Live Review: Federal Unicorn + John Alcabean – HeadQuarters – 04.03.2016
After a long period of silence from Aarhus-based Federal Unicorn, they finally unveiled their new EP ‘Substances’ on February 29. Yesterday, on a cold Friday night, it was time to release it live at HeadQuarters with support from the young and blooming Copenhagen-based trio John Alcabean. In short, I experienced a band that truly enjoys performing on stage in front of a tense crowd – a band that performs as one single unit with musical domination as its main goal.
The Copenhagen-based three-piece is a young band; both in regard its members and the band itself. That said, their musical style more or less draws on several influences from the 90s and early 00s, which evokes mental images of early American Pie movies and the likes. Not that it was a bad musical cocktail to serve before Federal Unicorn and their rather progressive style, but on this night, John Alcabean more or less combined their poppish punk sound with a shoegaze performance. They still lack some stage performance, which especially showed in the way they did not interact with the crowd during their rather short set. The result was somewhat of a genre displacement. That said; do not be fooled by their score I have given their gig below; It only indicates that I earnestly believe that the young boys from John Alcabean are capable of more than they showed on this Friday night. The end of their support gig showed exactly what I was looking for – interaction with the audience, and the performance of an extra track, which actually made several heads nod to the beat of the drum. Moreover, they encountered problems with the bass guitar but managed to rescue the situation brilliantly. Unfortunately, these positive trends came too late in their relatively short set. They just need some time to really start to enjoy performing live.
You never know what to expect from these guys. On this night, the small stage was illuminated by red lights and visuals behind the drum set, making the perfect setting for a night with some kickass rock music – an oh’ boy what a concert. We are talking freak-show with a fake wolf’s head mask meeting talented musicians doing their thing in front of a tense crowd. With the footwork of Elvis, an open wine bottle to keep the voice running, and the beard of Movember participant who had not shaved since November, Federal Unicorn’s lead singer Robert was all over the place on this night – making love to the microphone as a man who had not seen his wife since the beginning of the war.
It was clear from the first stroke on the guitar that these guys are not fooling around. They are becoming more and more one single musical unit. With their drummer, Kristian, keeping the drums and backing vox tight as a general behind his troops, guiding his soldiers to war, and Kuba on the bass as the link between the drums behind him, and lead singer Robert as the vanguard, the guys from Federal Unicorn are playing like a professional army, however, still open for surprises. It was evident to all of us that these guys love this – they simply love performing.
The result was half the room dancing. One guy from the audience even grabbed Kuba’s microphone one time and turned it towards the singing dance floor. It was majestic and proletarian at the same time – The guys from Federal Unicorn being the kings on stage, but just one of us on the floor. With their new EP, they have finally found a way to show the many facets they have; from the beast with raw guitar sound to the beauty at the piano. The only thing, that really bothered be at the gig, was the sound. Standing on the side of the audience, the sound of the speakers was simply too high, resulting in a crackling sound that often drowned the vocals. In the same token, it often made the guitar sound like the crunching noise inside your head when eating cereals. That said, all in all, a brilliant gig filled with pros, with only the sound as the major con, unfortunately creating a disadvantage they did not deserve. Next time they perform live, I really hope that more people will stop by to experience them.
To sum up this night at Headquarters: It was clear from the first stroke on the guitar that Federal Unicorn are not fooling around. With Kristian keeping the drums and backing vox tight as a general behind his troops, guiding his soldiers to war, and Kuba on the bass as the link between the drums behind him, and lead singer Robert as the vanguard, the guys from Federal Unicorn are playing like a professional army, however, still open for surprises. The only negative thing was the sound at HQ. The boys from support-act John Alcabean are still young and need some time to truly enjoy performing live on stage. On this evening at HeadQuarters, Federal Unicorn showed to be the best possible mentor in that art.