Rock ´N´ Charity 2014

support Black Book Lodge + A Road To Damascus + Disarray Son + TigerSwan + Mom´s A Mannequin
author LF date 08/11/14 venue Stengade, Copenhagen, DEN

After touring most of Denmark since the beginning of September, the Rock 'N' Charity Tour 2014 reaches its final stop at Stengade in Copenhagen this evening. Started by Danish rock band A Road To Damascus in 2010, this marks the fourth version of the tour where all money earned will be donated to Børnecancerfonden (A Danish Foundation for cancer-sick children). For the final party tonight ARTD have brought four other bands with them, all of which are definitely rock bands but none of which are too similar in their expression. TL and I thus joined forces for this review, so read on to see what we thought of the various performances. LF

Thank you to Daniela De Lorenzo who provided the photos for this article since none of our own photographers were available.

Mom's A Mannequin

First up tonight are the hard rockers of Mom's A Mannequin. They seem happy to be on stage tonight, not least as it's an almost symbolic celebration of their drummer being declared free of cancer a year ago. They have a certain post-grunge feel to some of their more explosive songs but there are way softer touches spread throughout their set as well. The dynamic changes between these layers in their music are however kind of anonymous. The energy in their songs isn't conserved properly when going back and forth and some more deliberately constructed build-ups could certainly help this to be more effective. The most unfortunate thing for their performance overall is that the bass keeps on crackling weirdly underneath the energetic guitar riffs and it spoils part of the experience. The vocals sound slightly unsure most of the time, this being most dominating in the softer and more poppy parts, while the strain the lead singer puts on his voice during the harsher parts could use some more nuance to keep me interested. At one point however, he hits an absolutely magical spot which is around one especially explosive part of the song "Enemy" that the band also seems to be especially proud of. Too little too late however, and I must admit I feel mostly bored during their performance as they have some interesting ideas in their music that are just not followed through to their full potential. LF

5

TigerSwan

Compared to the down-to-earth feel of the band just before them, TigerSwan come on stage with an entirely different sense of ambition. While they look at home on the small stage their music strives so much higher with the truly huge and booming sound their big stadium-rock compositions give off. Still it's evident that there's a long way to go for this band. They seem very confident on stage and are good at setting an epic tone in their songs but with their performance they promise a little more than they can actually deliver tonight. While their single "We Don't Need Anybody" plays smoothly and gathers a fair response from the excited girls up front, problems manifest themselves in the slower songs, especially during their title track "TigerSwan" where the vocals fall through in the already pretty tame melodies. I don't mind the "whoa-oh" parts of choruses that are both easy and fun to sing along to when a band succeeds in impressing me, but tonight it feels like there are too many of them and about halfway into the set I start hoping for some more interesting dynamic developments in the songs, alas in vain. Generally it feels like they're trying a little too hard or maybe just a little too explicitly for instance when their lead singer asks the audience to wave their hands above their heads because "this is an emotional part". I would be much more interested in engaging with their music if they would instead put their energy into actually playing their songs with that much emotion that it could be felt in the entire room and not just in the front row. LF

6

Disarray Son

The third band on stage tonight is Disarray Son. The young quartet has relocated from Køge to the capital and are currently putting the final touches on their first proper EP, but their live performance quickly proves to be further ahead than most bands at that stage. The band plays a retro rock'n'roll partly characterised by vintage acid rock stylings and partly by surprisingly grungy melodic passages, especially via the lead vocals of guitarist Anders Friis, which tend to sound relaxed and drawn out regardless of how he throws them around, drawing one but not the only comparison to Alice In Chains that's made tonight. They have good stage presence, grooving about with a confident swagger and giving off a vibe of personality, yet they seem to be content with letting their songs do most of the talking. On one hand, this makes sense, because their sound is clearly more fully developed than any of the two bands that played before, and their setup is under control, showing none of the odd glitches that plagued the mix earlier on. The crowd is a bit thinner at this point, but the room is still decently populated and the guests here seem to dig the band, with some dancing about excitedly. On the other hand though, the choice to stay quiet between songs is perhaps not the best approach for a band with nothing released yet, and you wonder if the guys are a bit too confident in their competent dual-guitar arrangements, as the busy riffing does make the set sound more samey than dynamic for some stretches. It's good to just listen to a band that has no obvious flaws in their set at this point though, as Disarray Son are clearly a group that has moved on from trying to actually doing, but if they want to really engage the back rows as well, there's still room for improvement in terms of adapting stage behaviour to the kind of show and audience the band is playing to. TL

7

A Road To Damascus

As the second-to-last band of tonight we have the group who arranged the entire Rock 'N' Charity tour. While their music sounds no less huge than TigerSwan's, they have a heavier frame set for it even though the breakdowns we hear tonight go very soft as they're always accompanied by an insisting melodic backing track or quickly pick up pace again. The main impression their new album "In Retrospect" has made on me is that it consists of a bunch of huge and catchy choruses, and it feels much more appropriate to hear them follow one after the other in a live setting than it does on record where there's no denying that the feel of the songs gets slightly too similar. Mixing in some heavier songs from their first album also helps with spicing things up in terms of diversity even though slightly fewer people can sing along to them here. There are however a couple of what seems to be die-hard fans scattered around the front rows who look like they're having the time of their lives for pretty much every song of the show. There's thus a great energy in the room, not least on stage where the band members move dynamically to the music throughout the set while looking very satisfied with playing here tonight on the last show of the tour. They play through most of their songs very smoothly and effectively although their vocalist seems to spare his voice a bit across the middle of the set, this effecting the otherwise infectious energy they play with. One of the smooth elements that feature in the backing track is a booming sound that underlines the final moment of many of their build-ups and while this works to great effect as it vibrates in my entire body, I develop a kind of immunity to it because it's used slightly too often for my tastes. While this is not the best show I've seen them play, there's no denying that they've got a hold of something special and with more hard work, who knows how far they could go. LF

7

Black Book Lodge

Considering that Black Book Lodge is clearly the band that commands the most respect around their name alone, it's no wonder that they've been given the task of closing out the show tonight. It is strange though, that they looked like the biggest band on the bill, yet Stengade's crowd has dwindled to half size for their set, although of course it does start quite late here on the dark side of midnight. The Copenhagen trio plays a heavy stoner metal with grungy tones laced in via their guitarist's spot-on Chris Cornell impersonation, and with progressive ambitions evident in the way their songs stretch out patiently, allowing plenty of time for each marauding riff to be savored by the listeners. You could stretch to think of it as a cross between Alice In Chains and Mastodon, and both the power of the sound and the carefully developed tone makes Black Book Lodge appear confidently as a force to be reckoned with. That being said, the guys are pretty casual on stage, only taking brief breaks to have some relaxed banter with the most devoted listeners up front, and otherwise seeming content with grooving about and letting the music do the talking. A possible reason for the lower attendance for their set could be that despite the considerable punch the band packs, their appeal is a relatively simple force, and it can be debated whether the band has the variety of nuances to really justify how long their songs feel, especially because of the relentless and rarely changing mid-tempo beats. The contrast between the intricate guitar/bass interplay and the stately pace-keeping of the drums gives the music a droning feel that clearly isn't for everyone. Overall though, Black Book Lodge give a competent "day at the office" type performance that's difficult to fault, but it's more of a grinding, time-slowing send-off to the evening than an explosion that ends Rock 'N' Charity with a bang. TL

7

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