Dance With Dirt

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author TL date 07/03/14 venue Beta, Copenhagen, DEN

It's a Friday night in Copenhagen and AP and I are hanging out in Beta's bar, shooting the shit with venue boss and Helhorse singer Mikkel Larsen, while people gradually trickle in through the door for tonight's installment of the new "Beta Beat Up" concept, where promising smaller bands are booked to play shows with a very forthcoming admission prices (tonight is 50 DKK, which is roughly what a pint costs you at the larger venues in town). We congratulate Larsen on his own band's recent booking for Roskilde Festival 2014 and as he queries us about the attendance at the prior night's Go Go Berlin concert at the nearby Loppen (which was solid), I find myself halfway amused at his choice of playing them over the bar's sound-system, considering that you could suspect a bit of a rivalry between them and tonight's headliners, the similarly Aarhus-based and rock'n'roll enthused (if somewhat more modernly) Dance With Dirt. After winning 2012's domestically famous band contest "Karrierekanonen" the band has been right behind their slightly more style-concious townsmen, having wrapped up a year of touring with their self-titled debut album and so far it seems 2014 sees them preparing to release some new singles for us.

Dance With Dirt

Having seemingly had some questionable luck in the department of finding a fitting support band for the night, Dance With Dirt have instead opted to get things started in an untraditional fashion, with guitarists Magnus Jacobsen and Kristoffer Veirum coming on stage early and explaining that they are going to play a few of the band's unreleased songs in a more stripped-down setting before getting on with the main show later on. It starts with Veirum alone on stage, providing lead vocals in an unusual occasion for the band, doing a surprisingly good job with a voice that's more airy and mellow compared to Jacobsens characteristically white-hot croon. With no rhythm section present, full focus is on the boys' expertly written guitar-interplay, though it becomes a bit repetitive towards the end of each song. There are promising hooks here, especially in the play on disaster-themed lyricism in the last of the four songs the band plays, and while this pre-set is a bit odd, it gives reason to look forward to future releases from the band.

After a break of about twenty minutes or so, it's time for the main set, and Veirum and Jacobsen reappear joined by bassist Jonathan Lyby and drummer Kristian Kå, the latter of whom is borrowed from Federal Unicorn to sit in for Jess Gertsen behind the kit tonight. Opening with "Amputations" and "I'll Never Die, I'll Only Disappear", the band finds their usual, confident energy immediately, despite the half-filled venue initially leaving a noticeable bit of open floor space between stage and audience. If there are newcomers here, they quickly become alerted to Veirum's importance in the band, with the guitarist soon breaking out one of his noisy solos, sliding down to the floor where he keeps playing on while lying down.

Songs like "One Of These Days" and "Girls" appear, and especially the latter works wonders in the live setting with its mega-ballsy main riff. Two of Beta's regular volunteers take this writer by an arm each and set an example by stepping up front, and the crowd follows behind us, making things feel better as the band treats us to 'the hit' "Flush" and new song "Coming Home", which they reveal that they're planning to release as a single in April. It's a good, straight-forward, Kings Of Leon-ish, feelgood number, but a few of us are still baffled that it's chosen for this prominence over the song returning watchers have come to know as "Snow Machine" - a simple track surely, with a poppy whoa-oh response to a simple, urgent melody, but its infectiousness is unquestionable, having appeared in my mind as soon as I even started thinking about going to see the band earlier in the week.

As the show marches towards an end with the band getting sweatier by the second and with appreciative nodding beeing seen around the venue, you feel that the combination of well-written songs and an active stage performance is working on an audience that otherwise seems to have approached the night rather casually for a Friday. As ever, Dance With Dirt are too well-adjusted to let it show if they had hoped for a bigger crowd, making appropriate humorous banter between songs and playing their asses off during them, showing an impressive tightness in how they often allow Veirum to seemingly improvise when it's solo time, which the guitarist of course takes advantage of by playing his guitar with his empty beer bottle and occasionally hammering its body against his amp.

Things eventually close with the irresistably danceable "In The City" - which is still probably the band's best song alongside "Snow Machine" - or at least this seems the intention, but by now people are warmed up enough to clap the band back on for one more, which we get in form of album-closer "Blue Queen", a track which has the kind of ending that's simply built to end shows. It caps a solid performance from a band that is stubbornly carving out a presence even on this side of the country, even if things on the floor still never got as wild as their promising material and admirable stage presence should really dictate. One only hopes that Dance With Dirt have the stamina to keep at it as they gradually open the amount of eyes they deserve.

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