- Denmark’s Lukas Graham tops iTunes, is Billboard next? (29 Mar 16)
- The best album ever recorded in Denmark just turned 30 (03 Mar 16)
- Bruce Springsteen gig confirmed in Denmark (17 Feb 16)
- Danish artist MØ to sing at Nobel Prize concert (02 Dec 15)
Lukas Graham’s steady climb up the international music charts (‘7 Years’ as at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 for the second week running) may be putting Denmark on the global music map but the country is still arguably not known as a hotbed of fantastic musical acts.
Asked about Danish music, most people outside of the country might only be able to offer up ‘Barbie Girl’ or one-fourth of Metallica as examples, but there is in fact an exceptional feast of incredible Danish sounds that has seemingly evaded many people’s musical radar.
Here, in no particular order, is a little sample of some fantastic talent coming out of the crooks and crannies of Denmark.
The Copenhagen band, formed in 2008, has captured that energetic youthful abandon with their unique punk-rock/noise-rock/post-hard-core sound. Iceage’s first album ‘New Brigade’, released in 2011, was a ragged hack and slash punk album that encapsulated that adolescent ‘screw it’ attitude. But, like many seminal 90s post-punk/shoe-gaze bands like Sonic Youth and Pavement, Iceage honed in on a unique well-constructed sound on their 2014 album ‘Plowing into a Field of Love’. If Iceage’s albums leave you lusting after more of singer Elias Bender Rønnenfelt’s whisky and Marlboro infused vocals, check out his side project ‘Marching Church‘. Fans of Nirvana, Joy Division and Sonic Youth will certainly be in for a Danish treat with this Copenhagen band.
2. Under Byen
One of the things Denmark is widely known for are the ‘Scandinavian Noir’ crime dramas such as ‘Broen’ (The Bridge) and ‘Forbrydelsen’ (The Killing). The dark, melancholic undercurrents that have become so synonymous with Danish drama are gloriously exuded by the Aarhus-band Under Byen (Below the City). Aarhus locals Katrine Stochholm and Henriette Sennenvaldt formed the experimental post-rock band back in 1995 and by 2003 former senior editor of Rolling Stone David Fricke had called them the best band in the world. Though the statement is contestable, Under Byen certainly have a unique atmospheric, sleek and intelligent sound that encapsulates those long Scandinavian winters succinctly.
3) Manus Nigra
The trio from Aarhus effortlessly blend a variety of musical genres to create a multi-layered soundscape. The band released their first self-titled album in 2015 and the hip-hop/trip hop/soul trio have slowly been making waves in the Danish music scene. Manus Nigra’s unique sound comes from the combination of lead vocalist Fönix’s classical training, melded seamlessly with freestyle veteran Ham Den Lange and producer DJ Swab bringing plethora of knowledge from more than 15 years’ experience in the music industry.
Combining the fast paced energy of 70s punk with modern indie to create a sound that will resonate with fans of the post punk revival, Communions; first studio release ‘Cobblestones’ came out in 2014 and began the ball rolling for the Danish band who are now gaining recognition from the likes of music media giants Pitchfork and NME. The momentum has yet to subside as their new EP ‘Out Of My World’, released June 2015, received universal praise for the merging of indie-pop sensibilities with a sprinkling of punk rawness. Communions is most certainly a band to keep an eye and an ear on so you can be that person at a dinner party saying “I heard them before they were famous”, you little hipster.
7. Piss Vortex
With a name like that what is not to love about this Copenhagen grindcore band?! The name may create a mental image of a bottomless abyss of urine, but the four-piece have incorporated furious sounds with a subtle undercurrent of jazz composition to create a remarkably unique sound. Admittedly Piss Vortex’s visceral and aggressive sound may not be every single person’s cup of chai, but they were able to grab the attention of influential metal site Metal Sucks after releasing just two songs. If you are partial to fast-paced and aggressive music, don’t flush these guys away without a listen.
Story continues below…
- Danish music festivals announce 2016 names (29 Oct 15)
- Greenland concert one for the record books (16 Oct 15)
- The ten best non-Danish songs about Denmark (23 Sep 15)
As we head into the dark abyss of yet another Danish winter (sigh) there is, believe it or not, a lot to look forward to. Musically, November tends to be a month where a lot of things happen, as bookers and venues fill their arenas for one last time before the always-expanding Christmas season fully takes hold.
This November’s billing has got the likes indie superstars Kurt Vile and Death Cab For Cutie, drum ‘n’ bass dons Rudimental and the exceptional Lianne La Havas for what should be an entertaining month. Here are The Local’s concert picks for the month ahead.
Tap 1, November 5th at 8pm
The Prodigy are one of the greatest electronic outfits of our generation, holding the baton high alongside other greats like Faithless, Disclosure and The Chemical Brothers. Theirs is a familiar sound best played to an audience of 60,000-plus at Roskilde Festival’s Orange stage but we’ll make do with the industrial confines of Tap1 this time round.
Loppen, November 6th at 9pm
Pumpehuset, November 7th at 8pm
The music of Danish band Hymns From Nineveh is both richly-layered and easy on the ears. One of many domestic bands who sing in English, Hymns From Nineveh are something of a household name on the national scene and command a strong following amongst fans of indie rock and folk pop.
American singer-songwriter Kurt Vile returns to Denmark on the strength of his recently-released ‘b’lieve i’m goin down’. Often compared to giants like Tom Petty, Neil Young and Bob Dylan, Vile will hit Amager Bio at the top of his game so it’s little wonder that the gig has sold out. It’s definitely worth pulling some strings to see if you can still land a ticket.
Death Cab For Cutie
Amager Bio, November 8th at 8pm
Death Cab For Cutie started off as a garage band and are now one of the most successful indie acts of their generation. Despite hitting the jackpot, they remain firmly grounded in their indie roots, from which their universe of gentle rock revolves. Their latest album ‘Kintsugi’ makes for very pleasant listening so you can look forward to hearing new material on the evening.
Store Vega, November 12th at 8pm
How has this not sold out yet ? England’s Rudimental are one of the best (and most accessible) drum ‘n’ bass bands around at the moment. Riding the crest of the wave generated by their latest album ‘We The Generation,’ Rudimental are in good form at the moment. Prepare for epic drum ‘n’ bass with vocals good enough for a Disclosure song.
Store Vega, November 12th at 1am
For the night owls out there (and those lucky enough to score a ticket) Nicolas Jaar will be rounding off what promises to be an epic night at Vega, following Rudimental’s aforementioned gig. Fusing jazz, minimal techno and ethereal beat complexity, Jaar is also known for his productions as part of the enigmatic band, Darkside.
Lianne La Havas
Store Vega, November 15th at 8pm
Brit Lianne La Havas joins a long list of epic female singers from an admirable production line that has turned out the likes of Adele and Emili Sande . Having stunned the masses after her appearance on Jools Holland’s show a few years ago, La Havas has grown from strength to strength, receiving praise from everyone from Prince himself to Bon Iver.
Pumpehuset, November 18th at 8pm
In the world of lesser-know rappers (where sheer talent as opposed to how many stacks of cash defines success), Cunninglynguists stand out as consistent stalwarts with a knack for reflective texts and rich instrumental beat backdrops.
Pumpehuset, November 28th at 8pm
If you are in the mood for a riot (or a long-winded rant at the system and its injustices), your November frustrations may have found an outlet. Anti-imperialist and politically heavy, The US’s Anti-Flag would probably have been a seminal punk band were they of another epoch. As it stands, they play fiery, fist-pumping rock that makes you think about the state of our world with every drum thud
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Original article published in The Local Denmark
The Local’s top ten Roskilde concerts
- As it happened: The 2015 Roskilde Festival (06 Jul 15)
- RF15: Sustainability never tasted so good (04 Jul 15)
- Volunteers at the heart of Roskilde Festival (02 Jul 15)
- ‘Diversity is what brings me to Roskilde’ (01 Jul 15)
A testament to the Roskilde Festival’s diversity can be found here in our picks for best concert. Our two writers, Justin Cremer and Allan Mutuku-Kortbæk, have quite different tastes and there isn’t a single repeat among their respective choices for the year’s five best performances.
Justin Cremer’s top five 2015 Roskilde Festival concerts:
5. Africa Express
Arena, July 4
I caught parts of 28 different concerts at this year’s Roskilde Festival, so getting it down to five picks is no easy task. Several others could have just as easily taken this spot – Dolomite Minor, Father John Misty, The Gaslamp Killer Experience or Mastodon, to name a few – but Africa Express gets the nod as it is where I closed out the 2015 Roskilde Festival, surrounded by good friends and treated to an impressive international jam session that had been going strong for nearly three hours when I packed it in.
4. St Vincent
Arena, July 2
I knew basically nothing about St Vincent before strolling in to the Arena stage on Thursday afternoon and when I left I wasn’t quite sure how to describe what I’d just seen. I think my feeble attempt to explain it to a friend later was something along the lines of “robot pop-rock” and perhaps that’s as good as anything. This was a tightly-performed – even occasionally choreographed – and very high-energy performance, highlighted by a final song played on the shoulders of a security guard with St Vincent sporting an ear-to-ear grin that revealed that she had just had as much fun as the audience.
3. Chelsea Wolfe
Gloria, July 4
The intimate Gloria stage was the perfect setting for an absolutely hypnotic performance by Chelsea Wolfe. Her particular mix of dark folk mixed with occasional blasts of rage may have on the surface been a strange pick for a hot and sunny day at Roskilde, but the enchanting Wolfe delivered one of my best musical experiences of the four days.
2. The War on Drugs
Arena, July 1
This was the show I was looking most forward to heading in to the festival and Adam Granduciel and company certainly did not disappoint. The setlist was very heavy on last year’s stellar album ‘Lost in the Dream’ with the performance putting just enough new nuances into the songs to really bring them alive. This was a powerhouse rock ‘n’ roll performance.
Friday, July 3
It is perhaps fitting that I don’t have a particularly good photo to go along with my top choice. The late night performance from these costume-draped Swedes who mix experimental psychedelic rock with African beats didn’t seem to be on the radar of too many, but those of us who were there were treated to what felt like a blissful mix between occult ritual and raging dance party. In a Roskilde Festival full of unexpected musical surprises, this one was the best.
Allan Mutuku-Kortbæk’s top five 2015 Roskilde Festival concerts:
Arena, July 1
4. Kendrick Lamar
Orange, July 3
Kendrick Lamar epitomized the booking policy at Roskilde this year: bombastic, commercial and appealing to the youth. Orange stage host Per Vers introduced him as the man he thought is the best rapper at the moment before his show and whilst some of us may disagree with such a grandiose claim, Kendrick did put on a top-notch performance before a packed Orange stage.
Orange, July 3
Danish rock band Mew played at Roskilde’s Orange stage missing one of their frontmen, guitarist Bo Madsen, who left the group just last week after 20 years. On their sixth appearance at the festival, this time as a trio, Mew were brilliant and endearing, backed by the solid Danish following that they’ve built over the years.
2. Die Antwoord
Orange, July 2
South African duo Die Antwoord brought the Orange crowd to its knees with an emblematic, raucous performance that few expected would be as good as it turned out to be. Given that they are not well-known locally, their psycho blend of Afrikaans rap and trashy shrill vocals proved to be an even bigger hit. Frankly, Roskilde has rarely seen something of this nature.
1. Florence and The Machine
Orange, July 2
How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful – not only is that the title of indie band Florence and The Machine’s remarkable new album, it’s also a good descriptor of their show at Roskilde’s Orange stage. The voice of Florence Welsh, the singer at the forefront of the band, is a force to be reckoned with – she found herself at home at a packed Orange stage, with the big, blue beautiful sky above a sea of smiling fans.
- As it happened: The 2015 Roskilde Festival (06 Jul 15)
- Volunteers at the heart of Roskilde Festival (02 Jul 15)
- ‘Diversity is what brings me to Roskilde’ (01 Jul 15)
- Ten fun facts about the Roskilde Festival (30 Jun 15)
Roskilde Festival 2015 reaches its closure on Saturday for one last day of revelry under the summer sun. Temperatures will reach their highest point of the festival and this year’s biggest name, Paul McCartney, will lead a massive sing-along on the Orange stage.
After three full days of music, we’ve seen acts like Pharrell Williams, The War on Drugs, Goat, St Vincent and Sarabi play to popular approval whilst others like Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds and Mastodon have disappointed somewhat.
But Roskilde is more than just music, as the organizers of the annual event constantly reaffirm.
One of the increasingly important aspects at the festival is its focus on quality food and beverages. Last year’s event saw 700,000 kilos of food and approximately one million litres of beer sold. Given Roskilde’s environmental focus, the organizers of the event have become stricter when it comes to the sorts of food products that are sold on the festival grounds.
According to Mikkel Sander, Roskilde Festival’s sustainability leader, the festival has for many years “explored different avenues and set higher demands with regard to sustainability initiatives.”
This has entailed an inclination to donating leftovers to charities, in an effort to curb waste. Last year alone, over 27.5 tonnes of food was donated to the homeless in the form of 65,000 meals – an initiative that earned special praise at the European Festival Awards.
See also: Leftover festival food feeds thousands
At least 45 percent of the food stalls at Roskilde Festival sell organic food. This figure is set to rise to 90 percent by 2017 and as you may expect, is easier said than done. Organizers say that it is harder to procure organic products and suppliers than traditional ones. This is is especially true of beer, one of the most consumed products at the event.
In addition to its ambitious organic agenda, Roskilde has also made an effort to integrate the consumption of food and beverage into the overall festival experience. To this end, the festival has staged several food events, from a communal street kitchen during the warm-up days to educational palette-tickling experiments by Michelin-star chefs. The Local was particularly impressed with the Food Jam in the centre of the East city. Now a fixture within the Roskilde experience, the food jam presents an opportunity for groups and individuals to cook together, using high quality organic ingredients and costing a mere 50 kroner.
Roskilde’s organizers were kind enough to take us on a guided tour of some hand-picked initiatives at the festival. Here is some of what we saw on our culinary foray:
Dixie Burgers: Lean production gurus Dixie Burgers are located in the food area by the music stages. With over 315 volunteers, they produce up to 12 burgers a minute. The profits generated from sales at stalls such as these are reinvested into the association that staffs them. One of the challenges of meeting the organic demands at the festival is that most associations contract volunteers to operate their stalls. These volunteers, while incredibly hard working, tend to be less experienced than food industry professionals, which can complicate matters when it comes to ordering exact quantities of organic products.
Big A’s Diner: It may lack the Pulp Fiction-like diner seating, but Big A’s is about as good as it gets when it comes to the American culinary experience at Roskilde Festival. This stall, located by the Avalon stage, is run by professionals from the food industry and outsourced to 140 volunteers. Fries, deep fried chicken and milk shakes are some of the items on their menu. A good place to grab a bite on Saturday, which in addition to the final day of the festival is also the major US holiday Independence Day.
Bus Bus: Located near the Orange stage, Bus Bus serves traditional Danish meals such as the revered Flæskestegssandwich (roasted pork sandwich). Their version has been heralded by several foodies as being the festival’s best. Our insider tip is to queue in the line on the left-hand side of the building (looking away from the Orange stage) as it moves way quicker than the one on the opposite side.
The Food Court: Offering a lot of different food concentrated in one place, the food court houses 18 stalls and two bars. Of these, two are Michelin-star eateries, a fact that takes Roskilde a cut above many other European festivals, The organic produce demands in this particular area of Roskilde Festival are higher than the overall demands: 60 percent of the ingredients used by each stall have to be organic.
Peter Larsen Coffee: Located in the food court area, the folks behind Peter Larsen Coffee are masters in the coffee department. One of their specialties is their cold brew coffee, pictured here. Originally from Japan, cold brew coffee contains twice as much caffeine as a can of Red Bull. And as anyone out here at Roskilde with us can attest, a heavy dose of caffeine can be just what’s needed to clear out the preceding night’s cobwebs and get you ready to face another full day eating, drinking and making merry.