Photo by Søren Bosch
I’ve been looking forward to this show since Marching Church released their incredible 2nd album last fall and booked a few shows across Denmark, stopping by TAPE of course last night. I didn’t really know what to expect, but what we got on the night was nothing short of biblical in its scope and sound.
Tape is the ideal setting. It’s small, old, dark and has a fuckload of speakers for a venue so tiny (150 souls max). Marching Church, and their parent band, Iceage, are two groups that you really need to experience in a place where you can see and feel them. It’s violent, sexy, chaotic, artistic, and still somehow beautiful. The crowd were all fairly young hip kids, decked out and dolled up, many of them their first time in Tape to see a show there. What a show they got too.
Pardans (pictured above) are a 5-piece group from Copenhagen. I knew nothing about them before they performed as support. I was just plain blown away by what they achieved on stage musically. It was a complex melding of say, Beefheart’s “Trout Mask Replica” era experimental sounds, math-punk, and hardcore. The singers poise and delivery reminded me of seeing Lower in their early days, another Copenhagen post-punk group (who’s former members sometimes play as Marching Church as well). Pardans played a set that either confused people or blew them away. The drums were a constant pounding force, like Sonic Youth on meth, their complex rhythms (I counted out 11/8 once) were unrelenting, and what text I could catch from the front man was poetic and dystopian. They played a ½ hour set that, I swear to god, I would go see twice more, like a film that you run straight back into the cinema to see – it was that good. No pretention, all confidence, and massively modern and complex.
The venue could have been fuller, I don’t believe it was sold out, however, there was a definite biomass surging for a view of the stage before Elias and co came out around 21:30. For a record that I felt was so layered (for a punk album, essentially) I was curious to see how a minimal band set up could perform it, but they did. I was happy to see the drummer from Lower (as mentioned above) behind the kit because the guy is a fucking beast. They opened with “Florida Breeze” from “Telling it Like It Is” and straight into “Heart Of Life” and “Inner City Pidgeon”. It was evident that once the sound leveled out, that this was no pick-up band, this shit was for real and the power of the performance, both by the typically sweating and writhing Elias Rønnenfelt and the band was absolutely transcendent.
It got me thinking – I can’t imagine this being any better. Song after song of this raw energy, but also with this importance and desperation. Elias is truly one of the greatest frontmen, anywhere, of the current age. You get this impression that he could fall apart at any moment, stab you, kiss you, or fist fuck you. It’s a little dangerous, a little sexy, and totally for real. Like if Serge Gainsbourg was in the Pogues or something.
There was not a single moment that I thought was filler or stupid. The later section of the set, the band were joined by the sax player from Pardans, and a pair of numbers “Up a hill” and “2016” blew up into noise cacophonies. It was a bone-rattling sensation that one could feel clear across their grave. It was kind of a life-affirming show. They ended with the ‘Christmas’ song “Christmas On Earth”, the closest that Marching Church on this particular night ever got to slowing the pace a little bit. Who cares if it was mid-February, they could have shat on us and I would have still loved it. They leaned their instruments on the backline in a building symphony of feedback loops and ran outside in the cold February night, lighting up smokes and receiving praise from the crowd as we filed out.
I’m not kidding. I drank a bunch there – actually the perfect amount – but I really mean it when I say that this would be one of the top 10 shows, as a whole, I’ve ever seen, and I’d be surprised if many there didn’t feel the same way. You didn’t get a direct translation of their recordings, instead, something completely different, yet still as important and vital as the records.
You can Catch them tomorrow in Copenhagen, otherwise, it looks like the next time they perform in DK will be at this summer’s Roskilde Festival.
Pardans delivered a 1/2 hour set, that you would go to see twice - or even more. Marching Church delivered a show different from the record, yet just as important and vital. These two concerts made it an extraordinary night at Tape. (6/6)