Kellermensch

support Bellhound Choir
author RUB date 06/10/17 venue Voxhall, Aarhus, DEN

Ever since I first encountered Kellermensch back in what must have been 2009 (the time around the release of their debut album), I have been a fan. Their special blend of go-to rock with infectious and catchy pop-like tunes, the heavier aspects of dark rock and metal and of course the beautiful melancholy, made the entire soundscape something that managed to unite pop, rock and metal fans alike. The album I purchased (on CD, sadly not on vinyl) when I first saw the band live is long gone, probably hidden in a moving box somewhere, but that hasn’t stopped me from occasionally finding my way back to it, and that is simply because it was a landmark in modern Danish music. Now, eight years down the road, several concerts and an opening slot on the prestigious Orange Stage at Roskilde Festival, the ‘Kellermensch’ has awoken once again. So, of course my hopes and expectations were high when they finally announced their return to the music scene, with a new album and tour to support it — especially because of the poor planning at last year’s Roskilde Festival, which ensured that I couldn’t manage to see the entire concert. But luckily, I now find myself in the jam-packed, sold-out surroundings of Voxhall in Aarhus to witness Kellermensch once again. But first, the support duty is left in the hands of Christian Hede Madsen aka. Bellhound Choir.

All photos courtesy of Sebastian Dammark

Bellhound Choir

And when I say that I mean it quite literally. For those who don’t know Bellhound Choir, the project consists of Christian alone, and is a singer-songwriter project he made around the time the trio of Pet The Preacher split up. He had been given the opportunity to warm up the crowd, and it would come to show how difficult that task should be. Since this is a one-man project with only Christian’s charismatic voice and a guitar, the crowd is that much more audible (read: a LOT more audible); people quite obviously haven’t finished talking about all the important things that go on in their lives, because during the entire set people would only stop the chatter when clapping or cheering were due in between numbers. This is such a distraction that it sadly ruins the whole experience for me. This is quite ironic, because VoxHall had put up stickers at the bar saying: “Shhh… Listen to the music. Then we’ll talk after the concert”, but little did it help.

Christian, on the other hand, wasn’t visibly bothered by this, so he did what he came to do. And people didn’t leave the concert area either, because that was packed for the entire duration — they just didn’t have the courtesy to be quiet while he was playing. Perhaps it had something to do with the somewhat odd choice of warmup for the more energetic and powerful performance of Kellermensch? I wouldn’t know. So, basically, what I’m trying to say is that my review doesn't really do him any justice, because he's a great singer. But when one takes the insanely loud audience into perspective it sadly makes for a rather forgettable affair. In a more intimate setting, with a crowd that actually wants to hear his music, and not just clap when they think the song is over, this could be a very different experience. After roughly 30 mins he thanked the audience and made space for Kellermensch to come on.

5

Kellermensch

The crowd area wasn't the only area that was packed by the time Kellermensch took the stage — a total of eight band members entered without uttering a single word. Besides the ‘mandatory’ instruments, the band consists of an upright bass, a violin, a keyboard/piano and of course the distinctive stepping organ. The first noticeable difference from the first of tonight’s performers is how people are actually quiet now, so it’s quite obvious that they are here for Kellermensch only. If one looks around the audience it doesn’t look like it consists of your regular concert-goers either; both old and young are staring with intensity at the stage and what’s about to unfold. The first three songs are from the newest outing “Goliath”, released earlier this year, and even though I’m not as familiar with it yet, it’s easy to tell that the audience digs it. It strikes me how bright and light the songs sound when compared to the musical style of their debut. For example, the third song “How to Get By”, sees lead singer Sebastian Wolff perform a very emotional piece by himself, whilst the rest of the band glares in silence from the stage. This song in particular is definitely not bright though, as described just before, but it’s very different from the songs on the debut. And when “Mediocre Man” is aired later on, this different style becomes even clearer. After this Sebastian kicks the guitar and airs the first track tonight from “Kellermensch”, and the audience replies with a loud cheer. By now it becomes evident that the huge right-side speaker from time to time makes a scratchy noise whenever the volume hits a high note. It’s not constant by any means, but still adds some frustration. Besides this rather small hiccup, the sound overall is top notch and it would seem that the sound engineer somehow manages to fix the aforementioned issue temporarily, too, because it disappears for several songs only to return in the last part of the set. Strange.

As what one has now pretty much become accustomed to at a Kellermensch show, frontman Sebastian Wolff would from time to time throw himself at the ground with either his guitar or the tambourine, whilst screaming his lungs into pieces. This aggressive nature has almost become a trademark of the band, where neither guitars nor microphone stands are safe from his carnage, when he lashes around on stage, completely lost in the moment and the music. In the more raw and aggressive parts of the songs, organ player Christian Sindermann would join Sebastian at the front of the stage to scream and growl the lyrics, as is done in “Black Dress” for example. This is also seen in “Moribund Town”, which has the band mix both melancholy and the darker nature of rock. This is exactly the juxtaposition I love about this band: the hauntingly beautiful melancholy of the violin and Sebastian’s voice, coupled with the raw and heavy nature of both the live performance and the darker sides of the music. This makes it so damned mesmerizing in a live setting. It is the graceful violinist opposite the aggressive lead singer. It is the charismatic Claudio W. Suez on the bass that elegantly traverses the stage with tactful steps opposite the robust and calmer nature of Christian Sindermann. It all comes together in a beautiful yet aggressive melancholy, and it just works so well live. This is basically how the entire concert unfolds. One moment the audience goes mental to high-energy tunes as in the crowd-favourites “Army Ants” and “Rattle the Bones”; the next, you become mesmerized by the beautiful composition of “30. Silver Coins”. It’s both damned bleak and stunning at the same time.

The Interaction between band and crowd is kept at a minimum throughout the entire concert, which can be explained by how much ‘in the zone’ every band member seems to be. They focus 100% on the deliverance of a memorable concert, which they definitely manage. Only during the encore, we see Sebastian Wolff engage with the audience, as he steps onto the fence that separates the crowd from the stage. For the last song of the night, the grandiose “Moribund Town”, every instrument is given the very last that it can muster. The guitar is thrown behind Sebastian’s head as every microphone stand is knocked over and the stage just looks like a vortex of wires and instruments. This marks the end of a very well-performed concert that manages to be both magnificently beautiful and alarmingly insane — the Kellermensch delivers once again. I have both witnessed Kellermensch in the very intimate surroundings of Café von Hatten in Randers, as well as the impressive spectacle at Roskilde Festival’s Orange Stage, and it would seem it’s impossible to get tired of the beautiful, yet aggressive melancholy that is Kellermensch live. The combination is unique and when coupled with a crowd that’s ready to give it absolutely everything on this Friday night, you get the feeling that you’re a witness to something special.

Setlist:

  • 01. Atheist in a Foxhole
  • 02. All That I Can Say
  • 03. How to Get By
  • 04. Don’t Let It Bring You Down
  • 05. Mediocre Man
  • 06. Rattle the Bones
  • 07. Black Dress
  • 08. Remainder
  • 09. Pain of Salvation
  • 10. The Day You Walked
  • 11. Moth
  • 12. Lost at Sea
  • 13. 30. Silver Coins
  • 14. Army Ants

— Encore —

  • 15. Bad Sign
  • 16. Moribund Town

Comments
comments powered by Disqus

Legal

© Copyright MMXVII Rockfreaks.net.