Reviews by Amanda Farah and Jesper Gaarskjær
Courtney Barnett — Avalon
If what you want is high energy rock music, it’s hard to do better than Courtney Barnett. Her blues-driven slacker rock with big choruses is perfect for jumping around and wailing along. You could take ready cue from her bassist, who spends much of the set flinging his body from side to side like Muppets are made to when they’re dancing. Add to the to that the background projects of weird but amusing cartoons and there’s the feeling of a subversive kids’ show for adults.
It’s also clear where Barnett’s comfort zone is. It’s well into her set before she says anything to the crowd, though this is a kind group who’ve heard “No One Really Cares If You Don’t Go to the Party” on the radio a hundred times and are singing along to “Depreston,” a song about gentrification and property values. But when she plays a solo her body turns into a rubber band and she loses herself in something ecstatic.
It’s easy to imagine a day when Courtney Barnett will be headlining festivals. She has the songs and she has the energy. The ability to command a stage is still forthcoming, but you can see that she knows it’s something she has to work on. It’s growth we can look forward to seeing. — AF
PJ Harvey — Arena
PJ Harvey knows how to make an entrance. She walks out onto the Arena stage with her band in single file, including a mini drum procession, with her saxophone in hand and wearing an amazing black feather vest.
The Arena stage is filled from end to end with her band, no mean feat, and the crowd is spilling out from the tent. If Polly Jean doesn’t say much between songs, it’s because she has the sort of presence that allows her to get away with saying so little. The profundity of hearing songs like “Let England Shake” and “The Words That Maketh Murder” a week after the UK’s referendum is not lost, even if she doesn’t call direct attention to it.
It’s not as the PJ Harvey is someone you go to see for lightheartedness. The shift away from political drama to songs from To Bring You My Love, including the title track and “Down By the Water” fills the space with a dark energy.
She closes with “River Anacostia” from her latest album, The Hope Six Demolition Project. Slowly, her band join her in a perfect line, singing the final lines together in a communion that’s almost spiritual. Though the crowd lingers, cheering for more, it’s too perfect an ending to follow up. — AF
Tenacious D — Orange
We went out to see Tenacious D thinking it would be a laugh, and it absolutely was. Jack Black on stage is essentially the guy from School of Rock, and Kyle Gass is the guy who is not Jack Black, i.e. an excellent straight man who deals with Black’s over-the-top emoting. For goodness sake, there’s a guy in red body paint and pair of furry trousers playing the part of Satan.
It’s 10 years since the release of The Pick of Destiny, and the set features heavily from the record. A rare outing for “Master Exploder” turns into a somewhat elaborate Milli Vanilli joke, and the segment culminates in “Phoenix,” which acknowledges that sales for The Pick of Destiny were less than stellar. Even if it’s heavy handed in the way that only main stage acts can be, the display of performance is admirable (Black’s repeated mispronunciation of “mange tak” is less so, but points for trying).
Despite the duo’s best efforts not to be serious at all, the crowd is definitely taking them seriously. This is typified in the mass singalong of “Tribute,” which explicitly states that it’s not the greatest song in the world. But if you can’t get in on the joke, what’s the point? — AF
JÚNÍUS MEYVANT (IS), Pavilion
It starts with a resounding “HU!” from the crowd. These days there is something special about everything from Iceland thanks to their football teams’ success at the Euro 2016 and their now legendary HU!-cheer. This event is no exception. Júníus Meyvant, on stage preparing for the first song, seizes the opportunity and gets the whole tent to roar “HU!”, and so a pleasant afternoon begins in the best possible way.
Június Meyvant has brought quite an orchestra to the setup. Eight people in all, including three of them playing wind instruments, kicking off with a surprising instrumental take, indicating that Június Meyvant has much more to offer than the soft, folky tunes from his celebrated first EP. The likes of “Gold Laces” and “Color Decay”. We got those beauties, of course, but the red-bearded Icelander takes the audience new places from song to song. Hushed tunes, full-blown orchestral compositions and solo appearances with only Júníus Meyvant on stage with his guitar.
At the center of it all, his trademark voice, both smooth, raspy and raw, adding some edge to the folky softcore. In between the melodies — during the sometimes too long breaks — he entertains with a profound sarcasm that stands in contrast to the songs, many of them taken from his forthcoming debut album. After this afternoon, that also ended with a “HU!”, expectations are mile high. JG
BISSE (DK), Gloria
There really is no one like Bisse. He blew up Gloria with a high voltage performance, making a clear statement: he is one to watch in the next few years.
He enters the stage as colorful and powerful as his music would lead you to expect. Glitter on one cheek, painted oversized eyebrows on the other, red lipstick, red nails, circular sunglasses, and — when he took the glasses off — a determined, piercing stare under the blond hair. And backed by a tight, intense three-man-band he delivered his shouting, rattling songs; this blend of rage, light, darkness, tenderness, new-wave and punk, that is nowhere else to be heard.
Bisse shouts more than he sings, flitting around the stage, changing dress three times and dancing with a naked torso, sexy and edgy at the same time. And he has a lot to say to the world. He has released four albums in a single year, and though their quality can fluctuate a little, and though it often was hard to distinguish the words from each other in Gloria, he gives everything he has, an artist at his most beautiful, leaving the room breathless. Even when he announces that he is about to do some ballads, it takes only a few seconds before the first ballad turns into a raging roar.
Bisse, this highly gifted chameleon of emotions, attitude, chaos, sex and poetry, really makes the blood rush. JG
SAVAGES (UK), Avalon
I adore Savages. I adore lead singer Jehnny Beth, the black intensity in her eyes, her explosive moves and unbreakable voice, and this Thursday night she and her three bandmates underlined what has been obvious to the world the last three years: Savages is a ripping, gripping and ruthlessly beautiful live act.
Jehnny Beth is above all the mesmerizing star. Pitch-black backslick, red lipstick, pale skin and dark suit. When she stares or points, she leaves a mark of latent danger. She is known for her interaction with the crowd, crowdsurfing and crawling over them — I last experienced it this April in Boston, USA — but that dimension was unfortunately missing at Avalon.
That said, Savages lit the tent up with their energetic darkness and songs about anger and love turned bad, both in their ballads and in their tight punk explosions. JG
It has been a busy year for Here Today. During 2014 our photographers and journalists covered Roskilde Festival, Northside Festival, Trailerpark Festival, Wasn’t Born To Follow (a mini festival by Smash! Bang! Pow!), as well as over 50 live shows with artists like St. Vincent, Swans, Angel Olsen, Sharon Van Etten, The War On Drugs, Mac Demarco, Communions, First Hate, Lower, and many more.
We have put together a selection of the best photos of the year 2014. It has not been easy. Some stood out, though, like the picture below of Perfect Pussy; a picture that captures the raw energy of the show while still being very carefully composed and a perfect example of Henry Cartier Bresson’s concept of the decisive moment.
Perfect Pussy | Wasn´t Born To Follow, Pumpehuset, Copenhagen (Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh)
Another amazing photo is the one of Damon Albarn (by Tom Spray) spitting water at the audience at Roskilde Festival. The crowd, the big empty space and the solitary figure (Damon) at the edge of the stage in a defiant stance; it is a picture with allegorical qualities, one that can make you mind wander.
Damon Albarn | Roskilde Festival, Arena Stage (Photo by Tom Spray)
Then there is Morten Aagaard Krogh‘s photograph of the The Rolling Stones (at the top of this post) from when the band played the legendary Orange Stage at Roskilde Festival, a stage that has come to symbolize the festival. The Orange Stage was originally made for The Rolling Stones’s 1976 Summer tour, but in 1978 it was sold to Roskilde Festival. For the first time since 1976 The Rolling Stones where reunited with their old stage. It was also the first time they played Roskilde Festival. James Hjertholm’s photo of Hexis’s leadsinger Filip Andersen is also very powerful and last, but not least, there is a whole gallery of photos (at the bottom of the page) that are equally great.
Hexis | Roskilde Festival, Rising Stage (Photo by James Hjertholm)
See the gallery with Here Today’s photos of the year 2014 below.
All images are copyright of the individual photographers.
Savages may have marked the last date of their tour with little fanfare, but a crowded main floor of Vega is a testament to success they have enjoyed since the release of Silence Yourself, their debut album on Sacred Bones Records. Proving that I’m not the only one to find the taste of Copenhageners unpredictable, the organisers were forced to move the gig from Lille to Store Vega after a surge in public interest.
One satisfaction is the amount of people gathered around the stage for the opening act; the other is the act itself. Joining Savages all the way from Australia, A Dead Forest Index produce beautiful music under an awful name. Borrowing both from the icy folk-songs of Nico (whose album, The Marble Index, probably explains part of the band’s moniker) and the guitar-and-drums minimalism of Low, these two boys create intense atmospheres through the use of layered vocals, canny guitar effects, and unpredictable drum fills.
Savages saunter on stage like they’ve just finished beating up some skinny indie boyband in a back alley. With no more ceremony than a single “Hi” from lead singer Jehnny, the band launch into “I Am Here”. Emerging out of the slide and sustain noise from Gemma Thompson’s guitar, the verse has that bass-lead bounce that made post-punk almost the only genre I listened to in high school, while the chorus showcases Jehnny’s vocal abilities, as precise as they are wild. The bounce isn’t a complete fabrication of mine, as I see drummer Fay Milton jumping up and down on her seat in time with the kick-drum.
Jehnny prowls about with intense blue eyes and an Ian Curtis haircut (well, that isn’t going to help against the comparison-brigade). She doesn’t so much talk to the crowd as recite short monologues. It is an inescapable fact that Savages are a very serious-minded band, but no one needs jokes or witty anecdotes when confronted with a band that can play songs like “Husbands”, which puts to shame most ‘original’ or ‘authentic’ post-punk bands.
The other benefit of the band’s seriousness is their strict and often-repeated policy on phones and cameras. Plastered all around the place are posters reminding people that constantly taking pictures during the show will probably get you a black eye. Some bastard close by me keeps snapping away, until one heroic guy behind him swatted the phone out of his hands.
The set is a short one, barely an hour, but then their only album, Silence Yourself, is less than 40 minutes in length. Savages close with their longest song, as yet unrecorded, and generally referred to as “Fuckers”. It doesn’t contain the most profound or interesting lyrics ever (“don’t let those fuckers get you down”), but it gives a chance for the band to stretch out and play with the dynamics of a song. It’s a good ending to what must have been a wild year for the band, and as people shuffle out of the venue and into Ideal Bar next door to hear Jehnny’s DJ set, you can’t help wondering what comes next.