Denmark’s ten must-see concerts in December

Original article written for The Local Denmark, available here

Christmas dominates the proceedings in December, but the month still features several promising shows, particularly within the drum ‘n’ bass and heavy metal genres

If stadium-sized gigs are your thing, December is definitely not the month for you. More intimate, less commercial gigs are a bit of a given in a month in which shopping and julefrokoster eat up our time,  and amongst these, several hold great potential as events to be remembered.

The Local has gone digging amongst the scraps and found the best of the lot.

Children of Bodom
Amager Bio, December 1st at 8pm
What was originally supposed to be a double bill with Lamb of God at Vega has been downsized after the American band cancelled its tour in the aftermath of the Paris attacks. Finland’s Children of Bodom are soldiering on and will bring their seemingly gruesome and even barbaric thunderous approach to metal to rip whatever rafters bind Amager Bio’s roof to its hinges. ‘I Worship Chaos’ is the title of their ninth studio album, which was released earlier this year, adding to a catalogue of chaos-causing music over the years.

 

Doe Parro
Ideal Bar, December 2nd at 8pm
If you hear Doe Parro’s name mentioned in the same breath as Bon Iver or The Tallest Man on Earth, you may quite rightly wonder why. LA-based Parro is not a rock musician by any stretch of the imagination but her producers have had great success with the previously mentioned artists – a testament to her eclecticism, which spans the genres of R&B, soul and even the odd touch of dubstep.

 

Kadavar
Rust, December 2nd at 8pm
Kadavar are a watered-down take on Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, featuring similar trippy, heavily laden rock influences. Armed with a new album,  ‘Berlin’, expect burly, broad-shouldered show from these German heavyweights.

 

Clutch
Store Vega, December 4th at 7pm
Clutch epitomise all that is good and great about the American hard-rock tradition. Touring in support of their 2015 album ‘Psychic Warfare’, the Maryland-based band has been a mainstay for well over 20 years. With the band seasoned veterans in what Consequence of Sound dubbed “belligerent boogie rock”, Clutch will be the soundtrack for a Friday night party not to be missed.

 

Flavour, Dj Graded & Luc Rocc
Rust, December 5th at 11pm
Rust’s new nightclub fixture ‘Flavour’ kicks off its December programme with a visit from two of hip-hop’s veritable local representatives. Dj Grdaded, a four-time Danish DMC champion and two-time Nordic champ, is a permanent establishment within Copenhagen’s hip-hop scene. Luc Rocc is slightly less well-known but holds an impressive portfolio as one of the city’s foremost disc jockeys.

 

Area 55
Store Vega, December 5th at 11:30 pm
Area 55 is a trance collective that has hosted some of the city’s most renowned underground trance events, many of which have taken place in venues such as KPH Volume and Halvandet. The setting this time round is a well-known music venue, cementing the rise of electronic music into the commercial narrative locally.

 

Thundercat
Store Vega, December 7th at 8pm
Although the name sounds like it belongs to a heavy metal band, Thundercat is one of the standouts in the R&B world. Los-Angeles based Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner has worked with the likes of Erykah Badu, Kendrick Lamar, Suicidal Tendencies and his co-producer and partner in crime, Flying Lotus. This is a man whose rhythmic qualities are peerless, so prepare for some great entertainment.

OHOI! Presents Christmas Bass
Stengade, December 12th at 10pm
Bass legends, The OHOI! drum ‘n’ bass collective are back with a mammoth lineup for their annual Christmas ball. Particularly impressive on a list of names that showcases some of the best underground talent in the city is Rasmus Kjærbo, an experienced producer who lives and breathes music. Prepare for a bass invasion.

 

Dubioza Kolektiv
Loppen, December 18th at 9pm
What better way to prepare for the festive season than with a dose of Bosnian Balkan Beat? High-octane, adrenaline-pumping action is on the menu for the evening, held at Christiania’s Loppen, a befitting location for the occasion.

 

Ulige Numre, Extra Concert
Store Vega, December 28th at 8pm
The voice of the new generation of Danish rock, Ulige Numre (Odd Numbers) will be performing at a sold-out show at Vega at the start of December. For those unable to catch a piece of the action, the band will be back at Vega on the cusp on the new year to perform a show that should be rich in memories and merry-making.

Polica, Lille Vega, January 2014

Polica better than the last time around

original article in this week’s version of The Copenhagen Post

A solid improvement over their last Lille Vega show and a sign of better things to come (PR Photo)

 

Polica

January 24 at Lille Vega

Synth pop dreamers Polica had a solid if underwhelming debut on Danish soil last summer when they performed at a steamy Lille Vega. Wind the clock forward and plummet down the temperature gauge a good 30 degrees and the Minneapolis quintet are back in town, this time around having grown musically over the past half a year or so.

A welcome blast of brooding bass served by Marijuana Death Squads, the industrially inclined, R&B-influenced warm-up act, breathed life into a frozen audience that quickly warmed to the evening’s entertainment. Whilst solid in their performance, the Death Squads were perhaps too hefty a cocktail to start the night off with, as their high pitch frequencies tore into the thin evening air with a menacing vengeance.

Polica pranced elegantly onto the scene and tamed the chaos, driving home coaxing, organic-sounding synth pop that highlighted the best of lead singer Channy Leanagh’s vocal talents against a backdrop of heavier sounds. From time to time she did sound slightly at sea in the waves of instrumentation, but it was certainly an improvement on Polica’s last appearance at the same venue.

Leanagh’s charm is by and large her greatest asset as a performer and this was ultimately what allowed her to gain the respect and attention of the begrudging audience who fronted their usually icy first impression upon Polica’s stage emergence.

Songs off 2012 album Give You The Ghost were the order of the day, performed with flair, fluency and a remarkably quick wit. The highlight of this was signature track ‘Dark Star’, a number that encapsulates all that is good about Polica: Leanagh’s soft vocals over a firm foundation of synth pop brilliance that sparkles with flares of distant melancholia and elation in equal measure.

The audience warmed to Polica as the show neared its conclusion, charmed no doubt by the quick wit of Leanagh, who reinforced her performance with short bursts of creative banter in between songs. After a short, swift encore Polica exited the stage as they had come, humbly pleased with a good performance on the night. Though just shy of a five star rating, it is pleasing to note how much the band have grown in just six months and fair to expect even better from them in the future.

The Year in Review: Best Concerts of 2013, Denmark

The Year in Review: The top 10 gigs of 2013 in Denmark 

1) Sigur Ros, Roskilde Festival, July 6

I didn’t see Sigur Ros, I experienced Sigur Ros. The Icelander’s music is some of the purest, soul-searching music you will find for miles around; a trance-like journey that rekindles deep-hidden fond memories with an edifying caress that no other band can muster. Sigur Ros were shamanic at their show at Roskilde.

2) Charles Bradley & his extraordinaires, Lille Vega, June 17

The Screaming Eagle of Soul rocked Denmark to its core on his encore at Lille Vega this year. For a man in his sixties who only just rocketed to fame, Bradley’s teary, nervy, sweaty, emotional soul trip is the story of a man who made it in America, after decades of bad luck and strife. James Brown would be proud.

3) Crystal Castles, Store Vega, March 2

Crystal Castles pulled off a seismic show at Store Vega towards the end of the winter, a chaotic, cathartic experience that saw lead singer Alice Glass crowd surf her way to what looked like the middle of the audience at Store Vega. I have never seen anything like it before or since

4) Modeselektor, Store Vega, Feb 14

Berlin’s Modeselektor have been making music since the wall came down a good while ago. As driven today as they were back then, the electronic duo are a symbol of the German capital and frontrunners in the world of electronic music. Props for their party-starting credentials and props to Vega for a very well organised show (which included an ‘artist chat’ session in ideal bar).

  1. Chinese Man, Roskilde Festival, July 4

French turntablists Chinese man were on cue at their show at Roskilde Festival, taking the audience on a journey through dubstep, drum & bass, hip hop and everything in between with a prowess that made it seem as if the genre of turntablism has been around since the dawn of time. Witty, daring and exceedingly cool.

BEST OF THE REST

  1. Shantel & The Bucovina Orchestra, Lille Vega, Nov 28

  2. Reptile Youth, Lille Vega, March 8,

  3. Of Monsters and Men, Roskilde Festival, July 5

  4. Tame Impala, Store Vega, Aug 9

  5. Animal Collective, Roskilde Festival, July 4

Cut Copy, Lille Vega Nov 2013

Aussies bring back the glory days of acid house

Cut Copy
December 13 at Lille Vega

Free Your Mind. The album title of Australian indie electronic band Cut Copy is as self-explanatory as they come – a casual maxim that holds true through all aspects of their addictive synth-filled, strobe-stroked beat landscape. One of four fantastic, varied albums by the Aussies, Free Your Mind is the coming of age of a band that’s up there amongst the very best in electronic music at the moment, a point that their sold-out show at Lille Vega on Friday did its best to hammer home.

Cut Copy stepped on stage before a crowd more curious than anything else and set the ball rolling with new material off the aforementioned album. The album’s recent release date means it’s not that well known so it took some time for people to warm to the proceedings. Several songs in and material off other Cut Copy albums soon followed suit, creating a sense of familiarity that the crowd responded to with warm enthusiasm.

Not so pleasing however was the crisp, almost plastic quality of some of the sound at times, as the vocals failed to hit the emotional high points that they so often do on their albums. Poor transitions between songs also did their bit to dent the evening’s promise though ultimately there wasn’t much that could dampen the rush of blood to the head from the high points of the show, which came and went with the ferocity of waves on a sandy seashore.

Things peaked midway through and once again towards the end, as the Madchester sound of the late eighties that demarcates Cut Copy’s sound, as some of the most ardent purveyors of the bygone days of Acid house music hit home. Epic strobe-light sessions and crowd surfing at the front of the action accompanied the thundering reverberations on stage, rekindling memories of the days when bands like New Order and Happy Mondays run riot on the airwaves, demarcating what music critics of the day charted as the second summer of love (after Woodstock decades before).

After minds were freed and feet were swayed, Cut Copy exited the smokey stage to raucous applause from an audience who’d been taken back in music history in a show that underlined the credentials of one of the most creative bands around.

Tricky, Lille Vega, Nov 2013

November 29 at Lille Vega

Trip-hop is a genre of electronic music spawned in the aftershocks of the UK’s acid house culture of the early 1990s, with significant rooting in the city of Bristol. Fusing influences of hip-hop and electronica with doses of rock for good measure, trip-hop is eclectic, trippy, and experimental in its purest form.

Indeed it was these three tenets that punctuated Tricky’s concert at a haze-filled Lille Vega on Friday night, as the godfather of the genre himself gave a show that didn’t well and truly get airborne but nonetheless offered a distinct musical experience.

Tricky (née Adrian Thaws) was one of the driving forces behind the legendary act Massive Attack, whose music continues to demarcate the most poignant moments of movie soundtracks today, almost two decades after they rose to fame. His forays with Massive Attack led him to branch out as a solo musician, enjoying chart success with albums such as 1995’s Maxinquaye, whose heights he never quite managed to recapture over a consistent tradition of album releases through the years thereafter.

Playing to a crowd predominantly in their 30s, Tricky walked onto the Vega stage sporting his familiar bare-chested look flanked by his backing band in low-lit, smoky confines, emphasizing the shamanic quality that characterizes his live shows.

An eerie, almost intoxicating start found a rather quiet Tricky confining himself to one side of the stage, even turning his back to the audience on many occasions. Tricky elicited a strong response from the audience with ‘Black Steel’, a riveting revolutionary tune off Maxinquaye that seemed to denote a welcome change of pace midway through. This was however short-lived as technical glitches shot down the track in mid air, prompting a switch to another song.

Tricky seemed unfazed by this and oblivious to the world around him in his corner of the stage, surrounded by a maze of swirling smoke and clearly on a superlative high of his own. The audience then joined the experimentation as a good 20 or so frontrunners got the opportunity to clamber on stage for a couple of songs. Come the end, a noncommittal applause for a curtain call was the audience’s way of responding to a dull and unconvincing performance.

Tricky re-appeared and like Shantel before him on Wednesday at the same venue, performed a few good songs to round off the concert, an eclectic, trippy and experimental performance that called for an acquired taste. There’s no doubting Tricky’s contribution to British music nor his talents as a pioneer in electronic music, but Friday’s show left much to be desired and lacked the spark and creativity of his earlier career.

Shantel & The Bucovina Orchestra, Lille Vega, November 2013

If Balkan Beat is your fancy then Lille Vega was a pilgrim’s temple on Wednesday, set alight by Shantel and the Bucovina Orchestra. Though the show did not sell out, the crowd that showed up was a very enthusiastic bunch, hyped-up from the word go and loud to the very end, somewhat of a marvel considering the concert’s midweek placement.

The Bucovina Orchestra is one of the exciting projects of German DJ and producer Shantel. Many are familiar with their jolly, uptempo Balkan sounds that awaken memories of the film Borat. A boundary breaker from the  techno stronghold of Frankfurt, Shantel draws from the likes of Balkan greats such as Fanfare Ciocarla and Goran Begovic himself and is no stranger to these parts, having performed at the very same venue just over a year ago.

Chaotic at times, Shantel and the Bucovina Orchestra deliver pure party msuic, played with the intent of causing a riot.  Wednesday’s midweek shenanigans at Lille Vega were no different.

After a slow start by their own standards, Shantel & co kicked into gear midway through the proceedings, as signature track ‘Disko Partizani’ rang out to a raucous response. This was followed by a neat ream of back-to back brass-laden tunes that saw T-shirts flung with reckless aplomb as the crowd rekindled memories of Roskilde Festival’s mosh pit moments.

With the night coming to a close, merry, anthemic songs such as the comical ‘Citizen of Planet Paprika’ and the well-known ‘Bucovina’ were but two peaks in a series of late-show antics that worked the crowd into a frenzy. The highlight of this was the entire audience squatting and kneeling on two occasions before flinging themselves upwards for particularly epic chorus moments. In fact, having gone off stage, Shantel & Co were cheered back for an encore from a kneeling crowd that may well have been in downtown Belgrade as opposed to Vesterbro.

Six or so songs later and it was all over after one last wave of bombastic action wrung the crowd into a final furore. Whilst the long encore was a novel move, it did drag on towards the end, way beyond the climax of it all.

With winter closing in, more Balkan action at Vega can be found in the form of Gogol Bordello’s concert on December 6, which promises to be even more enthralling that Wednesday’s show was.

Polica, Lille Vega, August 2013

Article for The Copenhagen Post: http://cphpost.dk/concerts/newcomers-deliver-solid-if-underwhelming-show

Lille Vega

4 out of 6 stars

With the recently concluded Strøm festival still reverberating through the spine of the city, one would be forgiven for not knowing that there would be a memorable show taking place at Lille Vega tonight. Minneapolis synthpop quintet Polica (Polish for “policy”) are a critically acclaimed outfit who’ve been impressing quite a few in the music industry of late with their curious forays into the warped world of synthpop, with a slight touch of r & b for good measure. One of their admirers is non other than Bon Iver frontman Justin Vernon, who went as far as claiming that they are one of the best bands in the world.

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Minneapolis band Polica, Synthpop affiliates destined for the grand stage. Photo: Flickr

Performing in front of an almost-sold-out Lille Vega, Polica were slow off the mark, playing with an uncanny casualness that left the audience somewhat in limbo. Sound issues did their bit to exacerbate things, making for an edgy half hour opening, with a performance of ‘Dark Star,’ off their 2012 album Give you the Ghost marking a positive turning point. The song showcased the unique quality of lead singer Channy Leanagh’s coaxing, high-pitched voice, which lost itself eloquently in the immersive, labarynthine instrumentation that accompanied her vocals. More of the same followed, as Polica looked more comfortable on stage and interacted with the audience with a bit of very straightforward stage banter. ‘Wandering Star,’ also off the Give you the Ghost album punctuated the peak of the evening, with Leanagh’s vocals given leeway to run amok once more, this time against a backdrop of sounds that reeked with the unlikely dichotomy of immense pain and great elation all at once.

Unlike the studio versions, Polica’s live music features sparse use of vocoders, meaning that its gloomy attributes are hidden more subtly. This notwithstanding, many of the songs sound very similar and with the band rarely venturing into their more adventurous, electro-heavy ethic, the concert did have the look and feel of a taciturn Monday night show at times. Venturesome antics towards the end did change this however, with a song that had been written only a few hours before the show being played shortly before an encore that bore many similarities to the loud, distorted chaos of fellow synthpop band, Crystal Castles (albeit with less of a rough edge). All in all, Polica put in a good show last night though there are no doubt many areas for improvement. For a band with only one studio album they are, by their own admission “only newcomers” so expect them back sometime soon.

Charles Bradley and his extraordinaire’s, Lille Vega June 2013

Original article:

http://cphpost.dk/inout/concerts/souls-screaming-eagle-proves-hes-still-extraordinaire

Charles Bradley ****** (6 stars out of 6); June 17 at Lille Vega
Bradley’s impeccable presence rocked Lille Vega for the second year running (Photo: Flickr / sebascrub)

When Charles Bradley first came to Denmark in 2011, he was an unfamiliar fixture in the world music circuit. When he came to Lille Vega last year, he was still not that well known worldwide, yet alone in Denmark. But after last night’s show at the same venue, however, I have a sneaking suspicion that we have not seen the last of Charles Bradley, and that his best may still be yet to come.

Starting out as ‘Black Velvet,’ Bradley performed James Brown impersonations before eventually landing a contract with Daptone records a few years ago at the tender age of 62.  His songs chart his struggle and call for change in society, a veritable critique of the fallacy of the American dream and of the greed and corruption with which society is awash today. Bradley’s show last night was by far the best concert I have ever been to, a bewilderingly beautiful performance that saw him shed tears of elation and sorrow alike.

The backup band of the evening, the seven-piece Extraordinaires, stepped on stage before the main man himself, announcing their presence with an intense instrumental performance. Bradley took to the stage shortly afterwards, clad in clothes he’d made himself and resembling James Brown down to a T.

‘The World (Is Going up in Flames)’, off his debut album No Time for Dreaming set the pace, slowly working up a crowd that lived up to the cliché of being an audience with a frightful tendency to be stagnant and noncommittal. This stereotype was thankfully broken down as things proceeded though, the result being epic hands-in-the air moments and  genuine interaction from the crowd. With Charles giving it his all, performing with a dedication that saw him sweat profusely on the warm stage, an early instrumental interlude early saw him waltz off stage to take a breather before coming back on to woo the crowd with tracks such as ‘No Time For Dreaming’ and the sentimental ‘Loving You.’

With the venue in the palm of his hands, Bradley and co rounded off with an epic performance of the newer track ‘Confusion’, showcasing a series of dance moves that few people in their twenties, let alone a veteran, can muster.  A befitting encore saw him change outfits and come back on stage dressed in a fiery red suit to perform the powerful ‘Victim of love’ and ‘Why is it so Hard?’, both off his 2013 album,Victim of Love, which documents the travails and struggles of a man who has taken a long and weary walk to freedom.

Noah & The Whale, Lille Vega May 2013

Not a whale of a time, but the quintet’s consistent

 

Original article at:   http://cphpost.dk/inout/concerts/not-whale-time-quintets-consistent

June 10, 2013 – 15:57
Noah and the Whale **** (4 stars out of 6); June 9 at Lille Vega
While Noah and the Whale’s show felt unenthusiastic at times, the quintet delivered an overall solid performance at Lille Vega on Sunday night (Photo: Flickr / Aurelien Guichard)

The major music news in Copenhagen this weekend was rock band 3 Doors Down’s performance at Store Vega on Saturday. While English quintet Noah and the Whale are far less known than their American counterparts, what they pulled off at Lille Vega last night was nothing short of special. The cheery indie band stepped onstage with a steely determination in their eyes, opening the proceedings with the catchy ‘Give a Little Love’ off their debut album Peaceful, the World Lays Me Down,  released in 2008.

Noah and The Whale are, in Craig David’s words, “slicker than your average”, in that they are a cut above the classic ‘two men and a guitar’ rock cliché that tends to accompany many revered acts of the modern day. Their varied instrumentation includes keys and an unmistakable violin input, which announced its presence from the word ‘go’ and punctuated many of the show’s peak points.

With the foundation for a solid show laid by the end of the first track, Noah and The Whale played the cautiously optimistic ‘Tonight’s the Kind of Night,’ which veered more towards the cheery dimensions associated with the band. One song later and they had ventured into the more melancholic, contemplative territory that also demarcates them as a band, playing the emphatic ‘Blue Skies’ track from their 2009 album The First Days of Spring. Lead singer Charlie Fink showcased his vocal prowess with this particular tune, drifting off in a coarse, candid rendition that was simultaneously captivating and astute.

From then on, the quintet stuck to the jovial side of things as they slowly but surely built up a steady momentum that climaxed towards the end of the show and naturally enough got people’s feet swaying. Things ended rather appropriately with a bland albeit effectual performance of the self-explanatory L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N, which paved the way for a solemn encore.

All in all, Noah and The Well were solid and consistent last night, performing with a coolheaded wit that showed their maturity as a band. However, from time to time it did feel as if they could have injected a bit more enthusiasm and drive into the show.  This notwithstanding, their music, some of which is inspired by writer Charles Bukowski, is even more remarkable when performed live – the  bold, emphatic lyrics that characterise much it gain a heightened definition and a more pronounced meaning.

Reptile Youth, Lille Vega March 2013

These reptile rockers come with spring in their step

Oasis booker Michael Olson and David M Allen, a producer who’s made music for the likes of The Cure, knew that they’d spotted something special when they got involved with promoting and producing music for Reptile Youth a few years ago.

Since their discovery in 2008, this electronic rock duo have gone from strength to strength, touring extensively around the world and performing one of the best shows of 2011’s Roskilde Festival, among other achievements. Their performance at a sold-out Lille Vega on Friday was something of a homecoming show following their recent globetrotting, and they were clearly glad to be back on their home turf.

A rugged, frenetic and over-zealous opening act by the name of Broke set the tone very early on, firing a hefty dose of dark-coloured disco music with aplomb. The partisan crowd were generous, but nonetheless saved their energy for Reptile Youth’s appearance. Two songs in and the duo from Aarhus had the crowd swaying fervently to the tune of ‘Black Swan’, the first track on their eponymous debut album from 2012.  In addition to their own productions, a sleek touch to the night was a cover of John Lennon’s 1971 protest anthem ‘Gimme some truth’.

Reptile Youth’s version bore all the cocky hallmarks of the original, coupled with reverberating synthesizer stabs and a Kavinsky-esque tone that could easily have been at home in a certain Nicolas Winding Refn movie.

Wild, ecstatic live shows and unending energy on stage have become synonymous with Reptile Youth’s performances, and Friday’s festivities were no exception.

The end of the concert resembled a circus arena as tracks such as ‘Shooting up sunshine’ and their signature song ‘Speeddance’ were accompanied by some of the wildest crowd surfing antics imaginable by the lead singer, the peak of which  featured an audacious clamber onto and jump from the balcony at Lille Vega. Few musicians would attempt such a stunt – and fewer still would get away with it.

Reptile Youth’s use of the space available and the manner in which the crowd unanimously responded to their antics is a testament to just how solid an act they are. The last time they performed at Roskilde Festival it was in the diminutive warm-up Pavilion Junior arena, but don’t be surprised to see them on the main stage in a few years time if they continue their occult assault of the pop-dominated Danish mainstream.