Gnarwolves

support Prawn + Stars Burn Stripes
author PP date 15/11/14 venue UnderWerket, Copenhagen, DEN

As usual, every weekend in November is stacked with gigs to choose from given the regular European tour schedules each year following the album release period between August and October. This Saturday sees another excellent punk/emo show down at UnderWerket with hyped emotional punkers Gnarwolves paying their first visit to Denmark with equally hyped, post-rock influenced emo/indie rockers Prawn supporting, not to even mention the local melodic hardcore / skate punk crew Stars Burn Stripes. All in all an excellent package for just 60 DKK in entry.

Stars Burn Stripes

First up are Stars Burn Stripes, who are today playing their first live show together with their new guitarist Christian Jakobsen (who also appears in What Are You Like). He's replacing the recently departed riff wizard Brian Brinksby who wrote some of the more technically challenging material in the Danish punk scene so it's understandable there has been a steep learning curve and probably the reason why Christian appears slightly more concentrated on his guitar fret than usual. Tonight, the band mostly play songs from their EP "Buy Now, Pay Later" such as "I Lost The Point", "Straight To My Head", "Ten Years" and "Bringing Back To Days", and only three ("Asphalt", "Headphones" and "Moments") from their recently released debut album. They've been playing these songs for what feels like forever now so it would've been cool with an exclusively debut album set, but that might be tied with the member change as mentioned before. Still, the band show decent energy in front of largely the same local audience that has seen them many, many times before. As a result, it's a fairly standard set which we've all seen before, even if there's a little bit of Saturday night beer-infused humour embedded in-between the songs.

Prawn

Prawn is the odd one out tonight, playing in between two bands that know how to make a whole lot of noise. Instead, their set is best characterized as one that's very soothing and consisting of music best described as beautiful and tranquil revivalist emo that features plenty of crescendo dynamics at climaxing moments. Here, they most resemble the dreamy and all-encompassing soundscapes we saw Balance & Composure demonstrate last month. The band's stage presence also reflects these dynamics rather well: whenever they play slow and quiet, they are almost stand still, but as soon as the song increases in volume, the band display great energy and very animated movement on stage. These are the best moments of their set; the waves of layered instrumentals sound excellent and prompt many previously unfamiliar members of the audience to comment "that was amazing" to one another. Yours truly included. Still, their quieter songs are very difficult on a Saturday night out when it's getting slightly late; people are drinking and engaged in loud conversation, which means these types of songs are more difficult to get into. Towards the end it feels like there are a few too many of these versus the more dynamic tracks which drags the grade down slightly, but nonetheless and impressive performance in the eyes of someone who hasn't really listened to the band on record yet.

Gnarwolves

Brighton, UK's Gnarwolves waste no time in getting started; they opt to kick off with "Bottle To Bottle" and "Smoking Kills" in rapid succession, the two best songs from their recently released self-titled album in the opinion of this scribe, prompting worries of blowing the best parts too early. Not to worry, they follow it up with "Melody Has Big Plans", "History Is Bunk", and "Coffee" from their EP collection "Chronicles Of Gnarnia", three equally awesome tracks that demonstrate both their melodic hardcore / punk rock side as well as their more angular and more intricate, Polar Bear Club inspired emotional hardcore. The crowd is surprisingly much into it with front rows singing back most lyrics at the band in small but passionate sing along sessions. The gruff vocals sound great, and given that the band have a few passages of muted instrumentals to allow the audience members to a capella scream along in emotionally charged moments, it's safe to say people are responding really, really well to what's happening on stage. That is, about half of the room is doing that. The rest of the people are either nodding their head along or appearing with confused looks, which makes sense, because you kinda have to know their songs well enough beforehand to be able to distinguish them from one another. They have a ton of intricate melodies and golden sing along passages, but they aren't immediately obvious, which is also the case on the record until you've listened to it enough for the songs to open up for you. Again, a similarity to the first Polar Bear Club record, which didn't really impress until the eighth or ninth listen when it blows your mind wide open with its brilliance. And so as we reach the last song, the crowd is shouting one more song, one more song, to which the band responds with their charismatically down-to-earth interaction that has been the theme throughout their set tonight, and joke around about how they were gonna play one anyway. It's a great finish to a 40 minute set of great melodic hardcore that deserves a much bigger audience.

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