Polica, Lille Vega, January 2014

Polica better than the last time around

original article in this week’s version of The Copenhagen Post

A solid improvement over their last Lille Vega show and a sign of better things to come (PR Photo)

January 24 at Lille Vega

Synth pop dreamers Polica had a solid if underwhelming debut on Danish soil last summer when they performed at a steamy Lille Vega. Wind the clock forward and plummet down the temperature gauge a good 30 degrees and the Minneapolis quintet are back in town, this time around having grown musically over the past half a year or so.

A welcome blast of brooding bass served by Marijuana Death Squads, the industrially inclined, R&B-influenced warm-up act, breathed life into a frozen audience that quickly warmed to the evening’s entertainment. Whilst solid in their performance, the Death Squads were perhaps too hefty a cocktail to start the night off with, as their high pitch frequencies tore into the thin evening air with a menacing vengeance.

Polica pranced elegantly onto the scene and tamed the chaos, driving home coaxing, organic-sounding synth pop that highlighted the best of lead singer Channy Leanagh’s vocal talents against a backdrop of heavier sounds. From time to time she did sound slightly at sea in the waves of instrumentation, but it was certainly an improvement on Polica’s last appearance at the same venue.

Leanagh’s charm is by and large her greatest asset as a performer and this was ultimately what allowed her to gain the respect and attention of the begrudging audience who fronted their usually icy first impression upon Polica’s stage emergence.

Songs off 2012 album Give You The Ghost were the order of the day, performed with flair, fluency and a remarkably quick wit. The highlight of this was signature track ‘Dark Star’, a number that encapsulates all that is good about Polica: Leanagh’s soft vocals over a firm foundation of synth pop brilliance that sparkles with flares of distant melancholia and elation in equal measure.

The audience warmed to Polica as the show neared its conclusion, charmed no doubt by the quick wit of Leanagh, who reinforced her performance with short bursts of creative banter in between songs. After a short, swift encore Polica exited the stage as they had come, humbly pleased with a good performance on the night. Though just shy of a five star rating, it is pleasing to note how much the band have grown in just six months and fair to expect even better from them in the future.


Cut Copy, Lille Vega Nov 2013

Aussies bring back the glory days of acid house

original article:  http://cphpost.dk/news/aussies-bring-back-the-glory-days-of-acid-house.8129.html

Friday’s show at Lille Vega was a colourful explosion of sound (Photo: The Windish Agency)

December 17, 2013

Cut Copy
December 13 at Lille Vega

Free Your Mind. The album title of Australian indie electronic band Cut Copy is as self-explanatory as they come – a casual maxim that holds true through all aspects of their addictive synth-filled, strobe-stroked beat landscape. One of four fantastic, varied albums by the Aussies, Free Your Mind is the coming of age of a band that’s up there amongst the very best in electronic music at the moment, a point that their sold-out show at Lille Vega on Friday did its best to hammer home.

Cut Copy stepped on stage before a crowd more curious than anything else and set the ball rolling with new material off the aforementioned album. The album’s recent release date means it’s not that well known so it took some time for people to warm to the proceedings. Several songs in and material off other Cut Copy albums soon followed suit, creating a sense of familiarity that the crowd responded to with warm enthusiasm. Not so pleasing however was the crisp, almost plastic quality of some of the sound at times, as the vocals failed to hit the emotional high points that they so often do on their albums. Poor transitions between songs also did their bit to dent the evening’s promise though ultimately there wasn’t much that could dampen the rush of blood to the head from the high points of the show, which came and went with the ferocity of waves on a sandy seashore.

Things peaked midway through and once again towards the end, as the Madchester sound of the late eighties that demarcates Cut Copy’s sound, as some of the most ardent purveyors of the bygone days of Acid house music hit home. Epic strobe-light sessions and crowd surfing at the front of the action accompanied the thundering reverberations on stage, rekindling memories of the days when bands like New Order and Happy Mondays run riot on the airwaves, demarcating what music critics of the day charted as the second summer of love (after Woodstock decades before).

After minds were freed and feet were swayed, Cut Copy exited the smokey stage to raucous applause from an audience who’d been taken back in music history in a show that underlined the credentials of one of the most creative bands around.

The Lumineers, Store Vega Dec 2013

original article:

From Colorado with love


The Lumineers
December 9 at Store Vega

Colorado folk rockers the Lumineers gave a clinical performance at a sold-out Store Vega last night. Theirs is a gentle, windswept blend of rock that borrows from traditions of Americana and soft rock styles; a compact rendition that’s easy to sway to and easier still to sing along to.

Gracing the dark stage armed primarily with a mere album’s worth of recorded material off their 2013 eponymous masterpiece, the trio were all smiles as they exited the parapet and shared their music with the crowd.  Popular, catchy tracks off this work such as ‘Dead Sea’ and the merry ‘Flowers in Your Hair’. A warm, enduring cover of Bob Dylan’s ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’ followed suit, hitting home with the partisan crowd, and showcasing their skills at playing and interpreting other musicians’ music.

This breezy start was short-lived however, as the momentum from the first string of popular songs reeled, though not for too long. Minimalist acoustic versions of lesser-known songs lifted things, as the cheery, swaying mood was subbed for a more quiet, composed intimacy that saw xylophones played and guitars strummed with a soft disposition, working wonders on the crowd, who were still and approving with the benevolence of kids at an ice cream parlor.

This quiet, simple approach to music is indeed one of the defining features of the trio’s music, which at its silent moments acquires a cinematic, ethereal quality that carries it gently through the air. Things did get louder towards the end though as the Lumineers upped the tempo, capping things off with the unforgettable ‘Big Parade,’ the tune that just about sums up all that is good about this band. The crowd made their presence felt on this particular number, yelling along the chorus and rallying for a raucous call for an encore, which duly followed.

The Lumineers re-appeared without too much hassle and closed the night on the same cheery note, signing off having captivated the audience in the most entertaining of fashions. They are surely a band to keep an eye on and their local popularity has been anything but harmed following last night’s neatly composed and well organised concert which did its bit to banish the grim stillness of the cold December night, if only momentarily, to a faraway corner of one’s mind.

Tricky, Lille Vega, Nov 2013

It’s Tricky to stay relevant after two decades

Original article:  http://cphpost.dk/news/its-tricky-to-stay-relevant-after-two-decades.7959.html


No doubt the man is a pioneer, but his Friday night performance didn’t feel very vital

December 2, 2013

by Allan Mutuku-Kortbæk

November 29 at Lille Vega

Trip-hop is a genre of electronic music spawned in the aftershocks of the UK’s acid house culture of the early 1990s, with significant rooting in the city of Bristol. Fusing influences of hip-hop and electronica with doses of rock for good measure, trip-hop is eclectic, trippy, and experimental in its purest form. Indeed it was these three tenets that punctuated Tricky’s concert at a haze-filled Lille Vega on Friday night, as the godfather of the genre himself gave a show that didn’t well and truly get airborne but nonetheless offered a distinct musical experience.

Tricky (née Adrian Thaws) was one of the driving forces behind the legendary act Massive Attack, whose music continues to demarcate the most poignant moments of movie soundtracks today, almost two decades after they rose to fame. His forays with Massive Attack led him to branch out as a solo musician, enjoying chart success with albums such as 1995’s Maxinquaye, whose heights he never quite managed to recapture over a consistent tradition of album releases through the years thereafter.

Playing to a crowd predominantly in their 30s, Tricky walked onto the Vega stage sporting his familiar bare-chested look flanked by his backing band in low-lit, smoky confines, emphasizing the shamanic quality that characterizes his live shows.

An eerie, almost intoxicating start found a rather quiet Tricky confining himself to one side of the stage, even turning his back to the audience on many occasions. Tricky elicited a strong response from the audience with ‘Black Steel’, a riveting revolutionary tune off Maxinquaye that seemed to denote a welcome change of pace midway through. This was however short-lived as technical glitches shot down the track in mid air, prompting a switch to another song. Tricky seemed unfazed by this and oblivious to the world around him in his corner of the stage, surrounded by a maze of swirling smoke and clearly on a superlative high of his own. The audience then joined the experimentation as a good 20 or so frontrunners got the opportunity to clamber on stage for a couple of songs. Come the end, a noncommittal applause for a curtain call was the audience’s way of responding to a dull and unconvincing performance. Tricky re-appeared and like Shantel before him on Wednesday at the same venue, performed a few good songs to round off the concert, an eclectic, trippy and experimental performance that called for an acquired taste. There’s no doubting Tricky’s contribution to British music nor his talents as a pioneer in electronic music, but Friday’s show left much to be desired and lacked the spark and creativity of his earlier career.

Shantel & The Bucovina Orchestra, Lille Vega, November 2013

original article :


A mid-week Balkan delight

We didn’t seem them arrive, but we’ll assume this is the car they pulled up in (Press photo)

November 29, 2013

by Allan Mutuku-Kortbæk

If Balkan Beat is your fancy then Lille Vega was a pilgrim’s temple on Wednesday, set alight by Shantel and the Bucovina Orchestra. Though the show did not sell out, the crowd that showed up was a very enthusiastic bunch, hyped-up from the word go and loud to the very end, somewhat of a marvel considering the concert’s midweek placement.

The Bucovina Orchestra is one of the exciting projects of German DJ and producer Shantel. Many are familiar with their jolly, uptempo Balkan sounds that awaken memories of the film Borat. A boundary breaker from the  techno stronghold of Frankfurt, Shantel draws from the likes of Balkan greats such as Fanfare Ciocarla and Goran Begovic himself and is no stranger to these parts, having performed at the very same venue just over a year ago.

Chaotic at times, Shantel and the Bucovina Orchestra deliver pure party msuic, played with the intent of causing a riot.  Wednesday’s midweek shenanigans at Lille Vega were no different. After a slow start by their own standards, Shantel & co kicked into gear midway through the proceedings, as signature track ‘Disko Partizani’ rang out to a raucous response. This was followed by a neat ream of back-to back brass-laden tunes that saw T-shirts flung with reckless aplomb as the crowd rekindled memories of Roskilde Festival’s mosh pit moments.

With the night coming to a close, merry, anthemic songs such as the comical ‘Citizen of Planet Paprika’ and the well-known ‘Bucovina’ were but two peaks in a series of late-show antics that worked the crowd into a frenzy. The highlight of this was the entire audience squatting and kneeling on two occasions before flinging themselves upwards for particularly epic chorus moments. In fact, having gone off stage, Shantel & Co were cheered back for an encore from a kneeling crowd that may well have been in downtown Belgrade as opposed to Vesterbro. Six or so songs later and it was all over after one last wave of bombastic action wrung the crowd into a final furore. Whilst the long encore was a novel move, it did drag on towards the end, way beyond the climax of it all.

With winter closing in, more Balkan action at Vega can be found in the form of Gogol Bordello’s concert on December 6, which promises to be even more enthralling that Wednesday’s show was.

Seasick Steve, Store Vega, October 2013

original article:  http://www.cphpost.dk/concerts/steve-shows-store-vega-spectators-sick-show

Steve shows Store Vega spectators a sick show

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Allan Mutuku-Kortbaek
October 22, 2013 – 15:40
Seasick Steve ***** (5 stars out of 6); October 21 at Store Vega
Seasick Steve wowed an enthused Store Vega audience on Monday night with his emotive blues (Photo: Flickr / p_a_h)

Seasick Steve’s path to the success he today enjoys as a Norway-based musician has been no walk in the park. Having run away from a disturbed military father at the tender age of 14, Steve, originally from California, spent many years on the road as a hobo before eventually settling in Scandinavia.  With no musical education whatsoever and an array of self-constructed crude instruments, Steve redefines what it is to be a musician in today’s era of glam-drunk superstardom – and his live shows are, as yesterday’s concert at Vega attests; as genuine a performance as you’ll find for miles around and years to come.

Walking calmly onto the stage clad in a John Deere tractor hat and worn jeans, Steve introduced the crowd to his signature blues rock sound, strumming passionately on his guitar to the tune of ‘Self sufficient man’ off his 2013 album Hubcap Sound.  He was then joined by his drummer, Dan Magnusson, sporting a t-shirt emblazoned with a poetic ‘Go to hell stoned’ print in bold text on its front. This was followed by Steve’s wandering into the crowd and pulling a girl on stage, to whom he then sang the slow, acoustic track ‘Walking Man’, much to the envy of every lady in the house.

Having established a firm bond with the audience, Steve and drummer Magnusson got better and better as the concert rolled on, with Steve experimenting with his array of crude, homemade instruments, which amongst others included a one-string diddley bo that sounded remarkably refined, for an object fashioned of a wood plank with aluminum cans on one end. Cultivating this ad hoc approach to musicianship, Steve and Magnusson wooed the audience time and again, combining seamlessly together to produce a primitive, bellowing blues sound that had a pronounced effect on the crowd, who were extraordinarily responsive. This was particularly evident towards the end of the show, which featured drummer Magnusson improvising by sweeping a broom back and forth on the stage, giving off a whispered whistling hiss, not too unlike that made by a conventional shaker.

Buoyed by the eager crowd, Steve rounded off the show by singing what seemed to be an improvised short version of the tale of his running away as a teenager, a rendition that drove him to the depths of his emotions. A double encore and a rousing applause at the end of his show said all that needed to be said about the concert of this wandering boheme-turned-rockstar, who has repeatedly broken and redefined the nous of musicianship.

Lucy Love, Store Vega. October 2013

original article: http://www.cphpost.dk/concerts/not-quite-dynamite-proves-all-you-need-love

Not quite dynamite, but proves that all you need is Love

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Allan Mutuku-Kortbaek
October 21, 2013 – 10:30
Lucy Love **** (4 stars out of 6); October 19 at Store Vega
Lucy Love’s Saturday show at Vega proved that the artist can still put on an energy-filled show (Photo: Lucy Love Facebook page)

When grime rapper Lucy Love first got her game in gear back in 2009, many heralded the arrival of a very unique performer on the local music scene. Packing a solid punch with her vicious lyrics and stern voice, the Zambian-born and Danish-bred Lucy Siame rapidly evolved into a force to reckon with. Fast forward a few years and Lucy’s third studio album, Desperate Days of Dynamite, is wreaking havoc on the streets, having dropped in September. Saturday’s show at Store Vega was a representation of the album, in itself a dreamy reflection of Lucy’s turbulent persona and the changes she’s been through since her initial success a few years ago.

Playing the eerie, ‘No Scream No Shout’ track off her latest album, Lucy’s stage setup resembled a dystopian world with colourful characters sporting wild, flamboyant haircuts and cult-like body paint. This anthemic tune of rebellion could not have contextualised the concert setting any better: bathed in rows of brilliant blue and raging red that coated the scene in a thick pyrotechnic cumulus cloud, Lucy announced her return to the scene with a searing vengeance that echoed heavily into the night.  Clad in dark clothing that cast a Grace Jones-esque ambiance upon the scene, Lucy Love and her troupe of dancers and backing band were a sight to behold.

The popular tune ‘Prison’ was the second of the evening, featuring the more pop-inclined direction thatDesperate Days of Dynamite has taken. But the best of the ‘old’ Lucy Love was still alive, as proven by tracks such as ‘Daddy was a Deejay’ (which was played both at the beginning of the set and towards the end).   Midway through the proceedings, a dedication to one of the crowd who was enjoying his wedding night clad as a storm trooper spiced things up a bit, adding a comical twist to the evening. This was followed by the spine-tingling ‘F4E’ (‘Friends Forever’, which cast a dark shadow of contemplative, doubting moods that countered the more driven sounds of the performance, whilst epitomizing the deeply sentimental qualities of Lucy’s music.

The end of the show featured songs with rapid arrangements, some of which ventured into the territory of the drum ‘n’ bass genre, which features sporadically in numerous short bursts across different sections of her latest work. Though some of Lucy Love’s originality has been lost to more pop-induced sounds, she remains a unique artist, one capable of putting on a captivating, creative and highly artistic live show, as Saturday’s performance proved

French Films, Ideal Bar, September 2013

French Films: A cut above ‘ideal’

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French Films ***** (5 stars out of 6); September 19 at Ideal Bar
French Film’s musicianship illuminated Vega’s Ideal Bar Thursday night (Photo: Wikipedia)

Welcome to the 21st century of globalisation and cultural fusions, where a Finnish band by the name of French Films can perform songs loosely rooted in classical American pop influences that shudder with clangs of the Beach Boys and The Ramones in central Copenhagen.

French Films marked their return to Danish soil last night following their widely popularised outing at Roskilde’s Pavillion junior stage last year, and what a return it was. Clad in skinny jeans and leather jackets that echoed the sartorial traits of bands such as The Libertines, the Finnish quintet stepped on stage looking blasé and calm, following solid warm-up work by local band The New Investors. The compact confines of Vega’s Ideal Bar allowed the audience to get very close to the stage, rekindling memories of one of the summer’s most promising festivals, Henry’s Dream, where a band with an orientation like French Films would be right at home.

The boys from Helsinki were quick off the mark, getting straight to business with a hot-to-trot opener followed by ‘Take you with me’ off their debut EP, 2010’s The Golden Sea.  Lengthening the proceedings,  songs such as ‘Ridin’ on’ off 2013’s marquee album White Orchid added form and substance to what was ultimately a very intimate concert that had sweat dripping off the walls of a sweltering Ideal Bar.

Invariably, the distinct indie pop renditions of French Films do tend to sound rather repetitive after some time, as one feels lost in the thick mass of strums and heavily percussive melodies. In spite of this, the concert did seem to grow in stature and depth, as the musicians used the full width of the stage to perform with a tremendous amount of energy and free spiritedness. By the end of the show, many of the evening’s guests found their feet and torsos swaying from side to side in sync with the rhythmic instrumentals, backed by vocal patterns that sent wave upon wave of sun-drenched summer memories into the cold September night.

French Film’s musicianship is a joy to watch, and their sheer energy on stage is a tremendous compliment to their rich, absorbing take on rock. Far too adroit to be playing at Ideal Bar, expect bigger and brighter things from them in 2013 and an almost certain graduation to bigger concert venues for their next visit to Denmark.

Polica, Lille Vega, August 2013

Article for The Copenhagen Post: http://cphpost.dk/concerts/newcomers-deliver-solid-if-underwhelming-show

Lille Vega

4 out of 6 stars

With the recently concluded Strøm festival still reverberating through the spine of the city, one would be forgiven for not knowing that there would be a memorable show taking place at Lille Vega tonight. Minneapolis synthpop quintet Polica (Polish for “policy”) are a critically acclaimed outfit who’ve been impressing quite a few in the music industry of late with their curious forays into the warped world of synthpop, with a slight touch of r & b for good measure. One of their admirers is non other than Bon Iver frontman Justin Vernon, who went as far as claiming that they are one of the best bands in the world.


Minneapolis band Polica, Synthpop affiliates destined for the grand stage. Photo: Flickr

Performing in front of an almost-sold-out Lille Vega, Polica were slow off the mark, playing with an uncanny casualness that left the audience somewhat in limbo. Sound issues did their bit to exacerbate things, making for an edgy half hour opening, with a performance of ‘Dark Star,’ off their 2012 album Give you the Ghost marking a positive turning point. The song showcased the unique quality of lead singer Channy Leanagh’s coaxing, high-pitched voice, which lost itself eloquently in the immersive, labarynthine instrumentation that accompanied her vocals. More of the same followed, as Polica looked more comfortable on stage and interacted with the audience with a bit of very straightforward stage banter. ‘Wandering Star,’ also off the Give you the Ghost album punctuated the peak of the evening, with Leanagh’s vocals given leeway to run amok once more, this time against a backdrop of sounds that reeked with the unlikely dichotomy of immense pain and great elation all at once.

Unlike the studio versions, Polica’s live music features sparse use of vocoders, meaning that its gloomy attributes are hidden more subtly. This notwithstanding, many of the songs sound very similar and with the band rarely venturing into their more adventurous, electro-heavy ethic, the concert did have the look and feel of a taciturn Monday night show at times. Venturesome antics towards the end did change this however, with a song that had been written only a few hours before the show being played shortly before an encore that bore many similarities to the loud, distorted chaos of fellow synthpop band, Crystal Castles (albeit with less of a rough edge). All in all, Polica put in a good show last night though there are no doubt many areas for improvement. For a band with only one studio album they are, by their own admission “only newcomers” so expect them back sometime soon.

Tame Impala, Stor Vega August 2013

Stor Vega 5 out 6 stars

Australian psychedelic dream rockers Tame Impala were on top form at their concert at Stor Vega last night. The Perth-based band are known for their eccentric forays into the hazy territory of psychedelic rock music, and having seen them perform last night, I can safely assert that this is one band that sounds just as good, if not better, live, a rarity in the modern day music climate.



Tame Impala, purveyors of the psychedelic wave of the modern day. pic http://www.1songday.com

Tame Impala went on stage to a sold-out, sweaty Stor Vega, under a backdrop of trippy visuals criss-crossing the stage in the shades of numerous colours. Guided by talismanic lead singer Kevin Parker, who went on stage barefoot, Tame Impala looked comfortable and at ease from the start, playing with a gentle, assured nature that enchanted more than it entertained. Signature track ‘Elephant’ was one of the first of many anthemic tunes of the evening, a night that traverssed elements of contemplative, dreamy content and jovial, unaccented moments alike. Smooth transitions in between songs, particularly at the beginning of the show added a tinge of sophistication to the performance, which took on the feel of a live set rather than an incongruous mish-mash of songs strung flimsily together for the hell of it, as is the case with many concerts today. Further credit is due to frontman Kevin Parker, whose outside-the-box musicianship saw him use effect pedals connected to his guitar to good effect; creating symphony-esque layers of complex musical arrangements that danced harmoniously together, each verse adding a new dimension into the complex equation. Adding to the experimental feel to things, the Australian quintet turned their backs on the audience midway through the show and strummed in synchrony with live visuals that were mimicking their quirky guitar plucks, gracefully slapping yet another touch of finesse to their performance.

Capping things off was one of the best stage exits i’ve seen; Tame Impala went off stage to the sound of a hollow drone vibrating in the background, before one of the band members came back with a torch, amidst wolf-like howls and encouragement from an audience that had hitherto been drab and boring (so kudos must be given to the one person brave enough to hold a lighter in the air during the show). One long encore later and Tame Impala left as they had came, exiting humbly, with the class and confidence of musicians comfortable in their element, flag bearers of the modern psychedelic rock movement.