Arriving early at a concert in Copenhagen is tremendously unfashionable, and at a festival doubly so. The benefit of being at Trailerpark in the afternoon is being able to explore the various tents, trailers and assorted installations before they are covered under a mass of pretty people. The festival focuses as much on constructing creative and comfortable spaces as it does on the music, and this year is no exception. As well as the eponymous trailers—one made up to look like a Lynchian crime scene, complete with smoke machine and eerie music, another a Tinder-sponsored shag-shack—there are swings made of recycled pallets, surrealist plush sculptures, rum cabañas and a tent devoted to what can only be described as audio-visual terrorism.
Fans of poor decision-making are welcome to try a spot of tattoo roulette—quite literally spinning a wheel to decide what image will be indelibly etched onto your skin—and in the wilder hours of Friday even an over-cautious curmudgeon like yours truly has to exercise a significant amount of self-restraint to avoid it. Those in search of less permanent damage can get a lopsided haircut and a single leg shaved by a bunch of clowns in bondage gear. Pretty standard fare, really.
There is perhaps no better place than here to take stock of the quality and diversity of the Danish scene, the line-up consisting almost entirely of homegrown talent. This, however, is the only constant. One can wander away from a hip hop act at Royal stage and suddenly come across an emissary of the Mayhem/Posh Isolation scene at Outdoor stage. Throughout, DJs and smaller electronic acts are blasting away in the intimate enclave of Rebel stage.
The day starts relatively peacefully with Alice Boman’s wistful folk pop, which transitions neatly into the music of CODY, Copenhagen’s post-folk collective and arguably one of the most talented groups of musicians in the city. Drawing primarily on material from Windshield, their latest album, the six-piece (but depending on the day there could just as easily be eight people on stage, or even just the one) manage to work their wealth of instruments into a beautifully simple whole.
The rest of the day is devoted mainly to electronic acts. Among the most promising newer artists are Mont Oliver, who add a touch of Madchester swagger to their performance (seriously, the guy at the keyboards is even wearing one of those floppy 90s fishing hats). Later on, Ice Cream Cathedral filled Outdoor stage with their pop pyschedelia, followed by a mesmeric Sekuoia.
Baby In Vain did their best to convert the crowd to Satan, before Julias Moon could do is darndest to become the Danish equivalent of Michael Jackson.
Though every day at Trailerpark has its moments, Friday is the one that does its best to physically and mentally destroy festival-goers. In the most positive sense of the phrase, naturally. Hand Of Dust and Get Your Gun bring a dark and twisted version of Americana to town, though their early slots mean that only a handful of the most dedicated are able to witness any of it.
The tone for the rest of the evening is set by New York rapper Le1f. Preceded by a brief display from an acrobat in bondage gear (a phrase I don’t get to use enough), Khalif Diouf exudes equal parts sexuality (consider that barely an hour later will see a DJ set from someone called DJ Cockwhore) and flighty exuberance. Cutting songs short when he gets tired of them, Le1f makes it clear that he is here to have as much fun as the audience.
Though Sleep Party People’s mix of lullabies and post-rock is both a visually and aurally captivating experience, the true energy of the evening is found with two bands: Reptile Youth and Broke. Though the former is considerably more famous, the two share similarities in sound and attitude, guitar-led dance music and physicality. I can personally attest to having had Reptile Youth’s frontman Mads Damsgaard Kristiansen land on my head twice during improperly announced stage dives, and Broke’s frontman developed a liking for humping one of the central tent poles of Outdoor stage.
All this can only be topped by the utter perfection (in the eyes and ears of this reviewer at least) of The Felines, who bring wide smiles and awkward attempts at the twist to the 4am crowd.
Fans of Danish “pop sensations” and hip hop acts must forgive me, but the real stars of the final day of Trailerpark are all at Outdoor stage. First Hate are possibly the dorkiest duo I have ever seen, which automatically makes them cooler than anyone in this tremendously well-dressed audience. It helps that they almost flawlessly channel Speak and Spell-era Depeche Mode, down to the Dave Gahan-esque vocals and dance moves. It’s pure and unabashed synth-pop, and it instantly converts all those present.
If prizes were being awarded, one would have to go to Communions, who have transformed into a much more mature band in the intervening months since our last encounter with them. The punk attitude is still there, but it no longer has a stranglehold over their sound, and finally they devote themselves to the wiry jangle-pop that was always lurking underneath the discordant tone and shambolic compositions. Those of us who spent the bike-ride to Enghave listening exclusively to Felt (or is that just me?) are in for a very pleasant surprise.
As people gather to watch Shiny Darkly, it is evident that they are precisely the same hand-picked audience that attended First Hate and Communions. Apparently I have become a stereotype, though what that might be is unclear. Though perhaps the most obviously post-punk oriented of all the acts at Trailerpark, Shiny Darkly do not simply emulate their elders and betters. The raw riffs and chanted vocals are driven by a spartan and effective rhythm section, and on occasion even joined by a violinist or a trumpet player. The extra instruments are used with an ear for noise and harmonics as much as they add an extra layer of melody to the songs. At any rate they bespeak a level of ambition that is the mark of a healthy music scene. The likes of S!vas and Christopher might bring in the punters, but visitors looking for the true energy of the city should follow the leather jackets.
View the galleries from Trailerpark Festival here:
Thanks to Sony for letting us try the new Sony a7S camera.
All photos by Morten Aagaard Krogh (mortenkrogh.com)
Photos by Morten Aagaard Krogh
Ice Cream Cathedral
Trailerpark Festival ambience
Baby In Vain
Trailerpark Festival ambience
Trailerpark Festival ambience
Thanks to Sony for giving us the opportunity to try their new Sony a7S camera
After two albums and two EPs, Copenhageners CODY return to our collective ear holes with Windshield (February 2014), a ten-track album bent on redefining the band as a sophisticated and urbane chamber-pop septemvirate.
Frontman and songwriter Kaspar Kaae would be the first to admit that, despite the collective nature of the band, previous recordings have tended to centre on him as singer-songwriter: “In the beginning it was just me, but then I added a ton of people, because that was part of the whole philosophy. We started to be the seven piece that we are now a couple of years ago, but we continued to add horns and singers.”
This propensity for folk-inspired maximalism has not transferred onto Windshield, perhaps in part due to Kaspar sharing composition duties with guitar player David.
“Usually I arrange and record the demos, but this time we did it together, which was a challenge. Suddenly he had a say in things. For example, there are no horns on this album, because he hates it. I love it, but I thought ‘All right, lets try without them, because we’ve had them on every album since the beginning.’”
The addition of another writer paradoxically lead to a much more stripped sound, with a lot more punch that one would have anticipated. The opener, the eponymous “Windshield” has a bouncy rhythm section supporting the guitar and organ lines. Kaspar describes it as more “extrovert and simple” thanks to the “new blood”, and indeed for every melancholy acoustic number (“Rotterdam” or “Arms Around”) there are three or four that vary from the anthemic (“The Medic Blues”) to the almost shoe-gaze of “Midnight”.
“I feel like we took a hundred steps away from the last album. For you it might sound like ten.”
Talking in his Nørrebro apartment, it is clear that Kaspar is sometimes divided between enthusiasm and a propensity for self-effacement, but the result is a thoughtfulness that is clearly present in his music and lyrics.
“The whole ‘man with his guitar’ thing, we’ve done that for so many years. It was important to have other parts of the music as the structure. The first song, Windshield, it’s really the organ that is the main instrument. It’s hard to remember ‘no guitar in the middle’, but we wanted something more fresh and open. We were pretty focused on saying ‘What if we moved these chords from the accordion to the flute or the piano.’ But I’m not really ready to leave the guitar yet; it comes back and takes its power.”
One of the pleasures of interviewing musicians is simply talking about mutual likes and dislikes. Some bands are almost ashamed of their influences, perhaps feeling that they will be found wanting in comparison to their heroes. On this topic Kaspar is perhaps at his most enthusiastic. He riffles through his vinyl collection, stopping to point out a local band or something relatively obscure or surprising. I notice that there aren’t nearly as many folk or roots records as I might have expected:
“What I listen to is French pop music, Swedish indie music, and a lot of Danish bands. A lot of the vinyl over there [gestures to the pile] is from up and coming Danish bands. I listen to Phoenix or Yan Tiersen, and I can snatch parts of it, this atmosphere, this violin part. You pull stuff out. I get way more out of listening to Lykke Li than Fleetfoxes. I find it more interesting listening to pop music and then trying to take the parts I like, make them sound like a folk band.”
I latch on to the Yann Tiersen reference, since Kaspar has composed the soundtrack for the 2014 Norwegian thriller In Order of Disappearance. With a Scandinavian all-star cast that includes Stellan Skarsgård and Borgen’s Birgitte Hjort Sørensen, the film’s trailer promises a mix of Americana and Baltic references when it comes to music. I ask how this compares to writing music for CODY:
“It’s the total opposite of writing songs and releasing them. One of my friends who writes scores told me: ‘You need to take your ego, put it in a basement and lock the door.’ You are the tool. It’s still really fun because you collaborate with people who don’t write music, but relate to it and use it. Satisfying the director is really difficult, and sometimes you wonder ‘How can you not like this?’ It’s an interesting way to work. A lot of people put the film on the screen and play [referring to Neil Young on Dead Man]. The film wasn’t finished at all, but we had two and a half hours of movie we could work with. It was fun to see these beautiful pictures. When you see snowy mountains you can almost make anything.”
What with the film score and other projects, Kaspar confides that without David’s input, it is doubtful Windshields would have been ready by now. The rest of the band come in at a later stage, but they still have a vital say in matters, including the lyrics. By now many of them are parents, which complicates matters during a tour, but Kaspar assures me these aren’t problems, “only challenges”. Their Spring Tour has just begun to wind its way around Jutland before passing through Odense, ending back home in Copenhagen at the Bremen Theatre on March 15.
Copenhagen septet Cody release their new album today entitled Windshield. The band have shared a video for the title track “Windshields” which was directed by Jeanette Nordahl and see three girls in a rather regal setting busting some well choreographed dance moves before breaking out into chaotic freestyle.
Watch the video below: