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Roskilde Festival 2017: Day 4, 01.07.2017

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Circuit des Yeux’s only Danish shows before today were in Copenhagen and have only been at Jazzhouse (she gives them a nod of gratitude toward the end of the set). So it’s pleasantly surprising to see how many people have turned up for her set at Gloria, given that the rain has stopped as well. We’ve been taken with her tenor-range alto since the first time we saw her, but it was exciting to see her performing with a band instead of solo. She is bolstered by a drummer and violist (and a bit of programming), turning her sinister folk somewhere between rocking and terrifyingly demonic. She closed the set with a new song, so we hope this means she’ll be back again soon.

It doesn’t matter how many times we see Jenny Hval, if she’s playing live we’ll be there. The main reason is that we know that no matter how recently we’ve seen her, the performance itself is going to be different from the last time. A festival stage is a very different setting from a small club, but she compensated with her own take on volume, namely billowing sheets of plastic.

In addition to her usual person behind the control panel, she had another synth player/vocalist and a tuba player, both whom were occasionally called upon to abandon their instruments and leap around the stage while Jenny sang as though none of it was happening around her. It takes tremendous commitment to an idea to jump to the rhythm of an odd ball song while swinging around a big fuck off sheet of plastic like it’s a normal activity.

Slowdive have played Roskilde fairly recently, but not surprisingly their 2014 set at 02:30 wasn’t very highly attended. Not the case at their set at Avalon at what they refer to as a more reasonable hour of 18:00. Then they were riding on reunion buzz, but now they’re supporting a new album. They’ve balanced their set well, weaving in new songs with their back catalogue and still seemingly genuinely excited that they’re performing. Whether it’s Avalon’s sound system or the band’s own mixing choice, there’s a lot of bass in this performance, and it’s melodic and driving enough that we don’t mind that it matches the guitars in volume at all. Interestingly, it’s the new singles “Star Roving” and “Sugar for the Pill” that elicit the biggest cheers. It seems Slowdive have succeeded in introducing themselves to a completely new audience.

Some bands appear to have been specially designed and cultivated in a B-movie laboratory in order to headline a festival, and Arcade Fire are without a doubt one of the prime examples of this. The massive hooks and singalongs that sound more than a little bombastic on record make perfect sense in this massive muddy field. Opening with “Wake Up”, the band do just that, warming up the audience in record time, to the degree that it’s only a few minutes into the set that Win Butler has managed to jump on top of our very own Morten Aagard Krogh in the photo pit. New material from their soon-to-be-released fifth album, Everything Now, is carefully sandwiched between some of their more dance and electronica-leaning work, with the transition between “The Sprawl II” and “Reflektor” being particularly pleasing in its smoothness. Having whipped themselves up with an obvious closer like “Rebellion (Lies)”, Win insists on returning to the stage for one last goodbye, with “Neon Bible”.

It feels like a natural quiet ending, but ance outfit Moderat  – a hybrid of Berlin electronica acts Apparat (Sasha Ring) and dance duo Modeselektor (Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary) – have other plans. The after-midnight gig lasted three hours (at the tail-end of a rainy festival, even our hardiest reviewer only lasted one) and cemented why the outfit has been much-hyped as the ultimate electronica live act. Pounding beats were accompanied by a visually-intricate light show, oscillating from pulsating singles with frenetic drums before moving into mid-tempo ambient tracks. The festival setting meant the volume was higher than any club, leaving a lasting impression of a powerful show for festival-goers to trudge home to.

Moderat | Koncerthuset, Copenhagen,15.02.2014

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Photos by Morten Aagaard Krogh (mortenkrogh.com)

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LIVE REVIEW: Moderat, Koncerthuset, 15.02.2014

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Sat directly underneath the main concert hall of DR’s Koncerthuset, “Studie 1” is not so much a music venue as a faithful recreation of a rather swish regional airport. In one sense this befits Moderat, the fusion of Berlin “legends” and “pioneers” (hack-speak for “bands people have heard of”) Apparat and Modeselektor, whose latest album, II, sees them tackle a broad and accessible range of electronica. Like the album itself, the venue is very clean and tasteful, but I keep expecting songs to be interrupted by a distorted voice saying “Final call for passengers on the SAS flight to Gdansk…”

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Stuck behind the four inter-crossing panels that form Moderat’s backdrop, opener and fellow Berliner Anstam is visible as little more than a backlit shadow. Unperturbed, he jitters around, explaining that the next song is about Terry Gilliam. Cinematic references are obvious in the music, as grandiose themes are dismantled under pounding drums and noises bleeding into the mix. Only when his set ends to I realize I’ve spent the entirety of it trying to come up with anagrams of Anstam (spoiler: turns out there are none).

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I am trying to deal with this personal crisis as Moderat shuffle on stage. Not by any means the most charismatic of musicians, they do seem in good spirits as Sascha Ring attempts some of the worst stage banter I have ever heard in my life (excerpt: “We are finally in Copenhagen. I hope you will like that fact.”). Three men behind workstations, like a mutilated Kraftwerk, the band relies on multiple layers of lights and projections behind them to give some visual life to the music.

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Unsurprisingly, the setlist consists mainly of tracks from their second album, but the live interpretation of these tracks has a different set of values. In such a large space many of the more subtle or quiet sections of the album are completely lost, and throughout the set they are steadily eliminated in favour of straightforward club beats. This isn’t so much music for dancing as it is for standing-awkwardly-with-phone-in-one-hand-and-other-hand-punching-the-air.

Sasha Ring is also allowed much more space for vocals, which on the album generally signal the least interesting tracks. Live, however, they seem to garner the greatest response from the audience, perhaps because they provide the most palpable connection between band and audience. The evening is sold out, but most people in the crowd seem to be spending more time taking pictures of each other than listening to the music. Once again, during the break before the encore, I snap back into reality and discover I have spent the last hour looking at the ceiling and making a mental list of thing I have to do next week.

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