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Siena Root

support Øresund Space Collective
author BV date 19/11/13 venue Loppen, Copenhagen, DEN

In recent weeks I’ve been thinking of what bands I still haven’t seen, that should probably have top priority on my list these days. After a while, I thought of Siena Root – a band I’ve missed on countless occasions due to freak accidents, odd coincidences and a single case of laziness. Now, presented with a chance to see the band live once again, I decided to hop on my bike to finally see what the fuss is all about, having heard crazy tales of ever-evolving live shows, frequent guest appearances and such. In short, on this cold November Tuesday, I embarked on a trip to Loppen to finally witness a ‘dynamic root rock experience’.

All photos by Philip B. Hansen

Øresund Space Collective

On the very day of this show, it had come to my attention that Fuzz Manta, the original support band of the evening, had been replaced by Øresund Space Collective, as Fuzz Manta had opted out of the show due to health reasons. This news was actually quite fortunate for me, personally, since I had already seen Fuzz Manta perform more than five times. Øresund Space Collective however, would be a brand new experience for me. As the band took the stage around 22:00, they improvised a lengthy jam that the small crowd that had gathered in front of the stage seemed to enjoy quite a bit. As the jam ended, the band explained that this was actually just their soundcheck – thus indirectly promising even greater jams to come. “For those of you that don’t know, Øresund Space Collective plays entirely improvised space-rock shows and the line-up changes each time. This is actually, I think, the first time this particular collective has played together.” Following this remark from Scott “Dr. Space” Heller, the band launched into another lengthy jam started up by a simple, grooving foundation laid down by the drums and the bass. Soon, the rest of the collective joined in with crazy oscillations, cool synth sounds and trippy guitar parts. During this jam and the one that would eventually follow, the collective excelled at following each individual members spontaneous whims, thus creating a coherent, strangely intertwined unit of musicians in complete sync with each other.

As one of the jams progressed into some far-out jazz-psych, guitarist Nicklas Sørensen excelled with his lengthy improvisations and melodic lead lines consisting of strangely ambient sounds as well as piercing, distorted tones. However, as the set progressed the rest of the jams seemed to stagnate a bit. One jam in particular droned on for far too long with its doomy, heavy sound and even though the musicianship was most excellent, the whole jam just seemed like it never really got as ‘out there’ as the rest of the massively trippy set. Nonetheless, my first experience with Øresund Space Collective was still a cool one and I’ll definitely be seeing the collective another time.

Siena Root

Following the cascades of trippy space-rock jams, the crowd seemed quite ready for something a little more ‘hands on’ and direct sounding. As the grandiose, almost cinematic intro-sample roared through Loppen’s sound system, Siena Root made their entrance with a bang. The very second the sample ended, Siena Root launched directly into a highly dynamic track with an infectious riff that instantaneously caught a hold of the crowd. Following this introductory instrumental jam, the vocalist emerged from behind the stage to roar the lyrics to “Conveniently Blind”, the band’s upcoming single release. The band thundered through the track with the kind of confidence you really only have when you are in complete sync with your instrument – ready for wherever the next jam might take you. Not a moment seemed to go to waste, as the band launched themselves into a climactic highlight of the evening in the form of “Words”, originally a fairly short track that saw itself expand exponentially – going on for close to 8 minutes. Fueled by organ solos galore, reminiscent of early Deep Purple, this particular track subsequently showed me exactly what a ‘dynamic root rock experience’ was supposed to be – namely a tight, yet strangely free flowing band that followed each individual member’s whims without ever really taking it too far, thus maintaining the interest of the crowd. More so, the introduction of crowd favorite “Waiting for the Sun” seemed to stir up quite the applause with its highly recognizable riff and a hook that is as infectious as it is easy to sing along to. However, despite being a high point of the set, it was also the first point where the absence of core member KG West, famous in these circles for his prowess on the guitar as well as the sitar, really became noticeable. “Waiting for the Sun” is usually fueled by a driving sitar part that adds that eastern flavor to the music. On this night however, this eastern touch would prove to be largely absent throughout the show – leaving the crowd with a predominantly straightforward rock-show, spiced up with rare doses of eastern grooves.

The exception to this, “Rasayana”, rang on with a sort of odd authenticity despite lacking a key instrument. The quintet however, seemed largely unaffected by it, as they let the organ and the guitar fill the void adequately so most people barely seemed to take notice – instead opting for enjoying the experience without pondering too much about current members and such. As Siena Root closed their set with an absolute favorite of mine, the most excellent track “Coming Home”, the small but dedicated crowd at Loppen moved to the beat of the drums, banged their heads to the infectious riff and cheered as madmen, as Siena Root left the stage. It didn’t last long however, and as Siena Root returned once more for their final track, “Dreams of Tomorrow”, the band impressed me with their rock n’ roll attitudes, their superb playing and their surplus of energy on stage, whilst a single crowd member amazed me with his awesome power-stands directly in front of the vocalist, mimicking his every move and singing along to the track – all the while being in total awe of what he was experiencing. As I was leaving the venue, I felt relieved that I had finally witnessed Siena Root and understood what the fuss was really all about.

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