Odd Palace

support Royal Mob
author LL date 25/05/18 venue Halmtorvet 9, Copenhagen, DEN

On Friday, the two bands Royal Mob and Odd Palace both released their debut full-length albums via Prime Collective. Thus, they threw a release party together – one that was even sold out prior to the event itself. I have been familiar with both bands for a couple of years now (though with a new name and musical identity, Royal Mob used to be M.D.R. or Mojave Desert Rebels) and thus it was with excitement that I made my way to the venue this evening to hear each their take on modern, catchy rock music. Band manager and backing vocalist on both records, Mirza Radonjica, served as the evening’s host presenting each band to us and making sure the good mood of the evening was set from the get-go.

All pictures by Michael Hyldgaard Løgtholt

Royal Mob

When the fabulous Nothing But Thieves is playing over the speakers before and after their set, it’s hard not to hold Royal Mob to a pretty high standard from the moment they break out their similarly groovy and emotional songs from their new album, "Cinematic". Their music is similar in scope: a kind of danceable but also groove-heavy pop rock with delicate vocals that hit some really high notes. It has a dry air of attempted coolness but also an odd dynamic where the kind of cliché lyrics about sex and love clash with the more sensitive demeanor of the group’s vocalist. It sounds good in the mix tonight, though, and there’s a great vibe in the almost filled room from a steadily grooving and appreciative audience. The songs have some unusual build-ups or structures sometimes, like for instance on the slightly heavy single "Snake" that rumbles straight on through verse and chorus without kicking in with an extra energy level as you would expect it to. To me, this usually makes it sound kind of tame on record but live it works out better for the band, not least because they can express their band dynamic and energetic playing to us visually as well. They have a great bold guitar tone and there are several pretty cool moments during their set when for instance "Euphoria" and "Become" present some pretty sweet rhythms. On the other hand, a song like "What Do You Want From Me" almost makes me facepalm due to the obvious inspiration in chorus melody from a certain older pop hit. Even though their singer has no problems hitting the high notes that abound in their new songs, he does perform them sort of thinly at times, for instance during "Save You" that makes for a fluctuating experience. Evidently, the band feels at home with their sound and new groove, which is great to see, although they still have elements to work on to really kick it out of the park.

7

Setlist:

  • 1. Wanna Lie With You
  • 2. Snake
  • 3. Save You
  • 4. Euphoria
  • 5. Fire
  • 6. Like This
  • 7. Become
  • 8. Need
  • 9. What Do You Want From Me
  • 10. Cinematic

Odd Palace

Compared to their label mates in Royal Mob, Odd Palace seem a different and weirder breed. Their progressive and experimental rock can be compared to that of The Mars Volta or At the Drive-In and with their debut album, "Things To Place On The Moon" (which we reviewed here), they have definitely released the most interesting Danish album this year to me personally. Leading in with a taped sample with messages of "reclaim your mind" and the like, the vibe is set for a performance of music that is meant to challenge us both sonically and on a personal level. They are a rowdy bunch on stage, especially their vocalist, Gert Børsting, who performs his eccentric parts in an unhinged manner that sends him into weird spasms and dancing while he beckons us with wide open eyes and a childish expression of wonder. To begin with, the sharp vocals are kind of low in the mix and "Chemical Solution" seems to almost be breaking the sound mix with the onslaught of its many layers, as is also especially the case with the older single "Tools" that appears later in the set tonight.

Sometimes the clear guitar melodies don’t burn through as much as they should, not least during "The Alchemist", but overall the conditions are as good as can be expected with experimental and suddenly changing music such as this. From the time "Insomnia" kicks in as the third song, the band seems to really hit their stride perfectly. For this song, they are also joined by a friend on saxophone and an especially wonderful section where Børsting also bursts forth with his cornet really gets the crowd going. The wilder side of their progressive music always seems to evolve organically from the smoother and more mysterious parts of the songs and it’s always a joy to watch them play with such acute attention towards each other. It looks and sounds like they are capable of entering some kind of common spiritual band space between them that they are at the same time exceptionally good at presenting to and including the audience in.

This creates a magical sense of thankfulness in the room that hits a high during the 13-minute "Things To Place On The Moon". Another guest musician joins for percussion here while their vocalist dons an acoustic guitar and actual shushing can be heard among the talkative audience as the song starts out quietly. A small moshpit gets going for a later more noisy section but it’s when Børsting performs a playful solo on his guitar while getting low that the audience spontaneously follows his example and crouches down as well. The song doesn’t actually pick up for any crazy parts after this but a magical connection is still established with the entire band looking like unwitting snake charmers who are just incredibly thankful and full of love for the room.

For the second single from the album, "Liar’s Attire", Mirza Radonjica (also the singer of Siamese) joins to perform his backing vocals and gets to perform the entire second verse with Børsting's more nasal voice stepping in the background shortly. While Radonjica is a great singer himself with a vibrant voice as well as a performer to contend with, the wildness of Odd Palace’s playing and Børsting's own impressive singing keeps him somewhat in check and almost outmatches him tonight, which only makes me more certain of their qualities as a band. The older single "Hold Your Tongue" gets the front rows singing along and there’s abundant dancing among the more and more excited crowd before the band end, as is their tradition, by playing themselves into a frenzy with "Delirious", ending up falling into each other after Børsting does a quick backflip. The drummer begins disassembling his cymbals and dropping them on the floor and yet, from this cacophonic ending of noise, they pick it up again and continue into an outro of the song "Poem Of A Man" while something definitely begins to smell burnt in the room. Finally, their lead guitarist throws himself out for a quick crowdsurf experience before, finally, the genius madness ends. Of the different times I have seen Odd Palace perform, this has been the most impressed I’ve felt as tonight almost everything seems to add up to one of those far between magical moments that gigs can facilitate. The only minus, basically, would be the few sound mix inconsistencies and I just gotta say that if you’re in Denmark and you’re into any kind of challenging rock and you haven't yet experienced this group live, you are seriously missing out at your own peril.

9

Setlist:

  • 1. Carnivore
  • 2. Chemical Solution
  • 3. Insomnia
  • 4. Tools
  • 5. The Alchemist
  • 6. Thing To Place On The Moon
  • 7. Through Your Eyes
  • 8. Liar's Attire
  • 9. Dead End
  • 10. Hold Your Tongue
  • 11. Delirious/Poem Of A Man

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