Imagine Dragons, Store Vega April 2013

These Vegas dragons rock Vega with a vengeance

Imagine Dragons **** (4 stars out of 6); April 18 at Store Vega
Imagine Dragons’ energy, albeit inconsistent, wowed a sold-out Store Vega (Photo: Flickr / DerekSchwartzPhotography)

Las Vegas-based band Imagine Dragons were in top form at a sold-out Store Vega last night. The indie group made a sleek entry to the sounds of crickets and pouring rain: tentative signs of an impending storm. Even before the show began, the young partisan crowd were enthusiastic and merry, cheering and stamping passionately in anticipation. Having been part of an insipid audience at British songbird’s Ellie Goulding’s show at the same venue last week, it was quite pleasant to be in more lively company this time around.

Armed with their usual guitar ensemble and a robust bass drum positioned at the front of the stage, Imagine Dragons hit the floor running, playing confidently in a near-perfect acoustic environment that had the elusive, inclusive feel of a concert in a large stadium. But several songs in, one could clearly feel the show slowing, the initial momentum waning – as it was inevitably destined to. A solid performance of marquee track ‘Hear me’ picked things up again, however, as the boys showed why they have been compared to revered bands such as The Killers and Arcade Fire.

The tipping point of the evening was always expected to be the moment that the band dropped their signature track ‘Radioactive’. And drop it they did, with an atomic vengeance – it was a cunningly constructed extended live version that thundered with bass echoes more common at dubstep raves than at a rock gig. An epic acoustic section towards the end of this tune, followed by a blizzard-esque finale that hissed, thumped and roared in a sea of smoke and strobe sequences, gave the fans everything that they’d come to the concert for in only a few minutes of brilliance.

‘Thirty lives’ followed, quietening the din somewhat and showcasing the band’s more sentimental, acoustic-based aspect, and inspiring the cliché flood of lighters and mobile phones in the air typical of particularly tender concert moments. By this point, the band had exhausted most of their popular tracks and simply proceeded to round things off by riding out the crest of the wave they’d created at the start. They rolled towards land with the verve and wit of a rock band with promise and talent up their sleeves. And their audience, young as they were, loved every second of it, so kudos are due to them too.

Penny Police Interview, Vega April 2013

Original article pending publication for The Copenhagen Post

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Photo: oopenheimer.dk

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, (see my concert review here)   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

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Pic credits : Gaffa

original article at: http://cphpost.dk/concerts/pert-and-pristine-her-presence-sure-pacify

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.

Reptile Youth, Lille Vega March 2013

These reptile rockers come with spring in their step

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March 11, 2013 – 12:12
Reptile Youth ****** (6 stars out of 6); March 8 at Lille Vega
Apparently, finding unique ways to leave the stage is one of the band’s signature antics (Photo: Reptile Youth Facebook)

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.

Modeseletor Interview, Copenhagen Feb 2013

Original article:

http://cphpost.dk/culture/insights-mode-working

 

Sebastien Szary and Gernot Bronsert got together in the early 1990s when Germany had just been shaken by the collapse of the Berlin Wall. The duo found gigs playing a fusion of acid house, techno and hip-hop to hordes of anarchic Berliners in a now-united city. Since then, they have gone on to produce music alongside the likes of the city’s ‘first lady of electronic music’ Ellen Allien and Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, who is a fan of their ecclectic electronic sound. The Copenhagen Post caught up with Modeselektor’s Sebastien Szary for a short interview before their massive show at Store Vega a few weeks ago:

(link to review: http://cphpost.dk/inout/concerts/berlin-calling-modeselektor-take-store-vega-spin)

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Modeselektor’s Sebastien Szary before the show at Vega. Photo: Jason Moisio

Here is what Szary had to say about Copenhagen, Musical inspirations, and working with Thom Yorke.

Amk: So, Szary is this your first time in Copenhagen ?

Szary: Well Gernot is the one who is really good at counting the years. I think we started in 2005 and we’ve been back every year since then. This is the 8th or the 10th time. We’ve played in Århus, Copenhagen and even on Bornholm in the pre-Modeselektor era (laughs)

Amk What was it like at Roskilde ?

Szary: Roskilde was amazing, it’s a really nice festival. We’ve played there twice- last year and two years ago with Moderat, the side-project we have together with Apparat. You can feel that it’s a festival with a lot of history.

Amk what was it like playing back in the early 90’s after the wall came down in Berlin ?

Szary: The whole situation after the wall came down was comparable to the wild West. The wall coming down was like a revolution- all the different influences – Communism from the East, and Capitalism- consumption and so on from the West all came together. It was a very exciting time musically as well. A lot of different styles from all the radios from different sectors came together.

Amk: What’s on your Ipod right now ? What are you inspired by ?

Szary: I have a problem with my Ipod, I hate software updates so I stopped updating my Ipod a couple of years ago. Right now i’m listening to the new My Bloody Valentine album quite a bit. Modeselektor are quite diverse, we do our slalom thing. We came from the hip hop of the 80’s then went straight to Acid House back to hip hop (Public Enemy and so on) and then into techno, Sonic Youth rock, you name it. There are lots of undiscovered sound samples and non-western oriented styles of music from the 20’s and 40’s that inspire us when we compose, well I don’t want to call it composing, it’s more like jamming. It helps if you have a knowledge of music and I have to admit that Gernot and I don’t have proper musical knowledge. I don’t play the piano for instance, so the way we use our instruments is more intuitive than anything else.

Amk: Now a question about Thom Yorke

Szary (laughing) : Ah Thom Yorke, The T Question, it comes up often

Amk: Indeed. What is it like to work with him, you guys are quite close, right ?

Szary: Yeah, we’ve been friends for about ten years. The partnership started with remixes initially then we teamed up with Radiohead and it’s going pretty well. It’s more than just about music, we are good friends with Thom. He’s a nice guy.

What’s your favourite city to perform in ?

Szary: There are quite a few actually. We like cities that aren’t in the focus that much. Glasgow can be pretty fun, also in the rain. I like the people there, it’s a bit rough and similar to the rough feel of East Germany. San Francisco and New York are fun too as is Guadalajara, Mexico.

Lastly, What’s next for Modeselektor ? What are you working on at the moment ?

Szary: Right now we’re working on the next Moderat album (teaming up with Apparat). It should be out in August. It’s time to continue our partnership with Apparat so that’s taking up almost all of our time. Aside from this we have our own private lives to keep us occupied as well.

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Modeselektor raised the rafters at Store Vega last month. Photos: Jason Moisio

If you haven’t listened to Modeselektor’s music yet, here’s a couple of tunes :

Crystal Castles, Store Vega March 2013

Chaotic, cathartic and over as soon as it started

Printer-friendly versionSend to friendMarch 4, 2013 – 10:50
 ****** (6 stars out of 6); March 2 at Store Vega
Last week was a good one for Crystal Castle fans, with Roskilde Festival adding the Canadians to their line-up ahead of a monstrous show at Store Vega (Photo: Colourbox)

There are some concert experiences that one remembers for months after they are over, and there are a select few that one will remember for many years. Crystal Castles’ show at Store Vega Saturday night was of the latter category: a seismic, purely cathartic experience that will live on in the hearts and minds of everyone who attended the show.

Toronto duo Ethan Kath and the extraordinary Alice Glass have made quite a name for themselves over the last few years with their wild live shows and blend of experimental electronica cast in a melancholic, contemplative frame. The fact that they’ve toured with Nine Inch Nails, a band renowned for their chaotic concerts, is a testament to the band’s party potential.

The pair came on stage rather late, to a crazed crowd who were there for the exclusive reason of bringing down the Store Vega roof.  Two songs in and Alice Glass was soaring on the tips of outstretched hands all the way in the middle of the sea of people at the venue, a screaming child drowned in a maze of strobe light chaos, flanked by twisted experimental beats. While most shows usually start off slowly before reaching a climax, Saturday’s performance began with a cataclysmic storm that simply had to gear down soon after the onset, if for no other reason than for singer Alice Glass to catch her breath.  Songs such as the dreamy ‘Celestica’ and signature hit ‘Not in Love’ kept the crowd on their toes, as did the addition of a manic drummer who pounded the stuffing out of his percussion kit at the back of a stage ablaze with fluorescent flashing shades  from the strobe lights.

Much like a tropical storm, the torrent was over as soon as it started, as the show grounded to an abrupt halt with no time for an encore (nor any need for one). It’s seldom that one experiences a cathartic transformation of the sort that Saturday’s show provided. I could barely hear myself think in the swirling vortex of the performance, a spinning concoction of chaos that took the crowd on a journey of epic proportions. Crystal Castles are one of the names to watch out for at Roskilde this summer, and if Saturday’s show is anything to go by, their show will surely be a memorable experience.

Bretschneider & Kanding, Lille Vega Feb 2013

Classical meets electronica: A marriage made in heaven or grounds for divorce?

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March 4, 2013 – 11:23
 *** (3 stars out of 6); February 28 at Lille Vega
It’s hard to say whether the electronic stylings of Frank Bretschneider are groundbreaking or utterly boring (Photo: Flickr / basic_sounds)

Most people who have seen Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odysseyhave numerous opinions about it. The music played by German electronic musician Frank Bretschneider and Danish classical composer Ejnar Kanding play is equally divisive, and triggers the same sort of contemplative trance that leaves one eternally trying to figure out whether what they saw was sheer genius or utter boredom.  Whatever your ultimate opinion ends up being, Kubrick’s film and Thursday’s show at Lille Vega seem to be similar in that as they both require plenty of afterthought and reflection.

I arrived at Lille Vega shortly before the start of the show and entered the most sparsely populated concert hall imaginable. Instead of the enthusiastic crowds one is usually accustomed to at Vega, this time the audience consisted of a few onlookers gathered around several tables under dimmed chandeliers. A drum solo, hollow background drone and visuals from Berlin-based visual artist Lillevan got the show on the road, but the atmosphere failed to get any more interesting when the music started.

The first of two sets of the evening featured live analogue instrumentals in the form of a violin, contra bass and bass clarinet, accompanied by micro minimalistic thuds and swaying background visuals.  The second set was slightly shorter and veered more into the electronica niche, flanked by an appealing visual show that synced almost perfectly with the music.  This particular set was far more catalytic than its predecessor as it left much more room for afterthought, triggering numerous flashbacks from films such as Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Apocalypse Now, in which the sort of music being played would have fit in perfectly.

It would be harsh to say that the show was boring, but it was certainly a long way away from being one of the best shows Lille Vega has hosted. There is no doubt that Bretscheiner and Kanding are talented musicians and their daring fusion of classical and electronica is something few would attempt. Flanked by a live theatrical performance, in the confines of a museum exhibition or even at an art installation, their music would surely have had more of an opportunity to showcase its artistic quality. As it were, in the dim, misty backdrop of Lille Vega, it failed to make a real impression.

Wafande, Lille Vega Feb 2013

Thanks to Wafande, Natasja’s legacy lives on

 

original article at : http://cphpost.dk/inout/concerts/thanks-wafande-natasjas-legacy-lives

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February 11, 2013 – 16:12
Wafande ***** (5 stars out of 6); February 9 at Lille Vega
Wafande exhausted his main tracks earlier in the show, but still maintained a high energy level throughout the night (Photo: flickr/Subdive)

 

Danish Dancehall, a music genre that has rocketed to popularity over the last several years, is steered by the soon-to-be-household names: Raske Penge, Klumben, Top Gunn and the stars of Saturday night’s sold-out Lille Vega show, Wafande and Kaka.

When the iconic Natasja Saad passed away tragically in 2007, many wondered if her flourishing reggae legacy would simply fizzle out into the narrative of Danish music history, or whether it would continue to live on. But six years on, Danish Dancehall is at an all-time high, vying for airplay on radio stations and making its way into festivals and concert venues with aplomb, as last night’s entertainment at Vega proved.

It took a while to get the ball rolling, as Bikstok Røgsystem’s frontman PharPhar gave a short, comical intro for Kaka who ran on stage beanie-clad and content. The eager crowd responded well to Kaka’s well-paced lyrics over a catchy beat and had scarcely begun to enjoy the show, three songs in, the show’s main act Wafande took to the stage.

Performing as if the temperature were up in the high 20s on a summer day, Wafande was quick off the mark, delivering a live version of his charged ‘Lang Vej Hjemme’ (‘Long Way Home’). The tune, an emotional reflection on cultural identity, ultimately sounds better on a CD at home than it does live, but it still had a powerful effect on the crowd, who sang wittily along to its anti-Dansk Folkeparti / Pia K lyrics. This was followed by the merry ‘Kom ned til Vandet,’ (‘Come Down to the Water’), a casual tribute to summer in Denmark that radiated through Lille Vega.

With his main tracks seemingly exhausted in the opening phase of the show, Wafande geared down and sung a few less popular numbers that gave the audience a chance to breathe before Kaka joined him on stage to somewhat reignite the show. Things livened up towards the end with a French retake of Sting’s iconic ‘Englishman in New York’ before ‘Giv mig et smil’ (‘Give me a smile’) rounded things off appropriately.

Having already performed earlier in the day at the same venue to a concert hall full of kids, Wafande was still sharp and cheerful come evening. If last night is anything to go by, he looks set to challenge the airplay dominion of pop and R&B in Denmark. Thanks to him, Natasja’s spirit lives on six years after that tragic evening in Jamaica.

Anna Rosenkilde, Ideal Bar, Vega Jan 2013

original article at: http://cphpost.dk/inout/concerts/anna-rosenkilde-just-about-ideal

*** (3 stars out of 6); January 31 at Ideal Bar
rosenkilde
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.