Funeral For A Friend

support Cancer Bats + Siamese Fighting Fish
author TL date 11/11/08 venue Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DEN

The date is November 11th, its Tuesday night and I'm standing outside of Pumpehuset, waiting to be allowed in to see Funeral For A Friend perform for the fourth time on Danish soil. It's the third time I'm seeing them, and after the band's split from Atlantic Records, I'm expecting a band that feels free and re-motivated from once again being masters of their own destinies. More on that later though, for now let's just say that it doesn't hurt the night's prospects that our very own MR's band Siamese Fighting Fish are first support, followed by the renowned live show of Canada's Cancer Bats. A bit before 8 pm, the doors to the venue swing open and after entering the foyer, there's plenty of time to enjoy a few beers and a fussball game, before checking out the merch tables and finally heading upstairs to be ready for SIFIFI.

Siamese Fighting Fish

When I first saw Mirza and his band play, also right here in Pumpehuset, they seemed so happy with being on stage that they cranked their performance up to eleven, giving it everything they got, however they only succeeded in making me a bit annoyed back then. After having bagged myself another show from them and listening to their first three track EP, my feelings have warmed up a bit though, and it is not without some measure of admiration and envy that I witness how confidently they possess the stage tonight. It is obvious that these guys don't waste time in their practices, as they play tightly and with lots of extra energy to spend on, for instance, playing the bass "back-handed", and generally, they rock out as much as allowed by the confined space that's available between the setups of the two other bands. It is clear that as the first support band you don't get the longer end of the stick as is audible in the sound, which, while clear enough on all instruments, has the guitars sounding rather puny compared to how awesome the foremost instrument of rock is supposed to sound. Also, at this point of my relationship with SIFIFI and their music, it seems apparent to me that while they're in good shape in most areas required to make a good career as a band, they have work to do with their songwriting. Having listened to their EP helps me appreciate the songs off it, but still their stuff only really works in moments, not continuously. Which is why I'm much surprised to hear how much progress they seem to have made on the new song they test on us tonight, as it simply seems to have much more direction and drive than its predecessors. In any case, while SIFIFI are doing well, they still have their best days ahead of them.


Cancer Bats

Watching Cancer Bats come on stage, its clear that these guys are already veterans of the game, and in terms of on stage performance, they're in a whole different league than SIFIFI. Frontman Liam quickly solidifies that he's one of those singers who feels immensely more at home when flying through the air than when he's standing on the ground, and if nothing else about Cancer Bats impresses you, the fact that he's able to dish out his harsh vocals while jumping about without losing his breath. Backing him are his trio of bearded and leather clad motherfuckers who look so rock'n'roll it's almost cliché, however, there's no doubt they mean business, as is evident in the way drummer Mike pounds his drum with a passion if not a great degree of technical skill. They rip through their set of aggressive and groove-based boogie hardcore, inducing it with enough no bullshit rock'n'roll energy to make Motörhead proud if they were ever to see them. Liam tries to encourage the growing crowd between songs, but because of how he brings his drunken sailor routine with him even outside of the songs, most of what he's saying is lost to the acoustics of Pumpehuset, and maybe this failed communication is part of what brings the 'Bats down tonight. Confined within their very narrow style of hardcore punk, they might play it perfectly, but without the feeling of a synergy between them and an appreciative crowd, the show never becomes the kind chaotic mess that would be needed for Cancer Bats to see a really high grade. The fans tonight, mainly here for either the headliners or the local heroes in SIFIFI, don't seem like they're prepared for the harshness and energy of a band like Cancer Bats though, and as such, band and crowd never really get to the point where they embrace one another, effectively leaving the unvaried nature of the set painstakingly obvious. So after the first 4-5 songs, even Liam's energy can't keep you interested, and you're left with the idea that this wasn't really the ideal show for Cancer Bats.


Funeral For A Friend

So we wait with anxiety for the main act of the night to come and deliver to our expectations of a really awesome show, and there's a substantial amount of excitement in the air as Funeral For A Friend come on to the pompous sound of Queen's "We Are The Champions". Wasting no time, the guys launch into what I remember as being the new song "Constant Illuminations", kicking up activity in front of the stage from the more alternatively appearing part of the audience. "Juneau" follows, delivering early what most FFAF fans really want - the old songs played live, as audible in the voice of the guy screaming "BEND YOUR ARMS!" from the back. Agree as I may though, the band never play that song, but we do get a good mix of songs from "Hours", "Memory And Humanity" and "Casually Dressed And Deep In Conversation" nevertheless, mixed up with the odd rarity from one of the band's oldest EP's. I remember "Roses For The Dead", "Streetcar", "All The Rage", "Waterfront Danceclub", "Rules And Games" and "Kicking And Screaming" all being in there.

One major problem tonight though, is that the band seem to have celebrated their newfound freedom from major label restrictions a bit too much, and are effectively more than a little tipsy. Between pretty much each and every song, we have to sit through a minute or two of Matthew Davies pulling some half-assed attempt at showmanship with lines that all go something like "Copenhagen! You can do better than that!" or having a lengthy argument with a diehard fan over whether or not the band should play his request. After the fourth or fifth of such episodes, the novelty has worn off, and I wonder why FFAF don't just get on with the show and have a good time with the people who do in fact seem into it, instead of indirectly complaining about the fact that the scale of this show doesn't quite fit the stadium friendly sound of some of their newer material. After all, when they are just playing, the sheer quality of their songs is enough to ensure that we all have a blast, even if the guys have never been the most excessive of livebands. Instead, either the band get more and more tired of the situation, or they fall more and more under the influence of the beer and Somersby they're drinking on stage, and in either case, Matt seems to have more and more trouble pulling on his game face before going for another round of "Cooopenhaaagen!".

Rock bottom is officially hit with the sour face he's wearing when the sampled intro to "Into Oblivion" sounds from the speakers, and considering how it's the only song from "Tales Don't Tell Themselves" that's played tonight, it seems that the band is more inclined toward putting that record and their deal with Atlantic firmly behind them - which is a shame because the album honestly isn't THAT bad, and I for one wouldn't have complained at hearing "Raise The Sails" or "Great Wide Open" tonight. It goes to show how far a catalogue of good songs can take you when the performance I speak of didn't manage to totally ruin the experience of the enthusiastic audience, who were fortunately too busy having a good time to notice that this was probably the worst FFAF show in Denmark yet. So to the boys in the band I'd like to say, that if you're feeling off your game or that you're playing to a crowd or in a venue that doesn't feel right, don't get fucked up and try to be Green Day - Instead play more songs, everyone knows you've got plenty of good ones to go around.

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