Lifesick

support Rot Away + Violence
author AP date 26/02/22 venue WarPigs, Copenhagen, DEN

WarPigs, one of the Danish microbrewery Mikkeller’s flagship venues, is not used for hosting concerts too often. It is packed with long tables and has neither a stage nor any meaningful sound proofing, and as such, I was more than a little bit skeptical about how bands as loud and intense as two of those on the bill tonight would be able to utilise the space and deliver concerts to remember. Things also get off to a rough start as the opening act, Violence, gives their smoke machine a test run, triggering the fire alarm and prompting fire fighters to turn up, blue lights flashing, to command everyone outside just as the concert is meant to begin. It is certainly one of the most unique starts to a hardcore show I have experienced, and on the bright side, it allows me to find a spot much closer to the stage than before when the audience is allowed inside again. Douche move for sure, but at least it allowed me to paint a better picture of the mayhem that was about to ensue…

All photos courtesy of Philip Onyx

Violence

Born out of the ashes of the chaotic metalcore unit WOES, Violence is without a doubt the odd one out here with their dreamy and laid back post-punk soundscapes. Like their music, the band’s performance is quite subdued, with vocalist Christoffer Sylvest fixing his stare at some imaginary point in space and thus looking through the audience rather than at it, and the remaining four musicians adopting a shoegazing stance for much of the concert. There is a pleasant and inoffensive quality to their set, with Sylvest’s baritone musings and the layers of bright melody emanating from the instruments of guitarists Nicholas Meents and Dennis Hursid in particular striking a chord with me, but at the same time, I am also finding it difficult to feel truly engaged in the show, let alone the music. While there are moments, such as the driving rhythm and well constructed chorus in the second song, that offer glimpses of Violence’s talent, I cannot help but feel disappointed by how little of it actually makes an imprint on my memory; there is a distinct absence of catchiness, and the deliberately distant showmanship does nothing to soothe my feelings about this. Judging by the people around me, the band is also struggling to elicit a strong reaction from the rest of the audience, with Sylvest’s attempt to lighten then mood a bit by joking, “This is going to be the last song — as in, the last song of the evening, period. Then we’ll start the smoke machine again”, coming too late to have an effect. The group has the tools and the experience to get there, but for now, as a live act Violence seems a calibre lower than the other two bands on the bill tonight.

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Rot Away

Only a couple of weeks have passed since I last witnessed the brutal beating administered by Rot Away, yet everything seems different now. Vocalist Jonathan Albrechtsen needs not spend the best part of hald an hour trying to incite a reaction from the audience — the floor in front of the band instantly erupts into moshing, with some patrons even opting to dangle from the pipes and rafters running across the ceiling of this raw and industrial, former butchery. It is not long before the venue’s past springs to life via drops of blood splattering on the floor amongst shards of broken glass, spilled beer and flailing bodies, as Albrechtsen and his brother, drummer Andreas, egg people on with their usual confrontational spirit. With the crowd on their side, Rot Away’s ferocious take on dark, metallic hardcore no longer feels parodic, even if the five musicians still come across as very extreme. There is no stage to dive from but the Albrechtsens still demand people to stage dive multiple times, resulting in streams of crowd surfers perilously riding toward the tables and chairs occupying the rest of the venue, and on which most of the attendees are now standing. All this while the pit spins and boils at high pressure, taking me back to some of the sweatiest and most intense basement punk gigs I have seen in my time. Once the mayhem draws to a conclusion at last, there is a look of genuine shell-shock on a lot of people’s faces, having been ground into submission by both the frenetic performance and the destructive force of the material on Rot Away’s début album “Nothing Is Good” — and noticing this, Jonathan grabs a full keg from the floor and pours from it straight into his most impassioned fans’ throats as a gesture of his appreciation. What a discharge of energy this has been!

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Lifesick

Fredericia’s blackened hardcore unit are here to mark the release of their latest album “Misanthropy” together with their capital city fans, and although they are not on home turf, there is nothing to suggest the energy level established by Rot Away just before is about to be reduced. From the first note, the quintet is met with another violent moshpit, with people now dangling upside down in front of, and even amongst the five musicians as others flail their limbs in dangerous looking karate moves and slam their bodies into the less active spectators gathered around. Vocalist Simon Shoshan looks fired up, his face alternating between a wide grin and a look of pure antipathy as he delivers his coarse growls to a backdrop of tremolo riffs and breakdowns.

With his finger on the pulse, he stops to roar “Fuck Putin!” at one point much to the crowd’s satisfaction, underscoring that while Lifesick’s music is definitely more metal than punk, the group definitely has that political edge that makes hardcore punk bands such a riveting thing to watch and listen to. There are no holds barred, and just like Rot Away before them, the group’s performance has that same incredible atmosphere of an intimate basement show devoid of rules and restrictions. Lifesick’s showmanship is not quite as unadulterated or unhinged as that of Rot Away, but the audience compensates with its most energetic response of the evening thus far, rendering the entire occasion into a night to remember and putting my initial skepticisms about the venue and its suitability to shame. Hands down, WarPigs needs to put on more hardcore shows!

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