La Dispute

support Two Inch Astronaut
author TL date 06/06/15 venue Beta, Copenhagen, DEN

Since the release of 08's debut album "Somewhere At The Bottom Of The River Between Vega And Altair", Michigan screamo/post-hardcore group La Dispute has marched from emerging as pioneers of the "wave" movement that revived emotive hardcore, to arguably graduating to a status of being their own separate phenomenon in the music scene. Fittingly, the setting has changed in the five years since they played to a handful of people in the now long closed Lades Kælder in Copenhagen, and tonight they are set to perform in a sold out Beta. At least it's supposed to be sold out, but mysteriously a significant share of the ticket holders must have gotten lost on their way here, because it doesn't feel at any point like we're filling up the venue's capacity of 150. That being said, this is still one of the more solidly attended shows in Beta, so rather than complain, it seems prudent to hit the bar and find a spot from which to check out the support band.

Sadly there were no available staff photographers, so please have some tasty, embedded Audio Tree sessions instead!

Two Inch Astronaut

Two Inch Astronaut are a band unheard of on these longitudes, hailing from Colesville, Maryland, and though they list four members on their Facebook page, they only appear as a trio today. The three produce a fuzzy style of indie rock, the kind which swerves back and forth between laid-back twanginess and off-kilter crunch, like a cross of Pavement and Cursive (maybe also Pixies), but closest to the former. The bassist and drummer go about it in businesslike fashion, the former only drawing attention to himself when he cheekily pulls out a lighter for a quiet bit. Otherwise, it's guitarist Sam Rosenberg who catches the eye, rolling back and forth from heels to tippy toes while providing the vocals, which he sings with a mix of lethargy and introverted hysteria. The singing shifts erratically from plain to more forceful barks and quirky falsettos, and to Rosenberg's credit, he nails the transitions convincingly at every turn.

Regrettably, Two Inch Astronaut are not enough like Pavement to also have a similar surprising knack for making their quirky songs devilishly catchy. It could perhaps be because of its contending with the cymbals in the mix, but there are no catchy or even particularly melodious patterns to be noticed in the quieter end of the band's riff dynamic. The main function of their songs seems to be simply staggering back and forth in a simple quiet/loud dynamic that quickly feels stale and repetitive. Maybe if the quieter half of the expression didn't meander as aimlessly as it seems, there would be a chance for people to pick up on a song or two to head home and check out. But with this not being the case, and with the band not putting any particular effort into their interaction with us between songs, they merely do just well enough to keep most people from walking out, but not much better than that.

La Dispute

The changeover between sets is surprisingly short, supposedly a consequence of several members on the tour being down with some sort of flu and thus wanting as much time to rest as possible afterwards. This is fair enough, as initially it doesn't seem to impose many limitations on La Dispute. Or maybe it does, it's hard to tell in the band's case, as they calmly stand back and play their instruments without too much movement, leaving as much space as possible for Jordan Dreyer to be active and mobile along the front of the stage. And active he is, pacing the width of the low stage and delivering the lyrics to show starter, "King Park", one of the band's high impact tracks that also goes over well here, as the front half of the crowd joins in for the final lines of lyrics.

The band plays a set of twelve songs picked exclusively from their two new records "Wildlife" (2011) and "Rooms Of The House" (2014), which vary in intensity from the brooding spoken word style these two albums have emphasised heavily, yet also ramping up to more agitated outbursts in a song like "Stay Happy There". Throughout the set, the crowd is squeezed as far forward as they can get, with as much movement up front as there's room for, and the band's lyrical emphasis is carried over in the way fans receive them live, with hands shooting up and voices being raised whenever someone hears lines of particular personal importance to them.

Things play out well enough, yet there's a sense that the rampant tour illness is making this a slightly downplayed version of the La Dispute experience. Jordan Dreyer is phenomenal as a storytelling frontman in his quieter parts, really bringing the lyrics to life here, but he seems short of breath when it comes to his shouted parts. This takes power away from a set that arguably is missing some already, as a consequence of the band's decision to omit material from their much wilder debut album. Finally, the lone old song they have been playing on tour, the 12 minute "The Last Lost Continent", is cut as an encore, further handicapping the set in comparison to other nights, and making it a substantial percentage shorter.

It's fair play of course. Anyone can get sick, especially leading the touring life and fans exiting Beta after the show seem like they had a good time, holding nothing against La Dispute for having a less than stellar night. That's what it was though, less than stellar, but good on La Dispute for being pretty good even in a limited appearance.

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