The 20Belows

support Uphill Struggle + Acid Fang + Fall Back Down
author PP date 17/11/18 venue Underwerket, Copenhagen, DEN

For the first time since 2014, Danish fans have an opportunity to catch arguably the best pop punk band of the country in a live setting. The 20Belows, now spread geographically across multiple European cities individually, have rarely played any shows at all, and the few that have taken place have all been outside of Danish territory. Naturally, we expect a jam-packed UnderWerket for the reunion concert and in that context, we are not disappointed. Tonight is essentially classic basement punk at its best: a sweaty venue with rows and rows of people rammed towards the front of the stage with an intense mosh pit crowning the whole experience. But let's not get ahead of ourselves, for there were a number of other excellent bands completing the bill.

Fall Back Down

Fall Back Down

First up is Fall Back Down, who are playing their debut concert tonight. The band features well-known faces from the Danish punk scene, among them Lasse Lund Elmer of Rovers Ahead and Maja Muhlack of Leo & The Lineup fame, so there are some seasoned musicians on stage, which guarantees a tight performance. Their style is Rancid/The Interrupters style upbeat ska-punk with a few oi! and street punk vibes mixed in for good measure, and such a combo is usually a perfect recipe for a good vibe and catchy songs, which is exactly what Fall Back Down provide from the get-go. Maja, in particular, exhibits a great deal of personality on stage, winking off to the crowd and gesturing actively while performing the songs, oozing of charisma and positivity, which together with the synth-organs give their set a classic Deep South vibe mixed with the classic Cali-punk style. They leave behind a great first impression, but especially the last song "Attitude" stuck itself to my memory with its jamming session where the band melts together into a flurry of energy. It's a great look, and a good sound, so expect to hear a great deal more to these guys going forward.

Acid Fang

Acid Fang

Next up, Acid Fang, a noisy, treble-charged punk band from Copenhagen who've just released their debut EP. They run into unfortunate technical difficulties with feedback and broken guitar in the first couple of songs, but once those issues are sorted out, the soundscape that's left behind is fascinating. It's like a noisy version of Title Fight's distortion mixed with melancholic ideals from the cacophonic original screamo/skramz scene, particularly Swedish bands like Traktor, delivered at breakneck speed tempo and with a glitchy guitar that echoes Joyce Manor's debut album. It's an addictive sound that feels extra raw and passionate thanks to its high-energy vibe, and while they sing in Danish, for the most part, their subtle, upbeat melodies submerged into a noisy, melancholic format like this is the biggest surprise of the evening. Now boys, switch to singing in English and the scene will pick this up in no time.

Uphill Struggle

Uphill Struggle

Skate punk runs deep in the veins of Uphill Struggle members, some of whom were previously in Losing Must. They've been playing heavy-hitting skate punk derived from Pennywise, Millencolin, and to an extent, Adhesive (whose the band is named after) material for quite a while now, and every now and then they deliver a song that raises eyebrows due to a good melody here and there. There's no doubting that these guys are fans of skate punk to the bone, but their problem continues to be consistency or lack thereof. Most songs echo the mid-to-late 90s golden years of the genre, but without leaving a memorable impression. More often than not, it feels like the songs and the band are just there, playing but without the music really catching on. As a result, most of the crowd is smoking outside or at the bar, so their set feels empty which is an unfortunate feat in an otherwise packed venue. So despite a couple of jumps and the guitarist infiltrating the crowd for a brief moment, there still isn't much to write home about regarding Uphill Struggle.

The 20Belows

The 20Belows, on the other hand, have absolutely no problems in drawing a sizable crowd. They kick off with "Repress", and immediately people push to the front and turn the venue into a frenzy. Though their appeal in Denmark is still limited to those in the know, internationally they have earned quite a bit of respect for their no-frills pop punk style that's beautiful in its infectious simplicity, so much so that Teenage Bottlerocket even covered their song "My Very Best" last year, which is introduced as their "Fat Wreck international famous number" tonight. Songs like "The Message", "Like A Chokeslam", and "What A Nightmare" are hits that get the crowd moving, with the latter even drawing a great "woo-oh-oh-oh-oh-ohh" sing-along that gets the party going.

The 20Belows

Recently, the band put out a brand new song called "Life Turned Upside Down" on the Punk Rock Raduno Vol. 3 compilation. Naturally, this is aired tonight: it sounds great live and suggests the band still have it in them writing catchy, upbeat, simple no-frills pop punk tracks like no-one else in the country is able to.

That explains why the crowd is going wild: an intense circle pit opens up in the tiny, packed room and it's all smiles as most of the old 20Belows classics are aired, ranging from the fantastic "Through The City" to the sing-along anthem of "For Better Days", which sees members of other Danish punk bands storm the stage for a community sing along. It's one of those moments that define UW that we've previously seen with many other international bands at sold-out shows; the intimate, basement style passion and sing along that only happens at punk rock concerts like these.

The 20Belows

Finally, the band ends their set with a cover of Kim Larsen's "Tarzan Mama Mia" in a fitting ending because, if you think about it, The 20Belows are kind of like the Kim Larsen of Danish punk: a beloved band by the whole scene. "Seven more songs!", someone shouts from the crowd in classic UW fashion (we all remember the seminal Beach Slang moment from a few years back), but unfortunately this is it for the band. They want to play more, but unfortunately, their stand-in guitarist Christian Jakobsen of Wayl fame has only had time to rehearse exactly these specific songs on the setlist, so it's a no-go for further material. Overall, the band puts on a great show that's characterized by a passionate crowd and by the type of intimate sing-alongs and party that UW is known for at its very best.

8

Photos by: Philip B Hansen

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