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LIVE REVIEW: Yung + Total Heels, Stengade, 4.03.2015

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Total Heels | Stengade | Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh (mortenkrogh.com)

Photos by Morten Aagaard Krogh (mortenkrogh.com)

It’s easy to become completely Copenhagen-centric when you live here. The rest of Denmark seems to be just where people’s parents live. It’s refreshing, therefore, to see an act like Yung, injecting some Aarhus-bred punk into the Copenhagen scene. Fresh from the release of their Alter EP and a gig supporting Metz in London, the band has drawn a significant crowd at Stengade.

Total Heels | Stengade | Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh (mortenkrogh.com)

The opening act, Total Heels, are a band I make it my business to see live whenever possible. Their manic brand of organ-lead garage rock, full of fat riffs and prehistoric drum beats, is pushed into overdrive by the energy and wit of their frontman, New-Yorker Jason Orlovich. Their self-titled album incorporates everything from the Stooges to the vocal weirdness of the B-52s, but at its heart Total Heels is a live band, all sweat and spit.

Yung | Stengade | Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh (mortenkrogh.com)

Yung are often, out of laziness, lumped in with the rest of the ‘Danish punk’ scene, whatever that might be. Yet both their sound and attitude is markedly different from their Copenhagen colleagues. Sure, there are post-punk references there in the guitar riffs and basslines, but the approach is less dark and diffident. What you get with songs like “Don’t Cry” are the emotional swings between melancholy and raucousness of American proto-emo bands, even the jagged pop-punk of the likes of Jawbreaker. Mikkel Silkjær’s vocals tend towards a high-pitched chanting and raspy shouting, a marked contrast with the disaffected drones of some of our local bands.

Both bands are models of onstage commitment, fortunate enough to have a small international audience without taking anything for granted. And in a climate where international interest in ‘Danish punk’ is bound to fade soon, that level of energy and humility will be key.

PHOTOS: Yung + Total Heels, Stengade, 04.03.2015

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Total Heels | Stengade | Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh (mortenkrogh.com)

Photos by Morten Aagaard Krogh (mortenkrogh.com)

Yung
Total Heels | Stengade | Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh (mortenkrogh.com)

Total Heels | Stengade | Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh (mortenkrogh.com)

Yung | Stengade | Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh (mortenkrogh.com)

Total Heels

Total Heels | Stengade | Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh (mortenkrogh.com)

Total Heels | Stengade | Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh (mortenkrogh.com)

Yung | Stengade | Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh (mortenkrogh.com)

Total Heels | Stengade | Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh (mortenkrogh.com)

PLAYLIST: Here Today’s Concerts

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The month of March will not only be treating us with some exciting concerts, but also Sonar Festival (March 13-14). We have updated our “Here Today Concerts” playlist with a few selected artists that you might want to spend a night listening to. Among them are Dean Blunt, Jessica Pratt, Yung (tonight with Total Heels), Ex Hex and Wounded Kings.

Yung + Total Heels (Stengade, 04.03.2015)

As the music scene centered around Mayhem is becoming more widely known, you might be fooled into thinking that it is the only place to go underground in Denmark. That is not the case, though, as Aarhus has it’s own very lively scene. Yung is one of the most promising bands that have emerged from there in the last few years. Tonight (March 4. 2015) they will be playing Stengade along with another great band: Total Heels. Didn’t make it to any of Iceage’s sold out shows at Jazzhouse last week? Well don’t worry, good times are waiting at Stengade. [Link to event.]

Ex Hex (Loppen, 05.03.2015)

According to The Guardian’s 5 star review of Ex Hex’s 2014 album, Rips, the band “sit somewhere near the middle of a Go-gos/Ramones/Sleater-Kinney Venn diagram, and join latterday power-pop aces like Warm Soda, the Love Triangle and Sheer Mag in making some of the most endlessly repeat-listenable should-be-hits of recent years.”

What else is there to say, sounds fun, right? [Link to event.]

Dean Blunt (Jazzhouse, 20.03.2015)

Dean Blunt, who plays Jazzhouse on the 20th of March, is an interesting new breed of experimental lo-fi R&B, dub and electronica. Last year he released the album Black Metal to great critical acclaim.

Dean Blunt is also one half of Hype Williams. [Link to event.]

Jessica Pratt (Stengade, 28.03.2015)

San Fransisco born singer-songwriter Jessica Pratt has just released her second album, On Your Own Love Again. Forget laptop wall-of-sound productions, Jessica Pratt made her album on an analogue 4-track recorder with little more than a guitar and her voice. As Pitchfork writes, it worked out really well: “Its warm, home-recorded atmosphere is more dramatic and distinctive than Jessica Pratt [her debut album]: finger-picked psychedelia, lucidly layered harmonies, hissy tape effects, an overcast haze. But Pratt’s songwriting is more cohesive and concise, her whispered secrets more alluring”. [Link to event.]

Wounded Kings (Loppen, 18.03.2015)

Life can not always be expressed in freak-folk and “repeat-listenable should-be-hits”. Sometimes you need a bit of doom metal and this is where The Wounded Kings enter the scene. Their latest album Consolamentum has received great praise among reviewers. If you sometimes find yourself nodding along to Black Sabbath, Wounded Kings are worth considering. [Link to event]

LIVE REVIEW: The Men, Loppen, 18.03.2014

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The Men: the generic name is revealing in itself. Initially labelled as a post-punk band, possibly due to the connection with Sacred Bones Records (home to Savages), the band’s last albums have steadily encompassed almost every genre of guitar-centric music, from psychedelia to hardcore. Their latest release, Tomorrow’s Hits, move back even further in time, with references to soul and Bruce Springsteen, albeit reinterpreted and speeded up to fit The Men at their most manic.

Loppen fills up with a varied contingent of long-haired dudes in black t-shirts, the usual entourage of shirt-buttoned-to-the-top teens, and assorted older hipsters. First on stage, Communions have become so familiar to me, and one presumes the readers of Here Today, that describing their set seems rather futile. Check our reviews of Traams or Iceage, or wait for their session with this website.

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Communions

Having fallen behind schedule, Total Heels are determined not to waste a second of their set. “We are Total Heels, we’re from here” exclaims a frantic frontman, assuring us they will only play twenty minutes. He looks determined to punch a clock until the minute hand thinks better of this whole moving forward business. Like a beefed-up Question Mark and the Mysterians, the four-piece have an energy that is rare in these cynical times. They should also be commended for filling the press photo section of their website with pictures of puppies and promo shots of Vampire Weekend.

Finally the Men arrive at midnight, and in the spirits of the previous bands, waste no time with stage banter, ploughing through songs at a ridiculous volume. Though they have the loudness and unmistakeable bass-tone of a hardcore band, the Men are more focused on instrumental jamming, sharing vocal duties in intermittent bursts. No matter how disparate their influences on each song, there is a surprising continuity between the new material and that from previous albums.

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The Men

Live renditions of brass-driven tracks like “Another Night” tend to veer away from their E-Street Band associations, with the odd Allman Brothers guitar lick substituting for a saxophone stab. Mark Perro’s keyboards only really make sense in the new songs, but they never seem out of place, in spite of the cheesy reputation that keyboards usually have in punk. And though for the most part the Men rely on their older aesthetic when playing live, it is their newest single “Pearly Gates” that gets the most enthusiastic reaction.

Loppen is the perfect location for this brand of bar-rock, unpretentious and unapologetic. No one is pretending it’s the seventies or eighties, but then again I don’t think anyone gives a damn that it’s 2014 either.

VIEW THE FULL PHOTO GALLERY HERE

THE MEN Support: Communions + Total Heels | Loppen, 18.03.2014

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Photos by Morten Aagaard Krogh

Communions

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The Men

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