CPF Winter Edition

author BV date 23/11/15

Mere months after the successful second edition of Copenhagen Psych Fest, I found myself there once more – in the middle of a venue boasting powerful visuals, strange (but awesome) people and a lineup of artists capable of rivalling most of the other psychedelic options on offer in Scandinavia. It was Copenhagen Psych Fest once more, but this time it was the winter edition. Whereas the regular version of the festival took place at Huset-KBH, the winter edition apparently called for a change of venue to a more intimate setting in an old industrial freezer in the meatpacking district of Copenhagen. This change of venue seemed awfully fitting as the lineup in general also seemed to have taken a turn for the darker, more kraut-, space- and drone-inspired psychedelic music where repetition is of the essence.

All photos courtesy of Philip B. Hansen / Philipbh.com

The Venue

As previously mentioned, the festival itself took place in the meatpacking district of Copenhagen, in an old industrial freezer. This added a very unique and intimate atmosphere to proceedings – including that semi-cold, industrial feel which is strangely fitting when watching kraut- and drone-inspired psychedelic music. The intimate confines resulted in there being only one stage as opposed to the four stages of the “main” festival in September – thus also limiting the number of tickets on sale quite a bit. Furthermore the stage was situated at ground level, meaning that you’d either have to be tall or fast to secure optimal viewing pleasure. Luckily for those unable to see much, music often tends to speak for itself either way – also it’s hard to see when you’re closing your eyes and drifting away to music anyway.

To ensure a properly psychedelic vibe, the stage was adorned with beautifully trippy visuals of a large variety, constantly shifting to the nature and vibe of the music – most of the time split into three different projections cast at the same time. – Absolutely gorgeous, to say the least. And with that, let’s move on the shows.

PERFORMANCES

Kungens Män

Kungens Män

As I sadly realized that I would only be able to attend this first day of the three-day event, I had opted for the curious route, having chosen not to pre-listen to the bands on the lineup that I didn’t already know so as to have an open mind when greeted by their performance. First up on this Thursday was Kungens Män from Stockholm, Sweden. Playing what they have taken upon themselves to call “cosmic music”, the band started off quite gently with a mildly hypnotizing rhythm section steadily developing whilst cosmic oscillation sounds whirled around inside this psychedelic freezer we were all currently inhabiting. By then proceeding to add some really cool arpeggio-guitar lines to the mix, their first track seemed to be reaching an early high-point of their set, after lasting just about 20 minutes. Followed by a less inspiring second track, Kungens Män upped the tempo with their third track – reaching space punk territory for a brief period of time before gradually mellowing out once more, ending their set in complete sync with each other – thus opening the festival in the proper manner. [7]

Crowd

TAU

Next up of the night’s performances was Tau, a project of which I had heard nothing but words of praise of, despite never actually having listened to the music myself. This was all about to change, naturally, as a cascading synth-sound took over the room whilst the two men on stage – armed with percussion and an acoustic guitar – started playing their tribal-infused, highly ritualistic drones. ”I never thought I’d have to say this, especially at a psych rock festival, but less reverb please. I need less reverb” - those were some of the only words uttered by the man behind TAU, Shaun “Nunutzi” Mulrooney (of Dead Skeletons and more), save for dedicating a track to Kasper Fjord and the Copenhagen Psych Fest team, people who ”give their hearts, souls and balls to this”. Save for the sparse communication, TAU managed to send a message perfectly across the room, whether through subtle dancing or appreciative nods the crowd seemed engaged in this particular act. The repetitive patterns of the music served as a grounding element you could always return to when the music wandered off too far for some to follow and TAU never really seemed to lose anyone along the way. [7½]

Visuals

Wizard of Love

For the third time on this night I managed to encounter a band I had very little knowledge of – a rare feat in itself. This time, however, I felt excused as Wizard of Love is a relatively new outfit that has only existed since 2014 or so. On paper, Wizard of Love is a duo consisting of Emil Timmermann and Anders Hamann, but on this particular night they had expanded their live band to include three additional musicians making them a quintet. Musically Wizard of Love land somewhere between the 60’s and the 90’s in their scuzzy, yet pop-melodic music and sound like equal parts garage rock and brit-pop (I might actually be stretching the definitions a bit here). In spite having some relatively cool material, it is quite evident that Wizard of Love as a live entity is a fairly new being – with all the shortcomings a unit as such tends to have. For one, the band lacks stage presence which could really help liven up their set of otherwise relatively fast-paced and upbeat tracks – save for the few mandatory, melancholia-laden tracks. Another point would be that the band in and of itself is not an entirely cohesive unit, meaning that the tracks aren’t performed in as tight a manner as one would possibly like. In spite of this, I’d say that Wizard of Love did fairly well in a situation that seemed less than ideal for them, as they were probably also the odd ones out on the lineup of this night, in terms of musical style. [5½]

The Telescopes

The Telescopes

For the fourth act of the evening I was re-acquainted with a band I saw at the very first edition of Copenhagen Psych Fest at Stengade back in 2014. The Telescopes hardly need an introduction for those somewhat aware of the darker side of psychedelic music and its last 20-25 years of development or so. Producing noise-rock and shoegazing at its finest, one could expect The Telescopes to be in complete control of the situation due to sheer experience. Sure enough, the band went on to the sound of utter cacophony with the guitarists situating themselves amongst the audience while generating the daunting feedback necessary for proper cacophony to take place. While this was mesmerizing in its own right, the show didn’t quite take off until midway through The Telescopes’ set when their noise-drone tendencies started to shine through – showcased by one track lasting more than 20 minutes, whilst waging brutal sonic warfare on the attendees’ ears. It was downright intimidating to watch the band perform at times, as they seemed to embody the chaotic nature of their music by contorting their bodies, utilizing just about anything to create noise on their instruments and by exuding a dangerously eerie vibe. The Telescopes have something memorable about them, and this night’s gig was definitely no exception. [8]

The Myrrors

The Myrrors

The final act to grace the first day of Copenhagen Psych Fest’s winter edition was none other than The Myrrors. For those with an above-average interest in neo-psychedelic music, The Myrrors can hardly be an unknown entity. Hailing from Arizona, The Myrrors first came together in 2007 and eventually went on to record their debut album; “Burning Circles in the Sky” which was subsequently released in an extremely limited edition of screen-printed CD’s. Even though The Myrrors disbanded in 2009 and eventually reformed in 2013, “Burning Circles in the Sky” lived its own life on the internet and slowly became a psych-rock sensation – a cult item, if you will.

As such, it’s no surprise to realize that the majority of those present in the audience on this Thursday night, had indeed mostly bought their tickets to finally be able to see The Myrrors on their first European tour ever. With expectations sky-rocketing, The Myrrors quickly sprawled out a musical canvas of echoing vocals, dreamy vocals and strange, electric violin sounds as experimental as their debut album was (and is). - Although expectations were high from the get-go, The Myrrors seemed in complete control of the situation as they looked calm, collected and totally into the vibes of their own making. Playing through a variety of tracks that seemed to intertwine with each other, I can honestly say I couldn’t have cared less about noting a possible set list for use here – I was quite frankly to enamored with the band to even harbor such thoughts, and although it may cause me minor frustrations now, I can honestly say that the best thing I happened to do on this Thursday night was to just relax, let go and drift away to the sound of The Myrrors – it was well worth it. Expectations were high, but all in all I’d say that The Myrrors more than delivered and my only grief was that I was unable to attend the rest of the festival as The Myrrors were actually scheduled to play once more on the following day. [8½]

With this, my thoughts on the first day of Copenhagen Psych Fest’s winter edition come to a close. It was a cool event, one I would have loved to partake in on a greater level but sadly scheduling can and will always be a nuisance and often times things don’t work out. However, I’d still dare to say that I can hardly imagine the following days to be lesser experiences. Copenhagen Psych Fest seems to be establishing a ‘brand’ of rather high musical quality and I certainly hope they can keep it up for many years to come.

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