Kurt Vile & the Violators
Store Vega, Copenhagen, DEN - 5/12
Rock'N'Charity 2012Previous Next
author TL date 11/10/12
Back in 2010 the at the time little known pop-punkers in A Road To Damascus combined with ambitious hard-rockers Silence Of September to come up with a good old-fashioned great idea. Both bands needed exposure and opportunities to play shows around the country, but instead of just painstakingly sorting out a regular little tour, they decided to forego all dreams of earning any sort of money and instead donate any and all profits they might make to a Danish foundation which supports cancer-stricken children. It was a good cause, and it gained the tour and the bands added exposure and generally the whole thing was just a golden case of "everybody wins".
So why not capitalise on such a good idea and do it again the next year? Why not indeed you might ask, yet 2011 eventually saw the Rock'N'Charity tour scaled back to only three stops, despite the aid of domestic radio-rockers The Dreams. Especially the final of the tour's three shows was struck by bad luck, when election for the Danish government was announced to take place on the same day, and the floor of Huset KBH was thus quite empty for what should've been the closing fireworks on the year.
Soon after that tour, Silence Of September folded, and one could be forgiven for imagining that A Road To Damascus would consider moving on from the Rock'N'Charity concept. As we now know however, the exact opposite happened. Still riding the momentum of both their fine 2011 debut and their well-received cover of hit song "Airplanes", the band decided that rather than throw in the towel, the time was right to up the ante.
A Road To Damascus' cover of "Airplanes" by BoB and Hayley Williams
Contacts were made with Siamese Fighting Fish, which is likely the only underground-rocking band in Denmark at the moment who are rolling with as much momentum and ambition as ARTD themselves are. Coming straight off the release of their chart-breaching second album "Breathe:See:Move", the timing and cause were perfect for SIFIFI. And long story short, an alliance was formed and a goal was set to go on an epic, 10 stop ride through some of the country's more established venues in an attempt to collect 50.000 DKK for Børnecancerfonden. By now the rest is history, a history which Rockfreaks.net of course came along to cover, joining the bands on five of the ten stops to conduct interviews, cover shows and check out support bands, all in the interest of providing you readers with the best coverage of one the best series of events to happen in Danish underground rock in recent times.
Siamese Fighting Fish' video for "How Long Will It Take", featuring footage fromt his year's release show in Vega, Copenhagen
Both A Road To Damascus and Siamese Fighting Fish have already been reviewed a zillion times here at Rockfreaks.net, so both the bands and myself agreed that nobody out there would be interested in reading a separate review for each stop on the tour. Instead we have collected and combined the impressions from the headliners' performances in this section and left them ungraded. If you want to know what kind of grades these bands tend to deserve, all you need is to search for them in the box in the top right side of our site, and you will find days' worth of reading. Here however, are the notes on how they did on the stops we guested.
The first stop on the tour which is joined by Rockfreaks.net presence, is the show at Tapperiet in Køge. A Road To Damascus are up first tonight, taking over an audience that is only halfway warmed up by the looks of them. Through their trademark enthusiasm, the five guys in the band quickly turn static curiosity into grateful applause and heads start nodding as the show moves on. Singer Mikkel Raavig shows that he has a bag of tricks ready for the tour, convincing parts of the audience to jump, sing along and dance as ugly as they can (following his own example) through various songs. You can feel the mood in the place getting warmer for each song played. SIFIFI come on as the good sized crowd of around 100 people are beginning to get in the mood for something good, and the band sets them off entirely by delivering the sort of performance which is borderline volatile. Sporting the proper level of buzz himself, singer Mirza Radonjica is exactly the right mix of encouraging and provocative to get people jumping and clapping and banging their heads, and by the time the band pulls out the "sit-down-jump-up" routine which is likely rarely aired out here in the suburbs, the vast majority of the venue joins in the culmination of what turns out to be a great party in an unlikely place.
Considering the line-up gathered for the show in Gimle, Roskilde, it's probably no surprise that by the time SIFIFI take the stage as the first of the headliner's tonight, rumours are already rampant among bandmembers that the visitor count is way north of 200. It is probably a small wonder then, that both bands pull out some of their tightest sets tonight, and while the sound in Køge was amazing last weekend, the Gimle performances give that show a run for its money, in terms of being a great night for those who like to stand back and just listen to the good stuff. About half the venue's population seem to be of that inclination on the night, while a group of faithfuls keep the front floor active. It might not have been as active as in Køge, where almost all of the audience was vivid, but given the sheer amount of interest it still counts as a win for the bands as they leave the venue to celebrate.
In Nakskov, the home town of both Radonjica and guitarist Rasmus Krøyer from SIFIFI, we get the feeling that most of their old friends must have moved out of town by now, because only thirty-some people show up, and most of them start out by taking in ARTD's performance with casual curiosity. The set gets involuntarily comic, as bassist Jakob Munk's bass-strap breaks on several occasions, prompting roadie Steffen Frandsen to frantically attempt to duct-tape it back on while Munk tries to play the bass resting it on his leg. Both Munk and guitarist Mads Møller venture into the audience to try to get things started, and their set ends with everybody playing the last part in a pile on the middle of the venue floor. As for SIFIFI, they naturally get the crowd to move a little bit closer and get a little more involved, being the hometown heroes that they are, only to raise a raunchy mood as they get people jumping between Radonjica's cheeky sharing of his experiences with several crowd members big sisters.
For the final weekend of the tour, the bands select to split up, knowing that both of them can potentially fill the smaller Copenhagen venues of Rust and KB18 by themselves, thus making the opportunity for collecting more charity money bigger. And by the look of SIFIFI's Rust set, the venue is handing them a big bag of money when the night is done, because the place is packed to the rafters while they play, and while Radonjica's voice is showing clear signs of wear and tear by now, much of the lyrics are carried by crowdmembers who happily dance, mosh and stage dive. At KB18, by the time A Road To Damascus finally step on to properly sound off Rock'N'Charity 2012, the place is the most packed we've seen it at a rock show since Against Me! filled it wall to wall this summer, and with no sign of fatigue to note in their show, the tour's founders end things on an entirely positive note, with smiles of approval from side to side and an active dancefloor/moshpit in front of the stage.
A few days after the show it was revealed that the goal of collecting 50.000 DKK had actually been made. Both bands should of course be immensely proud of the achievement as they head out on their separate adventures, while we at home wonder if Denmark will ever have the luxury of seeing another Rock'N'Charity tour quite as good as this one. Before you dwell too long on that though, why not read on to find out what we thought of all the support bands that were kind enough to play for free as well?
The first band I see on the 2012 Rock'N'Charity tour is Køge quintet Bearfoot hound, who have been chosen to open proceedings at Tapperiet in their home town. It's my first time here, and I make note of the good medium sized room and the low stage, as the five young guys in the band come in and open up with a calm, Zeppelin-ish classic rock intro. They soon shift to a more straightforward and hard-handed approach, which is easily comparable to that of their townsmen in Disarray Son - who will close the night off later by the way. Shifting to a forced, strained manly croon however, singer Niklas Jensen acts as one striking difference between the two bands, and though Bearfoot Hound also focus their material around ballsy riffs, they're clearly a bit behind when it comes to experience, which shows both in the songwriting and in the on-stage behaviour. Guitarist Emil Bust Skytta makes a good effort though, talking to the audience and setting a fun mood between songs, and seems to enjoy himself while playing. The band overall does a relatively static performance, with Jensen especially looking like he's yet to find himself 100% comfortable in both his singing and his movement, his strained highs falling a bit off mark as the show comes to a close. The early birds that see the band seem to enjoy them though, and they should because there's clearly enough knack for riff writing here to serve as a foundation for something, but apart from some polite applause, the party hardly comes completely alive here. [6½]
Køge's main hometown heroes Disarray Son don't come on at Tapperiet till after ARTD and SIFIFI have already blown the crowd down, so naturally their's is a difficult job following some good acts. They show their own capability though, putting on a set that sounds tighter than Swiss clockwork, and the band's own tightness is only boosted by the remarkable job done by the sound man on watch tonight. Everything sounds pristine, with the swagger of the band's riffs contrasted well by the singing of frontman Anders Friis, who seems to be improving each time I see him. And not just as a singer but also as an anchor for the audience's attention between song, as his attitude and just general manner of speaking from the stage both have the quality of an entertainer well beyond the size that Disarray Son have so far. Despite the band's precise performance, the people who rock out the most on the floor seems to be their new friends from the other bands, as the remaining audience is back in the more restrained mode of clapping and shouting encouragements. This is more a symptom of the conditions - with two bands just treating us to all out sets of somewhat wilder music - than it is a knock on Disarray Son, who again strike me as a band that just need to track some good songs and gather a following of their own, because their shows are quite ready to deliver to an increased demand. [7½]
Disarray Son playing "Brave New World"
To start the proceedings in Roskilde's Gimle (which would be one of my favourite venues that I've been to in Denmark if it weren't for the long waits in the undersized bar) we have local nu-metal outfit And He Said. Yes, you read that right, this is the year 2012 and these guys - who count among them Contrition's vocalist Nico Paidar as bassist and singer/screamer - play nu-metal, complete with fast-paced rapping from Anders 'Doc A' Hansen. To begin with they don't come across too well and hindered by lacking precision in the mix, the sound is mostly loud drums, rapping and guitars that sound more like chainsaw noices than melodies. Admittedly, I'm not a fan of rapping at all, but I find Hansen's fast flow to be pretty good, even as I'm not sure how good the overall rap/scream concept the band works with is. There's not too much going on in terms of stage activity, just as there are not too many people in attendance yet, but as the mix gradually improves and the band gets a bit of confidence, they engage the audience in a good manner between songs, and try to get things started in songs by going for trips out into the audience with their instruments. We get a curveball thrown at us when they invite a female guest vocalist (her name eludes me I'm afraid) on stage and go for a more melodic, balladic song, which would be a nice break if it weren't for the super corny lyrics here. The set progresses with riffs and structures that must have the entire audience thinking back to Limp Bizkit, Papa Roach and Linkin Park for comparisons, and as if we weren't already busy trying to figure out if this is retro or just plain outdated, the band ends things with a cover of Lustra's (in)famous "Scotty Doesn't Know" (which has me on my knees laughing with sheer surprise). Personally, I would probably always slam any bands that does anything that sounds even a little bit like Limp Bizkit, and AHS are hardly helped by their dodgy lyrics and the poor sound, but even so, this is more entertaining than I would've expected if I had read about the band beforehand. Improvement is still highly recommendable though. 
As for PMS, anyone that have read my reports from any of their previous display's around Copenhagen will hardly be surprised to read that their show once again runs like well-oiled machinery. Taking over from And He Said as the final warm-up act before the RnC headliners come on at Gimle, PMS are at first met by a slightly apprehensive audience but singer Sofus Jensen and his crew soon get people to loosen up a bit. The whole thing reeks of veteran showmanship, as Jensen casually directs drummer Christian Reimer Johansen to extend songs while he engages individuals in the audience, encouraging them to move closer to the stage and have a good time. And while there's nothing subtle about directing their boys vs girls singalong with the lyrics "Uhhhh, Ohhh, I will love you on the floor", the guys do everything with such a tongue-in-cheek attitude that it's hard not to be charmed into it anyway. At the beginning of the show there was hesitant applause, but soon there are wide smiles and joyful dancing, and first timers get their minds blown when guitarists Mathias Møller Laugesen and Anders Bonde do their stand out trick, trading hands to collaborate playing both their instruments - It's hard to explain, but it looks like this and I for one am still amazed each time I see it. Topping things off is Jensen who has a particularly good day on vocals today, marking falsetto highs in a confident manner that sends shivers down your back, and all things considered, I can't but recommend that you make it a hobby of yours, to go around to venues and see PMS completely turn slow audiences into vibrant ones. I just wish they'd put out some more music already, as they themselves say that their piano-rocking first album is hardly representative of where they are as a band today. .
The tough job of following ARTD and SIFIFI falls to local melodic hardrockers Ciccone Ritchie, who have been together for quite a while but are still trying to gather momentum after adding new singer Bjarke Madsbøll. The other members show their tightness, casually dissing out both hard riffs and layered melodies while mostly leaving it to Madsbøll sing his heart out while acting as an intense frontfigure for the audience to fix their attention on. Wear and tear and levels of intoxication are again beginning to show in the gathered crowd, which is smaller now, given that many are still outside catching their breath after the previous bands, but Ciccone Ritchie soldier on stubbornly refusing to be affected by this. Given that CR's music seems more layered and less dynamic when compared to that of the RnC headliners, and that little of it is available for listening online, it's probably not a surprise that the activity on the floor is calmer than it has been earlier, but as the set moves to a close, there are still banging and nodding heads and tapping feet to be seen around the floor. In conclusion then, Ciccone Ritchie may not upstage any of the headliners, but they do hold their own in a tough spot. .
The bands' video diary from the show in Gimle among others, only in Danish unfortunately!
The first band that takes the stage at Rust for SIFIFI's final stop is NOA, who come on so early in the evening that I barely make their set, and looking around at Rust, a lot of people are missing it because there are only a few people watching the band from a seated position around the venue's walls. They deliver a funky, garage-ish indie rock that reminds me the most of Young The Giant with its calm and cool attitude. The sound is crunchy but light and for some of the songs the band employ dual vocals from both a male and a female singer. The main singer sounds a little insecure in his notes at times though, in the way you often hear people do when they might not be hearing quite enough of themselves in their own monitor. The oldschool guitar solos highlight the songs in the traditional places, but overall, this is not a show to remember for NOA, partly because their inexperience shows and partly because there's barely a soul here to see them. [5½]
For The Vision Ablaze things are not much different when it comes to crowd activity, because as they launch into their technical metalcore, only a single fan of theirs seems keen to headbang wildly in front of the stage. Pretty much everybody else hold their distance apprehensively, while the guys on stage windmill their extreme lengths of hair with conviction, sending out interchanging waves of harsh, destructive thrash and high strung, progressive parts. Their sheer conviction seems to draw more interest as the show proceeds, and especially a mid-set balladic song catches my interest through the singer's quite passionate delivery. He struggles throughout the set with keeping his full-power approach on key though, and combining this with the fact that the dynamic between the band and tonight's audience has them appearing very much an odd-band-out, this is also hardly the best night they will remember having either. 
The last band to precede SIFIFI on the evening are Wifebeater Cooking Club, a band that stepped in when the originally planned appearance from Ciccone Ritchie had to be cancelled when their drummer had to quit the band due to damage to his hearing. Having never heard of WCC except for a few moments of listening to their facebook material, I find that they play a groovy, funky, very Lenny Kravitz-ish hard rock, and that their set is very much centered around the appearance and performance of their flamboyant frontman. There are more people here now, but the band looks like they'd attempt to put in an over the top performance crowd or no crowd, and especially their frontman looks like he's entirely in his own world when he launches into his cool, pedal-aided guitarsolos. The interest for the band's antics still seems modest though, which is probably because they seem to almost oversell it at times, but still, compared to the two bands that performed before them, they're still the ones that are closest to whipping up a genuine good time [6½]
Despite not having much to their name yet, Stoneword manage to pull a respectable portion of the bustling crowd in front of the stage to experience, probably for the first time, the band's take on classic hard rock. It's groovy, it's heavy, and Anders Brink's singing leaves very little to be desired. In classic territory as we are, the music is guitar based, with plenty of groovy riffs, great licks and soaring solos painting a soundscape which, for any fan of heavy metal, should tickle quite a bit of interest. Sadly, the band's performance in no way parallels their songwriting- and technical skill, as for the entire set the band seem content with fixing themselves to their respective positions on the stage and doing nothing to invoke a visual component to the show. I'm willing to forgive such virgin errors, however, given that Stoneword are a brand new outfit with a low experience margin when it comes to playing gigs. Their music alone carries enough promise to make it worthwhile to be patient as they hone their craft. [6½] Written by AP
Although this is but my second time watching Pet the Preacher live, I've already fallen head over heels with the trio. I suspect that the velocity with which I have come to herald them as one of the best bands in Denmark right now, owes to them catering almost exactly to my taste with their groovy, sludgy, dirty brand of stoner rock. And the fact that there are very few bands of their kind in the country, maybe. But it doesn't matter; what matters is that you should become aware of them if you haven't already, lest you miss out on one of the truly unique bands that Denmark has to offer. It's a bit of a gamble to kick their performance off with a slow burning and largely instrumental song that stretches on for what must seem like an eternity for some of the more punk bent people in attendance. But once it fades out, I couldn't imagine the show starting in any other way; it's both an efficient way to force the audience to decide whether or not music like this is for them in the first place and an opportunity for the band to showcase the full breadth of their inclinations, the acidic psychedelia, Hendrix-influenced guitar trickery and eventually powerful gruff singing combining into one mighty beast of a song. The following "Cancer You Fucking Bitch" - which I'm still not warming up to for some reason - provides some rocking contrast to what is an expertly crafted setlist alternating between the slower stoner stuff and straight out rock'n'roll bangers like "The Devil's Door", with its mouthwatering slide-guitar antics. And it must be said that for music like this, Pet the Preacher certainly look the part, guitar-toting frontman Christian Hede Madsen looking like a right rock god with his bare tattooed torso and long, sweaty hair, and his two partners in crime, bassist Torben Wæver Pedersen and drummer Christian Von Larsen exacting every ounce of their energy reservoirs into punishing their respective instruments. This all makes for a fantastic performance brimming with authenticity and rock'n'roll attitude; the kind that will certainly take these guys places.  Written by AP
Unlike Pet the Preacher, Stream City take absolutely no chances and proceed to blast out all their most recognizable songs right off the bat, "My Only Friend", "In Limbo" and "Fisherman's Tale" leading the charge of what quickly becomes another unforgettable performance by these guys. Stream City have the key advantage of not sounding much like anyone else, their influences tagging them in opposite directions toward Millencolin, Gogol Bordello, and even Billy Talent at times; and with songs as catchy and well composed as theirs it takes no time to win the audience over and send it into a frenzy of dancing, moshing and singing along. Stream City are having a visible blast on stage as well, throwing themselves into a constant blur of movement and odd grins and glances. Here is a band that is just as aware of the importance of showing people a good time as the quality of their songs, themselves a series of progressive punk master classes, in which Christian Hjort Lauritzen in particular gets to shine with his violin, effortlessly blending folky vibes into a bouncy rhythmic foundation and constantly evolving guitar riffs. As our own PP put it in one of his reviews of the band, Stream City are one of the most original and intelligent punk bands since RX Bandits and Catch 22; and with a similar knack for putting on fantastic shows. If this stuff never makes it beyond the Danish borders proper, I'll eat my hat. [8½] Written by AP
Top: Rasmus Krøyer - Christian Hjort Lauritsen - Morten Bo Jakobsen - Steffen Frandsen (roadie) - Jakob Lærke Munk - Villads Berg - Andreas Krüger - Anders Veikko Madsen - Mikkel Raavig - Mirza Radonjica
Bottom: Jonas Smidt Mogensen (photographer) - Mads Peter Møller - Ronnie Thomsen