Listener

support Kristian Harting
author PP date 20/08/16 venue KB18, Copenhagen, DEN

Listener have visited Copenhagen quite a few times over their lengthy career. As one of the pioneers of what they refer to as speak music, a form of spoken word poetry and talks delivered over a post-hardcore soundscape, they were unfortunately way ahead of their time with their material. Although early Listener material wasn't as loud and as complete as their later material, it's still curious to see how later groups like Hotel Books have since then surpassed them in popularity despite owning a nearly identical sound. Tonight, a handful of people have gathered at KB18, meaning the sound conditions aren't exactly ideal, but the band makes the best of it, as you might expect from one of the most frequently touring independent bands out there.

Kristian Harting

Tonight's opening act is Kristian Harting, who has apparently opened for a wide variety of interesting bands both metal and indie given his multi-instrumentalist talent. In its essence, his material falls within the singer-songwriter category, driven largely by his beautiful, soothing voice, but there's fortunately much more than that on offer. With subtle electronics backing his acoustic guitar and vocal combo, his soundscape is surprisingly atmospheric and mood-setting for a one-man band. Armed with a set of effects pedals, he's able to juxtapose his acoustic guitar against the synthetic electronics that occasionally bring to mind the hypnotic 80s synth prog of Zombi. Most of the time, the songs and soundscapes are constructed live using live-looping, where Harting spends time carefully crafting sections of his songs using vocal and guitar recording to achieve an impressively noisy and complete soundscape considering he's just one guy with an acoustic guitar. There are even metallic passages present, showcasing the liberal genre variety on offer in his material. It's a shame the place is virtually empty with only ten or so people watching because Harting delivered an intimate showcase of what exactly is possible if you are in full control of every element of your soundscape as a multi-instrumentalist.

7

Listener

Listener have been on the road together playing tiny shows for more than 13 years. As a result, they've formed a ritualistic bond that plays out at the beginning of their shows, with the band members gathering together in a circle and intermixing their hands to form a three-man pep-talk that resembles something out of an NFL game. Partially due to their shared bond, but more importantly due to the importance of their lyrical message, the band looks impressively tight on stage despite a minimalistic soundscape. Vocalist Dan Smith looks like a man possessed on stage as he recites his lyrics, enacting passages with vivid facial expressions that help convey what he really is feeling as he speaks and shouts his lyrics towards us. He's so passionate he barely hits the mic with his lyrics, which is a shame, because the sound isn't exactly ideal to start out with, resulting in a scenario where it's virtually impossible to understand what he's rambling about if you don't know all of the songs from the heart up front. Recognizing this, the band tries to have a chat with the sound guy throughout the set, but KB18 is one of those venues where sound is a challenge if you can't pack the floor left to right which isn't the case tonight.

Still, a song like "Tornadoes" sounds fantastic and sees the band engage in passionate movement on stage, exhibiting a down-to-earth vibe that makes the whole experience extra intimate. "Feel free to write some graffiti on the wall", Smith says while gazing around the KB18 walls, drawing some laughter from the crowd. A small sing-along ensues following a new track that's going to be on their next album, and a trumpet is brought out for "You Were A House On Fire", which reappears later on for one of the louder tracks of the set. In fact, there's a clear tendency: the songs that are loudest in terms of the instruments are the best, unless you're intensely familiar with the lyrical content of the other songs, thanks to the over-enthusiasm of Smith shaking in front of the microphone. But then again, these are ramblings of a man who truly means it, as is evident with "It Will Happen The Way It Should", which sees the whole band go crazy on stage during its post-rock style passages. If they looked and sounded like this all set, it would be amazing. But with the difficulty in hearing the vocals and the lack of crowd tonight, a decent showing is how we ought to think of this show. One more song follows a brief encore, before we all go home, having listened, which is what this band is all about anyway.

Unfortunately, no photograph was available tonight

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