Copenhagen Psych Fest 2016

author BV date 21/07/16

I practically can’t believe it. Here we are yet again, Copenhagen Psych Fest, for the third time and bigger than ever. Sure, there have been all kinds of precursor events like the winter and spring editions and pleasant as they were, nothing quite compares to ‘the real deal’, the ultimate psych gathering in Denmark by far, and possibly even Scandinavia. The rise has been fast-paced; from starting small at Stengade in 2014 with two stages, only to move to Huset-KBH and upgrading both capacity and number of stages, to now finally move somewhere which genuinely felt right - Freetown Christiania with all of its vibrant life during these summer months, great venues and an atmosphere unlike anything else. Occasionally I’ll have to pinch myself because it is all a bit unreal. Just a few years ago, my ultimate goal was to visit Austin Psych Fest (now Levitation) but having been there last year, I can’t even begin to tell you how much more Copenhagen Psych Fest actually means to me. It means everything I love in music is slowly becoming a global phenomenon and although trends may pass, the hip will find something else to believe in for a time, I hope this will be incentive enough for the dedicated and passionate people behind Copenhagen Psych Fest to keep on working hard at making such a great thing viable and sustainable. As long as it exists I’ll probably keep coming back. Not only for the music, but also for the strange atmosphere - the mix of freaks, old hippies, young hipster and all other people who are particularly harder to identify in one of these already quite large stereotyping boxes. If anything, it speaks in favor of the broader appeal that, for the first time ever, I am not alone with the task of writing this particular feature about this very festival. 2016 is the year where rockfreaks.net sent two writers. However, without further ado, let’s move on to the description of the venues and the festival area itself.

All photos courtesy of: Philip B. Hansen, Stefan Frank thor Straten, Mestellés and Vappu Vilke

Festival Area

Loppen

As I said, the festival took place in Freetown Christiania across four venues - Den Grå Hal, Loppen, Byens Lys and Børneteateret. The difference in capacity for these venues was quite well-fitting for the most part, as Den Grå Hal could hold something near a 1000 people, thus making it ideal for the largest headliners, whilst Loppen (with its 600 or so people) could mostly manage larger bands that are not yet fully capable of making use of the larger area of Den Grå Hal. At Byens Lys you’d find a nice change of pace with rows of seats and couches to crash on whilst checking some (mostly) superb music. Holding just about 150 people it felt intimate to watch shows there, although in rather relaxed and not particularly crowded way. On the other hand you had the final venue, Børneteateret, which held approximately 100 people. Now that place could easily feel cramped - for the most part also due to the fact that most people seemed quite fond of clogging the entrance, making it nigh impossible to get in, even though there were probably space on the floor or whatever. But I digress.

Byens Lys

Given the rather large outdoors areas lying between these four venues, it was always fairly easy to get that genuine change of pace and the feeling of sensation when chilly summer winds hit your face after a hot and crowded performance. It was an almost idyllic experience to see so many happy people wandering about, making this part of Copenhagen seem vibrant like never before. Or well, vibrant at least.The vibe was perfect, and for those inclined towards smoking certain products (even though the festival advised you not to in their rather gorgeous information-filled flyer), you could hardly imagine a more perfect location for a festival. However, let’s get to the stuff you’re really here for - reviews:

REVIEWS WEDNESDAY

Polyfeen - 19:45 at Loppen

Polyfeen

Even though I had just spent a good 15 minutes at Sekel’s show, I opted for venturing towards Loppen to check out the newly reformed Polyfeen - the band that is for the most part only known in fairly obscure circles as their only album is a live recording from 1972, released by Orpheus Records in 2001. For me this was a must-see show of this year’s Psych Fest and the band definitely didn’t disappoint. Opening with “Leve Livet”, the band immediately ventured into a soundscape quite familiar to fans of early Deep Purple - a powerful vocalist, spellbinding Hammond organ sounds and a guitarist with a certain flair for fast-paced solos in very prog-sounding tracks of quite impressive length. The drummer should by no means be deemed less important than the rest of the band, however, as his furiously powerful drumming constantly worked towards steering the soundscape towards higher levels of dynamics in tight interplay with the band’s bassist - both of whom are the only non-original members of the band. I’m always amazed by vocalists who can keep themselves occupied whilst instrumentalists take things to the next level, and this particular performance was no exception. Whenever the band took off, their vocalist would simply have a broad smile on his face and dance around a little bit, maintaining a very short distance to the microphone, without ever really seeming uncomfortable. With a mix of their classic material and newer songs written recently, Polyfeen definitely impressed me and left me certain that leaving Sekel’s otherwise decent performance was by far the best choice I would make on this day of the Psych Fest. [8] BV

Sigges Hjørne - 21:50 at Børneteateret

Now, “Sigge” or Sigurd Djurhuus is a man I’ve become fairly acquainted with in connection to many musical projects he is constantly working on. Scheduled to play no less than twice during this edition of Copenhagen Psych Fest, I decided on watching his first performance hoping for a ‘raw’ or at the least more ‘fresh’ performance. I mostly certainly got what I bargained for. Having apparently rushed in during the day after quite a while of festival work the previous weeks, Djurhuus had little-to-no soundcheck and thus performed an improvised set with constant sound-tweaks along the way. Whilst some of the performance was generally interesting, it was quite evident that it would take a little while for him to get really warmed up. Whilst attempting to perform material from his Tidsgæst project, Djurhuus aptly noted after one song that this was ”pretty damn hard”. In spite of these various challenges he mostly got away with his performance, as his telling of various jokes and funny stories lessened the impact of the constant tweaking. Strangely enough the greatest improvement to the sound was when he disconnected the echo and reverb devices from the mix - that has got to be a first at a psych fest. [7] BV

The Setting Son - 23:00 at Loppen

The Setting Son

At this point in time I’ve seen The Setting Son live quite a few times and still consider myself a fan of their entire discography. Therefore it should be no surprise that I was stoked about the fact that I’d once again gotten the chance to see them live again after a couple of years where the band seemingly wasn’t even active. My borderline-euphoria almost immediately dissipated as I realised that there would be no organ in the mix tonight - in spite of it being a fairly defining factor for many of their (in my opinion) greatest tracks. Kicking off with a decent rendition of “Running Demons”, the band quickly went into “Obsession” with relative ease. At this point all is quite well, but as soon as they venture into later material like “Eat My Fear”, the lack of organ and female backing vocals seems to immediately drag the overall level of the performance down to a plane where the crowd situated near me became gradually more bored by the performance (or lack thereof) as there was definitely nothing fresh about for those who have seen them play before. They were more or less going through the motions and had the soundscape been closer to that of the albums, this would have been perfectly fine .- but with such key elements lacking, I suspect that some people might expect a bit more of a performative element in return. It’s a damn shame as the setlist was packed with amazing songs like “Spring of Hate”, “Le Sacre Coeur”, “In a Certain Way” and “Eat my Fear” - they just never quite impressed on this night. [6] BV

The Orange Revival - 00:30 at Loppen

The Orange Revival

Granted, by the time The Orange Revival were to hit the stage I was feeling rather tired already - having had some hectic work days prior and already feeling deprived of sleep. Nonetheless I managed to stay awake for the performance since I had only heard praise about The Orange Revival. When the band then took the stage I was a bit dumbfounded by the fact that the band, a trio, were using a drum machine and supplementing that with two guitars and a bass - with one guitarist occasionally switching to a sort of synth. Nonetheless the first few songs of their set sounded pretty damn cool with an almost drone-fueled feeling. However, the very same thing that intrigued me for the duration of 15 minutes, give or take, was the very same thing that led to the decline of certain parts of the crowd’s interest. The drones became dull and nothing new really happened - the monotony of the drum machine became overwhelming and, in turn, dragged down what I otherwise thought were pretty great tracks. From a good start to a mediocre end, The Orange Revival was a somewhat lukewarm end of the night for me, personally. [6½] BV

REVIEWS THURSDAY

Måneskjold

Before actually going to see any of the scheduled shows of the day, I figured I might as well drop by the grassy area near Den Grå Hal where Måneskjold would host an impromptu release of their debut album “Kometen Kommer” (a review of which should show up soon enough). By setting up a merch-table with an echo-laden microphone in order to boost business, I’ve gotta say I’ve now seen it all. This was merchandising done right (in a pretty damn weird way). However, it genuinely peaked when two of five members played a brief acoustic show of three or four songs - songs I never expected to hear unplugged. I’m still not sure if that was ever a good idea, but it was highly entertaining nonetheless. At a festival like this, nothing seems impossible but watching a show from the nearby trees and bushes due to a minor shower rain coming over us, has got to be up there with the weirder experiences.

The Low Frequency in Stereo - 19:20 at Byens Lys

The Low Frequency in Stereo

Amidst Måneskjold’s release, I was joined by fellow writer HES who would help me deal with the overwhelming amount of overlaps throughout the schedule. Somehow we ended up at the same show nonetheless when we ventured to the comfortable and incredibly relaxed atmosphere of Byens Lys to check out the Norwegian band The Low Frequency in Stereo - for the most part due to their kickass name, without having sampled much of their material prior to the performance. Due to a change in schedule that we were unaware of, we arrived a tad too early for the show and caught the last part of the soundcheck. When the band then appeared on stage once more to kick off their performance, I was personally blown away by the wall of sound. Heavy bass, spacious guitar and synths/organs used frequently to underline the atmospherics of the individual tracks. You’d be in the wrong place if you were looking for shorter, melodic songs with vocals during this performance as it was predominantly instrumental with an added focus on build-ups which eventually cascaded into walls of noise, only to settle down into a relaxed, lush affair unfolding for your eyes and ears. When I say eyes and ears I am of course referring to the simplistic but effective light-show going on behind the band at all times. - Often just changing the shade of colors used at a rapid pace, it set the tone for a soundscape constantly unfolding, imploding, building up again and then repeating the process. From my relaxed position, seated in a couch directly in front of the stage this was a mesmerising and genuinely great start of Copenhagen Psych Fest’s second day and, hopefully, only a harbinger of what was to come. [7½] BV

Deadpan Interference - 21:00 at Byens Lys

Deadpan Interference

Deadpan Interference is – like almost every single band at this festival – new to me. However, their noisy experimental rock sound easily made me gravitate towards them more heavily as I was planning my itinerary for the festival. However, Byen Lys seems to be experiencing a bit of planning issues and it never really become apparent whether or not the band will be playing at 21:00 or 21:50. As I arrive around 21:30 is seems clear, that the first time slot was the correct one. They light show has changed dramatically from when The Low Frequency in Stereo was just playing with traditional oil lamps to rave’y flashing light rods. Lead vocalist Astrid Samuelsen is mixed pretty low as she also was on the band’s 2015 self titled album, adding to an overwhelmingly dense wall of noise and sound. As the waves hit us aided by the flickering lights, Samuelsen and bassist Sofie Westh kneel by their instruments as they create an impromptu noise crescendo. However – there’s still something quite static about the show that almost halts in its own extreme density.[7] HES

Kaleidoscope – 21:30 at Loppen

Kaleidoscope

By bringing the old British band Kaleidoscope into the lineup, Copenhagen Psych Fest essentially did what has become sort of a custom within this environment - showcase the new, celebrate the old and unite the two. As front-man Peter Daltrey took the stage with a fairly strange looking music-stand, flanked by much younger musicians, it was an almost symbolic experience. Working their way through obscure classics like “A Dream for Julie”, “Snapdragon” and “(Love Song) For Annie” the band (and Daltrey in particular) seemed genuinely into the atmosphere around them - from the Kaleidoscopic visuals, the strange ornaments and the crowd eager for psychedelic experiences. With “The Murder of Lewis Tollani” the band had their first peak of the night - granted, the volume was a tad low but in all honesty I doubt the songs were really made for deafening volume as they mostly revolve around these kaleidoscopic pop fantasies with vivid imagery of strange phenomena. Speaking of strange phenomena, front-man Peter Daltrey also made note of how strange it actually felt to be his age and to still be singing about ”chocolate children and whatnot”. Strange, perhaps, but it did not take away from the fact that “The Sky Children”, the high point of their set, sounded as crisp and exciting as the first time I dug through a crate of records and took home “Tangerine Dream”, immediately spinning it more times than I’d care to admit. Whilst being a rather quaint act which some would probably deem without relevance on the scene today, I’d rather argue that, in some respect, Kaleidoscope’s sheer presence at the festival added a new layer of depth to the festival by honoring the traditions upon which many of these bands on the lineup have crafted their sound. All in all a pleasant surprise and a rather mild way to spend part of your evening and night. [7½] BV

Telstar Sound Drone – 23:10 at Loppen

Telstar Sound Drone

Moving on to Telstar Sound Drone I had very little idea of what to expect. Sure, I’ve seen them live a bunch of times by now with the band often blowing me away, but this particular performance was slated to be something special. Special in the way that the band’s core members, Sean Jardenbæk, Hans Beck and Mads Saaby would of course be present - but they would also be joined by founding member Mads Løwe on bass, whilst Martin Funder (Deadpan Interference) and Hobbitten (Spids Nøgenhat) would both join in on guitars. In other words, fans were to expect a brick wall of noisy guitars. In some sense that was also what we’d get, as the not-so-optimal sound at Loppen (strange as that may sound, as it nearly always sounds amazing up there) hindered any sort of clarity in the mix, save for the bass, drums and vocals. Sure, there were three guitars but sadly I could hardly discern any of them in the mix when the sound was at its worst. Still, the performance itself didn’t seem to be lacking at all as the band went through the motions with tracks like “Through the Back of Your Head” and “Satellited” before venturing into “Mad Seeds” - a track that I am fairly certain they haven’t played live before. Although the sound was less than optimal, the band kept at it like they usually do with an intensity and ferocity that is, in my opinion, rarely rivalled by many other bands on this very broad ‘psych’ scene of ours. From the pounding received by the drums to the solid bass grooves and over to Jardenbæk’s enthralling stage presence and the sheer noise of three guitars in an uncompromising sort of cacophony, Telstar Sound Drone genuinely attempted to play the show of a lifetime - had it not been for the sound, it might have been just that. It just wasn’t this time around and, with that in mind, I left Loppen to attempt getting some rest before what seemed like two very busy days coming up.[7½] BV

REVIEWS FRIDAY

Lejonsläktet – 18:00 at Byens Lys

Lejonsläktet

The scheduling mishap noted early on the previous day involved Lejonsläktet being moved to Byens Lys to perform at 18:00 on this Friday, instead of performing the day before. At first I was genuinely sad because I believed it would cause a conflict in the schedule, but everything seemingly turned out fine. Except for the band, that is, as the soundcheck was apparently taking far longer anticipated with technical issues constantly popping up - prompting the band to go on at 18:30 even though there were still issues with the sound, such as the band lacking decent monitor sound and the crowd being exposed to sound from just about the right half of the stage - leaving the left half to have frequent fall-outs - much to the quite obvious dismay of the band. With that in mind, Lejonsläktet still performed admirably as they worked their way through a set of soothing sounds reminiscent of a trip to a forest and the exploration inherent in such a trip. Constantly switching instruments, the band created a vast array of sounds from violin drones to heavily reverberating fuzz guitars over acidic bass grooves and great synth sounds. Although I had difficulties with understanding the lyrics the general atmosphere from the singing seemed to underline the dominant vibe, creating a quite coherent soundscape. Near the end of a lengthy, final track from Lejonsläktet the sound seemingly became a genuine nuisance culminating in one band member quite literally smashing his guitar to the stage floor and immediately leaving the stage - whether it was a direct result of frustrations from the sound or just a kickass stage move remains uncertain, but the dramatic effect was quite noticeable as another member then proceeded to attempt a jump which resulted in a monitor tumbling off stage. Either way, the juxtaposition of laid back music and fairly energetic stage moves seemed strange but totally worth it. [7½] BV

Tales of Murder and Dust – 19:00 at Loppen

Tales of Murder and Dust

Described by various sources as ”neo-psych”, “noise rock” or plainly just “rock”, the Danish band Tales of Murder and Dust has an American desert air about them. Not only the name makes one’s thoughts travel to bare plains and dueling, their music is dusty, dark and moody.

The band swerves gracefully in and out of ambient, instrumental, noisy Americana-inspired pieces. The level of abstraction is pretty high and abstaining from your regular construction. Instead the band seems focused on creating an almost cinematic experience where a beautiful backdrop takes lead in the visual experience, while droning motifs are repeated.

There’s a special warmth to the whole experience that is otherwise reserved for acoustic shows, and you can almost feel it slowly creeping in to every nook of Loppen, relaxing all listeners and drawing them into an all-encompassing euphony. While the intense density is constant, contrast is provided mainly by light guitar refrains breaking free to soar momentarily. Still, the density in soundscapes seems to be a general struggle for the more noise-oriented bands of the festival. Tales of Murder and Dust makes a brave and mostly successful attempt of breaking the silence, but the band itself struggles with disappearing a bit themselves, putting sound and experience above interaction with their audience. [7½] HES

Papir – 19:00 at Den Grå Hal

Papir

Like a proper idiot I hung around Byens Lys for a bit too long, eventually showing up late for Papir at Den Grå Hal. Sure, it was a matter of minutes but pair this with a massive queue, my prospects of actually seeing their performance were looking rather grim. That is, until I realised that the queue was for wristbands - not the performance. Smooth move by me, but luckily I got to see a fair bit of their performance. Those of you familiar with Papir’s live shows will know exactly what went down. Sure, there’s a hell of a lot of improvisation involved but it all boils down to three technically skilled musicians in a highly dynamic interplay. If you’re into mind-blowing guitar solos, mesmerising bass parts and a drummer most people would definitely struggle to keep up with, Papir is by and large what you should be checking out if you cannot yet define yourself as a fan of them. Although they didn’t quite fill out Den Grå Hal, there was no mistaking that the band had nonetheless drawn the largest crowd of the festival thus far, and managed to seemingly impress most of them, if not all, as I genuinely didn’t hear one person say anything remotely critical of the show. Although I managed to see a rather large part of their show, I still don’t think it would be fair if I gave the band a grading based on what I saw, as that would simply seem unfair. Instead I’ll say that you probably missed out, if you were in the vicinity and didn’t check them out. BV

Dean Allen Foyd – 20:30 at Loppen

Dean Allen Foyd

Following my minor mishap at the Papir show, I opted for being a tad early at Dean Allen Foyd so as to not miss more than a few minutes, if any. Seeing as Dean Allen Foyd had to cancel last year, their performance was one I’d heard a lot of anticipation-fueled talking about. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m actually not really a fan of Dean Allen Foyd, but given the amount of anticipation directed at them, I felt it highly necessary to cover their performance and, perhaps, learn to appreciate them in a way I have thus far been able to. Throughout their performance I heard someone say that they played a lot of new material - I wouldn’t know personally, but if they were it was definitely well-received. Although the band, a trio, certainly had the look down for a band with their particular inspirations, I’m not sure it really added to the experience for my part. They had pretty cool, drawn-out passages which sounded heavily improvised - many of which actually impressed me quite a bit. However, I am failing to see what exactly makes this particularly psychedelic. In my mind this was more of a heavy blues or hard rock band - one with decent chops, though. In short, it was a relative groovefest and a lesson in how to approach the heavy blues / hard rock spectrum of music if you’re yearning for authenticity. [7] BV

Spectrum - 22:10 at Loppen

Spectrum

When the lineup for Copenhagen Psych Fest was officially announced I could hardly believe my luck. One of my favorite musicians of all time, Pete Kember aka Sonic Boom was set to perform under the Spectrum moniker - meaning that I would get to see both core members of legendary Spacemen 3 within a single year, as I saw Spiritualized around this time in Austin last year. When I arrived back at Loppen after a fresh dose of air and more, I was saddened by the fact that the venue was already very full to the extent that they had reached maximum capacity. After a few minutes of waiting, a small group of people left, so I could jump on in and catch the show. However, this was the point when a sad truth began unfolding - I had wondered why I couldn’t hear anything from the outside. This was simply due to the fact that the overall volume level was so low that I could barely hear anything inside. What I could hear was a variety of synth sounds, an occasional techno beat and some guitars that were mixed excruciatingly low - much to the disdain of the people surrounding me. The sound of Spectrum is very much defined by repetition and a wall of cascading sounds. Therefore it shouldn’t really be a surprise that much of the performance seemed lacklustre due to lacking key ingredients. It’s genuinely sad that both core members of Spacemen 3, two of my absolute heroes within music, have managed to disappoint me within one year, due to circumstances they are hardly in control of. This won’t be the last time I’ll catch Spectrum - hopefully the circumstances will be far better next time. [6] BV

Childrenn – 22:40 at Den Grå Hal

Childrenn

Childrenn is hands down the heaviest band on the Copenhagen Psych Fest roster and albeit that I have nothing against organs and tambourines, the festival for me so far has been dominated by more of that and less noisy, grimy, grungy electric guitar. I am just supposed to drop by for a few songs, but as I join a song or two into the set a mesmerizing effect takes place and I am glued to my spot for the entirety of the show.

The band is what you may call a “super-group” in the sense that it has been acquisitioned from an impressive amount of bands including the Danish garage rock band The Raveonettes, pop-folk project Hymns From Nineveh, art rock’n’roll duo Power Solo and the grunge favourites of Psyched Up Janis. The band draws inspiration from most of the mentioned genres, but stand before me as something in itself as well. The noise rock universe of the group’s first album “Animale” seems to be fueled by the live nerve that is adding more static, making it appear wilder and more alive.

Especially guitarist Manoj Ramdas manages to steal a lot of the attention, energetically providing everything from heavy ground chords as well as more unrestrained riffage. Lead vocalist Jakob Brixen however seemed reserved and awkward in his interaction with the audience, proving that in spite of a compact summer gig schedule, there are still kinks to the break-in for the band to fully be the powerhouse it has the potential to become. [8] HES

Black Mountain – 00:40 at Den Grå Hal

Black Mountain

It was around that time again, where it felt like a massive curtain had fallen upon my head and a sense of tiredness began to dominate my consciousness - the only cure? A great band. Thus, I went to check out Black Mountain whom I hadn’t seen since sometime in 2011 or maybe even 2010 when they played an amazing show at Lille Vega. Since then, they have released their critically acclaimed fourth album, “IV”, and are currently touring in support of it. Hence it wasn’t really a surprise to hear them kick off their set with the lengthy prog-journey called “Mothers of the Sun” fueled by minimalist synths and a single powerful and repetitive riff rearing its head every few minutes. Amber Webber’s vocals were, at first, barely noticeable but soon gained momentum and rang clearly throughout Den Grå Hal. Stephen McBean’s guitar riffs and Jeremy Schmidt’s horde of synthesizers fueled the following “Florian Saucer Attack”. By the time they reached “Tyrants”, my favorite track off 2008’s “In the Future”, the crowd was quite welcoming and ready for the 8+ minute prog-escapade driven by its powerful riff, the dual vocals of Webber and McBean whilst constantly anchored by drummer Joshua Wells and bass-player Colin Cowan. “Space to Bakersfield” was, quite probably, the most fitting track of their discography for this particular occasion, with its lengthy, spacious and unfolding soundscape which was perfect for such a late performance where the majority of the crowd simply wants something to space out to, in addition to the massive riffs. Large parts of the crowd certainly were (mentally) sent to space, a place apparently filled with massive riffs, rad synthesizers and grooves galore. Heck, I’d have liked to stay there for a while too. [8½] BV

REVIEWS SATURDAY

Fribytterdrømme – 18:30 at Den Grå Hal

Fribytterdrømme

Ready to kick off the final day of the festival, I went to Den Grå Hal to check out Fribytterdrømme for the sole reason that I was interested in seeing how they would handle playing at such a large venue - even though they have been constantly on the rise since releasing their critically acclaimed debut album, “Labyrintens Farver”. One thing is filling out Lille Vega - but to play Den Grå Hal which has just about double the capacity must be an awe-inspiring moment for just about any band of their level. In spite of a 30 minute delay, Fribytterdrømme acted as if they were meant to be on that stage - giving it everything they possibly could, as they do every single time I see them perform. Opening with “Ørken” seemed an odd choice to me, but given its groovy bass dominance and otherwise dynamic soundscape it might not have been such a bad choice at all, so as to save quieter moments like “De Konstruerede” for when the venue was already cooking and the crowd was hooked. The band played some well-received new material, the title of which eludes me, before venturing into crowd favorite “Kosmonauten” which became a quite fair singalong. By the time their set peaked with “Fribytterdrømmen” I’d wager most of the people present were heavily into it - so much so that when the, by now mandatory, time for sitting or lying down came around the majority of the crowd followed suit for what can only be described as a rather beautiful experience. I would definitely have loved to stick around after that, but I had an impulse telling me to go towards the Agusa show. [8] BV

Agusa – 20:00 at Byens Lys

When I arrived at Byens Lys I realised that, once again, the timetable was sliding for this particular venue, as Agusa hadn’t even gotten their soundcheck yet. Fast (and skilled) as they are, however, their performance began less than 10 minutes after my arrival. Much can be said about Agusa - for one, they play in Copenhagen very often - this does not discourage me from seeing them, however, as they always do quite well. Since I last saw them, they have added a new member to the group as a flute player - something which has added a new and rather exciting dynamic to the group, if I daresay. Although occasionally muffled by parts of the audience talking, the sound of Byens Lys was, for once, quite crisp and helped portray the band at their very best; lengthy instrumentals with solos galore, only broken up a return to the theme or melody, only to once again take off into space. Like Papir before them, Agusa is also one of those bands you absolutely have to see if you’re intro instrumental music with a flair for improvisation and an added emphasis on the great melody - especially now with a flute, guitar and organ to handle such melodic tasks. I sadly had to leave the show a bit earlier than anticipated, as I had to move towards Den Grå Hal. [8] BV

Spids Nøgenhat – 21:30 at Den Grå Hal

Spids Nøgenhat

And yes, here I was once more. If you’re an avid reader of my reviews or just know me fairly well, you’d have a pretty good grasp on how many times I’ve seen (and ranted positively about) Spids Nøgenhat. So much so that I, in fact, tried to convince myself that maybe it was time to let everyone else check them out, whilst I ventured towards a smaller stage. The conclusion then being that I’m either a right-out fanboy, or I just needed a performance that could hardly disappoint (based on previous experiences). Even though Fribytterdrømme were 30 minutes delayed, Spids Nøgenhat came on stage and kicked off their show at 21:00 exactly, to the sound of “Mere Lys” - the, by now, mandatory opening track. Following a great round of applause, quite a lot of people swiftly started to get inside to see the band as they played “Giv Slip”. The sound was surprisingly good, even though I don’t quite care for Den Grå Hal as a venue in general. Even if the sound had been terrible, it would be hard to actually be discouraged by such things when the band’s trusty lighting-engineer Sebastian ‘Zeppo’ Bülow once again managed to blow my mind with his visuals - even amongst the great company of people like ‘Lightshow Robert’. It’s truly a testament to his prowess and what his interplay with the band does for the overall experience. ”If you’d told us 15 years ago that there would be a Copenhagen Psych Fest with more than 2000 people present…. We wouldn’t have believed you” remarked front-man Uffe ‘Guf’ Lorenzen, adding a sort of deeper understanding as to how lucky we actually are to have devoted people trying to make this work, whilst also having enough people interested in actually participating. Even Spids Nøgenhat’s set seemed a bit more psychedelic in its build-up than usual, revolving around setlist mainstay “Den Gennemsigtige Mand” in all its usual glory, but then proceeding through a lengthy and highly bombastic version of “Hvad Har Du Taget?”. You’d think it would end there, because after all it is a festival show. But nope, following these excursions the band unfolded one of the best renditions of “Udkoksning i 3 satser” I’ve heard to this date. Although I later realised that the band came back for a final encore, I had already left Den Grå Hal by this time to rush towards Loppen. [8½] BV

Elevatorfører – 22:30 at Loppen

Elevatorfører

It has got to be a first time for me, to leave a Spids Nøgenhat show early but I frankly didn’t see any other option as I realised I hadn’t seen Elevatorfører since the first(!) edition of Copenhagen Psych Fest. Armed with two new albums released on this final day of the Psych Fest, I figured their performance might indeed be something special. From the very beginning of the set with classic “Vertikal Bus” there was a high level of intensity present at Loppen. As the venue quickly filled more or less to the brim, Elevatorfører worked their way through newer material with “Tæppet”, whilst encouraging people to ”sing along even if you don’t know it yet”. No Elevatorfører show is complete without some sort of mishap and, sure enough, their oceanic sounds created by blowing into a bowl of water was noticeably absent during “Søsangen” - due to it actually being broken. To add to this, the acoustic guitar (a defining element of Søsangen) had a broken string - prompting the band to start it off with electric guitar whilst changing strings on the acoustic, in addition to humorously remarking they would attempt their first ever mid-song guitar change - resulting in quite a bit of applause. At this point I begin to realise just how well their newer material works in a live setting as they go through “Fatamorgana” and “Søvngænger”. “Den Hypnotiske Jakke”, the song about a hypnotic jacket basically controlling everything, became a set highlight before Elevatorfører’s set culminated with an insanely long “Centralen” clocking in at well over 15 minutes. Whether my very positive attitude towards this performance was actually dictated by The Hypnotic Jacket we will never know, but I quite enjoyed myself. [9] BV

Turquoise Sun – 23:00 at Loppen

Turquoise Sun

I arrive just in time for Turquoise Sun’s set at Byens Lys. I have only been able to get my hands on a single EP-release from the band, but the self-titled release is a beautiful collection of songs with plenty of contrast and in particular excellent guitar work changing from warm, unadulterated strings to futuristic wah-pedals. This is also accompanied by interesting changes in rhythm and vocals that are mixed flawlessly - sometimes in front of the soundscape, sometimes melting in with the overall soundscape.

So I am gutted to already from the first couple of seconds hear the band’s sound completely massacred by what seems to be a sound man that has not understood the band; seemingly trying to mix the band members like a noise rock band, giving the soundscape contrast. On top of that vocalist Frederik Linde is provided with a malfunctioning mic that is the victim of a subjacent and unwanted static - a problem the sound technician seemingly tries to fix by adding reverb in copious amounts. The band bravely fights through their limited repertoire and during their last song a crowd member suggests swapping Linde’s mic for the drummer’s mic. Oh how I wish this person would’ve gotten that brilliant idea a bit sooner into the set. This leaves the last song better sounding, but not in any way convincing. This set is dead on arrival. Turquoise Sun obviously do everything in their power not to leave the stage defeated, but it’s pretty hard to not conclude that they do so. At least they can tell themselves that is wasn’t entirely to their own detriment. I hope I get to see this band playing under better conditions soon. [5] HES

Moon Duo – 00:40 at Den Grå Hal

Moon Duo

Moon Duo are in spite of their name not a duo anymore, but a trio – the moon part I will let someone else determine. However, the moon is out as the night nears 00:40 and we gather for a post-midnight service by the psych priests dressed in white. The lightshow is mesmerizing, the music is droning but danceable and for some reason I have had just the right amount of alcoholic beverages to zone in and drop out and all that jazz that this ingénue by now has gotten a taste for. The backdrop lights up with colors and shapes as the band steadily but securely grind towards a crescendo that unfortunately never really appears.

The crowd is divided into two sharply defined regiments: In front people sway timidly. In the back they are trying to stay upright after days of alcohol and other substances. All in all it doesn’t make for the best combo and the three band members make very few attempts to create “moments” or orientation marks - anything that really sticks out as unforgettable. All in all it makes for a show of very similarly sounding songs brewed on the same kraut’ish monotony – but not really in the immersive sense, more like the acceptable but borderline boring sense. The monotony however is not in any way offensive and the boring qualities of the show are overall not extremely harmful, just easily forgotten afterwards as we head for another beer before Uran. [7] HES

URAN – 02:00 at Loppen

decorations at Loppen

At this point in time I was feeling utterly devastated in a physical sense, but given what I had heard about URAN, it seemed like pure idiocy to go home early. Sure enough, as the 11-man large band took to the stage at 02:00 to the sound of numerous synths, drums and 3(!) bass players, it was hard not to get hooked from the started. Earth-shattering build-ups heavy on the low frequencies, Hawkwind-like synth oscillations and a general sensation of euphoria was what defined URAN’s performance. It was particularly interesting to see how little they cared for interacting with the audience (hint: they didn’t interact at all), instead dealing out mind-numbing grooves and inciting utterly euphoric stupidity from the few (including myself and HES) who had dared stick around for this strange and fucked up gathering. It’s crazy in some sense that I loved the show, because I honestly can’t figure out why. Had I heard this earlier on during the week I probably would have left - but this time, this space and this vibe was just right for matching my preferences with the zero fucks given by URAN throughout their 60 minute performance which coincidentally resembled a genuinely deranged rave party. Good on you, URAN - you closed an amazing festival in style. [9] BV

FINAL WORDS

Massive crowd at Den Grå Hal

And thus another year’s Copenhagen Psych Fest is over. It was amazing to see the general response from people I talked to on the grounds, how the organising has become far better at handling such a large gathering and how the bookers have without a doubt created a damn spectacular lineup for this year. How they’ll surpass I can’t even imagine, but by now it seems certain that they know exactly what they’re doing in that particular area. However, there are a few negative things to discuss as well. The schedule changes were one thing - that Damo Suzuki and Monomyth cancelled is most definitely out of the festival’s hands and it is something that will inevitably happen, in such a large gathering of bands as this one. However, that the schedule was able to slide with 30-60 minutes at some venues is generally unacceptable to many, as it made further scheduling quite difficult. Personally I missed two, maybe three bands due to fuckups on my own behalf when trying to work my around sliding timetable (at Byens Lys in particular). There were also quite a lot of issues in regards to sound with some performances being walls of noise, whilst others resembled a cocktail lounge. In particular, Byens Lys was a massive gamble every time you went there as you never knew quite what to expect soundwise. The aforementioned changes in schedule were also sad in the sense that clearly, a lot of energy had gone into making these fantastic festival overview pamphlets handed out at Den Grå Hal. Even though the map was extraordinarily useful, I ended not using the pamphlet at all after the first day, due to it being rather unreliable after the changes. However, when all is said and done, the festival in general ran quite smoothly and, to be honest, a hell of a lot better than I initially expected when I heard about the move to the vast area of Freetown Christiania. All in all a great year for the Psych Fest - here’s to another one, see you then!

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