Let’s get down to it. Festival season is over, and we are moving indoors once again to see bands. Radar was the setting last night of hopefully their first in many in a series of shows where the band plays on the floor at audience level. This was no doubt at the recommendation of local Punk outfit: Fright Eye, whose attention to authentic punk detail managed to make the normally sterile environment of the venue’s huge stage, sound, and lighting rigs more conducive to a house show feel, or having the confrontation element of true punk show available to the visiting Massenger.
The evening started off a little late with Fright Eye bringing in what seemed like the bulk of the audience. The 3 piece act are one of the more prevalent bands in the Aarhus punk scene, and we have no shortage of opportunities to see them, especially at Radar, where they seem to have nearly become the house band with the amount of shows coming up. Nevertheless, their short, tight, and concise numbers played at maximum volume, combined with the ‘in yer face’ element of playing at crowd level imbued the air with a tense and bordering on awkward feel, as the audience seemed into them, yet unwilling to engage, applaud, or do anything besides stare at the band as they bang seamlessly into one song after another. Fright Eye’s music is strangely unclassifiable, but it is definitely reminiscent of early 80’s east coast U.S. hardcore, with tinges of “Pink Flag” era Wire. They could be criticized for being a bit stiff, or confused as to their general aesthetic, however they achieve their goal in playing authentic retro punk with angst and panache. I look forward to seeing them flourish in future shows.
Hank Robot (the solo nomme de plume of Kim Kix of Powersolo) is as close as you get to a bad nightmare in human musical form. His one-man band show fits the floor concept perfectly, as a proper stage would put him too far at a distance, and see him overwhelmed by un used space. In this setting, we can see the whites of his eyes, and catch his crazy off mic quips and quirks (he has many) For the second time tonight we see the artist choosing to bypass the grand expensive sound, lights, and stage, and strip it back to bare bones, routing both his frankenguitar (a fender strat built into a western body) and vocals through a tiny distorted combo amp. This effect, coupled with the floor drum and snare he has rigged to his feet give the vibe that he has just drunkenly wandered in off the street and decided to sing some “country sawngs” for us “motherfuckers”. The sound is as if an old ’78 of a gospel singer was melted in the sun and run over by a combine harvester. And he loves. It. When you finally hear songs, they are witty, crass, and really quite catchy. Numbers such as “Kill Kill Kill” “I’m an angry old man” and “Fat Fuck” are mixtures of the Kinks, Hank Williams, and Delta blues. The young audience reeled in by Fright Eye were in deep appreciation of a true D.I.Y job done my Mr. Robot, and were even heard singing his songs in the break outside. If you’ve never seen Hank Robot, you must, but it’s possible that once is enough.
Massenger was up next after a quick re-jiggering of gear. It seemed that the audience had signifigantly thinned. It appeared as if 100 percent of the crowd was there for Fright Eye and Hank. The band appeared and tuned before the usual stage banter “hey, we’re from________ it’s so awesome to be here in _____________, you guys are so cool!” and the quartet launched into their first number..something like “standing on the edge”. The female lead vocalist obviously had a set of pipes on her, but seemed a bit like she was torn between looking cool, and singing some really stock lyrics over a very formulaic version of pop/punk. I’ll just be blunt, after seeing passionate young local punks, and a truly original weird old man perform, this was a come down. The floor was definitely the place for these guys, because the seemed to have stepped in wet concrete. More piercing ‘Patti Smith meets Siouxsie” vocals were piercing, and the basic song structure played of course at maximum volume, seemed to only highlight the fact that people were just hanging around and finishing their beers, probably more interested in meeting Kim Kix and patting Fright Eye on the shoulder than enjoying a lukewarm performance by a band none of us had heard of before the show.
Lets hope Radar continues it’s “floor show” concept with bringing the bands down to audience level. It was a Wednesday night, and I’m glad I attended rather than watching TV at home, however Massenger left a sour taste in my mouth as I cycled in the dark Autumn drizzle home