Denmark’s ten must-see concerts in October

Original article written for The Local Denmark, available here

October in Denmark is often a month of Indian summers and sunshine surprises before the big chill sets in. This time around, Copenhagen music venue Pumpehuset has secured several mammoth bookings whilst Vega have acquired a curiously mainstream sensibility for the next month (bar Of Monsters and Men and The Tallest Man on Earth both of whom are, with good reason, sold out and thus not included here). Here are The Local’s picks for the best gigs in the month of October.

Youth Lagoon
Jazzhouse, October 4th at 8pm
Trippy and psychedelic, Youth Lagoon’s music is a bit of an opinion divider. Like fellow psychedelic enthusiasts Animal Collective, theirs is a universe of bright, radiant colours, strange clangs and faraway thuds from faraway places.

Amager Bio, October 10th at 8pm
Slovenia’s Gramatik is all about experimentation. It’s electronic music wed with the wildness of hip-hop in the church of funk. The result is something you have to see for yourself.

The Waterboys
Pumpehuset, October 13th at 7 pm
Vintage rock fans take heart! The mercurial, seminal Waterboys have been around for over 30 years, during which time songs like ‘The Whole of The Moon’ have made big waves in the ocean of quality music. Interpretations by the likes of Ellie Goulding and Prince are a testament to their quality.

The Vaccines
Pumpehuset, October 15th at 8pm
English rockers The Vaccines will wring you inside out with their feisty, high-BPM infusion of The Clash meets The Ramones. Armed with a newly dropped album that has already got the attention of many a critic, The Vaccines are on top form currently.

Store Vega, October 15th at 9pm
Cheff Records kingpin TogGunn has an indefatigable grip on the Danish music market, commanding millions of views on YouTube. Digital age stats aside, his ability to capture the hearts and minds of the young public he attracts is admirable.

Pumpehuset, October 16th at 8pm
The godfather of Minneapolis’s underground hip-hop scene, Sean Daley, aka Slug, brings his energising stage show to Denmark yet again. With eight studio albums stretching back to 1997, Slug and his partner Ant may no longer be on the cutting edge, but there is no doubting Atmosphere’s ability as entertainers of the people.

The Orb
Pumpehuset, October 24th at 8pm
The Orb are a slice of music history in themselves, as chief purveyors of the genre of ambient-house – acid house’s younger and more pleasant little sister. Expect gorgeous snippets of Brian Eno-esque sound universes merged with sedated Chicago house influences that will keep you ticking for days to come.

Jedi Mind Tricks
Store Vega, 29 October at 8pm
Philly rap duo Jedi Mind Tricks are some of the most technically astute rappers in the game – waxing lyrical in a rapid-fire tirade backed by dramatic beat landscapes that set the stage for a heavily critical narrative. Expect to be blown away.

Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats
Amager Bio, October 30th at 9pm

This booking seems tailor-made for Halloween. Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats’ mix of classic metal riffs and psychedelia is paired with imagery that looks like it has been pulled straight out of 70s horror films. Throw in references to notorious killers like Charles Manson, and if you got the workings for what is sure to be a ghoulish time.

The Range, Ideal Bar Feb 2014

Ideal Bar, 5 out of 6 stars

I traipsed lazily into the warm environs of Vega’s Ideal bar not really knowing what to expect on Wednesday night. Dark wintry evenings are not the best fodder for even the most ardent music lovers but Ideal bar, the smallest sibling in the Vega family, tends to impress almost every time out.

I got in just in time for opening act Jongpadawan (Pronounced Young Padawan, a reference to star wars), who paved the path for a lo-fi evening with a serving of sautéed bits and pieces that contained a solid electronic foundation, lightly glazed with merry, abstract beat wizardry. For a 21 year old with only a handful of releases to his credit, Jongpadawan proved to be a class act, worthy of a stage at either August’s Strøm or Distortion later in the year , so keep an eye open for him.

Moving back to the main act; The Range, aka James Hinton, waltzed casually onto the stage and got straight down to business with his set, playing a tightly woven sequence of tracks that mixed seamlessly with each other from the get-go. Hinton’s music draws from influences as far wide as grime, hip-hop, and jungle, side-dishes around a main platter of electronic nature. The result is a complex sound, that sounds remotely similar to the surreal composition of underground British artists like Burial fused with infusions of Andreas Trentemøller’s driven experimental forays.

Several songs off debut album Nonfiction were particularly emblematic; ‘the loftmane’ for it’s wicked sampled vocal, ‘Seneca’ for it’s euphoric buildup and the fact that it sounds very much like the work of revered electronic artist Gold Panda and ‘Postie’ for its symphonic piano chords that sound like they’re straight out of a 1930’s Bechstein grand piano in a cavernous hall. Hinton sang along to many of his tracks adding layer upon layer of beats, effects and the occasional turntable scratch for good measure, luring the small crowd onto a bewildering journey through the sound that has earned him a call-up to Barcelona’s legendary Primavera Sound later this year. Equally impressive were the two old school hip-hop tracks that he played towards the end of the show, a humble tribute to one of the underlying influences of his music. Where Britains Disclosure have gained fame through accessible, pop-influenced tunes laden with wonderful electronic influences, The Range has developed a slightly similar style, rooted in hip-hop and woven in contemplative beat work that should see this kid kick it with some of the very best, if his present trajectory continues on the blazing trail it has lit over the last year or so. 

Point Blank, Ideal Bar January 2014

Original article in this week’s Copenhagen Post


5 out of 6 stars

After bearing witness to a mere five minutes worth of performance time by hip hop orchestra Point Blank, the first burning question in the back of my mind was why on earth lively boys from Århus were stuck in the miniature confines of Ideal Bar and not filling the floor at Store Vega. As the concert went on, it became evident that these chaps are surely destined for bigger and brighter prospects in the future, which is saying a lot, considering that they’ve already notched warm-up gigs for the likes of Ice Cube, and France’s Hocus Pocus.

Point Blank waltzed onto the small stage at Ideal Bar sporting smiles and heavily armed with an array of brass instruments with which to lay their mark on the cold evening. Their merry sound is one that is comparable to some of the epic hip hop tracks of the eighties, with a witty modernist touch that features rapid lyrics from their frontman that are not too unlike those employed by rapid rappers such as the U.S.A’s Ludacris. And whilst one may draw all manner of parallels with seminal bands like The Roots or point to their sound being a very Brooklyn- like affair, Point Blank are quick to distance themselves from most forms of classification, with good cause too, for theirs is a sound that is as unique as it is innovative.

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Ideal bar have made considerable improvements to their sound and ambiance, through better insulation and a revamped wall section that contains the sound a bit better. It showed on the night, with the brassy sounds of Point Blank ricocheting stylishly off the wood-finish walls. Ahead of their debut album, set to drop in Autumn, Point Blank’s repertoire is not the most extensive but the few tracks they do have were played with passion, aplomb and Jutlandish humility, three tenets that underscore what they are all about musically. With sub-zero winds and gnarling temperatures lashing at people’s humour, the audience can be forgiven for taking their time to well and truly open up to the night’s entertainment, though it was never a venue that was going to yield wild scenes of merrymaking and chaos. Rather, things were chilled and laidback; a mellow, systematic buildup to a finale that saw Point Blank churn out some of the more lyrically driven tunes in their arsenal as their lead singer charmed his way into the crowd with a series of rapid-fire vocals. Expect bigger and better things from this band, probably the best in Danish hip hop at the moment and for some time to come.

French Films, Ideal Bar, September 2013

Welcome to the 21st century of globalisation and cultural fusions, where a Finnish band by the name of French Films can perform songs loosely rooted in classical American pop influences that shudder with clangs of the Beach Boys and The Ramones in central Copenhagen.

French Films marked their return to Danish soil last night following their widely popularised outing at Roskilde’s Pavillion junior stage last year, and what a return it was. Clad in skinny jeans and leather jackets that echoed the sartorial traits of bands such as The Libertines, the Finnish quintet stepped on stage looking blasé and calm, following solid warm-up work by local band The New Investors. The compact confines of Vega’s Ideal Bar allowed the audience to get very close to the stage, rekindling memories of one of the summer’s most promising festivals, Henry’s Dream, where a band with an orientation like French Films would be right at home.

The boys from Helsinki were quick off the mark, getting straight to business with a hot-to-trot opener followed by ‘Take you with me’ off their debut EP, 2010’s The Golden Sea.  Lengthening the proceedings,  songs such as ‘Ridin’ on’ off 2013’s marquee album White Orchid added form and substance to what was ultimately a very intimate concert that had sweat dripping off the walls of a sweltering Ideal Bar.

Invariably, the distinct indie pop renditions of French Films do tend to sound rather repetitive after some time, as one feels lost in the thick mass of strums and heavily percussive melodies. In spite of this, the concert did seem to grow in stature and depth, as the musicians used the full width of the stage to perform with a tremendous amount of energy and free spiritedness.

By the end of the show, many of the evening’s guests found their feet and torsos swaying from side to side in sync with the rhythmic instrumentals, backed by vocal patterns that sent wave upon wave of sun-drenched summer memories into the cold September night.

French Film’s musicianship is a joy to watch, and their sheer energy on stage is a tremendous compliment to their rich, absorbing take on rock. Far too adroit to be playing at Ideal Bar, expect bigger and brighter things from them in 2013 and an almost certain graduation to bigger concert venues for their next visit to Denmark.

Penny Police Interview, Vega April 2013

Original written for The Copenhagen Post

Penny Police is a act that caused quite a few ripples across the Danish music scene when she first surfaced a few years ago. Those ripples have been spreading ever since, and bear the potential of developing into storm waves, if Penny’s ascendancy in the hallmarks of Danish music continues.

The Copenhagen Post caught up with Marie Fjelsted before her performance at Vega’s Ideal Bar last week, for a quick chat about her music, new E.P and where she is headed in 2013.

Amk: “What’s your music about, for all those who don’t know ?” “Why make music in the first place ?”

Penny: “I make music because i’ve got a lot going on inside of me. My music is an outlet for all the many thoughts and stuff that are sailing around my head”

Amk: “A way of sharing your thoughts perhaps ?”

Penny: “Sort of, it’s not as if I think, now I MUST tell everyone what’s going on – it’s more something that happens and my feelings are translated through music in a natural way.”

Amk: “Penny Police is an interesting stage name.” “Where does it come from and what does it mean ?”

Penny: “Penny is the pleasant aspect of the two P’s and Police is the harder, rougher dimension.” “It’s a duality that reflects who I am and what my music is all about”

Amk: What about your inspiration, where does that come from ?

Penny: “It’s all thoughts- thoughts that I have about different things; life for instance.” “It’s about what’s right for oneself.” “It’s so easy to say, “I should have done this or that or the other” so it’s important for me to constantly think about what it is that’s important for me.” “It is about finding ones balance, which of course is a never-ending process.” “Musically, there is lots of stuff that inspires me-the Norwegian Ane Brune is really cool, The Beatles- George Harrison, Paul McArtney and all of that lot as well- they’ve got some amazing melodies !”

Amk: “Your new E.P sink or sail has recently dropped. Tell us a bit about it”

Penny: “All the songs on it are about the lives of inner feelings.” “Whereas my previous productions were way more outgoing, sink or sail is a lot more melancholic.” “The songs emanate from thoughts that came out of situations where I couldn’t do anything else other than bury myself in a sofa in sadness.” “It’s about what springs to mind in such situations, about getting knocked down and getting up again.”

“Musically, it’s very ambient and there’s no autoharp on it.” “Some would say it’s art-pop, whereas my album from last year is more within the singer-songwriter niche and has more folk elements.”

I noticed that you grew up in Ribe, Denmark’s oldest city and culturally a place where lots happens. What was it like for you growing up there ?

Penny: “Ribe is a great town to grow up in !” “There’s lots of music, which affected me a lot.” “I attended a musical academy there and exploited all the opportunities I could such as performing in Ribe’s church and so on.” “It’s a small town with a big town feel because of all the cultural happenings that take place there , many of which I was happy to be a part of.”

Amk: “And how does Copenhagen live up to that ?”

Penny : “I’m happy to live in Copenhagen.” “It’s also a nice city.” “I couldn’t imagine myself living in Ribe in my youth, right now that is.”

Amk “So with your E.P on the shelves and several concerts on the calendar, what’s next for you this year ? “

Penny : “I’m writing songs for a new album. Some of them have already been written, some are still pending. It’s scheduled for a release in 2014.” “ I’m also talking to people in England and Germany about future musical projects.” “I’m also working closely with Barbara Moleko and we’ll be writing songs together for her new album.”

Penny Police, Ideal Bar: April 2013

Ideal Bar is often the neglected child in the Vega family, consigned to a solitary, unsung existence in the shadow of its bigger siblings, Lille and Store Vega. In spite of that, the venue has played host to quite a few upcoming acts over the years, generally sticking to a more down-tempo profile. This was the case last night when Penny Police, one of Denmark’s most exciting alternative pop acts, took to the stage at the venue. Ideal Bar was packed to capacity, with many revelers sitting on the floor around the stage.

Warming up for Penny was 18-year-old Emma Søhested Høeg, as vibrant an intro act as one could imagine. She charmed the crowd with a host of reflective, socially-relevant songs. Clad in a pink dress and bearing a pert disposition, Emma Høeg was both witty, imaginative and daring, chuckling and cracking jokes in between her repertoire of contemplative tracks.

The humble, composed Marie Fjeldsted grew up in Denmark’s oldest town of Ribe and has a long history of producing melancholic, thoughtful songs charting her contemplations and interpretation of life. Her stage moniker Penny Police epitomises the essence of her music, with ‘Penny’ reflecting the lively, positive aspects of her productions and ‘Police’ constituting the more melancholic side of her music. Both dualities were present at this performance.

Penny softened the jovial mood created by her warm-up act, starting with a couple of solemn tracks off her newly dropped 2013 EP Sink Ships. Much like the EP, the opening was soothing, ambient and dreamy. ‘Run for your life’ is the only up-tempo track on the EP and is one of those numbers that rockets to life when performed live. It marked a turning point in the concert, paving the way for a series of tunes from her 2012 debut album The Broken, The Beggar, The Thief, many of which found Penny plucking away at an electric harp with an ethereal, weightless panache. A particularly notable highlight was ‘Up Here,’ a tune which got the crowd swaying and smiling, in a rare moment of sheer positivity.

Penny rounded off the show with melancholic tunes such as ‘What if Life Doesn’t Kill You’ and ‘Kid I Recommend You Stop Breathing’ before an encore with the catchy ‘With all the Best’ rounded off the performance. There is little doubt that Penny Police is a musician of some talent, who plays with ease and a tremendous sense of composure – that many live acts all too often lack.

Anna Rosenkilde, Ideal Bar, Vega Jan 2013

With Swedish garage rockers The Hives rocking it at Store Vega last night, one can be forgiven for not having noticed the much quieter singer-songwriter playing at Vega’s diminutive Ideal Bar at the same time.

Not really knowing that much about Anna Rosenkilde and her music, I turned up to a venue that was half-full at best on a wintry evening in late January. I was pleasantly surprised, though – Rosenkilde’s concert turned out to be an enjoyable Thursday night out and a fitting end to the month.

Kristian Harting and his 1966 guitar took care of the warm up duties and was backed by a brilliant sound technician who backed Harting’s steely vocals with a series of catchy loops and distortions and through a sequencer. Dream Jockey (Harting and his technician) played a short, disjointed set, consisting of ethereal vocal sequences layered dexterously on top of each other.

Despite having started off well, it all got rather complex and a bit too loud quite quickly. As innovative as he was, Harting seemed to be losing himself in the multiple echoes of his own voice and guitar strums. To be fair, this sort of sequencing could easily have worked well at a bigger venue with better amplification. The duo rounded off their appearance with a tune entitled ‘Queen of the Highway’, a song that drew on trip-hop and Sufi influences with a simpler sound compared to some of his more intricate sound arrangements.

Anna Rosenkilde then took to the stage shortly afterwards, looking confident in a green dress against the foreground of a couple of red keyboards. Her first few songs didn’t make that much of an impression, though she definitely found her pace when backed by a drummer, pianist and vocalist later on. She performed solo again towards the end and was more reassured and assertive, finding her stride with acoustic tracks such as ‘Blue Boat’, which was flanked by sampled sounds of waves crashing gently on a shoreline.

An obvious highlight of the show was the brilliant piano-backed cover of the English folk ballad ‘Scarborough Fair’, made famous by Simon & Garfunkel. Rosenkilde rounded off the proceedings with ‘Snowy Angel’, backed by a guitar player, drummer and pianist, before ‘Island’ put an end to the show, with its drearily optimistic contemplations of life after death.

All in all the show was nothing out of the ordinary, though it’s easy to see why Rosenkilde is regarded as highly as she is in music circles.