Astpai

support Despite Everything + Pleasure Squad + Forever Unclean
author PP date 20/09/14 venue UnderWerket, Copenhagen, DEN

It's a Saturday night and for once a decent size crowd has turned up at UnderWerket in Valby, no doubt thanks to the multiple prior performances by tonight's headliners Astpai in Copenhagen in the past. These Austrian punks seem to be on tour non-stop throughout the year, which makes sense, considering their last two albums have been excellent and have resulted into an international breakthrough of sorts, as was evident in their main stage opening slot for the genre mecca, Groezrock festival. Tonight they are on tour with Greek gravelly punk rockers Despite Everything, and two more local bands have been added to the bill to give you maximum bang for your buck for just 60 DKK a ticket.

Forever Unclean

Forever Unclean

"We are not Stars Burn Stripes", proclaim Forever Unclean before starting their show, which makes sense considering it's the same exact dudes as in the band minus their guitarist Brian. During the first two songs there is practically no difference between the two bands, at least not on first listen. Lasse still sings in his snarled vocal style, the guitars are still melodic hardcore inspired, a fact fortified by the woo-hoo style vocal melodies that make multiple appearances tonight. But soon after, we get some deviation from their main band: there's less riffage than SBS, the songs feel more simplistic, but they are also more melodic and arguably more catchy thanks to their Lifetime-ish vibe. They've played together for only a month, which shows in the form of a mistake or two that draws some giggles from the crowd's side, but given their experience together from their main band, they still play a tight performance that's easy to get into.

7

Pleasure Squad

Pleasure Squad

Next up is Pleasure Squad, a newish punk rock unit consisting of some old school guys nearing their 50th birthdays, so understandably their interpretation of punk rock draws more from the 80s bands than anything since then. Tonight, it's the 48th birthday of one of the band members, so they lineup an entire bottle of Fernet Branca in front of the stage, that the announce must be drunk during their show. It creates the grounds for a humorous, laid back vibe during their set, in which we go through street punk / Oi! inspired punk rock with coarse and rowdy lead vocals. It's very straight forward in its nature, but unfortunately also very static in terms of stage energy so most people leave the venue to go smoke and chat outside. A few catchy songs here and there, but the inconsistency means their set feels like it lasts forever.

5

Despite Everything

Despite Everything

I don't think I'm the only one at the venue tonight getting Red City Radio vibes from the gravelly, shouted out loud punk rock style of Athens, Greece based Despite Everything, who recently released their debut album "The Dawn Chorus". It's slightly heavier and often more depth-laden in comparison, though, recalling Hot Water Music in places among other such bands from the gravelly punk rock scene. That their album had some consistency problems is something that highlights itself live with a number of great moments convincing the onlookers that this is a great band, whereas others leave next to no impression. Energy-wise, they are a little bit too stand still with only a few moments of explosion and jumping in between, which usually coincides with the best moments from their album as well. Towards the end, the band play some of their best tracks and this is where they are at their very best. They just need more consistency and a little more energy, and they'll be just fine.

Astpai

"Burden Calls" might be one of the best punk rock albums this year, it's only minus is that it takes a lot of listens to properly get into. It has been in stores for less than a month, so many people are looking on curiously as the band's repertoire concentrates on mostly new material tonight. They open with the screamey "Single Use" - melodic "Dead End Talking" one-two combo from the record, before giving us a couple of older tracks including "Heart To Grow", a highlight from "Efforts & Means" from 2012. I've long now thought that the new record far surpasses the latter album no matter how rock solid it was, and that manifests itself tonight with highlights like "Departures" and "Death Everywhere", the latter of which receives a great response from the crowd. That said - it's difficult for people who don't know the songs that were just released a few weeks ago, and so it takes Astpai a little while to get the crowd warmed up, but towards the end people are starting to be really into it. "Honest And Sentimental" is an obvious highlight for the 40 or so people gathered around tonight, for example, but I find myself jotting down notes like "Careers" - what an amazing track instead. The band proceed to thank Despite Everything for being on tour with them, before playing a couple more tracks after a very brief encore, finishing up with "Ground Control" from the new album. This leaves me in a bit of a conundrum considering I found the show amazing - thanks to the heavy concentration of "Burden Calls" songs delivered with passion and good energy - but the crowd response isn't as heartfelt as I had hoped as a result of the songs being so new. So I'll have to control my urge to over rate the show this time. Don't be surprised if they blow the roof off next time they come around playing these songs, though.

Photos by: Philip B Hansen

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