Stars Burn Stripes

support Stream City + Kill The Rooster
author PP date 20/02/10 venue Studenterhuset Cafe, Copenhagen, DEN

Now that's more like it. Three local Copenhagen punk bands Stars Burn Stripes, Kill The Rooster, and Stream City all releasing a new EP each, full of arguably their best respective material yet, and better yet, doing so on the same night at the Studenterhuset Cafe at the heart of Copenhagen. Well over 100 fans and curious onlookers alike were crowding the venue, bringing the total audience count to a number I've seldom - or perhaps never before? - seen at a local punk rock show within the borders of this country. Sure, each band's closest friends and fans were all in attendance tonight, supporting one another, but there were a whole lot of faces I've never seen at shows before. It's possible they were just hanging out at their favorite uni joint, this being the domain of Copenhagen University and all, but that's why Studenterhuset Cafe is suited all the better for a local show like this. Because what better way to introduce your band to new fans in your precise target demographic than to play at a commonly frequented university bar, especially when all three bands were giving out CDs for free until 22:00?

Kill The Rooster

With that in mind, lets start with pop punkers Kill The Rooster, who've never really impressed me before because of their usually static live performance despite the potential energy to be unleashed in nearly all of their songs. Tonight, however, playing in front of a dedicated crowd of at least 50 people from what I could count, plus another 50-80 people elsehwere around the venue, the difference was enormous. Fending off the (still somewhat minor) energy at the front, the trio moved around as much as they could around the small stage, throwing in the occasional bounce or two, but three things in particular stuck to my mind from the set overall. One was the open-eyed singing performance of the lead vocalist who constantly went for direct eye contact with crowd members up close and at the back, creating an intense personal connection between the band and the crowd, another was how infectious some of the new songs sound live (I was singing along to a couple of choruses just after hearing the first occurrence), and finally, those funky rockabilly passages that the band injected in the midst of their pop punk in places were nothing short of fantastic. These longer instrumental-only passages allowed the band members to escape from the so-called mic imprisonment, where they are forced to stand still to be able to sing the songs, and properly 'rock out' with each other, showing tremendous energy and feeling in the music. If they're able to keep up their live performances at this level, even higher grades suddenly become possible, especially once the new songs start sticking to people's minds in due time.


Stream City

Next up were Stream City, a violin-supported, folksy punk band that had received much praise from TL in the past, and as such they were a band I was looking forward to checking out myself for the first time with high expectations. Things got off to a decent start when I made the immediate connection between their charismatic vocalist and the dude from modern era Catch 22, and heard the folksy violin bits and thought of Flogging Molly. However, it quickly became clear that Stream City were a perfect example why only a couple of bands in the world should get hammered before playing a show. Their set lasted for 40 minutes, but I guess only 25 minutes or so of it was actually music. After EVERY SINGLE SONG, the band figured they should share some of their drunken slurriness to the crowd for a minute or so, completely breaking any flow the band might otherwise have had through their fun-oriented songs, which had several rows of the crowd engaged in frenzy dancing and skanking. Believe me when I say it, there's nothing more annoying than hearing an awesome, dance-inducing folk punk song and expecting the band to carry on with all cylinders directly to the next song Against Me! style, but instead being treated to some (un)funny interaction between the vocalist and a few crowd members up close. Not only that, but some of the songs were rather untight and sloppily played, further reducing my overall impression of the band, but I guess I should forgive them because it was their release party show. Hell, I'd without a doubt be in the same state as these guys should I ever release a CD at a show. Anyway, another thing that left me puzzled about the band was how the violin lead out in many verses, working its magic brilliantly during some of the later, faster songs which saved Stream City's set from a slaughter in this review, but it was nowhere to be seen when the guitars grinded quickly down a melodic scale or during the choruses. Here, I could hear the violin racing down and providing the high-pitch melody in contrast to the fast guitars inside my mind, which was awesome, but in reality the violinist was all too often left just standing still whilst the rest of the band carried on. However, Stream City are a new band, and I'm fairly sure they'll figure out their strengths eventually, and leave the drunken shows to bands like NOFX and Flogging Molly instead.

Stars Burn Stripes

Stars Burn Stripes were the headlining band on the bill, and even though they couldn't gather the 100+ crowd that Stream City had just a few moments before, we're still talking close to 80 or so people watching their set, dancing along near the front rows in small pits, which is much more than I've accustomed to seeing at these guys' shows. Now, I've said it before and I'll say it again, the amount of crowd directly influences how good of a performance a band can put on. It's incredibly rare to see a band put on an intense and passionate performance when the venue is empty, but the opposite applies almost always when the band gets a proper response from the crowd. The crowd at the front took in all the energy from the skate punk / hardcore influenced melodic punk songs by Stars Burn Stripes and started moving straight away, in turn inspiring the band to do the same. I've seen Stars Burn Stripes suffer from the same over-eagerness to talk to the crowd between their songs as Stream City in the past, but tonight, their set was mostly about music, as the band capitalized on the movement near the front and one-upped the intensity in their set. Old songs like "Tomorrow", "I Get By" and particularly "MacCalay McCulkin" sounded really good tonight - everything from the vocals to the tightness of the instrumentals were better than from what I remember seeing in the past - inspiring the undersigned to sing along whilst large parts of the crowd watching were engaged in frantic movement.

But what really made their set worth remembering were the new songs, because they're just so much stronger and better sounding than the band's material in the past. Don't get me wrong, I love "Tomorrow" and the other two songs I mentioned before, but some of the songs from "Buy Now, Pay Later" EP leave these sounding amateurish in comparison. Initially I had some doubts about the one ska-punk influenced song on the record, but after seeing how much skanking and feel-good vibes the song initiated once played live, I have to say it may be my favorite SBS song to date. More of these in the future, guys. In summary, the sound was better, the songs were better, the performance was better...everything was better about the SBS show tonight, thanks to a combination of great new material and, for once, a packed venue that were doing much more than just standing still and watching - even a few crowd surfs took place!


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