Northern Blues

support Hearteater
author PP date 13/05/17 venue Huset, Copenhagen, DEN

It's a cozy Saturday night in Copenhagen where it seems that spring weather has finally arrived. A couple of months separated from the release of their debut album "Splitmind", local Copenhagen melodic hardcore act Northern Blues are backstage gearing up for their first ever headline show. According to the Facebook event, quite a few people are planning to show up tonight at Huset KBH, which is no surprise considering how good of a record the band have just released. For supporting duties, they've lured equally rising hard rock/post-hardcore hybrid Hearteater, whose EP is likewise stirring up the pot genre-wise in Copenhagen.

Hearteater

Hearteater on record comes across as a blend of Papa Roach and Counterfeit: attitude-driven hard rock with a bit of post-hardcore added for good measure. Live, they're quite a different beast. A heavier and more aggressive version, their soundscape recalls alternative metal bands like Chevelle and Taproot instead. For instance, the EP highlight "God Within" is less melodic and therefore less impressive live tonight, which characterized the entire show tonight: Hearteater are too heavy for their own good live. It's groovy, but just too hardcore live for the wider appeal that the band aims for on their latest EP. Another curious fact is the sheer amount of charisma that their guitarist packs into his delivery compared to the vocalist. Where the latter sounds anonymous, each time the guitarist takes over the pipes, we're all paying a lot more attention. It feels like Hearteater should really let him loose on his own just to see what would happen. In the current constellation, despite the vocalist showcasing decent energy by pacing and partying in front of the stage, the band are unable to capture the crowd and thus end up with merely an okay, albeit forgettable showing.

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Northern Blues

From the very beginning, it feels as if Northern Blues have put a lot of thought into their set. Not only is the set bathing in gloomy, dark blue light that reflects the Scandinavian winter weather, but they open their set with their guitarist alone on stage, plucking a few lingering strings and creating atmosphere straight away. Unfortunately, the sound doesn't do the band many favors tonight, which is a shame, because much of the detail and texture of their record drowns underneath a muddy soundscape, which also underlines the amount of production wizardry that has gone into the clean backing vocals on the record. These are unacceptably far from how they sound like on record.

The lead singer, on the other hand, delivers his part and then some. When he isn't kneeling down to scream on stage or leading the charge with an energetic performance, he's doing something else to keep the crowd into it. During "Vanity", for instance, he proceeds to plant his microphone stand in the middle of the crowd where he kneels again to scream for memorable effect. This is exactly what needs to happen to get the crowd into it. But tonight, it doesn't seem like that's happening until the last song, "Through Me", where Mirza of Siamese fame joins in on guest vocals. This is the first time that a proper pit opens and it looks and feels like something is really happening. Perhaps it's the lack of live experience, perhaps it's the questionable sound tonight, but Northern Blues don't sound particularly tight nor convincing, at least nowhere near to the extent that they do on record. So despite smashing the drum kit at the end of the show, the concert never really picks up and impresses the 50 or so people watching. Decent, but not much better than that.

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