On holy Ascension Day all the cool kids were on the bus headed downtown. On this day in biblical history, Jesus went back up to heaven to live with his dad – his work on earth seemingly done. In 2015 in Aarhus, Denmark; punk music is bigger than Jesus to the kids. It’s certainly more relevant than a messiah who rose from the dead and ascended to heaven. There are probably more than a few people rising from near death today after cans of San Michael beer, ironic that Radar’s cheap tins are named after the ‘taxiarch’ arch angel Michael, who defeated Satan in a war, whom the Jesuits refer to as “like god” – here we are at a punk show drinking from his jagged cup.
“Collision…” of course was an ambitious concept hatched by Yung Shord (himself a member of many of the bands here tonight), Pop Revo festival, and Radar the venue. The Idea was to have 13 bands play for 10 minutes each, record it live, and release it as a ‘document’ to being the linchpin of a moment in Aarhus underground music history. The talk around town was ‘how are they gonna pull it off’ and ‘what will go wrong?’ I’m happy to report though that everything went swimmingly as far as I could tell – with a few footnotes of course.
Because I’m antsy, I got in pretty early – nobody around except the bands and Jan Sneum. He seems really into the scene, an indication that people of all generations and walks of life are starting to take heed of what’s going on here in the underground. I got stamped in and handed a bill with the order of tonight’s plan – a very handy tool at some point, as it would be hard to detect who was who at certain points I reckoned – and I failed to notice that there were only 12 bands listed on the flyer – (you can see on the left one above) – but a fresh batch was rendered later with Fright Eye installed in their rightful place. I guess that’s Punk rock eh? Forgetting to even list one of the bands playing (and one of Yung Shord’s former bands as well)
As people are used to turning up the moment that music starts, the room heaved with well over 200 people within a few minutes before Narcosatanicos were due onstage. I thought to myself: ‘fuck me, it looks like 1989 in here’ as the huddled masses showed off their post-punk plumage. This is officially a thing now isn’t it?
Narcosatanicos positively blasted out one of their signature wall of noise songs, complete with screamy vocals, sax solos and a hell of a lot of guitar crunch. The sound immediately appeared perfect for them – as it should be though – I heard rumors that they had a super long sound check yesterday to get it right. After they finished, there was a moderately quick changeover – actually not as quick as I would have thought, however they did have the most members of the night, and the most pedals and such. Ærkenbrand was up next – they quickly assumed their positions with the help of stagehands. They quickly ‘de-tuned’ their instruments (the acoustic guitar was horribly out of tune, but they seemed contrite with it!) and launched into a near 10 minute Viking inspired punk prog number. I’d never heard these guys before, but it was definitely interesting with all their atonal riffage and stops and starts – I’d definitely catch a full set.
There were two drum sets on stage and Per Silkjær was already in position ready to go behind the kit for the Fossils portion. Fossils were absolutely unbelievably tight (as always). Per is positively one of the best drummers I have ever heard (and felt) and somehow managed to break a stick within 10 seconds – giving you an indication of how heavily he hits his kit. Their portion of the recording I definitely believe will be a highlight of the record – a twisting and turning heavy match rock opus that just left everyone gasping after it’s conclusion.
I don’t feel the need to review each performance individually – I will say that each artist had their own unique sound or take on their genre, something that makes me beam with pride for our city and it’s burgeoning scene. Other highlights were two interesting songs by Tears – however they seemed to almost want to sabotage the live recording bit by noodling a bit and then eventually clambering into their numbers – however the “I don’t give a fuck” attitude is what it’s all about tonight.
For our final four acts – all closely related to Yung Shord’s musical family tree, this for me was where the real meat of the evening came from – and where the most interesting and listenable portion of the album will be. Happy Hookers For Jesus (another Yung Shord band) reunited on stage to rip up two phenomenal songs – featuring double vocals from Tears front man and Yung Shord. There was a dark sense of excitement during their set, an energy that might have been lacking in a few acts previously. This was tight and the real deal. The Happy Hookers haven’t been that active, and I can’t recall them sounding like this before – so this will be the “surprise” element of the record if you weren’t there.
After Happy Hookers though – the sound seem to degrade a bit – the drums became muddier and distant – vocals and guitar seemed almost chopped by compression – almost limited by something. I mean it was loud as fuck – but now excessively loud. I’m hoping this can be fixed in post production, because a lot of people remarked that the sound sometime after Fright Eye got progressively worse. Maybe it was my ears finally packing it in though. Oh well.
With a seamless transfer, Mikkel/young Shord stayed onstage, and Yung took over. Their two tracks (I think) were comprised of their freshly minted single and a tune from “Falter”. Nothing wrong here – you can tell these guys are trained up to the hilt, tight as a duck’s arse. This is what a lot of folks came in to see, again. Sure enough – once Yung was done, a few people left.
Snaredrum were an act I was really looking forward to seeing – and I was recommending them to a lot of my mates who were increasingly becoming restless with the punky side of the night. Snaredrum seem to play authentic indie y’know – something along the lines of Pavement or Pedro the Lion – very well constructed songs, a bit of self deprecation and humor in their text, and totally perky and alert on stage. Their portion of the night was another one of my personal highlights. The front man from Snaredrum remained onstage as they morphed into the final act of the night: Tilebreaker.
Tilebreaker, if you were to pin an award on them, might garner a “most likely to succeed” superlative. Their quit/loud/quiet approximation of indie is almost an antidote to the full assault of Yung for example. They retain the authentic indie vibe of Snaredrum, yet bring it into a more poetic, nearly post-rock vibe – more like Mogwai without the drama (and vocals). It reminds me of seeing a lot of bands in Chapel Hill in the 90s – good solid American Indie with a twist. I’m looking forward to hearing more from Tilebreaker, and I think it’s going to grow on the general public too.
Besides the sound towards the end being a little fucked, I think this whole debacle went off without a hitch. It was a seemingly insurmountable task – however logistically, it went just as planned. People that were there were able to bear witness to some legendary performances by some interesting local acts, in fact, some of the best we have to offer the world. If you were there – your voice will be heard. Lets hope the record gets out soon so we can all hear what it actually sounded like. Until then – all we have is this review, a heavenly hangover, and an ever present ringing in our ears – It could be he angels calling me to the pearly gates.
"People that were there were able to bear witness to some legendary performances by some interesting local acts, in fact, some of the best we have to offer the world. If you were there – your voice will be heard. Lets hope the record gets out soon so we can all hear what it actually sounded like" (5/6)