Basement

support Culture Abuse + Muncie Girls
author PP date 18/01/19 venue Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DEN

Despite how popular the Balance And Composure-style, dreamy post-hardcore meets indie/alternative rock soundscape is internationally, it has never really caught on properly here in Copenhagen. Tonight's attendance at scene stalwarts Basement's show is a tad disappointing as a result: the downstairs part of Pumpehuset is only half full on a Friday night, which is on the lower side of what we expected especially given the strong supporting cast on the bill tonight. Scene darlings Muncie Girls have been charming audiences with their light, but serious pop punk for a couple of years now, and Culture Abuse is one of the most hyped new bands that punk saw during 2018. Maybe it's the cold January night, or that everyone spent all their money in December and/or during New Year's festivities, but let's get real here: there should be way more people in here tonight.

Muncie Girls

First up are Muncie Girls, a female-fronted pop punk band that first and foremost look so laid-back and relaxed on stage that it's impossible to be charmed by their modest appearance. Lande Hekt's vocals are soothing and fragile, but she has an uncanny ability to morph into a thicker and more powerful version during the best moments of their songs. It's a nice combination of depth-laden musicianship whilst reveling in a light, upbeat pop punk soundscape simultaneously, flavored by a strong message and a tight performance overall. They pace a quick thirty minutes through a mixture of songs off "From Caplan To Belsize" and last year's "Fixed Ideals", winning over the initially skeptical crowd and leaving behind an impression of a solid band with solid songs to show for.

Culture Abuse

At first, it looks like Culture Abuse's first time in Denmark is about to end in disaster. Their vocalist David Kelling looks like a British chav and is visibly hammered on stage, randomly howling into the mic and occasionally looking like he's either about to swallow it whole, or staring at it in a weirdly psychopathic fashion, before hitting it time and time again until it finally falls down on the drum kit. But once you get into it, you've gotta admit there's a sense of incredulity to their drunken havoc, and the resulting vibe is one of infectious, playful genre mishmash where the band takes us through punk, indie, hardcore, and pop in a wildly experimental fashion. "I gotta say some stupid shit to cover for our bad songs", Kelling begins to say, and initially, I concur with his statement. But the relentless energy and unconventional approach to the genres being played soon converts the entire venue into what looks like a house party of sorts. "How many times have you seen the band who says the same stuff each time? Thanks for all the bands who played blah blah blah", he continues, and the crowd laps all of it up. The energy levels keep rising until the show nearly ends in people vaulting in and out of the stage, whilst Kelling fuels the uncontrollable chaos by howling random sounds and effects into his two microphones on stage. Is it weird? Totally. Is it a great party and equivalent in originality to how Turnstile does hardcore? Fuck yes it is. Together with Angel Du$t, these guys represent the future of punk rock. What a surprising show of strength, energy and thinking outside the genre box!

8

Basement

After a short pause, it's Basement's turn to get on stage. Wasting no time in introductions, they kick off immediately with a one-two punch from the new album "Beside Myself": "Disconnect" displays an energetic version of the band that almost sends vibes of punk rock from their stage presence, and "Nothing Left" continues along the same lines straight after. Some in the crowd are singing along to especially the first track, but it's "Whole" from "Colourmeinkindess", which fully awakens the crowd. Here, a small pit breaks out and energy-levels start increasing, and it's for a good reason: "Beside Myself" just isn't that good of an album in comparison, and while "Promise Everything" song "Aquasun" is solid, it too can't really compete with the real classics.

This pattern repeats itself throughout the set: "Pine" and "Spoiled" are absolutely fantastic, whilst quite a few tracks just before them have been merely decent, but without much fanfare to write home about. Even the sole track from the debut album, "Crickets Throw Their Voice", feels better than "Ultraviolet" did, for instance. One exception, however, is "New Coast" which features particularly crunchy guitars that echo Deftones... thus exposing the critical flaw with "Beside Myself": it's just too clean and polished overall, despite not being a bad album by any means.

Similarly, "Covet" and the final track "Promise Everything" are triumph over "Stigmata", at least if you judge based on crowd engagement. Sure enough, "Beside Myself" is a new album and not everyone has given it a proper listen just yet, so maybe it just needs time to grow. After all, the band itself looks just as vibrant and loaded with passionate energy for the new songs as they do for the old songs, so no qualms there. And, to be fair, the base level of the concert is high throughout, so I don't think any of us are leaving home disappointed. You could, however, make a plausible argument for Culture Abuse taking home the prize for the most entertaining set tonight, whilst Basement's show was just solid but unspectacular throughout.

Setlist:

  • 1. Disconnect
  • 2. Nothing Left
  • 3. Aquasun
  • 4. Whole
  • 5. Be Here Now
  • 6. Brother's Keeper
  • 7. For You The Moon.
  • 8. Pine
  • 9. For You The Moon
  • 10. Reason For Breathing
  • 11. Ultraviolet
  • 12. Pine
  • 13. Spoiled
  • 14. New Coast
  • 15. Crickets Throw Their Voice
  • 16. Covet
  • 17. Stigmata
  • 18. Promise Everything

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