KEN mode

support Tvivler
author AP date 27/05/15 venue KB18, Copenhagen, DEN

As a rule of thumb, the number of attendees to a Facebook event must be halved in order to arrive at the true figure. For non-mainstream concerts in Denmark, empirical evidence gathered by yours truly shows that real amount is closer to 25% of the advertised attendance, and quite right, such are the circumstances under which KEN mode must perform tonight - this despite the fact that the Canadians are no strangers to these pastures, having played here several times over the past few years. A whopping 28 people have opted to show up, and as such, it’s difficult to imagine why KEN mode should bother with pushing themselves and spending that extra percentage of energy to ensure an enthralling experience for the paying customer.

All photos courtesy of Peter Troest

Tvivler

In charge of initiating the proceedings is the new, Copenhagen and Vallekilde -born quartet Tvivler (which translates to Doubter), whose debut 7” EP “Negativ Psykologi #1” passed largely beneath the radar coverage of Denmark’s music media upon its release a few weeks back. I, too, must admit to shunning that effort, so whatever is about to happen now, following a deliberate 30-minute delay whilst awaiting people to arrive, will be an inaugural experience for me. It bodes well that, as the four musicians step onto the stage, there is a lingering sense of tension in the air, as though something wildly unpredictable is about to commence (undoubtedly amplified by my total lack of familiarity with Tvivler and their music). Swaying impatiently and staring at an unspecific point in space, vocalist Thomas Burø looks like he’s lost the plot even as total silence still engulfs the room, while there is an eerie calm to the postures of his colleagues left and right, bassist Morten Ogstrup Nielsen and guitarist Thomas Feltheim; a storm is brewing, you just feel it.

What follows is a paralysing barrage of hardcore-meets-post-punk, set apart as much by Burø’s unique, high-pitch yelling style (somewhat reminiscent of ex-Comeback Kid vocalist Scott Wade and Bane frontman Aaron Bedard), dreamy four- and five-chord guitar melodies and clever rhythm shifts, as by the explosive manner in which the four musicians perform. Not a moment passes without one or all of Burø, Feltheim and Nielsen twitching around like epileptics, swinging their instruments, throwing strangely innuendo dance moves and hysterical tantrums, even twerking at times - this despite the audience failing to respond in any meaningful way to Burø’s persistent calls for action on the floor. Indeed, Tvivler deal with the subpar conditions in exemplary style, giving everything they have to ensure those of us who did show up, won’t be going home disappointed. This is a nigh perfect introduction to a band previously unknown (to me, at least); to witness such ceaseless passion and exuberance from the word go and to have it complement a variety of songs that don’t quite sound like any other Danish punk or hardcore outfit’s.

Once they get the audience on board, and have the advantage of familiarity, Tvivler will be more than capable of establishing themselves as one of the leading Danish live acts - of this there can be little doubt. There are some rough edges to be sandpapered still (though the frequent screeches and scratches do contribute a certain charm, it must be said…), and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit Burø’s vocalisation takes some getting used to. But overall, Tvivler make a strong case for themselves here, and hopefully we’ll be seeing them in the gig circuit much more from now on.

7

KEN mode

Having missed all of their recent performances here in Denmark, not to mention never having had the proper introduction to their tradecraft, the time was ripe, I felt in the weeks leading up to this concert, finally to seize the opportunity to watch Canadian hardcore punk/noise rock fusionists live. It is a sad sight, the minuscule cluster of people facing them, yet with the utmost professionalism, KEN mode gather themselves for a surprisingly energetic performance kicked off with a brand new track off their upcoming sixth album “Success”, which releases in mid-June. Based on the snippets of KEN mode’s discography that have found their way into my ear canals in the past, a slight stylistic change has taken place here, manifest in the deranged, pitch-shifting vocals of Jesse Matthewson (a drastic contrast to his usual growling) and in the more tempered, melodic approach he utilises for his guitar parts. It sounds as though post-punk has begun a slow creep into KEN mode’s sonic palette.

The following “Book of Muscle” off 2011’s “Venerable”, with its hypnotising bass signature by Skot Hamilton, serves as a fine transition from this fresh style into the crushing “Blessed” also off the forthcoming “Success”, for which Matthews switches to bass guitar thus facilitating the dual-bass-driven, earth rattling nod to Coalesce. For a casual listener such as myself, the wide range of influences on display in just these first three tracks has a fixating effect, conjuring a thirst for more and deeper incursions into KEN mode’s eclectic universe. It helps as well, that the trio shows no signs of being disheartened, both axemen sparing no energy in contorting their bodies into extreme postures, thrashing their instruments about and eyeballing the audience with bulging, deranged stares.

Although the crowd is rather sluggish (yours truly is the only person enthusiastically headbanging upfront), KEN mode manage to create an atmosphere of urgency through a combination of terrifying and haunting songs, a powerful stage presence, and high volume which never compromises on detail in the soundscape. With the exception of the final track, “Your Heartwarming Story Makes Me Sick” taken from 2013’s “Entrench”, it is above all the brand new stuff that has me enamoured and eagerly anticipating the release of “Success”. The bass heavy onslaught of tracks like “Counter Culture Complex” has its allure, but for me its effect is rather secondary compared to the atmospheric, skramzy style deployed in the fourth and final of the new songs aired tonight. Despite the fact that KEN mode’s set is extremely short by headlining standards clocking in at just nine songs, the experience awakens in me a desire to delve deeper into the group’s music, and based on their showmanship under such dismal circumstances, also a burning need to see them live again - preferably in a more crowded setting.

Setlist:

  • 1. (Unknown) (new song)
  • 2. Book of Muscle
  • 3. Blessed (new song)
  • 4. Counter Culture Complex
  • 5. (Unknown) (new song)
  • 6. The Terror Pulse
  • 7. (Unknown) (new song)
  • 8. Never Was
  • 9. Your Heartwarming Story Makes Me Sick

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