Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DEN - 13/3
Trailerpark 2015Previous Next
author HES date 10/08/15
Trailerpark Festival is more commonly referred to as Copenhagen’s hipster Mecca, as all beanie wearers turn towards West (of Copenhagen) to pray to the Gods of glitter and glitterati. The festival is organized by the creative collective/bureau ArtRebels and focuses on both music and art. Not that music is not art – but the focus is to improve on the festival experience by inviting in artists to do anything from audiovisuals to wall paintings.
So you may read the above and think; "well that sounds awfully much like Roskilde Festival that also has a lot of wall art and stuff", but think of Roskilde Festival as the light version here. The small area of Copenhagen Skate is completely transformed from a regular skate park to a wonderland of sensory experiences. You can visit a trailer/mobile home with installed fans and tons of confetti or you can take a bucket shower, only with the water replaced with glitter. The stages are of course beautiful and whimsical; looking like a My Little Pony went and casually puked all over them.
The Confetti Trailer
Probably inspired by South By Southwest in the US, this year’s Trailerpark Festival added another leg to the concept in the shape of "I/O" or "Input Output" – a day of talks and activities within, on the cross section between creativity and technology. A lot of these activities included audio-visual experiences like controlling music with body movements or this very strange new age-y "interactive concert" that just consisted mainly of sitting in a tipi-styled tent and playing "music" with a bowl of fruits. Some of the talks were great, including one by a self-termed "cyborg" born without color vision, now substituting colors with sound. Although some of the speakers and activities were kind of "out there", I would recommend "I/O" if you are even slightly interested in the fringes of musical/creative experiences.
A guest taking a virtual reality bicycle ride
Trailerpark has three stages, but as the "Rebel Stage" was more like a glorified DJ desk and this is a live review, I will only be reporting from "Royal Stage" and "Soundvenue Stage".
Royal Stage is the bigger stage inside the hangar-like skate park. The floor in front of the stage is thereafter: With all its ramps and bumps. Even though that can make the place feel extremely claustrophobic when the place is packed, it also gives the stage some kind of funky charm. The light shows at Royal Stage are absolutely incredible with big triangles lighting up in neon colors as 3D projections light up the backdrop.
Soundvenue Stage used to be the smallest stage, back when the festival was making use of both "hangars" of the skate park, but it seems the festival has had to downsize a bit and only utilize one hangar this year – leaving Soundvenue Stage as the second biggest stage. The Stage was covered in a Tivoli-like tent and had seemingly gotten the duller end of the paintbrush with tinsel covered pink walls and a big foam half-moon, compared to the giant triangles of Royal Stage and Rebel Stage sporting an outfit of neon Cherokee tassels and wood sculptures.
The capacity of the venue was not exactly overwhelming and the short distance to the culinary paradise that is the dry toast in your own kitchen makes the variety of food at Trailerpark equally narrow. This year all food was handled by Barburritto that, on top of their signature burritos, also carry Asian salad and burgers. I only tried the burritos and some fries from the burger shack. Both were on the pricy end (1 burrito for 65DKK, a burger for 60/65DKK), when comparing sizes to prices, but the quality was way beyond your regular old festival grub.
Drinks were also reasonably priced with beer coming in at 20DKK per can (25DKK for the new organic edition of the Royal Pilsner). Specialty beer (and wine) was suspiciously hard to find, probably on the accord of sponsors, but hard liquor was more than represented by Absolut and Jameson with the pricier connoisseur long drinks like "cucumber infused vodka and tonic" for around 70DKK whereas a regular vodka/cranberry in the regular bars would set you back around 45DKK. Where some festivals have suffered losses in quality with their volunteer staff (*cough* Northside), Trailerpark Festival had outsourced the service to Mobilbar which also catered at Distortion this year with great success. Service in the bars was particularly good, thereby actually making the pricier options worth the while.
Although these partnerships meant a loss in diversity and range, it also meant that the organisers could probably better focus their efforts on actually running the festival. The only vendor that really stuck out of the mold was the concept "IsBar" which sold sorbet made with alcohol. The frozen Piña Colada was amazing, but coming in at a whooping 70DKK for a scoop. The nitrogen oxide booth of yesteryear had not been rebuilt to a loud group of drunk girls’ disdain. I think Trailerpark is growing up here.
Not part of the menu: Performance Art at Trailerpark Festival
What is a Rockfreaks.net festival review without analyses of the toilet facilities? And just like this year’s Northside, Trailerpark gets and A if not A+ for super well-kept, clean, flushing toilets with surprisingly little queuing.
The police were very present at the festival – whether it was on the demand of the festival or because Vesterbro is somehow situated in one of most drug-ridden burrows of Copenhagen is hard to tell, but I noticed no arrests or drama, just a bulletproof vest in the crowd here and there. On the other hand the festival’s own safety people were almost non-present. From time to time I spotted a "guard"-sweatshirt on his walkie-talkie, but anxiety-provokingly I saw none of them near the stages as you might have started to expect them to be at most festivals after the tragic deaths at Roskilde Festival 10 years ago.
I just saw The Attic Sleepers at Roskilde Festival’s Rising Stage and it wasn’t an unpleasant experience to say the least. So I leave my friends behind in a Frederiksberg apartment to make sure I don’t miss the show. I find the floor in front of the stage scattered with curious listeners and as the show starts, the atmospheric and catchy guitar melodies slowly attract a larger crowd hesitantly forming a half circle in front of the stage as the spider-like guitar and steady military-like drumming of "Ghost" come forth.
New elements stand out in the more intimate set of the Soundvenue Stage in comparison to the bigger, completely outdoor Rising Stage of Roskilde Festival. The duo has brought an additional bassist and guitarist with them as they have toured the Danish festivals. Notably the vocal harmonies between the stand-in bassist and vocalist Mathias Barfod are working splendidly as a small live-feature. Also the supporting use of electric guitar piques my interest in an otherwise very acoustic soundscape. The lyrical aspects of the music also stand out more clearly, especially on "Lines" which is, in my eyes, the best track of the band’s only EP "Lanquin" "waiting for the shadow of my mind, to cause another line in the sand" or on the super-single "Airport" with this beautiful use of analogy: "Although the nightmare’s fading out, I’m freezing in the oven".
Mathias Barfod of The Attic Sleepers
The gap between the band and their spectators is not fully bridged neither physically nor figuratively as the weird semi-circle remains unbroken except for a few boys making a decent attempt to break it by moving up in front. But the nervous energy in the tent creates a veil of distance, and you feel how the tension is never really released. In spite of the music almost beckoning for everyone to close their eyes and let the music sway you, most stand frozen, arms locked in front. It’s hard to speculate whether this veil could have been withdrawn by banter or if the audience was just very, very timid regardless. It still doesn’t change the fact that The Attic Sleepers is a name to watch in the softer end of the indie/folk spectre of the Danish music scene. 
I can’t tell if retro is just in lately, but I seem to stumble upon them everywhere lately. In this case, the band in focus is Copenhagen-based "Lower". The band is supposedly very known in the underground-milieu of fag-smoking, beanie-wearers. Sounding a bit like a darker version of Depeche Mode with just a touch of punk, the music makes for a pretty introvert expression, in spite of a very insisting vocalist. The eyes of the crowd are getting hazy from continuous boozing as a cascade of rolling drums hit you right in the solar plexus. The clear directionality of these drums seems to be in stark contrast to the rest of the soundscape that is stand-off’ish, disengaged and nihilistic. Overall the tableau is promising, but yet very distant. I leave the concert feeling very confused, but somewhat intrigued. 
Let’s be honest at first: Waitress in no way makes for Trailerpark’s best concert, but it sure makes a contender for "the most endearing". The vocalist, John De Lira, has an obvious and very extreme case of the nerves, looking anxiously from his overenthusiastic synth-guy to the audience for a friendly face. The music is synth-heavy indie rock with a touch of funk as there seems to be everywhere in the music scene right now. Whereas the vocals are quite low and confident on the record, they seem to be very affected by De Lira's nerves, leaving them very frail and sometimes close to out of pitch. However it does get better throughout the show, especially the faster songs seem to work out better for Waitress than the slower songs like "Veiled Minds". The high-point of the show, however, is a song including a bebop-style bridge that literally makes De Lira break down in giggles from nerves. As I said, not very convincing but at least endearing. But even though the experience makes me smile thinking back, it just doesn't make it come up to par - and although we part as friends, this was just a shaky performance at best. 
John De Lira of Waitress
You know the deal: You hear the name of a band so many times it almost becomes a sport to casually avoid ever hearing it, knowing the expectations from the hype will have ruined it already at the first listen. So that's how I pretty much have reacted, childishly I know, up until this very moment - but then I realized my anticipated hatred towards this overexposed band only made what I heard even more convincing.
The soundscape is folksy but melancholic - the airy soundscape fills the big skate hall, partly filled with eager listeners, partly by hazy-eyed, drunk people mesmerized by the magnificent light show or in blabbering conversation. I’d best describe my impression of the music as a mixture of 90’s legends Suede (partly because of vocalist Jonas Smith’s nasal vocals) and at the same time also the hypnotic, atmospheric elements not unlike Icelandic Sigur Rós, all packaged in well-delivered experimental rock with tremendously catchy and repetitive folksy melody-lines, knotted into different songs.
Jonas Smith of Blaue Blume
Jonas Smith’s vocal work is peculiar, but also beyond impressing. Smith’s natural level vocals are quite low and spoken word-ish, but he frequently breaks into a jaw-dropping, vibrating falsetto, not unlike that of Nikolaj Vonsild of When Saints Go Machine, but with a fuller body. The natural level vocals are low and chanting, whereas the falsetto is melodic and follow the high-pitched electric guitar. Overall the music, which seems equally intricate, fades a bit in comparison to the easily identified vocal arrangements, but the result is still extremely euphonious and grand. Blaue Blume magically turns me from a cynic into a believer over the span of an hour. [7½]
My photographer has been speaking fondly about Total Heels and how he is looking forwards to shooting them again, but as we arrive at a completely empty stage around midnight, my expectations plummet until the band hits the stage. I’ve been sober for a couple of hours in order to stay awake for the late shows and I am cranky, I want to go home and I want the noises to stop. I am not further impressed by the announcer getting the name of the band wrong, slowly beginning to feel a magnetic force pulling me towards the nearest train station. But that’s not in the cards. And thank God, or whatever entity you subscribe to, for that.
I’ll estimate that the floor is empty for about 2 minutes into the first song. Vocalist "Snake" seems to be slightly annoyed with the whole thing - or maybe it’s part of the act. He doesn’t seem to notice the lack of people and throws himself violently into an eccentric dance worthy of a Michael Stipe-medal of honour (the iconic vocalist of R.E.M). The sound is an eclectic mix of post-punk, garage and surf rock. The surf rock aspect is mostly due to the overwhelming sound of an electric organ, with an equally overwhelming pianist - almost jumping atop the poor machine every hi-hat-hit. Soon the floor is spaced out by a dancing crowd, mosh’n’roll style as "Snake" shouts out "QUAINT!" or "GREAT!" after each finished song as if he was afflicted by some kind of reverse Tourette’s.
"Snake" of Total Heels
The band loses the crowd with a slow song close to the end of the show, which does put a scratch in an otherwise smooth surface of a show. It’s clear that no one here came as a fan, but I am pretty sure the band leaves with quite a few new followers. I never really figure out if "Snake" is being sarcastic as he screams out superlatives - or if he’s genuinely happy with the show. I personally like the whole air of mystery about him and his weird american accent, as he proclaims they’re "a band from Copenhagen" adding to the mystery that is Total Heels - as the band magically draw a crowd out of thin air and then release it back into the night - most of them speaking loudly about the experience on their way to the nearest bar. 
It’s a quarter past two in the morning at Trailerpark. The rest of the festival has gone to see Medina at the Royal Stage, and only the old, the weary and the cynical that are too stubborn to go see the Danish princess of pop remain. So we find ourselves in a strange solidary communion in front of Soundvenue Stage, awaiting the last band of the night.
Seems the vocalist Philip Trappaud has lowered his expectations of the night as well, having poured enough of the free beer of the glorified backstage bar into his neck before show start. Nosebleed is what I would categorize as a noise rock band, but with their feet firmly planted in the punk heritage of the genre. The vocals have added so much echo and distortion that it matters very little if the note is really spot on and that does save the band from falling completely on their drunk asses.
Philip Trappaud of Nosebleed
And although it seems a bit too studied, the "punk"-attitude also kind of works, as a drunkard from the crowd starts poking the band with the mic stand. As I mentioned earlier, there is no security present, so Trappaud has to waddle him off like an annoying fly, before he (Trappaud) leans into the very balding crowd for a whiff of a joint. In spite of all of the state of their vocalist, the rest of the band manages to keep the soundscape on track, most notably the guitarist does an excellent job of sometimes cutting through the waves of noise, forming a melodic narrative you can grab onto. But it is late. And overall Trappaud fails to make the crowd feel any kind of thankfulness for standing here, in the middle of the night, listening to his drunken ramblings in between songs. 
If Waitress takes the price for being most endearing, I think Magnolia Shoals unfortunately take the prize for being the most forgettable band of Trailerpark. It’s afternoon and most people in attendance look like yesterday was a lot of fun. And I would definitely characterize Magnolia Shoals as a "hangover band". It’s not unpleasant. But it’s not really anything else.
Vocalist Nicolai Noa has a deep, soothing voice, in the same tonal range as Matt Berninger of The National. The musical universe is dark and melancholic. I assume it is supposed to sound heartfelt, but to me it just doesn’t come off as genuine. The lyrics are unnecessarily dark on top of an already gloomy soundscape. The reason The National can make this gloomy style work, is because they think contrast into the architecture of the songs in form of horns, a soaring melody or perhaps a clear guitar riff. The very little contrast that is part of Magnolia Shoals’ show that actually lifts the soundscape from bland to slightly interesting, is a male guest vocalist with a more high-pitch voice - but for most of the show it just drowns in a contrast-less hole, that is not necessarily unpleasant to be in, but not exciting at all either. 
When I first had to review Cancer it was the very first time I got the impression that I was listening to something completely different from anything I’d ever heard before. We have to fill in a "For The Fans Of"-section with bands sounding alike the artist in question and for the first time I was drawing a blank. I ended up describing their EP "Ragazzi" as the creatures scientists find in the deepest realms of the ocean - a neon coloured blob you can’t place in your regular genus-charts. So when Cancer was booked for the Royal Stage I was equally excited and terrified; I have grown to love the weird tempi-challenging post-rock of "Ragazzi" and putting Cancer on the main stage in broad daylight seemed to be too challenging for the audience. But I was wrong.
Nikolaj Vonsild of Cancer
Cancer to me seems like a game of chess: The duo consists of Nikolaj Vonsild of When Saints Go Machine in white; his sound is airy, consists of strange synths and his voice is high-pitched and frail. Kristian Finne Kristensen of Chorus Grant is the mahogany coloured pieces; he grounds the soundscape with his organic sounds - the warm guitar and the dark, melodious voice. Over the course of the game each take the lead and dominate the soundscape that moves either towards the living room or the skies, as the game slowly turns into a dance between two rivaling friends.
Kristian Finne Kristensen of Cancer
The songs from the "Ragazzi"-EP do impressingly well, especially a more guitar-dominated "Body On The Bone" and "Hunting Large Cats From A Helicopter" which ends up sounding like an expressive noise rock track, as Kristian Finne moves forward on the chess plate with a beautifully fierce guitar-outro. The new track "The Largest Factory" evens the score, as Cancer shows how the contrasts in their soundscape truly is their strength. The game ends in remis; a beautiful draw. But I’ll be very sure to get tickets for the rematch.