Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DEN - 15/4
Baby WoodrosePrevious Next
support Telstar Sound Drone + Narcosatanicos
author BV date 05/11/16 venue Loppen, Copenhagen, DEN
I’ve been looking forward to this day for quite a while – ever since it was announced, in fact. For as long as I can remember being a dedicated music lover, I’ve found great pleasure in scouring the Bad Afro Records discography looking for trippy tunes and fuzzy earworms. Now, the aforementioned Bad Afro turns 20 years old and a celebration is quite obviously in place – at Loppen, no less. With a lineup representing where Bad Afro Records is at today, free beers and a free (highly limited) 7” single up for grabs it was inevitable that the event would sell out. I had, however, not anticipated a queue lasting more than 30 minutes in the drizzling rain before I could enter the always (too) hot venue and be taken into the open arms of psychedelic visuals and incredibly varied music.
At 22:00 Telstar Sound Drone emerged to the sound of drones and oscillations. To the tones of “Strange Apples” the five piece slithered around in a cascading wall of sound which, at first, seemingly caught some of the attendees off guard as I saw several reactions across the venue reflecting a slight discomfort at first, only to see the very same people eventually lose themselves to the music once “Satellited” quickly followed. Throughout their allotted 45 minutes or so, Telstar Sound Drone shifted back and forth through material from their two full-length albums, as well as their highly limited 10” release. Tracks like the high-energy blaster “Evaporation” came rumbling through the speakers at deafening volume only to collapse into the all-encompassing drone, slowly drifting into “Dead Spaces”. Drone is everything, droning is life one might be tempted to say as “Dead Spaces” slowly culminated and morphed into the mighty “Feels Like a Ride” – perhaps my favorite Telstar Sound Drone track due to the severely compact yet amazingly voluptuous soundscape produces by the primal drumming and a very simplistic chord progression.
With “Feel It” I’d wager Telstar Sound Drone’s set was about to climax as the audience was, quite obviously, feeling it. However, it most definitely peaked at its finest with the band’s tribute to Red Crayola, their damn fine cover of “Hurricane Fighter Plane” which is an extremely underrated classic in its own right. However, under the wings of Telstar Sound Drone, it quickly becomes something else, something more. Whereas the original is a challenging but highly rewarding listen, The Telstar Sound Drone version is far more catchy and still uncompromising – with the resulting cacophony ranging from oscillations, primal drumming, thunderous bass and a rapidly detuned and retuned guitar bathed in howling feedback becoming the ultimate climax of the band’s set. I have seen them many times by now, but they never quite fail to surprise.
At this point in time, it would be fairly safe to say that Lars Krogh, the man behind Bad Afro, had put together a fairly uncompromising lineup together for his 20th anniversary celebration. With Aarhus-based Narcosatanicos things were about to get messed up; seriously messed up. In some ways I honestly feel a slight sense of empathy for those who were completely unaware of what was about to happen. With an alluring snippet of saxophone followed by a thunderous riff, Narcosatanicos emerged as masters of mayhem with tracks like “Vulvic Church” driven by grim lyrical and musical imagery, riffs without end and a low-end so ferocious I had a serious fear that the floor would collapse beneath us all at one point. This is not music for those faint at heart, so naturally some of the less adventurous souls headed for a breather at the bar. Having been through all of this before, I definitely had an advantage over the newcomers and managed to stay near the front of the stage throughout the proceedings.
This, however, did not help at all as I was simply still caught off guard by the ferocity of tracks like “Salt” and the somewhat more radio-friendly but still altogether insane-sounding “Vile”. Never in my life have I seen such aggression fueled into drumming as on these particular tracks during this performance. Overall the band possesses an intensity which is almost impossible to match, but there’s also an element of danger involved which is seen far too rarely these days. As uncompromising a musical venture as Narcosatanicos is, I have always believed that they were worth the time and effort to dive head-first into. After this performance, that belief has only been strengthened.
With the time rolling past midnight, Baby Woodrose were gradually getting ready to take the stage. In a conversation I briefly held prior to the final performance of the night, it was brought up that, ironically, Baby Woodrose would probably be classified as the pop group of the night, in that the music Baby Woodrose is, in many ways, far more accessible than that of Telstar Sound Drone and Narcosatanicos. As such, it also provided a kind of needed sense of relief when Lorenzo Woodrose proclaimed that they would play a ”long and hot set” - a promise which they eventually delivered on. Opening with “Reality” from the newest album, “Freedom”, it would seem that much of the setlist was comprised of the same tracks as the one featured in Pumpehuset less than a month ago. A fact that is highly understandable to say the least. However, on this particular night we were still treated to a rather significant change as Anders Grøn, the original drummer of Baby Woodrose was once again sitting behind the kit, playing alongside his two bandmates Lorenzo Woodrose and Anders Skjødt – not to mention Mads Saaby, who was impressively playing his second gig of the night, the first being with Telstar Sound Drone. To the sound of “Disconnected” and “Let Yourself Go”, the now quite sweaty audience was taken on a ride down memory lane fueled by classic tracks, only to once in a while be propelled right into the present via new material like “21st Century Slave” and “Open Doors”.
”Everything you’ve ever made is great!” - yelled one member of the audience whilst in utter euphoria and, well, in some ways he is quite right. Obviously some material is stronger than the rest, but the setlist on this night featured almost exclusively great songs – particularly a track like “Spinning Wheels of Fire” which has a very special place in my mind at least. “Freedom” once more energized the crowd, as it did in Pumpehuset – it is to be expected, after all, when you take a classic anthem and add an element of acid-punk to the proceedings. With “Born to Lose” the band reached peak-intensity before eventually letting the whole thing collapse into nothingness, before once more returning for three(!) encores. As far as anniversary celebrations go, this one was damn fine and a great indicator that Bad Afro Records are far from growing stagnant. I’m looking forward to the next anniversary.