Copenhagen Showdown #2

author PP date 16/12/09

After a loud and heavy but in all honesty a slow start at the launch event, Copenhagen Showdown number two wonders in the polar opposite direction by booking some of the quietest bands thinkable for a proceeding advertising itself as a punk/hardcore event. Two local rockabilly acts and a Canadian singer-songwriter stood on the bill tonight, which just goes to show how big of an umbrella term punk/hardcore really is, because I don't think there was a soul present tonight at the show who wouldn't have categorized Sarah Blackwood's set as punk rock on one level or another, mostly because of her genuine and honest attitude to her show. DJs tonight opted for Elvis influenced rockabilly music mostly by bands that nobody really cared about, but people kept pouring in at a surprisingly positive rate, resulting in an altogether decent showing for the first support band, Deadmen's Tale.

Deadmen's Suit

On paper (taken to mean: on Myspace, nowadays), Deadmen's Suit were to be the most boring band on the bill. How could a quiet rockabilly band focusing on relaxed, Elvis-influenced 50s rock possibly grab our attention, despite utilizing a slapping technique on their contrabass? To start out with, all prejudice seemed justified, given how calm and slow these guys' material was in a live environment. By the second song, the entire bar had sunk into the dreaded end-of-the-night bar atmosphere just when the lights are turned on and it's time to go home, instead of the excited "it's the beginning of the night, lets party, fuck yeah" atmosphere support bands are usually supposed to cook up. A couple of songs later, however, one thing became evident: Deadmen's Suit are exceptionally effective at slowly constructing their atmosphere. It isn't very exciting for the crowd given they are the first support band, which is why the crowd didn't respond at all to their set, but I for one find their ability to craft their chosen atmosphere so flawlessly intriguing. That being said, however, one can't escape the following facts: one, this is old people's music for the most part, and two, this stuff feels like the end of the night, not the start. So even though their singer has a great, smokey, whiskey-drenched voice that could make him a candidate for The Gaslight Anthem if their songs were slower, most of their songs were too slow to make a difference tonight. [6½]

The Untamed

The Untamed, on the other hand, had a much more energetic show straight from the get go. However, before we get any further I have to say that one of the only reasons why The Untamed are at all interesting is because they have a long haired blonde stunner as the bassist, who (inevitably) gathered the looks of all guys throughout the show, thus distracting us from objectively evaluating the quality of the band's material. During the moments that I was able to focus on the band as a whole, I noticed the following aspects: one, their drumset only had three parts to it, two, they made a joke about the drummer's girlfriend's ass photocopied at a Irma Christmas luncheon, and three, whenever they opted for their faster rockabilly songs they were a million times better than when they played their slow, balladic tracks. Still, even though they are energetic on stage, and get some bodies moving with their faster rockabilly tracks, the sad truth is that their songs just aren't good enough. Add to the fact that nothing really worth nothing was going on to remove one's eyes from the female bassist, and you suddenly don't wonder at all why the crowd got noticeably thinner towards the end of their set. [5]

Sarah Blackwood

"Hello we are Canadian....we don't speak your language...because we're lazy" is how Sarah Blackwood opens her acoustic, harmonica-driven singer-songwriter set. Her light-hearted statement is perfect to open up the atmosphere and make the crowd feel like we're sitting around a cozy campfire listening to songs by someone we just know is talented enough to raise quite a few eyebrows across the world one day. "Take two steps forward, there won't be a mosh pit", Sarah encourages the audience, and this is something that's important at acoustic shows: you want to create a feeling of community, a feeling that we're all gathered around for the same reason. Sarah's brought along a male acoustic guitar support who also contributes to some backup vocals, but I have a feeling she'd do just fine without him. Sarah actually owns a great voice; she's capable of creating such a genuine, smooth atmospheres with her heartfelt songs and honest crowd interaction highlighted by statements like "there are way more people at this show than in any of my shows in Canada" or "I've never written a tour song before, but let me play this song while my friend fixes his kick drum". Yeah, many of her songs are love songs, but they're awesome love songs, and especially highlights like the tambourine clap sing-along during "Drags Me Down" are what makes her performance so special in comparison to so many other acoustic acts. In fact, the last four or five songs all display the songwriting talent that Sarah owns. Maybe this is why an extremely drunken guy passionately starts screaming with vibrato at the front, resulting in some joking around with a short AC/DC "highway to hell" passage, where the guy is screaming along to the lyrics? Random, but pretty funny, like when Sarah steps into the crowd momentarily during her last song and everyone suddenly realizes how tiny she actually is when shes not on stage. Although her set is good and one that I'd absolutely go check out again, a feeling still exists that she's only able to engage a small part of the crowd, and that she's never really able to lift the atmosphere above just casual acoustic singer/songwriter stuff. [7]

Setlist:

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