Siamese Fighting Fish

support Snakebite
author TL date 19/03/10 venue Dortheavej 61, Copenhagen, DEN

The last time I saw Siamese Fighting Fish was sort of an epiphany for me. Despite being on friendly terms with the band, I had been having trouble with truly getting into their somewhat unusual material, but that one night at The Rock, shortly after their inclusion of a violinist and a new guitarist, the pieces of the puzzle simply fell into place before my eyes and ears, and ever since, I had been looking much forward to another opportunity to witness the band. Such an opportunity arrived tonight, deep in the dark north western areas of Copenhagen, in the new incarnation of the city's once fabled "Ungdomshus" (House of Youth) which was bought and torn down by a religious cult a few years back.

For me, this is the first visit in any incarnation of Ungdomshuset though, and the place - which is now called simply Dortheavej 61 or "Overdrevet" - has all the appearances of a basement venue, except it's not actually in a basement. It's basically a rectangular room with a sound board in the middle of one side of the room, a bar selling a variety of cheap beers in the middle of the other, a fussball game and a table thrown in close to the entrance, and a stage about the size of a stamp in one corner. Immediately (after getting myself a beer) I start wondering how Siamese Fighting Fish are planning to fit all six bandmembers on there, but before I'll have that question answered, there's the matter of the supporting band Snakebite.

Snakebite

This is the second time I see Snakebite live, the first being another night at The Rock, where I remember getting the impression that they were little more than capable Guns N' Roses copyists, who might take themselves a slight bit too seriously, what with leathery stage attire, bandanas and overblown attitudes taken into consideration. To make a long story short, tonight they start out better in this department, yet finish off worse. The first we hear of them is, surprise surprise, a looong guitar solo, before the entire band comes on and starts playing with much brandishing of instruments taking place. However, most of the band (the three people with guitars) had opted for a somewhat more relaxed and no-nonsense appearance today, seeming somewhat more charming in regular clothes and with forthcoming smiles towards the audience. Unfortunately for them, their charm was more than balanced out by a sound that was muddy to say the least, and by a frontman and drummer who were indeed dressed for the occasion, with tight leader, bandanas and sunglasses all in place. Said frontman wails indecipherably out through the - I'm guessing - two lines on the sound board, which it sounds like the band have been appointed for the occasion, and I'd be harsh if I were to say it sounds terrible, but it certainly doesn't sound impressive. Not that the sound of the show is as much of a problem to Snakebite as their lack of originality. There's simply a boundary to how big a doze of rock'n'roll clichés that most can be treated to without feeling fed up, and by addressing the crowd in English for most of the show, although admitting for a moment that they are Danish, and playing on for far, faaaar too long, Snakebite travel way beyond that boundary. So yeah, last time I saw Snakebite, I was indifferent to them, but this time, I may start out merely laughing a bit at them, but later on, I think all but their closest friends are wanting them to just stop playing already.

No pictures of Snakebite unfortunately, as Jill's computer crashed and took those with it!

Siamese Fighting Fish

Now, if Snakebite's performance started out fair and ended up foul, exactly the opposite is about to happen for Siamese Fighting Fish. Starting things off with a new track, the sound in the venue is only very slightly increased, and the crowd opts to stand back, spread out and listening curiously to the new stuff. I stuff my fingers in my ears to reduce the noise (my earplugs forgotten somewhere for God knows which concert in a row), but I only manage to get a brief impression of how good the new song is, before suddenly the venue goes dark, and after some initial confusion, it becomes apparent that the power has left the entire room. It takes a few minutes, but the lights and sounds eventually do come back, and SIFIFI pick up where they left off, playing the first song to the end. Sensing that things aren't going too well, singer Mirza commands the crowd to close in on the stage, and et voila, as soon as they do, it instantly feels much better to watch the band. Odd how that works huh? However, problems aren't all in the past, as the very smoky venue soon starts causing troubles for Mirza. The frontman who otherwise normally impresses with consistent delivery, now sounds like he can barely force a clean note through his pipes, and it takes two more songs and a pint of water before his performance approaches its normal quality.

From here on out though, the show starts to smooth itself out. Renditions of songs from the band's two EP's get a dedicated group of fans near the front dancing, singing and nodding along, and when new songs are played, yours truly employ the mentioned fingers-in-ear-filter with increased success, noticing that the new songs, due for release on the soon-to-be-recorded début album, sound nothing short of fantastic, especially with the way the violin lends its notes to the layered parts, and the breaks are much more memorable than what you're used to hearing from most bands these days. Bit by bit, things are coming together, as the crowd's mood gets better, Mirza voice gets better and the band in general hits their stride. By the end of the show, everything feels pretty awesome, except SIFIFI seem to have played for less time than Snakebite? Surely that must be a mistake, the crowd demands an encore. Having not really saved anything to play for an encore though, SIFIFI are forced to improvise and play "Killing In The Name" - something that, veeery surprisingly, does not really offend anyone in attendance, and as you might imagine, a spirited performance of the song results in a show that ends with a blast. Of course, all things considered, this was more of a troubled basement gig than a mighty display of power, but if for no other reason than the strong impression of the new SIFIFI material, it was still a show I wouldn't have missed for the world.

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