Siamese Fighting Fish

support Stream City + A Road To Damascus + Contrition
author AP date 08/04/11 venue Lille Vega, Copenhagen, DEN

When Siamese Fighting Fish announce a concert, you can usually count on it growing into an event. The band is both notorious and renowned for putting in the extra ten percent that ensures every show is different. Tonight is no exception: in a clear bid to maximize the number of new ears the band hopes to concatenate to their fanbase, the band has invited arguably the three most exciting bands from various corners of the Danish underground to handle support duties for what is evidently the culmination of the band's career thus far - a headlining performance at the esteemed Lille Vega.


The evening's representative for Danish metal is the up-and-coming metalcore outfit Contrition, who - despite their young age and relative inexperience - have begun to stir up a reaction in the domestic scene. Not without reason. It takes but one song, "A Seismic Statement", to convince me that Contrition are entirely capable of measuring up with their global peers. What is still missing, however, is chemistry. Too often do the youngsters still throw glances at one another in order to stay in time, and too often is there a frustrating glitch in the sound as a result. Also missing is an identity. Contrition still has work to do if they hope to push their music into foreign markets, as their brand of textbook metalcore has no change of survival in a grossly overpopulated scene. The music follows a simple pattern in which the here is where you mosh and here is where you bang your head are almost comically emphasized. But despite these minor grievances, Contrition manage to not only please the small collective of diehard fans upfront, but also to attract a few definite non-metalheads from the bar, who nod in approval.

A Road To Damascus

Some bands thrive on expending ludicrous amounts of energy when they're on stage, but others are perfectly capable of measuring up to them in more subtle ways. A Road to Damascus belongs in the latter category. Armed with a perfect mix, accessible sound and pop sensibilities a plenty, this Copenhagen five piece is exemplary of everything done right. When they step on stage, they do so as humble youngsters with no hint of supremacy or self-satisfaction, but exuding confidence nonetheless. Confidence, which must stem from total trust in their own songs. It is obvious that A Road to Damascus live and breathe the music that they create, which reflects in the joyous passion radiating from the face of every band member. That the sound, balancing between the less heart-wrenching end of post-hardcore and the heavier side of pop punk, is crafted in such a way that winging the lyrics as they sprawl out of Mikkel's talented vocal chords is not only a must - it is irressistible. For these reasons A Road to Damascus should be regarded as the Danish underground band with perhaps the greatest chance to make an international breakthrough right now. The show and music are exactly the type that British and American crowds are lapping up with an endless thirst - and better in most ways. With few domestic influences and competitors, A Road to Damascus have carved their own niche within the genre and taken care not to polish their sound too much so as to maintain its youthful edge. Watching this band perform with the skill and enthusiasm of seasoned veterans, I am reminded, above all, of the Deaf Havana following that band's transformation into an exclusively clean vocal driven sound, but also of You Me at Six. The band is fun to watch; their interaction with the audience is sublime; and the songs are excellent and performed with enviable precision, making A Road to Damascus the definitive one to watch.


Stream City

Bornholm based Stream City have brought an impressive contingent of supporters along with them, waving banners and going absolutely mental in the front. This is another band that I have heard others hype but never managed to check out, so the aural pleasantries that erupt from Lille Vega's sound system come as an affirmative surprise. Combining the unique vocal stylings of Millencolin and Descendents with folk elements akin to Dropkick Murphys and Katzenjammer, Stream City, too, demonstrate tremendous promise. Although Christian on the violin gives the band a unique edge, it is the urgency of the music that I find most captivating tonight. As with A Road to Damascus (though perhaps to a slightly lesser extent), the songs are instantly recognizable, and instantly enjoyable punk and folk rock amalgams, and the performance, though by no means one of the most energetic I have seen, carries a choking intensity that fixates all eyes on stage. Also like A Road to Damascus, Stream City perform with the skill and confidence of a much more experienced band, and I suspect it is this incredible tightness (coupled with the alcoholic beverages that are a must in conjunction with watching this band live) that captures my undivided attention to such an extent that I fail to notice regular hangaround Kasper Skov fail miserably at his skanking/two-step attempt and pour two drinks over himself.


Siamese Fighting Fish

From the moment Siamese Fighting Fish step on stage clad in ninja costumes, it becomes abundantly clear what an effect rigorous touring has. With a reputation as one of the hardest working and most excellent live acts in the country, one should think that Siamese Fighting Fish are under significant pressure to warrant their notoriety, but signs of nervosity are nowhere to be seen. I have wavering experiences with the band live, but what unfolds before my eyes tonight is very much an affirmation that yes, these guys know their trade. Not a moment goes by without bassist Morten B. Jakobsen or guitarists Rasmus Krøyer and Andreas Krüger frantically swinging their instruments or dashing across the stage like proper rock stars, while vocalist Mirza Radonjica concentrates every droplet of passion, emotion and fury into a performance not yet seen from him. He spits out every word like he means it and curdles himself into an emotive maelstrom equal parts energy and vulnerability. Indeed, if it is humility people came here looking for, they'd best be demanding their cash back.

Siamese Fighting Fish have become underground legends and they know it, but rather than let the resulting high consume the intimate connection they have with their fans, the band thanks and involves the audience at every opportunity; the numerous moshpits and stage dives testify that Siamese Fighting Fish are no longer small time or amateurish. On the other hand, what I'm missing is the sense of honesty that used to drive the band's performances back in the day. Tonight the band before me appears positively confident, making shameless gimmicks like a cover of Rage Against the Machine's "Bullet in the Head" in the encore feel puzzlingly pointless. But if that's what it takes to maximize the number of people screaming at you in ecstasy, then hell, why not?


Photos courtesy of Jonas Mogensen, Nikola Majkic and Jonna Rönnlund.

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