’ve seen Chelsea Wolfe in the last 15 months. At this point, we know what to expect: We know Chelsea is a talented musician who surrounds herself with other talented musicians. We know there’s going to be a heavy gloom cut through with surprisingly delicate vocals — her latest album, Abyss, guarantees this. Any serious deviations from when we last saw her at Roskilde would come as bolts out of the blue. Since that didn’t happen, these are the details I’ve chosen to focus on instead:

  • When the band finally take the stage after an extended string introduction, there is a notable shift in the air. The chatty audience finally shushes and the growing noise develops a sinister quality.
  • Despite having a capable backing vocalist, looped vocal tracks play a big role in Chelsea’s performance. There is something disorienting and mildly fascinating in watching her stomp her loop pedals. Loppen is a physical good space for vocal harmonies.
  • No matter how many times I see her, I will never not be impressed by Chelsea’s backing band. I maintain that her drummer is half man, half machine.
    Chelsea Wolfe-2719
  • It is so much hotter in Loppen than it seems like it should be in November. I’m grateful to be leaning against a cool wall even if it obstructs my view of the stage. Chelsea, of course, is wearing something flowy and in this case one-sleeved. But the sleeve she has is long, and you have to admire that kind of commitment to a look.
  • “We Hit a Wall” elicits not only cheers from the audience, but huge smiles from those behind the soundboard.
  • “That was the song I came to hear, so now we can go,” says an American bro immediately after “We Hit a Wall.” Dude is standing at least 10 feet away from me and does not understand that his voice carries.
  • That said, watching rows of other audience members throw their heads forward at the same time is quite visually pleasing.
  • Chelsea has always been something of a shy performer. Maybe it’s the intimacy of the space, but this is the most engaged I’ve seen her. She plays guitar for nearly the entire set, and for the one song she doesn’t, she uses the stage more than I’ve seen her. It’s a nice development to see in an artist in a relatively short period of time.
    Chelsea Wolfe-2681
  • About an hour and a half, this is also far and away the longest set I’ve seen her play.
  • When the set ends in a squall of noise and feedback, she falls over her guitar repeatedly looking rather like she’s trying and failing to do push ups. Again: signs of shedding her more reserved stage persona.
  • To the parents who brought their slightly bored looking 9-year-old daughter with the giant, noise-canceling, pink headphones: Thank you, that was inspiring.

LIVE REVIEW: Metz, Loppen, 20.10.2015

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Photo by Tom Spray

It’s Metz’s first time at Loppen, but not their first time in Copenhagen. After doggedly touring here over the years, there is a crowd of devotees that have turned out for the band, many in their Metz t-shirts, and some buying them at the merch table to put on immediately over their long sleeved shirts.

This was not an audience that would stand passively by, and less than halfway through the set there is a presumably drunk fellow dancing on stage with the trio. From opener “Headache,” there is scarcely a break in the chanting or fist-pumping, making it feel a little like a basement show in New Jersey (a positive in terms of energy, anyway).

Metz (Photo by Tom Spray)

Amidst the more obvious thrashing and clanging Metz are associated with are circular, looping motions within the songs. But you could never be swept up in these movements, because the band themselves are constantly twitching to throw off that repetition, and there are flashing lights blinding you with a redoubled violence the band don’t exhibit themselves. Though far from low energy, the boldest move of the evening comes when singer Alex Edkins climbs on the drum kit only to find out just how low the ceilings at Loppen are (earlier in the evening, the singer of opening band Crows made a similar discovery when he climbed on a speaker).

Metz just released their second album, II, earlier this year, which is why it’s unexpected when they introduce something newer still. The song, “Eraser,” released as an as-yet non-album single only a week ago, is a frayed song that feels constantly pulled back from the brink with an easy to shout along chorus. Which is convenient, because Metz’s lyrics can feel incidental to the screaming; Edkins is not one for enunciating, and the reverb on his mic doesn’t make it any easier to understand him. He is, albeit, understood clearly enough when he announces their last song, and maybe that accounts for the abrupt way the house music is brought up before he can finish saying good night.

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